Some Homiletic Uses Of The Doctrine Of Election -- By: Herbert W. Lathe

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 050:197 (Oct 1893)
Article: Some Homiletic Uses Of The Doctrine Of Election
Author: Herbert W. Lathe


Some Homiletic Uses Of The Doctrine Of Election

Rev. Herbert W. Lathe

It was Theodore Parker who said that Reason acknowledges no unnecessary or useless truths. With even greater force can it be affirmed that Revelation discloses no superfluous doctrines. The theory that the doctrine of election is of value only to the speculative theologian, as throwing light upon the modus of redemption, but not “profitable for instruction” to the church at large, is perilously near the affirmation that portions of the Scriptures were written to satisfy human curiosity. Certainly the apostle Paul does not embalm this doctrine in the wrappings of religious philosophy. It is as dear to him as the doctrine of the Cross itself. It fires his soul, and flames out in his epistles. It flashes at points, here and there, unexpectedly, in a word or phrase, showing how fully it possesses his mind. Take the letter to the Ephesians. It is keyed to this high pitch in the opening note: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” Then how the eager words tumble over one another through three chapters, as the impetuous pastor seeks to inspire his flock with the glorious conviction which is burning in his own soul, that he and they are picked men, divinely selected and ordained to the Christian life and inheritance. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” “According to the

eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So in Romans 9:11. Although his aim here is more clearly doctrinal, and his method is polemical, the electing grace of God is evidently far more to him than a necessary factor in a theological system. His logic is on fire with it. In defending the Gentiles against the objection that to the Jews exclusively belong the covenants of promise, he is pleading for his converts, not for an abstraction in dogmatics. He is not offering the fact of predestination as a happy solution of a theological problem, but is arguing the exceeding riches of divine grace in the salvation of the outcast nations. And so the conclusion of the whole matter is not the quod erat demonstrandum of the logician, but the exultant paean of the gospel herald, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

It is a significant but not a strange fact that Paul, of all inspired writers, should be the most fervid expositor of the doctrine of election. His very introduction of himself to his readers is in terms of the ...

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