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“THE VERY ELECT.”

DEAR BROTHER LEFFERTS: – I would be pleased if you would give your views in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES on the language of our Savior as recorded in Matt. xxiv. 24, and Mark xiii. 22. What I want to know in particular is, do the words of the Savior, “the very elect” that shall not be deceived, show or prove they are a special favored few taken from among his elect, while the greater numbers of the election of grace are left to be deceived, and led in the broad way to destruction? Matthew reads: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Mark says, “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” Mark says “even” instead of “very” elect, as Matthew does, and I have always thought the Savior meant to teach that none of the election of grace should be deceived to their destruction, for do not the words of the Savior mean this: “If it were possible”? which shows it is not possible to deceive the elect, and the elect include all God’s people. I do not believe he has “preferred stock” and “common stock” among his people, and that he saves his “preferred stock” while he lets his “common stock” run at large and go in the broad way to destruction. Now, brother Lefferts, I hope you may have a mind to give us your views on this subject. I have not written this for publication, but just to give you an idea of what I would like for you to notice.

In gospel bonds,
G. E. MAYFIELD.
ELGIN, Oregon.


WE feel that brother Mayfield could write on this subject much better than we can, but as he requests our views he has a right to them, that is, such thoughts as we have upon this subject. This language of Jesus from which our brother quotes in the narratives of Matthew and of Mark relates to the events and signs portending the end of the dispensation then fast drawing to its evening time. All these things spoken of by Jesus were to be fulfilled in the end of the legal dispensation and in the final windup of Jewish nationality. At that time false Christs and false prophets were to arise, showing signs and wonders that would, if possible, deceive the very elect, or even the elect. Let it be noted that the words “it were” in the phrase, “if it were possible,” are written in italics, and thus show that they have been inserted by the translators, and are not in the original Greek manuscript. Thus, the deception of the elect would seem to depend upon the possibility of their being deceived. They would be deceived by these false Christs and false prophets if possible, and the possibility of their being deceived would not depend upon their own acuteness of perception, nor upon the sharpness of their wits, but upon whether they were kept from deception by the grace of God. It would indeed be a bold assertion, unwarranted by Scripture, to say that the elect of God cannot possibly be deceived. They can be deceived as well as any one else if the Spirit of truth by its guiding and teaching does not keep them from it, The whole safety of the elect is in the grace of God, not in any sense in themselves, or in their own astuteness. It is worth while to note that in the narratives, both of Matthew and of Mark, Jesus follows his statement of the danger threatening the elect by saying, “Behold, I have told you before.” To be forewarned by such an one as Jesus is to be forearmed. One cannot be deceived by that against which the Son of God has previously warned him. The warnings of Christ in us the ‘hope of glory will prevent deception, and nothing but that can. Without this intuition of the Spirit, this discernment of the spiritual mind, any of us can be deceived. There may be times in our experience when this spiritual discernment is lacking in us, times at least when it is dormant, then is when we are in danger of being deceived. Such an experience when it comes to one is very useful, for it proves that we cannot afford for one instant to have faith relax its hold upon us, else we become entangled in the cunning craftiness of men. But here is a point that must be emphasized, and not lost sight of: no matter how much one of the elect may be deceived and carried away by it, that does not at all affect his salvation in Christ Jesus. Once a child of God always as child of God. They shall never perish, neither shall any (man) pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no (man) is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John x. 28, 29.) The salvation of the elect of God is secure through the work of Jesus against the possibility of a single one of them ever being lost. No matter to what lengths they may wander, to what limits they may stray, they cannot be lost nor shall they perish. Philosophy, science and man-made religions may entangle them for awhile, and may deceive them, even though they are the elect, yet God their Father is greater than all philosophy, science, creeds and dogmas, so that nothing, not only no man, but nothing, shall or can ever pluck them out of his hand. But that even God’s own people may be deceived at times is evident. Did not some one bewitch the Galatians that they sought again to entangle themselves in the yoke of the Mosaic law? That the “churches of Galatia” were deceived for a time is evident from reading Paul’s letter to them, yet we have not a doubt that they were the elect of God, and are sure their salvation was not a whit affected by their being bewitched. Whenever two brethren hold directly opposite and contrary views of some portion of Scripture both cannot be right, one must be mistaken, and to the extent that he is mistaken, provided he is sincere, he is deceived, yet this does not argue at all that both are not children of God and secure in the salvation which Jesus has wrought for them through his life and death. It is true that the visible organization of the church here in the world does not by any means include all of God’s elect. God has a people in every nation, kindred, tribe and tongue under heaven. Not all persons everywhere are God’s elect, but that God has his elect among all people everywhere, the Bible does plainly teach. We believe God’s people are scattered in all parts of Babylon, they are among all creeds and sects and denominations of men. They are scattered among the Hindus, Mohammedans, Catholics and Protestants. Membership in an Old School Baptist Church is no guarantee that one is a child of God.In all times there have been those who crept in unawares who had no heart-experience of grace, however much they may have had it in the head. There are those, many of them, outside the visible organization of the church who are the elect of God, and there are occasionally those in the membership of this visible organization who have no knowledge of grace, and are not the elect of God. In the third epistle of John we find the apostle writing to a church in which there was a member by the name of Diotrephes. Read what John says about this man: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if 1 come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” This Diotrephes was doing evil in this church to which John wrote, He that doeth evil hath not seen God;therefore Diotrephes had not seen God, yet Diotrephes was a member of the visible organization of the church. This is by no means the only instance of this kind in the New Testament, but enough to show that simply being a member of an Old School Baptist Church is not a sure passport into the favor of God. There are many of God’s elect who never heard of the name Old School Baptist, and do not know what the name represents. Doubtless there are many who never even heard the name “Jesus,” but have the substance of Jesus within them, and then, too, there have been occasions when one of the nonelect has crept into the visible church. So, you see, a mere name is no guarantee of safety; the substance of Christ himself in the soul is the very essence of true religion. “They went out from us, but they were not of u; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” – 1 John ii. 19. This is enough to prove that the visible organization of the church has stood in need of being purged from the days of the apostles until now, and that which made the purging inevitable was the presence in this visible organization of such as God knew did not belong there. Now certainly the brethren must have been deceived when they admitted these into membership with them. They certainly must have thought they saw something in those impostors that caused them to be willing to receive them as members among them. Here was deception of the very elect certainly. But this deception, though it bring numerous ills in its wake, will eventually turn out to be for the good of the church and for the glory of God. It never can ultimately end in the destruction of a single child of God. Now the question that brother Mayfield asks is: Is “the very elect” a special favored few, taken from among the elect, while the greater numbers of the election of grace are left to be deceived and are led in the broad way to destruction “I From what we have already said it will be seen that our answer is, No. “The very elect” means all God’s elect, whether in the church militant or not. All, whether in the visible organization or out of it, are possible of deception, unless kept from it by the gift of spiritual discernment. The safety of every one of the elect, wherever they may be, is alone in grace. Mere intellectual ability or sharpened reason, mere human prudence or carefulness, will not guarantee the safety of any child of God against deceit. Sometimes we have heard brethren say that they were not afraid to attend Arminian meetings, for they were not afraid of being contaminated with what they might hear there. Such absolute certainty looks as though one had a lot of confidence in his ability to stand. For ourself, we had rather not play with fire. We might possibly get burnt. When Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Melita, and while he was warming himself by the fire kindled by sticks which his own hand had gathered, a viper came out of the heat and fastened on his hand and he shook it off into the fire and felt no harm; but there is vast difference between our voluntarily taking up a viper and having one fasten itself upon us uninvited. In the latter case one might feel that God would protect him, but we have no right to expect God to ward off the results of our own foolhardiness in voluntarily running into danger. We understand brother Mayfield to want to know if the words, “the very elect,” mean that there is a special little number signified which are meant by Jesus, instead of the whole number of the chosen of God. We have not thought that Jesus meant any such thing, but that he meant that even the elect themselves, notwithstanding they are the children of God, are in danger of being deceived by the false Christs and the false prophets that were to arise. Their only safeguard against this evil is in being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. Therefore, “Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation.” This watchfulness against deceit is just as necessary to those who are in “the little flock” as to those that are scattered in Babylon. God has no preferred and common stock among his people. first of all, stock, whether common or preferred, is expected to yield dividends to its possessor, and not one of us will ever yield any returns to the Almighty who owns us. After all, We are unprofitable servants. If you had a servant working for you, and you never saw any returns from his service, you would dismiss him as being unprofitable, would you not? Well, just so are we unprofitable servants unto our God, for what can we render unto him that is not already his? The earth is his, and the fullness thereof, so that whatever we might take to give unto him is already his before it is ours. After all our service, have we made God any the richer, have we added anything to him whatever? Certainly not. Then are we unprofitable servants. So we cannot compare any of God’s people to preferred or common stock. Then, too, the terms, “common” and “preferred” signify two classes, the one excelling the other. Now, there are no classes in the church. We use the word “church” here in its broadest sense, as comprising all the people of God, not as simply meaning the visible organization. Among the people of God there are no classes, all are one in Christ. Whatever may be the social distinctions that exist between them in the World, whatever the circumstances of poverty or riches that divide their lot, all are one in Christ. All are alike sinners saved by grace, and no one has any room to boast over any other one. Jesus has no pets, no favorites, he loves them all alike. The wisdom that is from above is without partiality, so says James, and Jesus is the personal embodiment of that wisdom. So the expression, “the very elect,” does not simply mean the kernel in the nut, but means the whole family of God, all his people. That many cunning things, many plausible schemes, great and far-sounding professions, are abroad in the land in this our day, is evident to any that watch the signs of the times. That our own mental perspicacity is not sufficient to make us errorproof is also very evident. May the good Lord, therefore, by his grace and by the training of his Spirit, enable us each and all to winnow the chaff from the wheat and to cast the filth away from us, that we be not deceived by the craft and cunning of men that lie in wait to deceive.     L.

Elder H. H. Lefferts

Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 1.
January 1, 1916