‘And they all with one consent began to make excuse.’ Luke 14:18
Suggested Further Reading: Jonah 3:1–4:2
The doctrine of election is a great and precious truth, but it never can be a valid reason for a man’s not believing in Christ. You are ill today, and the doctor comes; ‘There,’ says he, ‘there is the medicine, I will guarantee if you take it, it will heal you.’ You say, ‘Sir, I would take it at once, but I do not know whether I am predestined to get over this fever. If I am predestined to live, why then, sir, I will take the medicine, but I must know first.’ ‘Ah!’ says the doctor, ‘I tell you what, if you do not take it, you are predestined to die.’ And I will tell you this, if you will not believe in Jesus Christ, you will be damned, be you who you may, but you will not be able to lay it at predestination’s door; it will lie at your own. A man has fallen overboard; a rope is thrown to him, but he says, ‘I should like to grasp that rope, only I do not know whether I am predestined to be drowned.’ Fool! he will go down to the bottom with a lie in his mouth. We do not say, ‘I would sit down to dinner today, but I will not eat, because I do not know whether I am predestined to have any dinner today.’ We do not talk so foolishly in common things, why then do we so in religion? When men are hard-up for an excuse, they are glad to run to the mysteries of God to use them as a veil to cover their faces. O my dear friends, you must know that though God has a chosen people, yet when he commands you to believe in Christ, his having a chosen people, or not having a chosen people cannot excuse you from obedience to the divine command: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’
For meditation: The people of Nineveh used God’s threat of judgment as a reason to repent and hope against hope for his forgiveness (Jonah 3:5,9). It is not surprising that on the Day of Judgment they will condemn those who have rejected Christ’s forgiveness (Matthew 12:41) by disobeying the gospel command to repent and trust in him (Mark 1:15). Will the people of Nineveh have to condemn you?
Sermon no. 578
3 July (1864)