Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
The great argument that arises in the doctrine of election is the argument of the divine sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Does God totally control the eternal destiny of every human being, or does man have a choice over the salvation of his eternal soul.
Was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ limited or unlimited in providing salvation to all mankind?
Let’s look at the choice of God and the choice of man.
I. The choice of God.
God was fair in selecting a nation, i.e., Israel, to be a client nation which represented him, and Israel was the channel to bring the Messiah into the world. But did God choose individuals to divine favor simply by order of his sovereign right? He is God of the universe, as well as creator and designer of his own pleasure, yet how far does that go?
It would seem if we took the argument that God decreed what he wants for his purposes, knowing the outcome, that he would not have chosen a people who would utterly fail him; that the incarnate Son of God would not be born to a people, namely Israel, only to be crucified on a Roman cross.
Now none of this would suggest that God created something that went horribly out of control, but that God saw all that would transpire down through the thousands of years until the end of time. We call this omniscience.
Some believe God has orchestrated every action, both good and evil, from the creation of the world; the creation of the angelic host, and the creation of mankind and that he did so in eternity past with the result that no being, angelic or human plays an influential part in the outcome of His Story. That human will; being depraved since the fall of Adam, has no capacity to make a choice toward the spiritual things of God.
You probably have heard it said that there is only one thing God cannot do, and that is to make you believe. Well, there are those who say otherwise. If God does this he violates the very core of your creation, which is free will. Some don’t get it. Free will means it is your choice, not someone else’s.
There are those who teach that when the Spirit of God is about to regenerate a person that neither the person’s will is needed, and even the Word of God is not necessary to influence the person, for what God wants to happen will happen either way.
My argument against this view is why people are called to believe when they do not have to believe and why men are called to preach when the Word is not necessary to effect a change in their thinking about their sin and the life hereafter. [Hodge Vol. II p.684-685 ]
II. The choice of man
Some believe human choice is meritorious, that is, to chose Christ as an act of human volition is a form of works. But I submit that free will is no more of works than any other attribute of human creation. We have the components of thought, self-consciousness, conscience, emotion and they are never construed as works and yet they are all involved in a person coming to God awareness and Gospel hearing. How is it that each of these components is instrumental in bringing a person to the realization they need to be saved, and yet the last component, free will, is unable to apply its function?
John 3:16 says God so loved the world that he gave his only uniquely born Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but, have everlasting life.
John 6:44 says No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.
John 12:32 says And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
To say Jesus Christ was not lifted up on Calvary’s cross to draw all men to an opportunity to believe in him is to deny plain scripture, and it is to impugn the nature of God’s character of veracity, that is, that God lies to mankind. This is impossible.
Some say if we exercise free will it is a salvation of works. But free will is not works, because it is not free will that saves us, it is the object of our will, the Lord Jesus Christ that saves us. Believing is non-meritorious, it is not works. The merit is in the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no works in belief.
This is totally illogical. If one component, namely free will, can be construed as works then so must the other components that lead to the decision. And if the component of the human essence, called free will, is too depraved to chose for Christ, then the other components must also be incapable of bringing the person to see the need, and thus the person stands uncondemned, because his mentality and conscience would not have the capacity to recognize personal sin because he cannot recognize sin. This is obviously wrong.
Rom.7:7-11. The Apostle Paul gives his pre-salvation testimony. He speaks in Romans what was stirring in his heart as Saul of Tarsus as he was on his journey to Damascus to persecute the Christians, Acts 9. His conversion came at a time when he was questioning his relationship to God. A lost person according to the thinking of reformed teachers would not have been capable of this. He would have been too depraved in his fallen nature to consider his eternal soul. To think that a person would come to a tearful recognition, near repentance and so close to receiving eternal life and for God to say, I do not choose you for me, I will not draw you to me, is to believe in a cruel god.
And yet if we see God in his total essence, including his righteousness and justice we must also see him according to his conscience. The conscience of God consists of his standards of right and wrong, which is his righteousness. He is perfect in his conscience. He is also perfect in his knowledge which includes knowledge of the future, known as foreknowledge.
God is the quintessence of intelligence, yet some suppose God orders his universe apart from intelligence simply by a whim of his will.
He knows the heart of man. He knows every thought of man. He knows every act of man, if not, how else could he judge him.
Rom.11:7-8 confuses men into interpreting the will of God as absolute regarding the welfare of men, and adopting the theory of selective grace. But to look a little closer as to why God judicially hardens and blinds men or nations one must first look at the cause of this judicial act. Rom.10:3, 16, 21;11:3-20 tells us Israel was obstinate in their rejection of the Gospel.
God knows every decision of man, and he has known every decision of man from eternity past. This does not mean, however, that God’s will is dependent upon the will of man, or independent of the will of man. God knows the choices men and women will make before we make those decisions. This in no way means he makes those choices for us.
God’s Desire + God’s Decree
God has his will, which in the Greek in the noun form is the word, thelo, Rom.12:2, which refers to God’s desires or what he wants to see established or performed. Also God’s will is defined by another important Greek noun for will, boulemai, to purpose, Rom.9:19.
God, as it seems from Scripture, will permit certain events to transpire within his watch, and yet these events will only be allowed to transpire so long as they do not change the outcome of his eternal plans.
Regarding the salvation of mankind II Pet.3:9 says God is not willing, he does not purpose that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Regarding the will of God that the believer be transformed by his thinking, God desires the believer to follow that path in obedience, Rom.12:2.
The principle of reaping what you sow is the result of either following or not following the revealed will of God.
Now let’s look at election
Election simply means to pick out. It is from the Greek compound word, ek, meaning out, and lego to gather or pick; to pick out or to gather out.
1) When did God pick us out? Eph.1:4; II Thess.2:13; II Tim.1:9
ans. We were picked out in Jesus Christ in eternity past.
2) How did God pick us out? Jn.6:35-39 - with the active voice we choose
ans. He saw our free will to answer the Gospel call.
3) What divine attribute saw the believer as elect in Christ?
ans. I Pet.1:2l; Rom.8:29,according to the foreknowledge of God--proginosko- A compound Greek word, pro, before, and ginosko, to know. God knew who would believe before we believed.
4) What are the grounds of our salvation -
ans. II Cor.5:21; I Pet.1:2b The acceptable sacrifice of Christ for us.
5) The purpose of our election -
ans. Eph.1:3-6 to the praise and glory of God.
6) The means of fulfilling our purpose in God’s elect.
ans. Rom.8:29 by being molded into the image of Jesus Christ.
7) The method of being molded into the image of Jesus Christ.
ans. Rom.12:1-2 by the renewing of the mind, Phil.2:5, let the mind of Christ be in you.
8) The moment of Election
ans. takes place for the believer at the moment of salvation, II Thess.2:13
9) The visible sign of the elect.
ans. The Church, I Thess.1:3-4
10) What is the basis of election?
ans. Grace, Gal.1:6 God’s offer is non-meritorious. Believing is not a work.
11) Predestination; though in the mind of God, predestination does not initiate election, but instead is the outworking of God’s will in the life of the believer. The believer willing to be conformed into the image of Christ through allowing God’s word and God’s Holy Spirit to transform their life fulfills God ordained, predestined will, Rom.8:29. There are many believers who are rebellious and subsequently do not fulfill God’s predestined will.
Election is taught in the Bible and it is a wonderful doctrine. Understanding election requires a balanced look at Scripture. Many believers have gotten caught up in the mind numbing trap of reformers who see election simply as a whim of God’s sovereignty, a form of selective redemption.
They overlook God’s perfect integrity, and God’s true character of love for all mankind.
Ps.145:17-19; Ps.118:30; Deut.32:4; II Chron.19:7; Jn.3:16.
God shows no partiality to any man or woman. He does this for no one, Rom.2:11; Eph.6:9; Col.3:25.
He picks no one out just because he wants to. Their concept of God is misguided.
II Pet.3:9 says God is not willing that any should perish, but the reformers say he is willing that some should perish, even so much that he does not even call them to repentance.
They say He only calls those whom he chooses to save. * [ Chaffer. Vol.7 p.136.]
Rom.10:13 says whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Whosoever, to the reformer is limited to the called, and does not include anyone else as a candidate to receive the offer of eternal life. *
Lk.19:10 “ For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
To the reformer , those who are not the elect, not chosen by a whim of God’s sovereign will, must not be considered lost if Christ came only to save those of the elect.
Since all mankind is lost in sin, all mankind is a candidate for salvation.
Paul says in I Tim.4:10 that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men, especially those that believe. The offer of salvation is for all men, and it is special to those who embrace it and its Savior.
Rom.5:12 read. Spiritual death has passed upon all mankind, for all are found in a state of sin.
Rom.5:18 Just as sin passed to all, and all are unrighteous, so by the righteousness of Jesus Christ the offer of the free gift of salvation came upon all men unto the justification of life.
Jn.12:31-33 Our Lord in signifying the type of death he would die, said he would be lifted up on the cross to draw all men unto himself.
The noun all, pas, means none excluded.
According to the Calvinist, God only draws the elect to Christ.
If God only draws the elect to Christ, then why would Christ say in Jn.12:47-48 that those who reject his light, and his Word would be judged? To reject signifies an offer, a choice as a matter of fact. How is it that the lost can make a choice to reject Christ, but the elect cannot make a choice to reject Christ?
If grace were so irresistible why do some come to Christ so slowly, or so hard in deliberation.
Some men use Eph.2:8-9 to substantiate their view saying even though salvation is by grace, that God must give the sinner the faith to believe. That God for purposes of the election gives some the faith to believe and some not.
The grammatical rule is that if a pronoun is used to refer to another noun it must agree with its antecedent in gender.
An antecedent in grammar is a word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers. A pronoun is a word that may be used in place of a noun.
The noun faith, is feminine in gender, and the noun that, is neuter in gender. The part that is not of yourselves in Eph.2:8 does not refer to faith. The faith you use to receive the grace message of salvation does not come from God, it is your personal faith.
The gift of God here is not faith to believe, rather it is the salvation received freely paid for by our Lord Jesus Christ.
I have noticed in my studies that when some men, who know the language very well, and agree with the rules of Greek grammar, if the grammar does not fit their theological beliefs they leave their grammar for their theology. This to me is deceitfully handling the word of God. This is intellectual dishonesty.
You see theology is developed through systematic study, which is, comparing Scripture with Scripture; the golden rule of biblical interpretation, but language is fixed. If I am in question about a particular theology I consult the language even more intently. What I see in those who depart from the language to support their theology is a manipulation of Scripture. But, I am not their judge.
The principle of God’s grace and the free will of man are supported throughout Scripture.
God makes covenants with mankind. Some are conditional, that is, if you will I will.
Some of God’s covenants he makes with mankind require an appropriate response. A covenant is a solemn vow made between two parties.
Unconditional covenants are promises made with no strings attached. Conditional covenants depend on requirements being met. The promise of eternal life is offered by God, but it is not granted until the person believes in Jesus Christ. Some would say salvation is for the elect and is unconditional, that is God says I will redeem you and you cannot stop it. I will give to you the faith to believe it, and the call will be so strong you will not be able to resist it. But I will not make this offer irresistible, nor will I give faith to believe to ones I chose not.
The proper teaching of election must be balanced with the overall evidence of a compassionate, loving and just God. Of a Savior who is the satisfaction, i.e., [propitiation] for the sins of the whole world, and not for ours only, I Jn.2:2.
When Jesus Christ shouted on the cross in Jn.19:30 “It is finished” he was proclaiming to the Father that he had according to Heb.10:12 offered one sacrifice for sins forever, and then he sat down on the right hand of God. His work of redemption was complete. And then the grace gates were opened wide.
All the Old Testament saints who had looked toward Christ in salvation in faith were redeemed, Rom.3:25. All sins in future generations were purchased by his propitiation, and all those who would chose to accept the Gospel message down through time would have the righteousness of God imputed to their redeemed souls, II Cor.5:21.
Jesus Christ bore the sins of the whole world. He did not just bear the sins of those who accept him.
The lost person does not go to Hell for his personal sins. He goes to Hell because he refuses to believe in Jesus Christ who paid for his personal sins, I Jn.2:2.
John the Baptist said in Jn.1:29 “ ..Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Again, all personal sins were imputed to Jesus Christ on the cross.
He didn’t say, who takes away the sin of the elect, but the world. What do you suppose our Lord would say to a lost person at the Great White Throne judgment at the end of time if when the sinner is escorted before Jesus Christ, his judge, and the sinner says, “How could you not pay for my sins, but you paid for others sins. How can you send me to an eternal torment and punishment when you never wanted me to start with? I know I do not deserve to go to Heaven, but that bunch standing around your throne doesn’t either. Why did you pick them over me? I thought your word said that you were not a respecter of persons; that no one stood out and was deserving of your divine favor, so how could you pick them over me if you were no respecter of persons?” How can you say you are fair and just yet you offered me no opportunity for salvation? How can grace be real grace if you didn’t offer it to me?
The truth is, the lost are judged according to the works they substituted for salvation in Christ, and not for their personal sins, Rev.20:11-13.
From, Jn.3:18 “ He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Again John does not say the lost are condemned because of their personal sins, he says they are condemned because they have not believed in the Son of God.
John 3:18 does not say “he that is chosen in Him is not condemned, but rather John says he that believes in Christ is not condemned.
John does not say “he that is not chosen is condemned because he was not chosen to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. But rather John says “a man is condemned because he has not believed on the Son of God”.
The arguments over the sovereignty of God and the free will of man will go on until the Lord returns. What I propose is we look at the whole character and essence of God as a unit as revealed in his inspired word. We need to see all of God as he is revealed through his written word.
I am grateful God called me to salvation, but the Bible is clear that God calls everyone to repentance though his Spirit. I am also grateful God gave me a choice.
“Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other, the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” II Cor.2:14-16.