Unconditional election
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Unconditional Election. Five Points in Five Weeks and Why They Matter Week Four. Arminian Options on Election. No Election Conditional Election. No Election. Not really the Arminian position, but common today Some Christians just duck the issue altogether and deny that God elects

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Unconditional Election

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Unconditional election

Unconditional Election

Five Points in Five Weeks and Why They Matter

Week Four

Arminian options on election

Arminian Options on Election

No Election

Conditional Election

No election

No Election

  • Not really the Arminian position, but common today

  • Some Christians just duck the issue altogether and deny that God elects

  • But this is putting your head in the sand

  • Election is mentioned repeatedly throughout Scripture

  • Honest believers can’t deny the Bible teaches election, so to protect free will, they may believe…

Conditional election

Conditional Election

  • True Arminian position

  • Acknowledges that God elects

  • But on the CONDITION of foreknowledge

    • Romans 8:29

  • This inconsistent with overwhelming biblical evidence to the contrary

    • And misses meaning of “foreknowledge” in the verse

    • It is to know in the intimate sense, not just knowing what they’ll do

  • Reformed response:

    • Since dead in trespasses (Eph 2:1) only come to Christ if Father draws them (Jn 6:44)

Problems with the arminian view

Problems with the Arminian View

  • If God loves all the same, why does he not make a plan to save all?

  • Is our free will important enough for so many to die in sin?

  • If God only makes salvation available, he actually saves no one

  • And the difference in who is saved or not is due to a work

Unconditional election1

Unconditional Election

  • Clearly NOT Calvin’s starting point in the discussion

  • As we saw last week, Calvin develops the doctrine of providence first, then election much later as a specific incidence

  • If God is not Lord of election, then He is NOT over all



  • …Election is a subset of providence

  • If God controls everything, then it is his to intervene

    • If he cannot control our wills, he is not provident

  • Man, having sinned and fallen, is justly doomed to die and perish apart from God

  • All persons deserve hell and want nothing else due to original sin

    • For that would surrender autonomy

  • God himself must step in if ANY are to be saved

Augustine on election

Augustine on Election

  • “The elect of God are chosen by Him to be His children, in order that they might be made to believe, not because He foresaw that they would believe.”

  • In doctrinal terms:

  • Regeneration precedes faith

Calvin on election

Calvin on Election



  • Importance of the doctrine

    • “We shall never be clearly persuaded, as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from the wellspring of God’s free mercy until we come to know his eternal election”

  • Two wrong approaches

    • Prideful diving into the study without awe at entering “the sacred precincts of divine wisdom”

      • We should not be ashamed NOT to understand it fully

    • Duck the issue altogether



  • Predestination:

    • “God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man.”

      • Both individual and the offspring (physical and spiritual) of Abraham

  • God’s grace is uneven showing it is free

  • Thus many seek to limit God’s freedom to protect our own

  • Election

    • “As Scripture, then, clearly shows, we say that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction.”

  • God chooses in eternity the fates

    • Independent of anything about that person or his/her works

Biblical evidence

Biblical Evidence

  • Chosen in Christ before creation (Eph 1:4-5; 2 Tim 1:9)

    • Note: Goal is holiness, not just salvation (and is result of election, not works)

  • Romans 9-11

    • Note Jacob and Esau (9:11-13)

      • Refutes foreknowledge

      • Refutes works

      • For God will have mercy on whom he wills (9:15; cp. Ex 33:19)

  • John 6:37,44

    • Only those drawn by God come to him

  • And hardens whom he wills (9:18)

  • 1 Peter 2:9

    • “chosen people”

  • Jesus says he chose us, not vice versa

    • Jn 15: 16,19

    • He loses none given him by the Father (Jn 6:37-39)

  • “and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48 ESV)

  • Horton: “When we give in to election, we finally give up on ourselves in the matter of salvation.”

  • Misunderstandings and objections

    Misunderstandings and Objections

    Election without reprobation

    Election Without Reprobation??

    • Election only stands if mirrored by reprobation

    • By passing over some in election, they are left to the condemnation they deserve…and choose

    • God’s justice doesn’t owe sinners a chance

      • This is offensive as we tend to see how we as humans, who are equal, treat one another

      • But God is NOT human and does not take well to the defiance of His holiness

    • Recall Romans 9:14: he hardens

    • Also 9:22: some “prepared for destruction”

    But this makes god a tyrant

    But This Makes God a Tyrant

    • How do you define right?

    • Calvin says, “Whatever he wills, by the very fact that he wills it, must be considered righteous”

    • God merely gives people what they deserve

    • Beyond that, who are you to argue with God? (Ro 9:20-21)

    • And note Arminian view of God’s love isn’t a saving love (only makes salvation available)

    But this takes responsibility away from people

    But This Takes Responsibility Away from People

    • Back to idea of federal headship of Adam

    • Calvin holds tension in

      • Adam had free will

      • But God willed the Fall

    • Once we’re fallen, sin is sin…even if it is inevitable due to our nature

    • We struggle to see justice in sin that isn’t willed directly

    • But sin is falling short of God’s glory …PERIOD

    • …not just personal choices to do wrong

    • Again, Calvin’s doctrine is God focused, not man focused

    But then god plays favorites

    But then God Plays Favorites

    • God is not partial in many ways (Acts 10:34)

      • Jew vs. Greek

      • Riches, poverty, etc., spread among all

      • Rain falls on the just and unjust

      • This is common grace

    • But in salvation, election is unconditional

      • Not a distinguishing by anything in us

    • God is fair in punishing sinners

    • And gracious in giving ANYONE a way out

    • No one has given God anything he has to repay (Ro 11:35)

      • He doesn’t “owe” us a chance

    Then why not just party

    Then Why Not Just Party?

    • Recall the goal of election: HOLINESS

    • If not inclined to holiness, not regenerated

    • Edwards’ true religious affection is loving the beauty of holiness

    • Rather, election causes us to

      • Tremble at God’s judgment

      • Esteem his great mercy

    Spiritual regeneration changes us

    Spiritual Regeneration Changes Us

    • “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

      • Phil. 2:13

    • If we are regenerated, we have a will to do right and the Spirit moves us so to do

    • John15:16: Jesus chose us so we’d bear fruit

    Why then preach the gospel

    Why Then Preach the Gospel?

    • “hypercalvinists” see no need

    • Preaching and sharing are means to God’s end of effectually calling

    • We don’t know who is elect

    • And, uh, well, …

      • God commands us! Mt. 28:19-20

    Other objections

    Other Objections

    • Ezekiel 33:11: But God wills the wicked to turn back

      • ANS: God will meet their repentance …but that won’t happen

    • 1 Tim. 2:3-4: Wills all to be saved

      • ANS: In context of prayer, remember all TYPES of people are to be saved

      • And welcomes those who turn (but they don’t without Him)

    • This raises doubt in Gospel promises

      • ANS: Not at all as they are extended freely

      • But only God gives life so we can embrace them

      • He gives the faith to trust them (Cp. Mt. 23:37 about Jerusalem)

    • As Augustine says, to judge God’s justice by human standards is to act “perversely”

    Why it matters

    Why It Matters

    Why election matters

    Why Election Matters

    • Protects God’s sovereignty

      • Compare the “poor Jesus” theology of our day

      • Jesus pitifully pleading for us to be saved but unable to change our powerful free will

    • Back to providence

      • When God is weak in salvation, we lack faith in his power in other areas

    • Draws us back to the God of the Bible

      • Yes, God is loving

      • But he is also HOLY

    • Empowers prayer

      • God is greater than free will

    • Keeps us humble

      • We’re not saved because we were clever enough to believe

    • Gives us assurance

      • As salvation is of God, not of us

    • Yet motivates us to be faithful

      • be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall

        • 2 Peter 1:10

  • Gives us great hope

    • God is in control

    • Witness the ups and downs of Israel

    • Why would the Church look different??

  • Moves us to worship

  • And to serve out of gratitude, not fear of punishment or hope of reward (contra Wesley)

  • The big picture

    The Big Picture

    • Election is a means, not an end

    • The goal is to be conformed the image of Christ

    • But not an option if we’re spiritually dead

    • So, those God intimately knew because he chose us

      • Are predestined to Christlikeness

      • Requiring God to effectually call

      • Then justify (once regenerated)

      • And eventually glorify us!

    • THIS is why all things work together for good

    • 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. (Romans 8:26-30 ESV)

    Summing it up

    Summing It Up

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

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