UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

This is the second of my posts on TULIP and my understanding of the 5 points of Calvinism or Reformed Theology.

What is taught by Reformed Theology: This choosing of the elect (and non-elect) is totally in conjunction with (or a function of) God’s sovereignty over His creation. God’s sovereignty basically means that God had the right to do anything He wishes with His creation. This is sometimes hard for us to accept but it is true. The Creator is always greater than the creation. In Romans chapter 9 the Apostle Paul gives us 3 examples explaining God’s sovereignty. In verses 9-13 Paul explains the Esau will serve Jacob, in verses 17-18 Paul tells of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, and in verses 19-23 Paul uses the example of the potter’s right to create out of the clay whatever he wishes. I recently saw (in his chat room) Dr. James White explain God’s sovereignty in the matter of election in this way (I will paraphrase). God has 3 choices in election – 1) God can save everybody, 2) God can save nobody, or 3)God can save some. Option 1 and 2 give God no room to exercise His sovereignty. Only option 3 allows God to exercise His sovereignty over His creation.

First we must consider the meaning of unconditional. By definition we see that there must be an absence of conditions for God’s sovereign election of His people. There are no conditions placed on God that require He elect or not elect someone. If conditions were imposed on God during this process then God ceases to be sovereign.

Next we turn to election. Throughout the Bible the concept of election or predestination is taught. The elect are the group of people who will receive salvation and who will become known as God’s children (John 1:12-13). Two examples are found in these passages

1 Peter 2:8-9 says, “They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Romans 8:28-30 says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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.”

Unconditional election basically means that God, of His own will and pleasure, chooses some people to be among the elect. This choice is not merited in any way by the person God chooses. God does not see some good in the person, He does not look down the corridor of time and see that the person will choose Him, He does not see any future good works the person will do, etc. It is solely a choice by God according to God’s plan and purpose and for His glory and pleasure. God made this election or choice before the foundation of the world…before anything was created and before any man was born (Ephesians 1:3-14).

In summary, God has chosen to set apart (elect/predestine) some people to receive salvation and to become the children of God. He does this for His own purpose and pleasure and the decision to elect or not elect is in no way connected to any merit found with the person. In fact, the decision as to who would be included in the elect was made before the foundation of the world.

My Questions and Comments: The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this is that it IS God’s right to do with us as He chooses. God is sovereign over all of creation. If God wants to choose only some people to be included among the elect that is His right. It is a hard thing to swallow that God would choose some to be elect and others to be reprobate and those who were reprobate would never have that chance to receive salvation. This is known as Double Predestination. If God actively and sovereignly chooses some to be members of the elect (and He does) then He also is actively and sovereignly choose everyone else to be members of the reprobate. I can see no way around this. Not choosing is still a choice.

The next thing that comes to mind is a question. Does God allow the person to have a say as to whether he wants to be included in the elect? If God does allow the person to have a say then who is really sovereign – God or the person? Some would day that if the person has a say then God in no longer the sovereign being in the deal and the person is really sovereign. I have always thought that God’s allowing the person to have a say…to accept the offer of salvation..takes nothing away from God’s sovereignty. It would seem to me that it only sheds more light on truly how sovereign God is. Do you agree or disagree?

As a Southern Baptist, I have always been taught that we have to accept the offer of salvation to become a member of the elect. In my studies this seems to be implied throughout the New Testament but nowhere does it say it explicitly (that I am aware of). As a result, I have been doing a lot of reading and studying to see what the text of the Bible really teaches.

A key passage that I am struggling with right now is John 6:44. It says: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. The problem I am having is with the word “draws”. Draws seems to imply that God convinces or woos the person to come to Him. RC Sproul, in his book Chosen By God (p. 69-70), states that the same Greek word translated draw in this verse is translated as drag in two other NT verses. If the correct meaning in verse 44 is drag then it would change my entire understanding of the concept and necessitate a change in my theology. This actually caused me to have trouble sleeping the night I read this as the implications of the different meaning of the verse were bouncing around in my head.

Remember this is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of the topic but just some points to help me work through them in my mind.  Any questions or  comments are welcomed.

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12 Responses to UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

  1. Pingback: A Quick Word Study from John 6:44 « Love Acceptance Forgiveness

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  6. Thank you for posting this:

    The verse you are struggling says” No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

    I believe this verse talks about man’s depravity and God’s sovereign (FREE) choice.

    No one can come to Christ in faith on his own, verse 37 suggests that the Father had a group of people (elect) that He had given to Christ.

    Check out

    John 17:2 ” For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”

    verse 6: “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.”

    verse 9: “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. ”

    verse 20 – 26: Talks about a certain group of people whom God the Father had chosen and had given to Christ.

    Now I see a whole package of salvation here… truly it is God’s work and nothing in Man… otherwise it will no longer be grace.

    If you are thingking of being elected if you will believe and be saved or be part of the church, i think election has no power or use. (since you’re already saved)

    I’m convicted that the reason you believed is that… God had already chosen you and have enabled you to come to Christ.

    Acts 13:48 “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

    Thank you… i learned from you.

    In Christ,

    Ricky

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  7. Tom Shelton says:

    Ricky,

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    I want to let you know that since I wrote this post (nearly 3 years ago) I have come to accept and believe in unconditional election fully. I have studied and prayed and finally come to realize that Reformed Theology is the best and truest interpretation of the Scripture.

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  8. Ricky says:

    Good to hear that Sir!

    I’m glad to find your site… Actually I preached yesterday about Unconditional Election, ‘coz we’re having a series on TULIP.

    I also learned from what you’re thinking 3 years ago…

    God is really good!

    Let’s continue to serve HIM!

    Soli Deo Gloria

    Ricky

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  9. Tom Shelton says:

    Is the sermon archived anywhere on the net? If so, I would love to hear it.

    Like

  10. Catholics believe God gives everyone sufficient Grace to make him/her, using his/her freedom, turn to God and be saved. One way to explain it is using Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).

    In the parable the Master gave different number of talents to his three servants according to their abilities.

    The Master obviously had the right to decide how many talents each servant received. The servant with only one talent was later condemned.

    Yet his Master did not intend to condemn him by giving him only one talent. Had he deposited it in the bank he would be fine like the other two.

    The servant was condemned for his own wrong action, i.e. hiding the single talent entrusted to him.

    Thus Catholics believe that condemnation of the Reprobate always involves their freedom to reject God’s Grace – in other words they are responsible for their damnation.

    Catholic’s view on Reprobation is called as Positive Conditional Reprobation – when God created the world He, being omniscience, foresaw the Reprobate’s rejection to His Grace and let them use their freedom to do so.

    Yet God still wants them to be saved and still gives them sufficient Grace.

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  11. Darryl Flood says:

    So if God has already chosen who it is that shall be saved, then being saved can indeed be likened to some kind of lottery, which all humans are forced to be a part of. Unconditional election does a great job of bringing non-Biblical ideas such as fate and even karma into the Christian faith. It fosters apathy in evangelism because no one will need the Gospel who isn’t already saved or already condemned, and both conditions are fixed. It also makes God a respecter of persons.

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