Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tiptoeing through the TULIPs - Part 2: Unconditional Election

Unconditional Election
God is holy and just, and all who fall short of his standard for perfection are under condemnation (Romans 1:18, Romans 6:23). It would be contrary to God's nature for him to allow any sin to go unpunished.

So, if all are born into sin, what hope do we have? Our hope lies in the very one who is condemning us. Because we are completely powerless to overcome sin on our own, he, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, effectively draws certain people unto himself. In other words, he chooses who will be saved and who will not be saved.

Most Christians will agree -- to a point. They cannot deny the doctrine of election entirely because scripture uses the terms "elect" and "election" explicitly (Matthew 24:41, Luke 18:7, Romans 11:28, 2nd Timothy 2:10, 2nd Peter 1:10, etc.). However, many believe the election referred to is conditional.

Here is how conditional election works: God, at some point in eternity past, looked ahead down the corridors of time and, according to his foreknowledge, saw who would receive Christ as savior. Those are the ones he then predestined for salvation. This may seem like a simple explanation, but it's wrong.

Here is what Paul writes in Romans 9:9-13:
    For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 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 -- she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
It couldn't be any clearer. God's election is unconditional in that it is not based on anything we have done, are doing, or will do.

Naturally, this doesn't seem "fair" according to human standards. Paul anticipates that and continues in verses 14-18:
    What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
God's will is the key to understanding this important doctrine. We learn in Ephesians 1:11 that our predestination is "according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." Doesn't it make much more sense that God's election is based on his own sovereign will rather than the fallen will of man?

The more I contemplate the doctrine of unconditional election, the more I am humbled. God had every right to condemn me to hell for all eternity, but he didn't. And while I don't know why he chose me in Christ for salvation, scripture reminds me constantly that it had nothing to do with my works: "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" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The truth is that we believers, even in eternity, may never know why God predestined us for salvation. We do know that what was done was done in such a way "so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1st Corinthians 1:27). In short, election is unconditional so that all glory is reserved for God and God alone.

Part 1: Total Depravity
Part 2: Unconditional Election
Part 3: Limited Atonement
Part 4: Irresistable Grace
Part 5: Perseverance of the Saints


alfred angelo hickey said...

Election while it might be a plan of God is most definitely conditional. If we do not firgive, God will not forgive us. This is because hypocrisy is the bar by which God judges us.

This is defined by Him. It would be hypocrisy not to forgive, when we take His grace freely.

This is also seen when the bible says, judge not lest ye be judged.

Furthermore Paul suggests in Ephesians that the elect can lose their election. Not that we will ever know ! Suggesting another view.

The problem with predestination and election is that God can be negotiated with by people and can change His mind. His love and wrath are the same yesterday today and forever. This responds to what we choose and how we respond to Him moment by moment.

I have a feeling some of you guys and maybe Calvin are Deist. You believe in a clockwork, impersonal God who sits on His armchair.

I propose this is because some of you have a problem with the mystical or supernatural, necessary for sincere belief in God.

I am glad that Calvin was smart enough to acknowledge the mystical, not mysterious as some distort.

Remember that even if one of His is given a cup of water, it will be rewarded.

He thinks as much as we do. He holds to His promises though. He's edgy though when we break basic covenant agreements. If we are real He will discipline us. Maybe this is the better evidence of election than material blessing or even "fruit," despite the scripture, you will know them by their fruit.

How can we ever measure the fruit of the heart. Or good works that we don't show anyone or even the light on top of a hill that is hidden by the bowl of lies, church politics or the world.

The better evidence of "election" and maybe salvation, might be that "God disciplines those that He loves."

Unknown said...

Faith Alone Obliterated

The intention of this post is to be a simple, yet very direct refutation of Justification by Faith alone, especially as it pertains to the example of Abraham.

Between Protestants and Catholics there is a divide on what grounds God blessed Abraham. I believe Genesis 26:4f does a fine job of answering this question, when God speaks to Isaac, Abraham's son:

I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.

Here God recalls all the main promises God made to Abraham, including the famous account of Genesis 15:5f where God promises descendants as numerous as the stars.

What is important to note is why God would bless Abraham in this way: because Abraham obeyed throughout his walk with God. The force of the commendation is too powerful to gloss over, for it mentions Abraham's keeping of God's requirements, commands, decrees, and laws.

Now, this obviously poses a problem for Protestants, who claim God blessed Abraham on the grounds of faith alone. How do Protestants respond to the above verse?

Lee Shelton said...

A Protestant might respond by quoting Romans 4:13-16: "For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all"

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