>Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election

>December 28, 2009

This is going to be kind of lengthy. Enter at your own risk. Also, this post is really for Christians. If you aren’t a Christian then you are welcome to read it, but it may just confuse and/or upset you.

“And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”
-Luke 18:7
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
-Romans 8:29-30
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
-Romans 8:33
“though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—”
-Romans 9:11
“What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,”
-Romans 11:7
“As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.”
-Romans 11:28
“he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
-Ephesians 1:5
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,”
-Ephesians 1:11
“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
-2 Timothy 2:10
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,”
-Titus 1:1
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,”
-1 Peter 1:3

By reading the above verses you must realize that at some point in their reading of the Bible, any student of the text must wrestle with the concepts of God’s predestination and His election. There is no way around it. And any person who believes that the Bible is true, also believes that God elects people unto salvation. To deny that, would be to deny a mountain of Scripture.

The problem then becomes not whether God elects people, but how? Some have reasoned that God’s election is unconditional. He chooses some people to save, and lets the rest of mankind remain under their due condemnation. Others reason that God knows who will choose to believe in Christ of their own accord before He creates them. He only elects them because He knows they will choose to believe His gospel.

Those of you that know me well enough, know that I am convinced of the former view. That being, God elects people of HIS accord, not of theirs. Salvation is based on God’s choice, not man’s. Let me begin my explanation by referring to mankind’s spiritual condition.

Jesus describes those who don’t believe in Him as “condemned already” in John 3:18. This is consistent with Paul’s understanding in Romans 5:18 where he writes that Adam’s trespass led to condemnation for all men. So, I conclude, all men are condemned to hell. We all deserve hell because we hate God and show that hatred by slandering His name, committing acts of sexual immorality, gossiping, lying, cheating, and any other number of evil things.

In the ever-popular, Romans 3:23, Paul writes that every human has “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” So, no human has escaped sin. We all act sinfully. Nobody gets around it. Our condition is: sinful.

And in Ephesians 2:1, Paul describes humans as “dead in trespasses and sins.” I think this description of humans really drives this point home. Can dead people believe in anything? No. They are absolutely, 100% helpless. When you say a dead person needs a savior, you mean that they REALLY need one. They are utterly in need, with absolutely no hope.

So what is to be done about all these dead people? Well, one thing God decides to do is send them to hell to be punished for their sins. Another thing He does, is save people from their just punishment. Matthew 25:31-46 contains Christ’s teaching on the Final Judgment. In this section He distinguishes sheep from goats. In verse 34 Christ welcomes His sheep into the kingdom which they are to inherit for eternity. Then in verses 41 and 46 He condemns the wicked to their eternal punishment by fire.

So let me circle back to my first question: how does God elect people? How are they saved? Look back up to Ephesians 1:5 which I quoted earlier. God predestined His people to be adopted “according to the purpose of His will…” He predestines, elects, saves, and adopts sinners to satisfy His will and His purposes.

Salvation is something that God accomplishes. Psalm 3:8 says clearly that “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” God saves. People benefit from being saved, but they don’t make it happen. They are dead, God calls them to life by the power of His life-giving word. There is no prerequisite, God does it. If you champion anything other than that, then you don’t give God the proper credit for salvation. You then make salvation contingent on people. And if salvation is contingent on people, then nobody would be saved. What kind of person, in their flesh, would choose to put their faith in God? Nobody would! Dead people can’t put their faith in anything. According to Ephesians 2:8, even saving faith is a “gift of God.”

I say all this to make one point: if you have saving faith in Christ, it’s because God elected you to salvation before the foundation of the world. You would never have chosen Him, but you didn’t have to. He chose you! In this way you can glorify God completely, knowing that He saved you when you were dead in trespasses and sins and utterly hopeless. Just as Lazarus was dead and Jesus brought Him back to life by His spoken word, He has done the same with your soul! Oh how sweet the sound of amazing grace!

Let me wrap this up by asking one more question: why is this doctrine important? Firstly, it’s Biblical. It is all over the Bible, which makes it of supreme importance. Secondly, it makes the recipient immeasurably grateful. When you realize that God saved you without your help or your choice, you can’t help but be thankful. The only thing that stood between you and eternal punishment was God’s choice, not yours. Thirdly, it puts a fire in you to proclaim the Gospel of truth. Since God has done such a great thing for you, you must proclaim it to all you come in contact with. You must pray that God saves and trust Him to do it. You must pray that God speaks His words of life through you, to breathe life into dead sinners. Your words and your reasoning are of no worth, unless God calls the dead to eternal life.

I expect there to be some criticisms of what I’ve written. That’s fine. I didn’t come up with this stuff. All I ask is that you make your responses respectful and Biblical. Please don’t just go off on an emotional tangent. Make clear responses. I understand that this may have come across as harsh, but that’s not what I care about. I care about the truth of salvation being made known to the saints. So let’s hash it out.

May God grant us all a greater understanding of the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus!


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