Friday, August 15, 2008

The Sovereignty of God



For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God elects some in order to insure that they go to Heaven.

Who comes to Christ?:
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37)

Man, being sinful, always tries to add something that they did, to save them. But Scripture says it is 100% God that draws a person to Christ and saves them. Even the choice is of God.

People are very resistant to relinquishing control - that's why people have such a hard time accepting the doctrine of Election, which Paul (and others) defended so strongly.

He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. (Ephesians 1:5)

Unless God elects and intervenes in the human soul first, no man would ever want to taste of God's saving grace.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will...(Ephesians 1:11)

God not only creates the salvation, but He also creates the desire and the ability to serve Him once we are saved.

For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. (Romans 9:15-16)


God, throughout history, has consistently chosen some out of a people who only deserve Hell.

God chose Moses. God did not choose Pharaoh. But neither Pharaoh nor Moses received injustice. Only one of them, however, received God's mercy. Did either Moses or Pharaoh deserve God's mercy? No. Both were sinners. Both murdered people. But Moses received special, super grace. That is election.

Saul, who became Paul, was a wicked man. He was wicked, just as Pontius Pilate was wicked. Yet Christ came down and knocked Saul off his horse with a blinding light, and conversed with Saul - before Saul had any faith or good motive of any kind. Saul was, in fact, running around and killing Christians. And what about Pilate? When Jesus stood before Pilate, Jesus said virtually nothing to Pilate. Jesus did not tell Pilate how to gain eternal life. Pilate was allowed to harden his heart. God did not specially intervene on Pilate's part, as He did with Saul.

Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. (Genesis 17:19-22)

God does bless Ishmael outwardly, because Abraham asked Him to. But God rejects Ishmael as the one through whom His promise would come, and says that Isaac will be that one. This is election.

Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." (Romans 9:10-13)

God chose Jacob and rejected Esau, even before they were born. God decided in advance. This is election and predestination.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)

God loves all, but He loves the Elect with a special, distinguishing love.

What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened...(Romans 11:7)

Does God treat people unfairly? No. Does God treat people unequally? Yes.

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea:
"I will call them 'my people' who are not my people;
and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one...(Romans 9:14-25)

20 comments:

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Nice general overview Jeff. One of the problems people have with the doctrine of election is that they believe that God does something "against our will". For instance, I've heard it said over and over that election means that God will save people "who are kicking and screaming against Him" while damning people who are sincerly seeking Him by "closing their eyes and hardening their hearts". This simply isn't the case at all. God either opens the eyes of the blind to see Him (and then they WILLINGLY come to Him), or He leaves them in their blindness (and they WILLINGLY reject Him).

When I came to Christ for salvation, it was ME who exercised MY faith to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior--God didn't exercise His faith on my behalf. I WILLINGLY came to Jesus and believed in Him. Of course, God had to "open my eyes" and give me a "new heart" first (otherwise I would never have come to Him). But once He did His work of grace by the power of the Spirit (the "new birth"), He didn't have to drag me "kicking and screaming" into His Kingdom--I came willingly because I saw the truth.

In a similar fashion, God doesn't send a person to hell who is truly seeking Him and wants to know Him--because apart from the work of grace, apart from the "new birth", none do truly seek Him. A person is still in his sin unless God calls him "out of darkness and into the Kingdom of His beloved Son". No matter how sincere a person believes he is in "seeking" God, unless the Spirit is calling him, he will never come to Christ.

People don't necessarily hate righteousness (we all know what's "right" when it is us who are personally "wronged" and there are many "good" people in the world); people just hate the Gospel. And that's because the Gospel shows them their need for an "alien" righteousness (a righteousness not of their own, but Christ's righteousness). Look at Saul/Paul. He "loved" God (according to his understanding as a Jew under the law); and was "blameless under the Law". No one could convince him that he wasn't "righteous" or that he didn't "want" or "desire" God--that's ALL he wanted! But he hated the Gospel!

As much as a person may think that he is "wanting" God or "seeking" God, he is always wanting Him on their own terms--he doesn't want Christ as his "all in all". God never turns away any who call on Him through Jesus Christ--but none do except by the work of the Spirit.

God's sovereignty and human responsibility is a difficult concept to understand--numerous books have been written on the subject. But we must let the Bible determine how we understand it. Salvation is completely, 100% a work of God and God alone; yet, as individuals, WE do the "believing" (not God for us) and WE exercise our own "faith" (God doesn't do it for us). This is how the Bible speaks...who are we to complain that we don't like it?

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

EXCELLENT clarification and comment! Thank you for that really good input!

Tamela's Place said...

Very interesting Jeff. In my few Bible courses in College I learned under some of Pinks studies. I studied the book of John/commentary authored by Pink. He is an electionists, you probably have heard of him.

My understanding is that salvation is for everyone. But God's super grace so to speak He will choose who He gives that to. I will have compassion on whom i will have compassion and i will have mercy on whom i will have mercy.

But as for me i don't think that there is a day that doesn't go by that i don't ask God for His mercy and Grace to be in my life. So Could it be a possibility that sometimes the one who asks is the one He elects? Because i know i need it. The carnal man and the spiritual man are at constant war with one another. So God's grace and mercy in my life is needed daily and also without His grace and mercy i know that i literally wouldn't be able to take my next breath. For it is in Him that i live and move and have my being.

In my studies i understand that God takes great pleasure in our asking of Him. What Father doesn't desire their children to come to Him and ask of Him? Jesus says you have not because you ask not. So i feel as though we do have a part in God showing us His compassion and mercy and super grace.

I understand that God puts it in us to desire Him. it is God's will that none should perish. So i would say that He has elected all of us for salvation and to desire to draw near to Him. Draw nigh to me and I will draw nigh to you. But there are some that will not come because they quench His stirring in them. I guess what i am saying is being elected of God as for the super abundant grace giving.. yes He does elect.. but i believe that He delights in our asking of this for our lives because asking of our Father is a show of a child-like heart and humility. Not to say that He won't elect without being asked there are plenty of scriptures to back that up. But what if His elections isn't that black and white? Why else did Jesus say for us to ask?

But when it comes to salvation I have a hard time with the electionist stand. Maybe we are saying the same thing?

I thought your post to be very intrigueing it took me back to my Bible college days. Which i loved! It was very thought provoking for me.. God bless you and have a great weekend! Sorry so long just got carried away! LOL!

satire and theology said...

Thanks, Jeff.

I also deal with this topic often on my thekingpin68 blog.

Does God treat people unfairly? No. Does God treat people unequally? Yes.

God judges fairly, but it does not mean he views all persons as equally valuable when and if restored.

Jeff said...

Tamela,

Thanks for your comment. Election is a subject that grates against our human nature, and therefore is a hard concept to accept.

I have heard of A.W. Pink, but I have not really studied his works.

But as for me i don't think that there is a day that doesn't go by that i don't ask God for His mercy and Grace to be in my life. So Could it be a possibility that sometimes the one who asks is the one He elects?

Faith is a gift from God. Even the desire to ask Him comes from God. The unregenerated (i.e., lost) person has no desire for God.

So God's grace and mercy in my life is needed daily and also without His grace and mercy i know that i literally wouldn't be able to take my next breath. For it is in Him that i live and move and have my being.

Yes. Our very existence comes from Him. Everything but our fallen nature and sinful desires come from Him. Therefore, we do not have the capacity to even desire Him, until we are saved. The nation of Israel was elected by God. Abraham was elected by God. Moses was elected by God. None of them would have come to God unless He elected them to. It's the same in the New Testament.

What Father doesn't desire their children to come to Him and ask of Him?

True. However, the lost are not His children; they are merely His creations.

So i feel as though we do have a part in God showing us His compassion and mercy and super grace.

God does work in relationship with us. However, again, the initial faith and desire to even ask Him or come to Him, come from Him. None of that would be possible without Him. Even our decision to be saved comes from Him, because the natural man does not desire the things of God, as the Bible says.

I need to try to learn how to talk about doctrine without getting into an argument about it. With you, it seems easy, because you seem like you have a gentle spirit. I want to try to learn to stand up for true doctrine and not compromise, and not to worry about what people think, but at the same time, to be gentle as a dove (yet wise as a serpent). I have not reached this goal yet, but I want to move towards that.

Thank you again, Tamela, for your comment.

Tamela's Place said...

I understand what you are saying Jeff, Thankyou for your reply. I thought you were very gentle in it as well as wise! God bless you!

Jeff said...

Russ,

God judges fairly, but it does not mean he views all persons as equally valuable when and if restored.

Yeah, we humans, even if just subconsciously, tend to think of ourselves as God's equal. We don't want to think of ourselves as something that was created. We tend to want to highly exalt ourselves.

As an artist, I have created drawings, sculptures, digital artwork and paintings. Some of them have been published. Some have been thrown away. Some are just stored somewhere, not being used. Some have been framed. Some were used for serious purposes, and some were used for humor. Although this is not a perfect comparison or analogy, God is a God of variation, and does not create all things for the same purpose, or equally for the same use.

Jeff said...

Tamela,

I understand what you are saying Jeff, Thankyou for your reply. I thought you were very gentle in it as well as wise! God bless you!

Thank you!! May the Lord richly bless you, and may you be drawn closer to Him.

thekingpin68 said...

As an artist, I have created drawings, sculptures, digital artwork and paintings.

I am sorry...create your own worl...Bob Ross.;)

Anonymous said...

Man, I love Gotquestions.org. It has great answers.

Question: "Unconditional Election - is it Biblical?"

Answer: Unconditional Election is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the predestination—or the election—of people for salvation. It represents the second letter of the acronym TULIP, which is commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism, also known as the Doctrines of Grace. Other terms for the same doctrine include “Unmerited Favor”, “Sovereign Election” or “Adopted by God.” All these terms are good names for this doctrine because each reveals some aspect of the doctrine of election. However, more important than the term we use to describe the doctrine is how accurately the doctrine summarizes what the Bible teaches about election and predestination.

The debate over unconditional election is not whether or not God elects or predestines people to salvation but upon what basis He elects them. Is that election based upon foreknowledge that those individuals will have faith in Christ, or is it based upon God’s sovereign choice to save them? As the word unconditional implies, this view believes that God’s election of people to salvation is done “with no conditions attached, either foreseen or otherwise.” God elects people to salvation by His own sovereign choice and not because of some future action they will perform or condition they will meet. Those who come to Christ become His children by His will, not by theirs. “They were not God's children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children” (John 1:13 CEV).

God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have chosen to save all men (He certainly has the power and authority to do so), and He could have chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10-24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8).

There are many verses in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of election, and when one looks at all the Bible teaches about election and predestination it becomes obvious that God’s choice was not based on any foreseen act or response, but was based solely on God’s own good pleasure and sovereign will. Properly understood, God’s unconditional election is one link in the unbreakable chain of salvation seen in Romans 8:28-29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” All those who are predestined will be saved (John 6:39; Romans 8:30) because they are the ones that God the Father gives to Jesus Christ (John 6:37) who will raise them up on the last day (John 6:39; John 17:2). They are Christ’s sheep (John 10:1-30) who hear His voice and for whom He died (John 10:15) in order to give them eternal life and make them secure forever in the hand of God (John 10:26-30).

There are several common misconceptions about unconditional election. First it is important to understand that the doctrine does not teach that God’s choice is capricious or arbitrary. It is not random or made without reason. What it does teach is that the reason God elects someone to salvation is not because of something worthy God finds in that individual but because of His inscrutable, mysterious will. He makes the choice as to who will be saved for His own reasons, according to His own perfect will and for His own good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5). And while some object to the doctrine of election as being unfair, it is nevertheless based upon God’s will and it pleases God; therefore it must be good and perfectly just.

Another misconception is that unconditional election precludes and stifles evangelism, but the reality is just the opposite—it empowers and confirms it. When one correctly understands that God has not only elected certain individuals to salvation but also has ordained the means of salvation—the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 1:16; Romans 10:14-17)—it empowers the spreading of the Gospel message and the call to evangelism. We see this very thing in Paul’s writing to Timothy in the midst of deep persecution. “I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ…” (2 Timothy 2:10). A proper understanding of the doctrine of election encourages evangelism and guarantees its success. It overcomes the fear of failure when sharing the Gospel and empowers people to remain faithful to the message in times of great persecution. They know that the power lies in the Gospel message and in God’s sovereign election and not in their own feeble presentation. A biblical understanding of election helps one share the Gospel freely with all people, knowing that anyone of them could be Christ’s sheep whom He is calling into His fold (John 10:16). It is not up to us to determine if someone is elect or non-elect, and there is always a hope of salvation for anyone who will repent of their sins and believe in Christ. The Gospel message should be preached to all people in the knowledge that God will use it to draw His sheep to Himself.

Unconditional election also does not mean that there will be people in heaven who do not want to be there, nor will there be people in hell who wanted to be saved but could not be because they were not elect. Unconditional election properly recognizes that, apart from God’s supernatural work in the life of a sinner, men will always choose to reject God and rebel against Him (see the article on Total Depravity for more information on this subject). What unconditional election does correctly recognize is that God intervenes in the lives of the elect and works in their lives through the Holy Spirit so that they willingly respond in faith to Him. Because they are “His sheep…they hear his voice and follow Him” (John 10:1-30). As for the non-elect, God is still gracious to them, but because of their sin they are not thankful for that grace, nor do they acknowledge Him as God (Romans 1:18-20). Consequently, they receive the just punishment due them. Those whom God elects are beneficiaries of His sovereign grace and mercy, and those whom He does not elect receive the justice they have earned. While the elect receive God’s perfect grace, the non-elect receive God’s perfect justice.

Those who argue against unconditional election often use verses like 1 Timothy 2:4 and John 3:16. How can we reconcile election with a verse like I Timothy 2:4 that says that God “desires all me to be saved” or John 3:16 that says God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”? The answer lies in correctly understanding the will of God and the love of God. God’s passive will needs to be understood in contrast to His decreed will (those things He foreordains to happen). The passive will of God includes the things He might desire in a sense but does not foreordain or bring to pass. Certainly if God is sovereign and all powerful, as the Bible declares Him to be, then He could bring about the salvation of all men if that was His decreed or pre-determined will. Reconciling this verse and others with the many that teach election is an unconditional choice of God is no more difficult that recognizing that there are things God might desire but does not decree to happen. It could be said that God does not desire men to sin but as part of his predetermined plan He allows them to sin. So while there is a real sense in which God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked and desires that all be saved, His pre-determined plan allows for the fact that some will go to hell.

In a similar way, concerning John 3:16 and God’s love, the difference lies in God’s general love for all creation and all humanity versus His specific love for His children, the elect. The difference is that God’s love for His elect is an intensive love that has Him actually doing something about their lost condition instead of simply sitting by wishing that they would in turn love Him, a picture so often conjured up by those who believe themselves to be in control of their own eternal destiny. In a generic sense, God desires all to be saved and He loves all of humanity, but that is completely different from the specific love He has for His elect and His desire and provision for their salvation.

When one examines what the Bible teaches about election and predestination, it becomes clear that the doctrine of unconditional election does accurately represent what the Bible teaches on this important subject. While this—or any of the other Doctrines of Grace—can stand on their own merit, their importance becomes even clearer when they are considered together systematically with all the Bible teaches about salvation. They essentially serve as building blocks with each one furnishing a necessary part of a biblical understanding of salvation. Total depravity defines man’s need for salvation and reveals his hopelessness when left to his own resources. It leaves man with the question “Who can be saved?” The answer lies in an understanding of unconditional election—God’s sovereign choice to save people despite their depravity and based solely on His redeeming for Himself people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This He accomplishes by predestining them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5). A proper understanding of this doctrine should not result in questioning the justice of God, but instead in marveling at His great mercy. The question we really should ask is not why God chooses only some to salvation but why He would choose any at all.

Anonymous said...

Look at this, man. This is another great answer from GotQuestions.org. Man, you gotta read this. This is it, dude.


Question: "How are predestination and election connected with foreknowledge?"

Answer: Certainly, since God knows everything, it would have been possible for God to base His predestination and election of individuals upon His foreknowledge of the future. In fact, that is the exact position that many Christians believe, as it is the Arminian view of predestination. The problem is that it really is not what the Bible teaches about predestination, election, and foreknowledge. In order to understand why the view that “God made His choice based on merely knowing the future” is not what the Bible teaches, let’s first consider a couple of verses that speak to the reason God elected or predestined people to salvation.

Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” According to this verse, the basis of our being predestined is not something that we do or will do, but is based solely on the will of God for His own pleasure. As Romans 9:15-16 says, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.” Similarly, Romans 9:11 declares regarding Jacob and Esau, “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls.” Then again in Ephesians 1:11 we see that people are “chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” From these and many others passages, we see that Scripture consistently teaches that predestination or election is not based upon something that we do or will do. God predestined people based on His own sovereign will to redeem for Himself people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. God predetermined or predestined this from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) based solely on His sovereign will and not because of anything that He knew the people would do.

But what about Romans 8:29 where it says that those “He foreknew, He also predestined”? Doesn’t that seem to say that predestination is based upon the foreknowledge of God? Of course, the answer is yes, it does teach that predestination is based on the foreknowledge of God. But what does the word foreknowledge mean? Does it mean “based upon God’s knowledge of the future,” meaning God simply looks down through the future and sees who will believe the gospel message and then predestines or elects them? If that were the case, it would contradict the verses above from Romans and Ephesians that make it very clear election is not based on anything man does or will do.

Fortunately, God does not leave us to wonder about this issue. In John 10:26, Jesus said, “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” The reason some people believe is that they belong to God. They were chosen for salvation, not based on the fact that they would one day believe, but because God chose them for “adoption as sons in Christ Jesus” before they ever existed. The reason one person believes and another person does not is that one person has been adopted by God and the other has not. The truth is that the word foreknew in Romans 8:29 is not speaking of God's knowing the future. The word foreknowledge is never used in terms of knowing about future events, times or actions (God’s omniscience). What it does describe is a predetermined relationship in the knowledge of God whereby God brings the salvation relationship into existence by decreeing it into existence ahead of time.

The word know is sometimes used in the Bible to describe an intimate or personal relationship between a man and a woman. In a similar sense, before God ever created the heavens and earth, and a long time before we were ever born, God knew His elect in a personal way and chose them to be His sheep, not because they would someday follow Him but in order to guarantee that they would follow Him. His knowing them and choosing them is the reason they follow Him, not the other way around. The issue really is not whether or not God knows who will believe, but why some believe and others do not. The answer to that is God chooses to have mercy on some and others He leaves in their sinful rebellion.

The following quote by John Murray is excellent in dealing with this issue: "Even if it were granted that ‘foreknew’ means the foresight of faith, the biblical doctrine of sovereign election is not thereby eliminated or disproven. For it is certainly true that God foresees faith; He foresees all that comes to pass. The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith, which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith He himself creates (cf. John 3:3-8; 6:44, 45, 65; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Peter 1:2). Hence His eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by His decree to generate this faith in those whom He foresees as believing."

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

Those two posts sum it up very nicely.

There are several common misconceptions about unconditional election. First it is important to understand that the doctrine does not teach that God’s choice is capricious or arbitrary. It is not random or made without reason. What it does teach is that the reason God elects someone to salvation is not because of something worthy God finds in that individual but because of His inscrutable, mysterious will.

Yeah, I guess it is a mystery, and we, as humans, cannot hope to fully understand God. If we did, He would not be God.

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

And while some object to the doctrine of election as being unfair, it is nevertheless based upon God’s will and it pleases God; therefore it must be good and perfectly just.

I guess that's one point that so many people have such a hard time with. People want to focus on their importance. But, it's really not about us; it's about God, and His will. And, He is indeed perfectly good, perfectly loving, and perfectly just. But, He also allows a certain freedom, and, when sin is introduced, then love and justice are at odds. Jesus, however, bridged the problem between love and justice when He died on the cross.

Jeff said...

A proper understanding of the doctrine of election encourages evangelism and guarantees its success. It overcomes the fear of failure when sharing the Gospel and empowers people to remain faithful to the message in times of great persecution. They know that the power lies in the Gospel message and in God’s sovereign election and not in their own feeble presentation. A biblical understanding of election helps one share the Gospel freely with all people, knowing that anyone of them could be Christ’s sheep whom He is calling into His fold (John 10:16).

Very well said.

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

Those who argue against unconditional election often use verses like 1 Timothy 2:4 and John 3:16. How can we reconcile election with a verse like I Timothy 2:4 that says that God “desires all me to be saved” or John 3:16 that says God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”? The answer lies in correctly understanding the will of God and the love of God. God’s passive will needs to be understood in contrast to His decreed will (those things He foreordains to happen). The passive will of God includes the things He might desire in a sense but does not foreordain or bring to pass. Certainly if God is sovereign and all powerful, as the Bible declares Him to be, then He could bring about the salvation of all men if that was His decreed or pre-determined will. Reconciling this verse and others with the many that teach election is an unconditional choice of God is no more difficult that recognizing that there are things God might desire but does not decree to happen. It could be said that God does not desire men to sin but as part of his predetermined plan He allows them to sin. So while there is a real sense in which God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked and desires that all be saved, His pre-determined plan allows for the fact that some will go to hell.

That is really well-said. It is really a difficult concept to understand, and maybe none of us understands it to its fullest depth.

However, if it is truly God's determined will for all men to be saved, since all men are not saved, then that would be saying that God is not all-powerful. And, if God gives man any choice in the matter, that would be leaving it up to chance, which would mean that He really doesn't want everyone to be saved that badly---or else He would make sure that every single person got saved, and not leave it up to chance. Though I can't pretend to fully and completely understand it, the idea of a 'passive' will and a 'decreed' will makes sense. And comparing it to God's will about sin is helpful.

People think God is unfair because they tend to think that every human being is a child of God. But actually, only those who are saved (born again) are (adopted) children of God. Those who are unsaved are merely creations of God. Also, if you create something, then you have the right to say what you want to do with it or use it for. God loves all, but I don't think He has an equal love for all, any more than a person would have the same love for their rabbit that they would for their husband or wife. God treats people fairly, but He does not treat everyone equally.

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

In a similar way, concerning John 3:16 and God’s love, the difference lies in God’s general love for all creation and all humanity versus His specific love for His children, the elect.

Cool, that's basically what I just said in my last post (I'm making comments as I read).

Jeff said...

The question we really should ask is not why God chooses only some to salvation but why He would choose any at all.

Excellent point.

Jeff said...

The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith, which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith He himself creates (cf. John 3:3-8; 6:44, 45, 65; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Peter 1:2). Hence His eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by His decree to generate this faith in those whom He foresees as believing."

Excellent point.
Yes, faith itself is a gift from God. Those to whom God has given that faith are (or will be) saved, and those whom God has not given that gift of faith only have their free will to rely on, and free will (in the unregenerate person) leads to rebellion against God every time. Free will by fallen, corrupted man never, ever chooses Christ, any more than Satan or one of the demons would choose Christ.

Puritan Lad said...

Thanks for the comment Jeff,

You might be interested in a blog series I did on the Covenant Theology Blog back in October of 2006, where I dealt with all five points of Calvinism as well as the ramifications of those doctrines.

Blessings,

PL

Jeff said...

Puritan Lad,

Thanks, I'll have to check that out.