28 May 2013

One of the Deepest Truths of Scripture

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
God has an elect people on earth who are under his special care (vv. 7–8). Election is one of the deepest truths of Scripture. It is clearly and beautifully stated in the Seventeenth Article of the Church of England: 'It is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath decreed by his counsels, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation.' This testimony is true (Titus 2:8).

Election is a truth which should call forth praise and thanksgiving from all Christians. Except God had chosen and called them, they would never have chosen and called on him. Except he had chosen them of his own good pleasure, without respect to any goodness that is theirs, there would never have been anything in them to make them worthy of his choice. The worldly and the carnal-minded may rail at the doctrine of election. The false professor may abuse it (Jude 4). But the believer who knows his own heart will ever bless God for election. He will confess that without election there would be no salvation.

But what are the marks of election? By what tokens shall a man know whether he is one of God's elect? These marks are clearly laid down in Scripture. Election is inseparably connected with faith in Christ and conformity to his image (Rom. 8:29–20). It was when Paul saw the working faith, the patient hope and the laboring love of the Thessalonians that he knew their election of God (1 Thess. 1:3–4). Above all we have a plain marker in the passage that is before us. God's elect are a people who cry unto him day and night (v. 7). They are essentially a praying people. No doubt there are many people whose prayers are formal and hypocritical. But one thing is clear—a prayerless man must never be called one of God's elect. Let that never be forgotten.

-J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke

Further Reading
Taking 'Jesus' for a Test Drive
Salvation Is a Work of God
Even the Demons Believe

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