Article 24

Home Directions

Contact Info

What we Believe






"Sovereign Grace and Soul Winning"   

"And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!" (Gen. 17:18). In this account we see Abraham crying out unto God that Ishmael might be the one with whom God's covenant [that of the Messianic blessing] would be established. This cry came after God declared unto Abraham that Sarai's name was to be changed to Sarah and she would bring forth a son to Abraham. Although Abraham's cries were not vain before God, for God did bless Ishmael with natural blessings, yet the purpose of God's sovereign grace in spiritual blessing would not be changed by Abraham's cries for his son (vv. 19-22). Remember, Ishmael was indeed Abraham's son but he was not of the seed of the promise. What is there for us today in this account strictly as to doctrine?

First there is the matter of sovereign grace itself. It is clear from NT commentary on this matter that indeed God's sovereign grace is revealed here (Rom. 9:6-9). Also, Isaac preferred Esau (Gen. 25:28) as well as did the human custom of that day preferring Esau as the inheritor of all his father's blessings being the eldest of the two sons. Yet God's sovereign purpose concerning election is revealed in the matter of Jacob and Esau as well (Rom. 9:10-13). It is also clear from NT commentary that this matter concerns election unto salvation and not mere physical or natural blessings (Rom. 9:14-23). It also concerns God's sovereign grace in election among the Gentiles and Jews (Rom. 9:24) as well as natural Hebrews (Rom. 9:7-8) and natural Israelites (Rom. 9:6). Every possible avenue men could think of is covered by God in His sovereignty. Secondly, this instructs us that God's sovereign purpose in election unto salvation takes precedence over all else. It takes precedence over human custom (Rom. 9:12); precedence over personal character, even prior to any good or evil (Rom. 9:11); precedence over human desire, no matter how passionate and sincere (Gen. 17:18; Rom. 9:1-3); and also, precedence over human opinions of fairness based upon human reason (Rom. 9:19-23).

As concerning this doctrine it also sets the precedent for all other doctrine in scripture about God. That is to say, no other doctrine about God will go contrary to this eternal truth. Any interpretation of scripture which opposes this truth is a false interpretation. God is of one immutable mind who does as He desires according to His one sovereign purpose (Job 23:13; Ps. 115:1-3; Eccl. 3:1-15; Dan. 4:33-37; Mal. 3:6; Rom. 11:33-36; Eph. 1:9,11; Col. 1:16-17). The scriptures are replete with this truth and any who would reject it clearly do so in rebellion against God's revelation of Himself! This truth also sets the precedent for God's dealings with mankind as well, in all ages or dispensations. The afore mentioned passages clearly teach this also. Now, as to God's word and its doctrine it is the guide for all we know, believe, think, say and practice (II Tim. 3:10-17). I was once told that, "Doctrine is the Devil's handiwork."> Sadly, this person said this to me in response to God's sovereign purpose of election by grace in Christ, not in response to the doctrines and commandments of men. Oh, that I could have changed his mind and won his soul over to the God of all grace, but alas, it is not in my power to do so! Was I his enemy because I told him the truth? No! Was the truth his enemy? No! His rebellion was his problem which constituted him as at enmity against God. This brings me to the next point. What is there for us today in this account as to what we actually believe and thus practice?

Religious zeal to "get people saved" or "win the souls of men" is certainly not lacking in our day among professing Christians. Sadly, this zeal seems to far outweigh any acknowledgment of the truth and actual trust in God and His sovereign grace and blessed gospel. My intent here is not to argue for the necessity of preaching the gospel. The preaching of the gospel and its work of bringing life and immortality to light (II Tim. 1:10) and calling the elect unto the obtaining of Christ's glory is indeed a part of God's sovereign purpose in the grace of election (II Thess. 2:13-14). God, by the gospel being preached by men, births those spiritually conceived (I Cor. 4:15; Js. 1:18). However, most of modern day "soul winning" efforts rejects this purpose and holds that people by their own efforts begat other people into the family of God. It is taught that God can be motivated and even manipulated to act by the prayers and efforts of men. It is taught that men's salvation depends on other men's faithfulness rather than on God's faithfulness to fulfill His sovereign purpose of grace in Christ. It is taught that the more we pray for someone's salvation the more likely it is that they will be saved. The sovereign purpose of God according to election is not even thought of and in most cases is denied and rejected altogether.

There is a place for desiring to see others WON or GAINED (I Cor. 9:19-22; I Pet. 3:1). However, two things are clear from Paul's own testimony about this GAINING. One, Paul made himself a servant to all, not to gain all but "more" or "some" (I Cor. 9:19,22). To say that here Paul meant MORE than God had elected or SOME whom God had not elected is certainly wrong. Paul did not "believe" or "practice" such as that (Acts 13:38-41; II Tim. 2:9-10; I Cor. 3:4-7). Two, Paul also engaged in the gospel work with temperance (I Cor. 9:25) and certainty (vs. 26) and personal subjection (vs. 27). Are we to think Paul meant these three (temperance, certainty, personal subjection) as having to do with his own moral conduct and not his conduct in light of the purpose of God's sovereign grace in election as well? The context indicates both as a united whole. In preaching the gospel Paul believed and thus practiced temperance and personal subjection to God's sovereign purpose in salvation (I Cor. 1:12-18). He also engaged in the preaching of the cross of Christ with certainty based upon God's sovereign grace in Christ (I Cor. 1:23-31). Remember, Paul was informed directly by God that He had much people in the city of Corinth (Acts 18:7-11). There is no doubt Paul conducted himself obedient to this truth!

While we are not directly informed as was Abraham, Rebecca, and Paul at Corinth, nevertheless, the purpose of God for today is the same as in times past. Our desire for the souls of others is not useless, for by such desire as placed in the heart by the Spirit we are moved by God (our desire does not move God) to engage in the work of the gospel. While we pray, witness, preach, warn and encourage others in certain hope of the consummation of God's sovereign grace we must also do so in light of God's sovereign purpose. When we "cry out" for one before God we must be ever ready to bow to His sovereign purpose, even if that one be our own flesh and blood. Many, in not believing the truth at all, reject such temperate and certain subjection altogether. Others, while professing to believe the truth but fearing ridicule from the religious world as lacking missionary desire and a concern for souls, have become drunken with religion's emotionalism, uncertain about straightforward gospel preaching, and have given their bodies over to just about every conceivable free will method under the sun. Rather than pressing upon people the claims of Christ they beg, intimidate, indoctrinate, and use fear tactics and emotional ploys to force men and women into religious decisions. May God continue to give us the grace needed in such a day as this day in which we live that we not be conformed to this world. May we be of that number who in light of God's sovereign grace seek for men and women's souls to be won by the Lord Jesus Christ. May we not seek gain for mere gain's sake but for the glory of God and the good of the elect of God. May souls be won by and to the truth of the gospel of Christ. Yea, of a truth, the souls of the elect shall be won by the truth to the acknowledgment of the truth which is after godliness. To God be all the glory!

Back to Top