Last month (August) we began a series of articles in order to examine each of The Five Points of Calvinism. These points are popularly known by the acronym TULIP: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. The articles contain a lot of Bible references. You may, of course, have your Bible open and flip to all the passages. Or, you might want to consider heading to my website, where I post these Link Articles (http://rogermccay.org/link-articles/). The website automatically brings up the verse in a pop-up when you run your mouse over it or you tap the reference on your screen.
Now, you may recall from last month that Total Depravity means that in our unregenerate state (i.e. before we are born again), we are all corrupted sinners, and cannot of our own free will choose to receive Christ and his salvation from God’s wrath. This is because we are enslaved to sin. Without God doing something to rectify this problem, we have no hope. This month we are looking at Unconditional Election, which is one aspect of God “doing something.” We find a definition of it in The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF III.3-5):
By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto: and all to the praise of His glorious grace.
Essentially, God, out of love, elected/predestined/chose some people for eternal life, and he did this before the foundation of the world (Rom 9:22-23; Eph 1:4-6, 11). Whom God chose was totally up to him and for his own reasons (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:9). God elected no-one based on any condition that a person might somehow meet, including any good that person would do or any trait that he or she would possess (2 Tm 1:9; Rom 9:11, 16).
A book I recommend is by Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams: Why I am not an Arminian. In it, they give four critical aspects of election/predestination. Below, these are given with supporting Scriptures.
First, election involves both corporate and individual predestination. God elects both individuals and “corporate identities,” which includes Israel, in the OT, and the Church, which is true Israel, in the NT:
– Individuals: Jo 24:2-3; Jn 6:37-40; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:29; 9:10-13, 22-24; Eph 1:4-5.
– Corporate entities: Gn 12:3; Dt 4:37; 7:6-8; 10:14-15; Acts 13:48; Rom 9:22-24; Eph 1:11-13.[i]
Election is also towards both salvation and service. God choses the elect to not only be saved, but to also do good works.
– Salvation: Acts 13:48; Eph 1:4-5; Jas 2:5
– Good works: Jn 15:16; 2 Pt 1:10
Election is based on God’s will and grace, not by God somehow foreseeing someone’s faith. Faith is not a condition for election, but a result of election.
– God’s will: Jn 6:37; 10:28; 17:2, 6, 9, 24; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:29; 9:16
– God’s grace: Dt 7:7, 8; Rom 8:29; 9:13, 15, 16, 18, 23; Eph 1:4-5; 2 Tm 1:8-9
Finally, election pertains to eternal destinies, not just temporal blessings. Synonyms for salvation in Scripture include “calling (Rom 9:24), adoption (Eph 1:5), sanctification (Eph 1:4), resurrection (Jn 6:39), conformity to Christ (Rom 8:29) and glorification (Rom 8:30).”[ii]
Quite a few times over the years, I’ve run into the question, “How can I know if I am one of the elect, chosen for salvation?” The simple answer is that when a person truly trusts in Christ to be his or her Lord and Savior, then he or she then knows they are one of the elect.
So, why does God do it this way? What purpose does God give for electing his people? Scripture gives four reasons: one, so he might be praised (Eph. 1:4-6); two, so believers might give thanks (2 Thes 2:13); three, so we might be “strengthened in assurance (Rom 8:29-30; Rv 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27);” and four, so “we might be motivated to serve the Lord with all of our strength, knowing that he guarantees results (Acts 18:9-11; 2 Tm 2:10).”[iii]