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Evangelism & Sovereign Election in Acts


The Doctrines of Grace, particularly of election, are often construed to be anti-evangelistic. In truth, however, these doctrines are the evangelists only real hope. Election is the only guarantee that any will respond to preaching of the gospel.

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God appointed His elect unto eternal life before the foundation of the world. Every one of His chosen ones will surely believe and be saved:

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. —Acts 13:48

When Paul preached the gospel, he knew the truth of divine election was no hindrance to his outreach. Instead, he saw sovereign grace as a guarantee of its success. As the Word of God was sounded by Paul, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Bruce writes, “Appointed is used in some ancient documents in the sense of ‘to inscribe’ or ‘to enroll.’” In other words, those who believe have been enrolled by God among His elect. Appointed is in the passive voice, indicating that the elect are passive in this act, God alone being the active agent. In addition, appointed is in the perfect tense, which specifies action in the past with continuing relevance in the future. These who believe do so because they were sovereignly appointed by God to eternal life in eternity past. A. W. Pink writes, “Here we learn four things: First, that believing is the consequence and not the cause of God’s decree. Second, that a limited number only are ‘ordained to eternal life,’ for if all men without exception were thus ordained by God, then the words ‘as many as’ are a meaningless qualification. Third, that this ‘ordination’ of God is not to mere external privileges but to ‘eternal life,’ not to service but to salvation itself. Fourth, that all—‘as many as,’ not one less—who are thus ordained by God to eternal life will most certainly believe.”

—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 471–472.



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