The Starving of the Church—V -- By: Jim Elliff

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 02:1 (Winter 1993)
Article: The Starving of the Church—V
Author: Jim Elliff

The Starving of the Church—V

Jim Elliff

Election by a sovereign God was one of the mainstay doctrines in the preaching used by God during great days of Awakening. Will it be preached today? Should it be preached today? In our last article in this series on important doctrines needed in seasons of revival we turn to this important and humbling truth.

During the revival ministry of Asahel Nettleton (1783–1844) more than 25,000 were converted, principally in the New England area. According to John Thornbury this figure would be about 600,000 if percentaged to our present population. 1 Nettleton, for one, did not shrink back from proclaiming a God who elected. This vignette comes from the book on his life by his dear friend Bennet Tyler.

A certain individual said to him: “I cannot get along with the doctrine of election.” “Then,” said Nettleton, “get along without it. You are at liberty to get to heaven the easiest way you can. Whether the doctrine of election is true or not, it is true that you must repent, and believe, and love God. Now, what we tell you is, that such is the wickedness of your heart, that you never will do these things unless God has determined to renew your heart. If you do not believe that your heart is so wicked, make it manifest by complying with the terms of salvation. Why do you stand cavilling with the doctrine of election? Suppose you should prove it to be false, what have you gained? You must repent and believe in Christ after all. Why do you not immediately comply with these terms of the gospel? When you have done this, without the aids of divine grace, it will be soon enough to oppose the doctrine of election. Until you shall have done this, we shall still believe that the doctrine of election lies at the foundation of all hope in your case.” 2

I concur. Election by a sovereign God is “at the foundation of all hope.” It is this election which we wish to explore in the

next few pages. There can be no question that the Bible speaks of election. In fact, God says that we are elect before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Are we willing to express what the Bible says about His sovereignty?

Let me introduce this subject of the sovereignty of God in salvation by writing out the statement a friend of mine often uses: “God saves sinners.” To put it so that the emphasis is not misunderstood perhaps it should be written: God saves sinners. Thus the Initiator of salvation is given greater visibility. He does it all. But to fail to e...

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