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The proper standpoint from which to get a saving view of the death of the Lord Jesus is not election, but the consciousness of our ruin. This is an unspeakable mercy, inasmuch as I know I am a lost sinner; but I do not know that I am one of the elect, until I have received, through the Holy Spirit’s testimony (Rom 8:16) and teaching (1 Cor 2:13), the glad tidings of salvation through the Blood of the Lamb.

Salvation is preached to me, not as one of the elect, but as one utterly lost, guilty and undone; and when I have received this salvation, there is conclusive evidence of my election. “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God; for our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (1 Thes 1:4, 5).

Election is not my warrant for accepting salvation; but the reception of salvation is the proof of election. For how is any lost sinner to know that he is one of the elect? Where is he to find it? It must be a matter of divine revelation, else it cannot be a matter of faith*. But where is it revealed? Nowhere in the Word of God*. My only title to salvation is, that I am a poor, guilty, hell-deserving sinner.

Hearken to the risen Savior’s commission to His first heralds: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Is there so much as a single point in these words on which to base a question about one’s election? Assuredly not! “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). If I am a sinner, then I am entitled to apply to my own soul the benefits of His precious sacrifice. “He loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

But then, some may feel disposed to ask, “Do you want to set aside the doctrine of election? God forbid! We only want to set it in its right place. Paul never preached election. He taught election, but preached the Lord Jesus Christ*. This makes all the difference. The grand business of the evangelist is to set forth, in his preaching, the perfect love of God, the efficacy of the Blood of Christ, and the faithful record of the Holy Spirit. The evangelist’s spirit should be entirely untrammeled, and his Gospel unclouded. He should preach a present salvation, free to all, by the very Word of God.

And then as to anxious souls who harass themselves with questions about election—God addresses them in the exact state in which He sees them and in which they can see themselves. He addresses them as sinners. There is nothing but salvation for a sinner, the moment he takes his true place as a sinner. “God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

To raise questions about election is sheer unbelief in the heart of a sinner. God has revealed Himself in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col 2:9), so that we may know Him and love and trust Him. Moreover, He has made full provision in the atonement of the Cross for all our need and all our guilt.

Hence, instead of perplexing myself with the question, “Am I one of the elect?” it is my happy privilege to rest in the perfect love of God, the all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the faithful record of the Holy Spirit by the Word of God. “Elect according to the knowledge of God, the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace be multiplied” (1 Pet 1:2).

- C H Mackintosh

Poster’s Notes:
* “matter of faith”: there can be no faith in election without its reveled knowledge and understanding first.

* “Word of God”: Scripture nowhere teaches that an unregenerate can know whether or not he is of “the elect,” which assurance comes to revelation in an individual through the Word and regeneration.

* “taught election . . . preached the Lord Jesus Christ”: preaching the Gospel of salvation is to the unsaved. Teaching growth in the Gospel of salvation is to the saved.
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