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Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma 

            Now this preacher has never tried to make a crowd of modern Baptists angry. He does not know why anyone would want to do so. It would do no good. But he knows how to do it. And it is no secret. All you have to do to make a crowd of modern day Baptists angry is to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. I refer to the particular example set for us by Jesus when He spoke to the people of Nazareth, where He had grown up. He made that crowd so angry they violated the Sabbath, left their synagogue service and set about trying to kill Him. May this preacher suggest that there are a lot of “Nazarene Baptists” today – although they may not live in that town – folk that will experience anger like bile if you do what Jesus did. They may be afraid to kill the preacher who follows Jesus' example, but they will not fear to assassinate his character and attempt to ruin his ministry.

            The setting for the our text is this: Jesus was growing in popularity at this point in His ministry. He was entering what Bible students call His “Year of Popularity.” He returns to Nazareth. While there on a Sabbath Day He goes to the local synagogue. It was His custom to do so. He is honored by being asked to read the Scripture that day. Without aid of chapters or verses He found the place where He wanted to read. Having read that text, He went on to explain that the very Scripture He had read was that day fulfilled in their hearing.

            Then the Scripture says: “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?  And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way,” (Luke 4:22-30). Let us attempt a bit of exposition here – to draw out and understand the  meaning of this passage. The words are simple and clear: notice the following points.

            The idea that God might have bypassed Jewish widows and Jewish lepers while meeting the needs of two gentiles infuriated the boyhood neighbors of Jesus – the very people among whom He had grown up. All the people in Nazareth had at first wondered at the gracious words Jesus spoke in their presence. Suddenly, however, Christ spoke about election: the idea that God would choose two gentiles! Unthinkable! Now there is an element of  racial pride here. The Jews knew that they were God's chosen people. In their pride they did not think God would be fair or right to visit blessing upon gentiles. The idea of God choosing a gentile widow over Jewish widows was infuriating. How dare He! He does not have the right to choose! And to have chosen a Syrian commander and heal his leprosy when many lepers were in Israel during those old days! Equally unthinkable! Jesus' former neighbors were so infuriated with the message that they rose up in anger at the messenger – in this case God's Messenger. The very people who had previously been admiring Christ's words attempted to murder Him.

            That God would choose to provide even a temporary physical salvation – to unworthy gentile dogs – “sinners of the gentiles” – just did not fit into their scheme of things. By this time the God-given religion revealed to the Jews had deteriorated into what Paul twice called “the Jews religion,” (Galatians 1:13-14). That is all that it had become. The Jews' religion was a dead religion. It taught works for salvation. (A similarity with the modern decisional regeneration ideas of most Baptists!) A vital expectation of the Messiah was real in the lives of only a few Jews of that time. Two of them are representative: Simeon is said to have been “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” Anna spoke of the child Jesus to all those that “looked for redemption in Israel.” (See Luke 2:25 & 38). After four-hundred years of silence from heaven – the inter-testamental period – and in the midst of hypocritical outward religious show and ritual from the Pharisees – and with a Bible-denying high priestly family of Sadducees in power and in cahoots with the Romans – God still had His remnant! His chosen ones were scattered here and there in Israel and were looking for Messiah!

            So, if you want to make the average modern crowd of  Baptists angry all you have to do is follow Christ's example. Preach to them a good Bible message on God's sovereign election. Take as your first point the first point of Spurgeon in one of his sermons on election. His first point was, “There is such a thing as election.” Most modern day Baptists do not know that such a teaching exists, so tell them about it. Prove it to them by the Bible. You might give them a few verses with the words choose, chosen, elect, election, etc. in them. As your next point you might tell them that this election took place “...before the foundation of the world...” (Ephesians 1:4). That will probably have a noticeable effect upon most of them! Then as a third point you might read to them about Jacob and Esau and show how God chose Jacob over Esau and tell them that the conclusion of the matter is this: “ is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy,” (Romans 9:16). You might also tell them how that in verse 21 of that chapter the Bible says: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” By this time, if they have  not walked out on you, their countenances will likely have begun to darken. And then, in their minds you can add insult to injury (they will think) by pointing out that “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty,” (1 Corinthians 1:27). This will fly in the face of their idea that they made a decision which saved them because of some ability in them. For their belief is that they came to Christ apart from a prior work of God in them.

            This technique will work not only on most Baptists, but also on people in just about every other religious group. It will work, that is, if you want to make them angry. Now this preacher, like other God-called men, does not want to make anyone angry – though at times no doubt he does. So we try to preach not only clearly, but also carefully. But we will not compromise. And the following two things are basic facts regarding God and the way He saves sinners: God is absolutely in control and is saving those whom He has chosen to save before the foundation of the world. And the other basic fact is that the new birth is “...not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy,” (Romans 9:16). But such ideas are humbling to the pride of sinners – especially religious sinners – Baptist sinners! The all too popular idea that God loves everybody and is trying His best to save everybody is false. Somebody says: “Why everybody knows God loves everybody and is trying to save them all. That has been preached among Baptists for years and years now! How dare you say that it is false!” Nevertheless, that idea must be false. It is a slander and blasphemy upon God's name. It means that God is a failure because He cannot do what He wants to do. His failure is clearly evident. If He is trying to save everybody He is failing. That makes Him a failure! Why? Because more sinners are lost than are saved. What Bible believer is willing to say that God is a failure because He cannot save whom He chose to save from before the foundation of the world? How can anyone even consider standing before God someday having gone through life believing a system of teaching that makes God a failure? Such an idea brings shudders!

            There is a sequel to this incident. Jesus had said to them, “Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.” The Lord Jesus anticipated their desire to see Him work miracles as they had heard that He had done in Capernaum, although the gospel writer does not tell us of them. As is happened, when Jesus' boyhood neighbors attempted to cast Him off the cliff, “he passing through the midst of them went his way.” He did indeed work a miracle there, passing right through the middle of that blood-thirsty throng that was trying to kill Him. But upon seeing that miracle, it made no difference to those unbelievers. Why? Because miracles do not produce faith. They were unbelievers when they entered their own synagogue., They remained unbelievers even when they marveled at the gracious words that came from Christ's mouth. And they were unbelievers when they left the brow of the hill and returned to whatever they did after their attempted murder of the Son of God. Since it was still Sabbath, perhaps they returned to their synagogue in order to pray and read the Scriptures. We are not told and so we cannot know. But this lesson proves this: self-righteous unbelieving religious people are capable of anything: even attempting to murder God's Messiah.

            Are you one of those who do not like the Bible doctrine of election? Does it make you uneasy? Search the Scriptures! Ask God to teach you. The evidence is overwhelming. “There is such a thing as election,” just as Spurgeon said. A proper understanding of that teaching promotes humility in the greatest sense and at the same time great joy and peace to the believer – and glory to God because “Salvation is of the LORD,” (Jonah 2:9).




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Denham Springs, LA 70726

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