A Must-Hear Sermon on the Doctrine of Election
In the movie The Prestige, a film about a deadly rivalry between two stage magicians, a turning point in the story occurs when one of the magicians, Alfred Borden (played by Christian Bale), introduces a new trick: “The Transported Man.” His rival, Robert Angier (played by Hugh Jackman) goes in disguise to see Borden perform “The Transported Man,” and is questioned by his assistant about Borden’s performance. In a great bit of acting, Jackman as Angier sits astonished and replies, “It was the greatest trick I’ve ever seen.”
The post you are reading is about a sermon on the doctrine of election preached by Dr. Russell Moore at the Southern Seminary chapel a week ago today. No trickery was involved in this sermon, but after Dr. Moore was through, I felt as thoroughly astonished as Angier was in the scene mentioned above. When it comes to the doctrine of election, this was the greatest sermon I’ve ever heard.
Awhile back, I was speaking with a mutual friend I have with Dr. Moore. This friend (whom I will not mention by name in this context) was writing a chapter for a book on the Emergent Church Movement, and was telling me about various trends that have arisen out of the larger Evangelical Movement- each trend responding to legitimate critiques of the movement, yet each trend containing inherent dangers. I asked what the next major trend might be, in my friend’s opinion, and he replied that he thought it would be something to do with Reformed theology, which is still gaining popularity through the influence of various ministries represented by the Together for the Gospel conference. I asked my friend what possible dangers could come from within a Reformed movement (as this friend has, at least, a great deal of agreement with Reformed theology) and he replied that we must be careful not to speak of God’s sovereignty or His electing work in the abstract- that we must be careful to remain Christ-centered in our theology.
This is what I have always appreciated most about Dr. Moore’s preaching, and what I found true of his sermon on election as well: his preaching is always radically Christ-centered. From Romans 8:26-9:6a, Dr. Moore spoke on “purpose-driven predestination,” with the purpose of our predestination being the glory of God through conformity to the image of Christ. Dr. Moore preached that God is actively working in the lives of the elect to bring us into conformity with Christ in the following ways:
1. In our prayer-life: that we would, like Christ, call out, “Abba, Father!” trusting in God’s sovereign, powerful hand.
2. In our peace: that we would trust God with our eternal destiny due to the work He has accomplished in Christ.
3. In our passion for evangelism: that we would be zealous to proclaim the Good News of Christ to others.
[Note: Dr. Moore did not alliterate the above points; that’s just how they came out in the outline that I made while hearing him speak.]
Dr. Moore noted two reasons why people fear the doctrine of election:
1. They imagine that this doctrine will rob them of any assurance of salvation- they imagine that if this doctrine is true, then they may get to God’s throne earnestly desiring salvation and yet be turned away. Dr. Moore combated this fear by demonstrating the purpose for which Paul explained this doctrine: that he was writing to a church facing persecution and internal strife, facing their own doubts and hypocrisy, and that this doctrine of election is given for the assurance of those who have faith in Christ, that our salvation is God’s work, which will not fail.
2. They imagine that this doctrine will destroy zeal for evangelism. Dr. Moore combated this fear by demonstrating the connection that Paul makes between the doctrine of election and his own evangelistic passion- that it is due to the doctrine of election that Paul can be sure that the Word of God has not failed, in spite of the constant rejection Paul was facing from the Jews.
Dr. Moore then challenged his hearers: “If you are not more evangelistic now than you were when you came to understand the doctrine of election, you have not understood the doctrine of election.”
Dr. Moore closed with the following: “They tell me this [Southern Seminary] is ground zero for the doctrine of election- man, I hope they’re right.”
This post has barely scratched the surface of how exiting and challenging this sermon is. I cannot express how strongly I would urge readers to listen to this sermon and to send a link for this sermon to others. The sermon can be heard HERE.