Romans 9:18-21 states: "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"
Paul, in these verses makes some very direct statements concerning the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation. He is describing God's sovereign dealings with Israel, Jacob, Esau, and Pharaoh in chapter nine. Israel and Jacob were the objects of His mercy and favor. Esau and Pharaoh were the objects of His wrath and judgment. Israel and Jacob were the recipients of sovereign grace, Esau and Pharaoh were the recipients of divine reprobation. The thing that distinguished Jacob from Esau was not his works or merits, but God's purpose in electing grace as is stated in verse 11: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." Knowing that the natural man would charge God with unfairness and injustice, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to answer the objection in verse twenty with the illustration of the Sovereign Potter.
The doctrine of Unconditional Election has always been met with opposition for the simple reason that the natural man wants to be his own sovereign. He does not want to acknowledge that God has the right to choose men unto salvation according to His own good pleasure. However, if the doctrine of man's total depravity is scripturally understood the doctrine of election becomes a necessity if anyone is going to be saved!
Loraine Boettner said:
"If the doctrine of Total Inability or Original Sin be admitted, the doctrine of unconditional Election follows by the most inescapable logic. If, as the Scriptures and experience tell us, all men are by nature in a state of guilt and depravity from which they are wholly unable to deliver themselves and have no claim whatever on God for deliverance, it follows that if any are saved God must choose out those who shall be the objects of His grace." 1
Let anyone who has ever had a work of grace done in their heart examine their experience of salvation and they must acknowledge with John the beloved: "We love him, because he first loved us" (I John 4:19).
C.H. Spurgeon was once preaching to a crowd of Methodists who were in opposition to the doctrine of Election, he said: "This brings me to the doctrine of election." Expressions of disapproval became evident, whereupon, Mr. Spurgeon told the audience that they did believe the doctrine of election, and that he would make them shout "Hallelujah" over it. He asked his audience if there were any difference between them and the wicked, such as drunkards, harlots, and blasphemers. They all united in saying there was a difference. He then put the question of who made the difference, saying that whoever made the difference, should have the glory of it. "Did you make the difference?" To this question they all said "NO". He then told them that the Lord made the difference, and asked them if they thought it was wrong for Him to make a difference between them and other men? They agreed it was not wrong. Spurgeon then concluded by saying: "Very well then; if it was not wrong for God to make the difference, it was not wrong for Him to purpose to make it, and that is the doctrine of election." Then they cried, "Hallelujah", just as the preacher said they would! 2
In order to grasp the doctrine of unconditional Election, you must first understand the Biblical principle of God's Sovereignty over all His creation.
A.W. Pink defined God's Sovereignty in the following way:
"The sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, infinite. When we say that God is sovereign we affirm His right to govern the universe, which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases. We affirm that His right is the right of the Potter over the clay, i.e., that He may mold that clay into whatsoever form He chooses, fashioning out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. We affirm that He is under no rule or law outside of His own will and nature, that God is a law unto Himself, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to any." 3
The Scriptures are very plain in stating that God does as He pleases, when He pleases, and how He pleases. He is the creator and owner of all things in the Universe. Psalms 24:1 states: "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." Revelation 4:11 declares: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." It is the creature who must bow before the Creator. Yet Arminian theology presents God as the one who must bow to the fickle will of man. Arminian theology strips God of his attributes of sovereignty, independence, and power in the following ways: He is stripped of His sovereignty by the teaching that He is not free to choose men unto salvation according to His own good pleasure. He is stripped of His independence by the teaching that He must be dependent upon man's free will concerning salvation. He is stripped of His power by stating that man's will is powerful enough to resist the power of God in the Holy Spirit's effectual call to salvation. What kind of God have they forged? One that is powerless to execute His will without first consulting with sinful man. The Arminian view of God, in reality, dethrones the true God and puts man upon the throne! Such a perversion is a doctrine of the Devil as evidenced by what he told Eve in the Garden of Eden: "Ye shall be as gods!"
Perhaps the greatest misconception in the religious world today is the idea that God is obligated in some way to make salvation available to every man. I have often heard the statement: "God gives every person the same amount of grace to decide whether to be saved or not." Such a statement is simply not Biblical. God's grace is distinguishing. He chooses to save some men and to leave others in their sins according to His own sovereign will. This is precisely what Paul was stating in Romans 9:18: "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."
It was man who rebelled and disobeyed God by sinning. Man has always been obligated and accountable to God, but God has never been obligated or accountable to sinful man. God would have remained righteous and just in sending all of the human race to Hell for their sins, because that is exactly what we all deserve! To say that God is unfair to elect some and not others is the height of blasphemy in light of what all men justly deserve! It is an act of grace that God would elect any out of Adam's fallen and rebellious race!
Abraham Booth wrote:
"If, then we consider the Almighty as choosing any of the fallen race to life and happiness, we behold him exercising the mercy of a compassionate Father, to his miserable offspring. But if we consider him as choosing this person rather than that, when both were equally wretched; we view him as vested with the character of a sovereign Lord, and as the sole proprietor of His own favours. If, therefore, the question be asked; Why any were chosen to salvation, when all deserved to perish? The answer is; Because our Maker is merciful. But if it be further asked; Why Paul, for instance, was chosen rather than Judas? The answer is; Because he is Lord of all, and has an indisputable right to do what he will with his own. But if this answer will not satisfy the curious inquirer, he is directed by the Spirit of inspiration to ask the potter, what was the reason of his very different procedure with the same lump of clay; and why he formed the vessels into which it was wrought, for such different and opposite uses? The artificer will readily answer, as directed by common sense; 'Not any thing in the clay itself; but my own deliberate and free choice. For it was of the same kind, and possessed the same qualities throughout the whole mass: nor could one part dictate how it would be formed, or for what uses, any more than another.' Thus the most ignorant potter, without hesitation, would assert a kind of sovereignty over his clay. And are not mankind in the hand of God, as clay in the hand of the potter? Or, shall Jehovah's sovereignty over his offending creatures, be inferior to that of a puny mortal over passive matter? Reason and revelation forbid the thought. In election, therefore, we have a striking display of Divine grace in its utmost freeness; and of God's dominion in its highest sovereignty." 4
God is the sovereign framer of all events. His purposes are as eternal as He is. Nothing happens in time but what has been decreed by God before time began. In the truest sense, God is the only one in the entire Universe who acts independently and uninfluenced by outside forces. Psalms 115:3 states: "But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased."
The eternal purposes of God are unchangeable, it is impossible for any of His decrees to be altered. Job 23:13-14 declares: "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him." Not only is His purpose fixed, it cannot be thwarted by man. God is the only one in the Universe who has the power to execute all of His sovereign purpose. Isaiah 46:9-11 states: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." The God the Arminians preach is very different from the God who is described in these verses. The Arminian God is frustrated and unable to carry out His will. He is unable to infringe upon the free-will of man, thus He is controlled and dependent upon the decisions of man.
Augustus Toplady, commenting on Arminian doctrine, said:
" That it is a doctrine which represents Omnipotence itself as wishing and trying and striving to no purpose. According to this tenet, God, in endeavoring to convert sinners, may, by sinners, be foiled, defeated, and disappointed; He may lay close and long siege to the soul, and that soul can, from the citadel of impregnable free will, hang out a flag of defiance to God Himself, and by a continued obstinacy of defense, and a few vigorous sallies of free will compel Him to raise the siege. In a word the Holy Spirit, after having for years perhaps, danced attendance on the free will of man, may at length, like a discomfited general, or an unsuccessful politician, be either put to ignominious flight, or contemptuously dismissed, without accomplishing the end for which He was sent." 5
Such a view of God not only dishonors Him, it flys in the face of reason and revelation as Daniel 4:35 states: "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou."
Included in the decrees of God is His purpose to save some of Adam's fallen race through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. His purpose to save His elect was framed before the world began when He chose a certain number of individuals unto salvation, and gave them to His Son to redeem. This is why we find Jesus Christ praying in John 17: "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him" (v. 2). "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word" (v. 6). "I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine " (v. 9). "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word " (v. 20). "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (v. 24). From these verses it is plain to see that Jesus Christ was referring to the eternal purpose of God concerning the salvation of those He was sent to redeem. Eternal life will only be given to those whom the Father gave the Son, not one more, not one less (v. 3). Also it is plain to see that it is the will of Christ that all the elect be brought to salvation in time through the means of the preached Word (v. 20), and that all the elect will one day behold the glory of the Son and be with Him, where He is (v. 24).
The entire plan, purpose, and application of salvation is of God from beginning to end. Man does nothing to save himself, he merely receives the gift which God bestows upon Him, and then only when God opens his hardened heart (Acts 16:14). II Timothy 1:9 sums it up nicely: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."
Ephesians 1:4-5 states: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."
The doctrine of Unconditional Election, as it is presented in the Holy Scriptures, faces strong opposition from the majority of "professing Christendom" in our day. It is derided as being unfair, repulsive, and not worthy of devout attention or study. This kind of attitude has prevailed for most of the Twentieth Century, which is why there is little reverence for God and His Word in our day. Arminianism is readily accepted without question by those who have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears. As a result they have been turned away from the precious truth of election to embrace the heresy and fable of free-willism. The truth of God's Word has been sold for the cheap price of popularity and the vain praises and acceptance of sinful men.
The fact that a doctrine in scripture is opposed by popular opinion does not render it false. In fact, a true servant of God is not swayed by what pleases men, but rather, that which honors God. Paul stated this in Galatians 1:10: "For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." The Scriptures must serve as our final authority for faith and practice. If a doctrine is found in the Bible, I am convinced that it is the responsibility of every God-called preacher to declare it (Acts 20:27-28). Believing that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine..." I consider the doctrine of election to be a profitable and God-honoring truth, which, if properly understood, will serve to strengthen and edify the saints of God. The reason why anyone believes the doctrine of election is because they find it in the Bible. The Bible not only teaches this truth, but makes it prominent, so prominent that you can only get rid of election by getting rid of the Bible.
Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life, not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ, in consequence of which choice they are called and justified.
The Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 states the doctrine thusly:
"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace, others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice...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 to 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 other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto." 6
From our text it is clear that God does the electing. "According as he hath chosen us" , is the plain declaration of scripture. The antecedent of the pronoun he is found in verse three: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ..." To put it very simply, the he in verse four who does the electing is God, the us in verse four are the saints who are merely the objects of God's eternal choice.
The universal testimony of scripture proves that God is the one who chooses, elects, or predestinates specific individuals to be saved. Deuteronomy 7:6 states: "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God : the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself..." Psalms 65:4 declares: "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causeth to approach unto thee..." Concerning elect Israel, Jeremiah 50:20 states: "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve." Mark 13:20 states: "And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days." John 6:37 states: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me..." Paul, using the illustration of God as a Sovereign Potter, states in Romans 9:23: "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory." I Corinthians 1:26-27 states: "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen..." I Thessalonians 1:4 states that God is the source of election: "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." I Thessalonians 5:9 states: "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." II Thessalonians 2:13 states: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
The reader may wonder why so many scriptures have been quoted to prove the point. The answer is simple, where else would you go to prove Bible doctrine? Yet most of "professing Christendom" believe that God is passive, and that man is the one who does the choosing. The theology that God votes for us, the devil votes against us, and that we cast the deciding ballot is ridiculous in light of the Scriptures. As C.D. Cole said: "Self-election is a bad form of self-righteousness." It is clear that the reader must make a choice to either believe the opinions of men or the inspired word of God. Someone may object by saying: "That's just your interpretation!" Yet, the truth of the matter is that I have done nothing more than quote Scripture, which is God's revelation!
The truth that God chooses men ought to fill our hearts with wonder and praise. It is a wonderful thing to be the object of someone else's love and affections. My wife and children love me and it causes my heart to rejoice. How much more should the elect of God rejoice when they realize that the most important person in the Universe has loved them with an everlasting love. What a glorious thought that the Almighty God, who is holy, just, and perfect in all His ways, would choose us as the objects of His sovereign grace. The very thought of God choosing us ought to drive us to our knees in humility and praise to give thanks unto Him who has made us accepted in the Beloved.
Well did the poet write:
"Tis not that I did choose Thee,
Election is God's eternal choice as Ephesians 1:14 clearly states: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world..." The phrase before the foundation of the world carries with it the idea that it was before creation, before the existence of time. The election of God must be viewed as an eternal act which took place before the world began.
The love of God for His elect is a love that is as eternal as He is. Jeremiah 31:3 says: "...Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love..." In the solitude of eternity, before God ever spoke the universe into existence, before man was created from the dust of the earth, God sovereignly chose a multitude from Adam's fallen race to be the objects of His grace. This eternal love that God had for His people is expressed in the prayer of Jesus in John 17:23-24: "...and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
Jesus instructed the disciples not to rejoice in the fact that they had power over evil spirits, "...but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Our Arminain brothers immediately will say: "God does write their names down in the Lamb's Book of life, when they believe and are saved." Then they will most heartily break into a rendition of "There's a New Name Written Down in Glory". Yet, the idea that God writes the names down in time is wholly unscriptural. According to Revelation 13:8 and 17:8, the names were written in the Book before the world began: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the Antichrist), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
To further determine when the elect were chosen in Christ, the phrase "the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" is significant because it links the time of the names being written down with the appointment of Christ as the Sacrificial Lamb for the sins of His people. Christ, the eternal Son of God, was appointed by His Father to be the Sacrificial Lamb before the foundation of the world as I Peter 1:19-20 states: "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." The precious blood by which we are redeemed is called: "...the blood of the everlasting covenant" in Hebrews 13:20 which indicates that Christ's agreement with the Father to redeem His chosen ones dates back to eternity.
Furthermore, election must be viewed as included in God's eternal decrees which were framed before the world began. God's purpose of grace to save the elect was formed before the world began as II Timothy 1:9 plainly states: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." This eternal purpose to save is directly linked with election in Romans 9:11: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." Certainly no one would deny that salvation is one of God's gracious works in respect to men. Acts 15:18 states: "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." To deny that election is an eternal act of God's sovereign counsel is to deny the plain truth of Isaiah 46:9-10: "Remember the former thins of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Ephesians 1:11 states: "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." The very word predestinate means to determine one's destiny beforehand and is linked to God's purpose to save. The very simple fact of the cause of saving faith is traced back to God's eternal ordination in Acts 13:48 which states: "...and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." J.I. Packer wrote: "Where the Arminian says 'I owe my election to my faith,' the Calvinist says 'I owe my faith to my election."
I conclude this point with a quote from Abraham Booth:
"This truth may be further evinced by considering, that as the inheritance of glory was prepared for its future possessors, before the foundation of the world; so grace and all spiritual blessings that were necessary to fit them for the enjoyment of it, were given them in Christ Jesus; were lodged in his hands, as their federal head, as the appointed Mediator, and for their use, before the world began. Nor can we conceive of any new determinations arising in the Eternal Mind, or any purposes formed by our Maker, that were not from everlasting, without supposing him defective in knowledge, or mutable in his perfections. Suppositions these, which very ill become the character of Him whose name is JEHOVAH." 7
Why did God choose some men unto salvation before the world began? Was it because He foresaw that they would repent and believe in time, or was it according to the good pleasure of His own will? These questions have been discussed by theologians for centuries. The answer is stated very simply in Romans 9:11: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." God's election of certain individuals is unconditional and uninfluenced by the works of men. He did not elect men based on their foreseen merits, but elected them simply because it pleased Him to do so.
The real question that should be asked is, why did God choose to save any out of Adam's race? All of us were equally repulsive, sinful, and corrupt in the eyes of a Holy God. All of us were high handed rebels who were transgressors against God's perfect law. None of us were holy, rather we were unholy. None of us were friends of God, rather we were His enemies. None of us sought after God, rather we turned to our own sinful and wicked ways. None of us by nature loved God, rather we "loved darkness rather than light, because our deeds were evil." The way in which God saw every man is recorded in Romans 3:10-12: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
My heart is filled with wonder as I ask myself, why would God choose me as an object of His love and grace, out of all the millions of people in human history? The answer is stated in Deuteronomy 7:7: "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you." This truth is stated again in Ephesians 1:4-5: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." God's own sovereign pleasure alone has determined who would be the objects of His immutable love. If we are to be honest with ourselves we will readily admit that if God had not chosen us we would have never come to Jesus Christ. Paul asked the Corinthians: "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" (I Cor. 4:7). The answer to this question is found in I Corinthians 15:10 which states: "But by the grace of God I am what I am..." Paul did not take credit for one ounce of his salvation. All glory, honor, and praise was directed to the "God of all grace" . None of us have any merits or goodness to boast of or glory in. The only reason that any person is going to heaven is because God loved them and chose them according to His own good pleasure before the world began.
Abraham Booth wrote:
"Let us attend the believer in his secret retirements: let us behold him on his bended knee, and hear him pouring out his soul to God. In his intercourse with Heaven, at the throne of grace his language will be to the following import. Thou Great Supreme, who art glorious in holiness, and the infinite Sovereign of all worlds; who humblest thyself to behold the things that are in the highest heavens; whose condescension is unspeakably great, in deigning to regard the persons or services of the most holy and exalted creatures; didst thou consider me in my low estate, as a fallen creature and a miserable sinner? Did thy everlasting love fix on me as its object, when I might, with the greatest equity, have been marked out as a victim for eternal justice? Is not my person polluted, and my state by nature damnable? Was not my original depravity as great, and are not my actual transgressions as numerous as any which can be found among the apostate sons of Adam? And hast thou determined to make me an everlasting monument of sparing mercy, while millions are left to suffer the awful desert of their crimes? Nothing in me couldst thou behold, but a shocking compound of impurity and folly, of guilt and wretchedness. Nothing in my conduct couldst thou foresee, but what was adapted to provoke thy abhorrence, rather than to obtain thy regard. O, thou majestic Being! Why such mercy to a hardened rebel? Why such love to an inveterate enemy? Obliged I am, in the court of conscience, to plead guilty to the complicated charge which thy own righteous law exhibits against me. Motive, or cause, of thy tender regards, I can find none in myself. Thy own sovereign will, thy own free pleasure; these are the only cause why mercy is manifested to me, of sinners the vilest. For should a wretch who is now in hell advance a claim on thy favour, grounded on his own worthiness, I must acknowledge it is as well founded as any to which I can pretend." 8
Men will often commend other men for what they condemn a Holy God for. For example, if a wealthy man goes to the orphanage and chooses to adopt a child who is fatherless we would consider it an act of charity. If he would choose a child with several known deformities and defects we would consider the man to be saintly and gracious and worthy of praise. After all, he was in no way obligated to choose any of the children. He did not have to share his wealth, his goodness, his name, and his home, he merely did so because it pleased him to do so. Such a man is to be honored and admired. Yet when you apply the same circumstances to God men will charge Him with unfairness and injustice in saving some and not others. All of us were deformed rebels corrupted by the same lump of sin, with no righteousness or merit before God. Yet as a loving Father, in an act of sovereign grace, He chose some unto salvation. He sent His Son to blot out the eternal debt of sin which we owed to divine justice. He called us and drew us by His power. He took us out from under the condemnation of the law and now deals with us in grace as His sons and daughters. He has promised an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you. All of this simply because it pleased Him to love us with an everlasting love. How our hearts should burst forth in praise with the Apostle Paul: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!...For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. " (Rom 11:33,36)
Lorraine Boettner wrote:
"The marvel of marvels is not that God, in His infinite love and justice, has not elected all of this guilty race to be saved, but that He has elected any. When we consider, on the one hand, what a heinous thing sin is, together with its desert of punishment, and on the other, what holiness is, together with God's perfect hatred for sin, the marvel is that God could get the consent of His holy nature to save a single sinner." 9
"May not the Sovereign Lord on high
Dispense His favors as He will;
Every one ascribes to some kind of election whether it be true or false. The person who contends for sovereign grace believes that God's election is eternal and unconditional. The Arminian will say that he believes in the election of the nation of Israel as well as an election to service. However, the Arminian notion of election is conditioned upon something God saw in man before He elected him. Arminianism teaches that God looked down in the future (prescience) and saw who would repent and believe in Jesus Christ, and on that basis of foreseen faith, He elected or chose them.
John Wesley, the Prince of Arminianism, put it the following way:
"The Scriptures tell us plainly what predestination is: it is God's foreappointing obedient believers to salvation, not without, but according to His foreknowledge of all their works from the foundation of the world. God, from the foundation of the world foreknew all men's believing or not believing. And according to this, His foreknowledge, He chose or elected all obedient believers, as such to salvation." 10
Such a view is unscriptural and error filled on several counts as follows:
1. Arminianism has a false view of God's foreknowledge. They regard foreknowledge as merely God's ability to know beforehand, which is properly called foresight or prescience which is an aspect of God's attribute of Omniscience. Yet, foreknowledge, strictly speaking, is not an attribute of God, but rather a divine act based upon His own sovereign decree and purpose. When foreknowledge is mentioned in the scriptures it is not limited to mere acquaintance, rather it has reference to either special affection or appointment. A.W. Pink said: "It is individuals God is said to foreknow, not the actions of those persons." In the Scriptures to know or foreknow means to regard with favor, with special affection, to love intimately. It is not mere prescience or cognition, but an act of love on the part of God concerning His elect. The following scripture references will prove the point in question:
Genesis 4:1 states: "And Adam knew Eve his wife..." The reference is to Adam having a special love and affection only for his wife.
Jeremiah 1:5 states: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Notice how closely the words knew, sanctified, and ordained are related to one another. God did not know Jeremiah just by mere cognition. He regarded Jeremiah as an object of His sovereign electing love and because of that he set Him apart to serve. Is this not what God does with His elect in light of Ephesians 2:8-10?
Amos 3:2 states: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth..." God is here speaking to His chosen people of the Old Testament, the nation of Israel of whom it is said in Deuteronomy 7:7-8: "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people: for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you..." God knew all the other families of the earth by His omniscience, but He regarded the children of Israel with a special affection and love which went beyond mere cognition to electing, distinguishing grace.
In each of the following scriptures the words know and foreknow are inseparably linked with elect individuals, the objects of God's sovereign love, partakers of Christ's redeeming blood, and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Nahum 1:7 states: "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he KNOWETH them that trust in him." John 10:14; 27 says: "I am the good shepherd, and KNOW my sheep, and am known of mine...My sheep hear my voice, and I KNOW them, and they follow me." II Timothy 2:19 states: "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord KNOWETH them that are his. And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." Romans 8:28; 33 says: "For whom he did FOREKNOW, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren...Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's ELECT?" Romans 11:2 says: "God hath not cast away his people which he FOREKNEW..." I Peter 1:2 states: "ELECT according to the FOREKNOWLEDGE of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied."
I would ask my Arminian brethren to contrast the above scriptures with Matthew 7:23 which states: "And then will I profess unto them I never KNEW you; depart from me ye that work iniquity." In the context of this verse Jesus Christ is addressing non-elect reprobates who were false professors of religion. He knew them by omniscience as he knows the works and hearts of all men. However, He didn't know them in the sense of the special affection and love which He has for the objects of electing grace. He didn't know them or love them. He didn't call them His sheep, He called them workers of iniquity. He didn't call them unto Himself, rather He tells them to depart from Him and consigns them to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. You will search the Scriptures in vain trying to find where Jesus Christ ever speaks in such a way to the objects of His special love and electing grace!
2. The second aspect of Arminian error is the teaching that God saw something good in man, i.e., repentance and faith, and on that basis elected Him. This is a denial of total depravity. Before man was ever created God saw each man in a totally corrupt and dead state not possessing repentance and faith toward God, but rather rebellion and hatred, and an unwillingness to seek after God and His ways. Psalms 14:1-4 declares: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of man, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy, there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD."
God saw nothing in man that would merit salvation. If the Arminian notion were true, then election and salvation would depend on man's willingness to repent and believe, which in essence is saying that each man is saved based upon something that he does, which is works salvation. The Scriptures are very emphatic concerning the teaching of free grace. Romans 11:5-6 states: "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace (not foreseen faith!), And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." II Timothy 1:9 teaches that man's salvation and calling find their source in the sovereign grace and purpose of God, not what God sees in man: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus Before the world began."
3. The third aspect of Arminian error is that they reverse the order of salvation. Repentance and faith are not the causes of election, they are the effects of it. Election is the cause of man's regeneration, repentance, faith, and subsequent holiness. Acts 13:48 states: "...and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Here is the scriptural order. As a result of electing love men are given the grace to believe.
The natural man has no inclination or understanding of spiritual things in his dead state. He possesses no desire to repent, and no saving faith. These graces must be given and wrought in him by the Holy Spirit of God. Spiritually dead men cannot repent. God must quicken them in the new birth, thus enabling them to repent and believe. There must be spiritual life before there can be spiritual actions. Repentance is clearly a gift of God, not something that man possesses naturally. Acts 5:31 states: "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to GIVE repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Acts 11:18 says: "...Then hath God also to the Gentiles GRANTED repentance unto life." II Timothy 2:25 states: "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will GIVE them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth." Saving faith, likewise, is a gift from God, not something that man naturally possesses. Ephesians 2:8 declares: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is (faith) the gift of God." Philippians 1:29 states: "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but to suffer for his sake." II Peter 1:1 says: "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have OBTAINED like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." It is God who begins, sustains, and completes salvation for His elect. Philippians 1:6 declares: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
4. The fourth error associated with the Arminian notion of election based on foreseen faith and obedience is that it robs God of His attribute of Independency. It would make the decrees of God rest upon what He sees in the creature. Logically, it would cause God to be obligated to save men based on the merits which He foresaw in them, which is unscriptural.
5. The final problem associated with the Arminian notion of election based on foreseen faith is that it displays a glaring contradiction of their own theology. If God elects men unto salvation based on their foreseen repentance and faith, then logically He would send Christ to die only for those who He saw would repent and believe. Why would Christ die for the sins of every man, and shed His precious life's blood for every man if God foresaw who would repent and believe? Thus, the Arminian is forced to abandon his prized doctrine of universal redemption and embrace the much hated scriptural doctrine of particular redemption.
I have offered these refutations of Arminian theology with no malice intended. I would encourage those who would take issue with the above points to search the scriptures. Unconditional election exalts God giving Him all the glory for man's salvation while at the same time abasing and humbling man in the dust. Though my Arminian brethren may not be convinced at this time, there is coming a day when in the glorified state every saint will ascribe to the doctrines of grace. Isaiah 28:24 declares: "They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine."
Proverbs 16:4 states: "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil."
Ecclesiastes 3:1 states: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
Romans 11:22 states: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God..."
From the above scriptures it is plain to see that all of God's creation is ordered in such a way as to ultimately bring glory unto Himself. This is the chief design of all of God's decrees and purposes. If there is a time for the execution of every purpose of God (which we heartily affirm, as Ephesians 1:11 states: "...according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" then the damnation of the non-elect must of necessity be included in that eternal purpose. In the doctrine of unconditional election we behold the grace and goodness of a sovereign God toward unworthy sinners. In the doctrine of unconditional reprobation we behold the severity and justice of God toward the worthy recipients of His wrath.
Lorraine Boettner wisely stated:
"No one with proper ideas of God supposes that He suddenly does something which He had not thought of before. Since His is an eternal purpose, what He does in time is what He purposed from eternity to do. Those whom He saves are those whom He purposed from eternity to save, and those whom He leaves to perish are those whom He purposed from eternity to leave. If it is just for God to do a certain thing in time, it is, by parity of argument, just for Him to resolve upon and decree it from eternity, for the principle of the action is the same in either case. And if we are justified in saying that from all eternity God has intended to display His mercy in pardoning a vast multitude of sinners, why do some people object so strenuously when we say that from all eternity God has intended to display His justice in punishing other sinners?" 11
The doctrine of reprobation is rarely preached upon in our day because it is so offensive to the carnal mind. Men have gone to great lengths to disprove the doctrines of election and reprobation. Even those who believe in unconditional election generally never touch upon the subject of reprobation. Yet, these truths are so intricately linked, you can't have one without the other. If God elected to save some in Christ before the world began, it naturally follows that he rejected others and left them to perish in their sin and unbelief by decree of damnation.
A.W. Pink said:
"Every choice, evidently and necessarily implies a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. If there be some whom God has elected unto salvation (II Thess. 2:13), there must be others who are not elected unto salvation. If there are some that the Father gave to Christ (John 6:37), there must be others whom He did not give unto Christ. If there are some whose names are written in the Lamb's book of Life (Rev. 21:27), there must be others whose names are not written there." 12
Edwin Palmer defines reprobation in the following way:
"Reprobation is God's eternal, sovereign, unconditional, immutable, wise, holy, and mysterious decree whereby, in electing some to eternal life, He passes others by, and then justly condemns them for their own sin--all to His own glory." 13
To deny that God has eternally ordained the non-elect to damnation is to deny the plain testimony of scripture as Jude 4 declares: "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
Though this doctrine is repulsive to the carnal mind, it is profitable to the saint of God because it is contained in the Word of God. II Timothy 3:16 states: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine... That the man of God may be perfect (mature), throughly furnished unto all good works." Because of the controversial nature of reprobation I will simply offer scriptures which clearly evidence the fact that the non-elect are eternally marked out by God for damnation by leaving them in their sins according to His own just and perfect will.
Joshua 11:18-20 states: "Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses." The destruction of those kings who were shown no favor is attributed to the sovereign will of God. He had purposed that they would come against Israel, be destroyed, and cast into Hell. Who will deny that this appointment of destruction was formed by God before the world began in light of Isaiah 46:10: "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure...I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."
John 12:39-41 states: "Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, he hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him." In very clear terms it is recorded that some, according to the purpose of God be left in their sins to perish blinded, hardened, ignorant and unconverted. Before the reader tries to cast injustice upon God, I ask; is this not what every fallen son of Adam deserves? and "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25) John 13:18 states: "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." Jesus is speaking to His disciples, one of whom was not chosen to salvation. The one who is non-elect is Judas, who elsewhere is called a devil from the very beginning. Who would deny that the devil is a reprobate by divine appointment?
Romans 9:11-23 is a lengthy passage of scripture which sets forth God's purpose of election and reprobation in no uncertain terms. Verse 11 states: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." Verse 13 states: "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." The question remains, when did God love Jacob and hate Esau? The answer is simple, before they were even born, before they did any works whether good or bad, God had determined to love one and hate the other. Paul then answers the objection of the natural mind which says: "Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid."
Paul then gives another example of God showing mercy to one and hardening another according to His own will by citing the example of Pharaoh. In light of verse 17 the hardening and damnation of Pharaoh was according to the purpose of God. By raising Pharaoh up and appointing him to damnation God showed the world the power of His inflexible justice upon the wicked who say as Pharaoh did: "Who is the LORD that I should obey him?" Lest any dear saint charge God with unrighteousness, remember that the song of Moses will be the song of glorified saints who viewed the judgment of the wicked as just and true as Revelation 15:3-4 states: "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest."
Paul then answers the final objection to God's will in election and reprobation with the illustration of the sovereign potter in verses 20-23. It is interesting to note that the same potter is said to "make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour." A vessel of mercy is fitted to enjoy the riches of the glory of God, whereas the vessel of wrath is said to be fitted to destruction. All the verbs used in these verses are used to describe God's sovereign acts; God makes vessels of honor and dishonor, He shews His wrath in time on the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. Robert Haldane comments:
"The sum of the apostle's answer here is, that the grand object of God, both in the election and the reprobation of men, is that which is paramount to all things else in the creation of men, namely, His own glory." 14
There are several other scripture texts where election and reprobation are set forth in the very same passage. Romans 11:5-8 states: "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day."
I Thessalonians 5:9 states: "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." From the text it is evident that some are appointed to wrath, whereas others are appointed to obtain salvation.
II Thessalonians 2:11-13: "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." The word but in verse 13 connects it to the previous verses. Those who will be deceived by the Antichrist are distinguished from those who are the elect of God.
I Peter 2:7-9 states: "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." In this passage the elect are contrasted with the reprobate who are said to be disobedient and appointed to destruction. God appointed the elect to salvation before the world began, and in so doing He appointed the non-elect to damnation and eternal destruction at the same time.
II Peter 2:12 states: "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption." Peter is exposing false teachers, of whom he wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that they were made to be destroyed and to perish in their own corruption. Certainly none can deny that this verse emphatically teaches Divine reprobation. To do so would be to go against the plain sense of Scripture itself.
Though many objections might be raised against the Bible doctrine of reprobation, it is clearly set forth in the scriptures. I will leave others more learned than myself to answer all the objections against reprobation. I choose to humbly accept the plain testimony of the Word of God in spite of what men may say. The writer must confess that the doctrine of reprobation goes against the fleshly reasonings of our minds. Yet, it is not for the believer to pick and choose what to believe or not to believe, rather we must accept the whole council of God as authoritative and final for faith and practice.
Though the writings of men are not to be regarded as authoritative, they are sometimes helpful, so I offer the following quotes by others concerning the doctrine of reprobation.
John Bunyan, the English Baptist of the 1600's, wrote an extensive treatise entitled; "Reprobation Asserted", from which the following excerpt was taken:
"Reprobation is before the person cometh into the world, or hath done good or evil. This is evidenced by Romans 9:11. Here you find twain in their mother's womb, and both receiving their destiny, not only before they had done good or evil, but before they were in a capacity to do it, they being yet unborn--their destiny, I say, the one unto, the other not unto the blessing of eternal life; the one elect, the other reprobate; the one chosen, the other refused." 15
John Gill, the English Baptist of the 1700's, wrote the following in his Body of Divinity:
"If men were chosen from the beginning, that is, from eternity to salvation; then those that were not chosen, or not ordained to eternal life, were foreordained as early to condemnation... And, indeed, there can be no new decree, appointment, or purpose, made by God in time; if the decree of election was from eternity, that of rejection must be so too; since there cannot be one without the other; if some where chosen before the foundation of the world, others must be left, or passed by, as early..." 16
Augustus Toplady, the author of the hymn, 'Rock of Ages', wrote:
"God, from all eternity decreed to leave some of Adam's fallen posterity in their sins, and to exclude them from the participation of Christ and His benefits." 17
George Whitefield, the English evangelist of the 1700's wrote:
"Without doubt, the doctrine of election and reprobation must stand or fall together...I frankly acknowledge I believe the doctrine of Reprobation, that God intends to give saving grace, through Jesus Christ, only to a certain number; and that the rest of mankind, after the fall of Adam, being justly left of God to continue in sin, will at last suffer that eternal death which is its proper wages." 18
J.P. Boyce, the Southern Baptist theologian of the 1800's, wrote:
"...The choice of some so necessarily involves the rejection of others as to require that rejection to accompany the act of choice. Rejection must, therefore, have accompanied Election. In the very fact that some where chosen, was involved the rejection of others." 19
OBJECTIONS TO UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION ANSWERED
"And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6:65-68)
The day before Jesus uttered these words he had miraculously fed five thousand men beside women and children. The multitude continued to follow him because of the miracle he had performed, and probably hoping that he would once again supply their physical needs. Instead, Jesus delivered one of the strongest discourses in all of the Bible concerning the sovereignty of God in salvation. After hearing Jesus present the truths of man's total inability to save himself, unconditional election, and the necessity of God drawing sinners to salvation, the multitude thinned out until there was only the twelve original disciples left. Even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was met with opposition when he preached the doctrines of grace. The multitudes would not receive the word of the Lord, choosing rather to reject the plain testimony of Scripture.
It should not surprise us today, if objections are raised against the doctrine of unconditional election. The servants of the Lord are not greater than their Master. If he faced opposition to this blessed truth, we can be assured that we must endure the same. The key to enduring opposition and answering the objections of men is found in the reply of Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." The word of the Lord is to take preeminence over the opinions and reactions of the multitudes. If a truth is presented in Scripture we must humbly accept it even if it goes against the tide of popular opinion. Romans 3:4 states: "...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar..."
I will attempt to answer some of the most common objections that are raised against the doctrine of unconditional election. In so doing my goal is to "speak the truth in love" , and to follow the admonition Paul gave to Titus: "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." (Titus 1:9)
1. The most common objection raised against the doctrine of election is that it is unfair and unjust for God to choose some unto salvation and leave others in their sins. This objection implies that God is obligated to the natural man which is a serious error. Salvation is a gracious gift which God bestows upon unworthy, guilty sinners. Salvation can in no way be viewed as a debt or an obligation which God owes to man. Such faulty reasoning would strip God of His supremacy and place man upon the throne.
Those who object to election on the basis of the justice of God simply do not understand that election to salvation is an act of grace, not justice. Every one of the fallen sons of Adam are corrupt sinners who deserve nothing more than to be eternally tormented in the Lake of Fire for their high handed rebellion against the Most High. There is not one person who can lay claim to God's salvation on the basis of their worthiness or merits. Ecclesiastes 7:20 states: "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." It is the height of folly and madness for an unjust sinner to charge God with injustice for giving him what he deserves. All men deserve to be condemned, none are worthy to be partakers of God's grace and glory. In fact, God would have been perfectly just in passing by all men, choosing to save none, and leaving them in their sins to perish forever. This would be pure fairness and justice on the part of God.
Election, however, is an act of pure grace. Instead of getting what I justly deserved, God sovereignly chose me in Christ and sent His Son into the world to bear my sins and the penalty which I had merited. Instead of perishing in my sins I can praise God with the Apostle Paul who wrote: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love..." (Eph. 1:3-4)
It has always puzzled me why those who charge God with injustice for choosing some to salvation never charge God with injustice for not choosing Satan and the reprobate angels.
Abraham Booth said:
"But why should the objector be so much concerned about the honour of Divine justice, in the conduct of God toward mankind, on supposition that he has chosen some and rejected others? Why should he not be as much concerned lest the glory of his Maker should suffer a stain, by the final rejection of all the angels that sinned and fell from their first estate? Certainly, there is equal, if not superior reason. Why, then, does he not plead the cause of those old apostates, those damned spirits, and quarrel with God because he hath shown more regard to fallen men than to fallen angels? Yet he is under no pain on their account; nor does he suspect that the Divine character will lose any part of its glory, because they are all, without one exception, the objects of Jehovah's eternal vengeance--but, very likely, he concludes that they deserve to be damned. True: and is it not so with men?...Without admitting this fundamental truth, that men, considered as guilty creatures, deserve to perish forever; we can behold neither equity in the law, nor grace in the gospel...Consequently, the objector has no alternative, but either to give up his point, or blaspheme his Maker." 20
2. The second objection commonly raised against the doctrine of election is that it negates human responsibility and the use of means. This objection is usually voiced by the objector in the form of the following questions:
"If God has elected some men to be saved before the world began what is the profit of preaching the gospel?" The preaching of the gospel is the means by which God has ordained to call the elect unto salvation. II Thessalonians 2:13-14 states: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." I Corinthians 1:21 declares: "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Romans 10:17 states: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
We are to preach the gospel because it is a command that was issued by the Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 16:15 which states: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Profitable results are not the only desired end in the preaching of the gospel. Glorifying God through obedience should be our chief motive in declaring the gospel to a lost world.
A.W. Pink wrote:
"But do we not create our own difficulty by supposing that the salvation of men is God's sole object, or even His principal design, in the sending forth of the gospel? But what other ends, it may be asked, are accomplished thereby? Many. God's first end in the gospel, as in everything else, is the honor of His own great name and the glory of His Son. In the gospel the character of God and the excellency of Christ are more fully revealed than anywhere else. That a worldwide testimony should be borne thereto is infinitely fitting. That men should have made known to them the ineffable perfections of Him with whom they have to do is certainly most desirable. God, then, is magnified and the matchless worth of His Son proclaimed, even though not one sinner ever believed and was saved thereby." 21
Another question raised is: "Doesn't the doctrine of election tend to deter missionary activity and zeal?" If election is scripturally understood, it enhances missionary zeal and activity. In fact, it encourages me to know that God has His elect scattered in "...every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" , who are going to respond to the gospel! If I had to depend on the fickle and corrupt free-will of man to respond to the gospel, I would be of all men most miserable and discouraged. When Paul began his ministry in the corrupt city of Corinth the Lord encouraged him in a vision. Acts 19:9-10 states: "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." God used the doctrine of election to encourage Paul that his ministry in Corinth would result in many being saved.
Historically, men who have believed the doctrines of grace have had the greatest missionary zeal. William Carey, called by many the father of modern missions, believed strongly in sovereign grace. Adoniram Judson, Baptist missionary to Burma, believed in sovereign grace. David Brainerd, missionary to the American Indians, and George Whitefield, the evangelist, both stood firmly on the doctrine of election. C.H. Spurgeon, J.R. Graves, B.H. Carroll, H.B. Taylor, and C.D. Cole were all missionary Baptist preachers who believed strongly in sovereign grace. In our present day, the Bryan Station Baptist Church of Lexington, Kentucky, and her Pastor Al Gormley have an ardent missionary zeal and a strong belief in election.
One of the motivating factors for Paul's missionary zeal is recorded in II Timothy 2:10 which states: "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
C.D. Cole wrote:
"He who allows his belief of election to dampen his missionary ardour has a perverted view of the doctrine. Election does not determine the extent of missions, but the results of it. The gospel commission does not read, 'to the elect' but 'to every creature'. If it should read 'to the elect', then we could not preach to anybody for the simple reason that the elect cannot be identified until they exercise faith which works by love. And such would already be saved, and hence the gospel would not be the power of God unto salvation. The gospel is for men as lost sinners, and not as elect sinners. God has His elect, but they are not our elect, and His elect cannot be known until they are saved. Witnessing is our business, taking care of the elect is His business. Let us be faithful to our task and leave the results with Him, remembering that Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but that God must give the increase." 22
3. The third objection raised against election is that it gives sinners an excuse for their unconcern and even encourages an apathetic attitude about the urgency of salvation. "If what you preach is true, then all the elect are going to be saved, and if I am one of God's elect, I will be saved in time regardless what I do."
I have never met a person who was truly concerned about their soul and convicted of their sins, have a fatalistic or apathetic attitude. The doctrine of election serves to humble the sinner and make him realize he is at the sovereign mercy of God who would be just in damning him. It causes him to realize that his only hope is in Christ and not in himself.
4. The fourth objection raised against election comes in the form of two questions: "What about God so loved the world?" and "What about whosoever will let him come?"
As to the first question, the word world must be interpreted by its context. It is often used in a limited sense. Rarely, does it mean every individual without exception. Much of the New Testament was written by Jews to Jews who were of the opinion that they alone were God's elect. When the writers of the New Testament use the word world, they are often trying to emphasize the fact that salvation in Christ is not limited to Jews, but that Gentiles are also included in the plan of salvation.
John Gill wrote:
"Nothing is more common in Jewish writings than to call the Gentiles the world; and the whole world...and it is easy to observe, that when this phrase is not used of the Gentiles, it is to be understood in a limited and restrained sense." 23
Even John 3:16, one of the most commonly quoted verses, limits God's love to the world of those who believe on Christ. In John 17:9 we find Christ interceding only for the elect; "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." I John 5:19 states: "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." The world in this verse is limited to the unsaved.
Concerning the second question, election has never hindered me from preaching "whosoever will let him come." It has never hindered me from calling upon men to repent and believe the gospel. I know what is behind the offer of whosoever will, namely the power of God to change hearts as Psalms 110:3 states: "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power..." Philippians 2:13 says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Though many other objections against election might be raised, I direct the reader to the Bible itself for the answers. Many are misled and confused by the writings and opinions of men who twist the scriptures to fit their perverted theology. The Bible alone is to be our infallible guide. Isaiah 8:20 states: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Romans 16:17-18 warns: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
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