1Peter 1:1,2 - May God enable us to come to a better understanding of His grace in election.
Jn. 6:37,44,65; Jn. 17:2-11; Rom. 11:5-7; 1Cor. 1:21-26; 1Cor. 4:3-7; Eph. 1:3-11; 2Pet. 1:10.
The Bible doctrine of election is much misunderstood, much perverted, much abused, and much opposed. The tragedy today is, that most of our opposition comes from our fellow Baptists. Nevertheless, to full grown men, “even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:12-14), it is a blessedly and. gloriously profitable doctrine, a veritable mine of spiritual wealth. This doctrine has a broad and deep foundation in the scriptures. You can only get rid of election by getting rid of the Bible. God deals with men as an absolute sovereign and every declaration in the scriptures ascribes election or the fruits of it to His choice, and not to the will and acts of men. It has been said by some, that in the doctrine of election a theologian takes his final examination. Man is totally depraved, and therefore void of any good toward God. If any man is to be saved, then God Himself must choose to save that man. Scripture and experience tells us, all men are by nature in a state of guilt and depravity (Gen. 3:8; Jn. 8:9, 5:42; Rom. 8:7; Tit. 1:15; Rom. 3:10-12) 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.
Election is the fundamental principle in the saving grace of God. It is the sovereignty of God in respect to the salvation of depraved men. It presupposes the entire sinfulness of the human race, and is based on the atonement of Christ. God in eternity past, chose or picked out of mankind whom He would save (by means of Christ’s death and the work of the Holy Spirit) for no other reason than His own wise, just, and gracious purpose (Eph. 1:4,11; 2Thess. 2:13). But since the doctrine of election is so humbling to the natural man and so thoroughly distasteful to the carnal mind, it has many that oppose it. J. R. Graves said: “All men are by nature Arminians; and the absolute sovereignty of God is a doctrine hateful to the natural and depraved heart.” Many false theories of election have arisen. The evolutionist hates creationism because creationism demands a creator; and if there is a creator, then the creature is accountable to him. And this the evolutionist will not have.
Any system of doctrine that conditions the saving of God on the acts or merits of men is essentially Arminian; just as any system that makes the sovereign pleasure of God the ground of His saving purpose is essentially Calvinistic. You must take one side or the other although it does not mean that you necessarily follow all that either Armninius or Calvin taught. The spirit of Arminianism is the spirit of modernism which makes reason, instead of divine revelation, the standard of truth. Arminianism is the slickest lie the devil has ever invented in all his age-long opposition to God. Arminianism exalts man and insults God.
Election is eternal and is based on the immutability and foreknowledge of God (Rom. 8:29). One knows his election only by the calling (quickening) that he has received of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:1). Our election does not take place when we are saved as many believe (Jn. 6:37). Since this giving precedes salvation, then election must precede salvation (Acts 13:48).
Election is personal, individual, particular, and discriminatory. Some believe that God chose Israel as a nation, then, in N.T. days, rejected her, and substituted the Gentiles as a whole. It is believed by those who hold this view that the classic discussion of election in Rom. 9 and 11 refers not to individual election to eternal life, but only to such corporate election as just given. This shows to what lengths of folly prejudice against the truth will lead one. We have in Rom. 9 and 11 an individual election of Jews to eternal life, as well as the national election of Israel to position and advantage. We see an election within an election (Rom. 11:5,7,24). Since God saves people as individuals it must be according to His eternal purpose, as He put our names in His book (Rev. 17:8).
Some would teach that election is based on the foreseen faith of the elect. But Eph. 2:8 tells us that it is all a gift from God. We who hate God and are totally depraved…cannot by our own efforts work up the faith that is required to bring us salvation (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:18; Job. 14:4). The sinner is accustomed to do evil because of his natural state (Jer. 13:23; Rom. 8:7,8; 1Cor. 2:14). This theory denies salvation by grace and gives men ground for glorying before God (1Cor. 1:29). God does us no injustice by passing us by, because we all deserve to go to hell; but according to Arminianism, God is powerless to save any except those who will - of themselves - allow Him to save them.
Election is unto salvation and not unto service as some Baptists teach (2Thess. 2:13; Eph. 2:8-10). Election includes all that ever will be saved. The “Whosoever-wills” of the Bible, include all the elect, since none can will to turn to Christ until God works in them to will (Ps. 110:3; Jn. 6:65).
The means to accomplish salvation are inseparably connected with election (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 3:26) as salvation - spiritual, temporal, and eternal - is by grace through faith. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). None of the elect can be saved without hearing the word of God (hardshellism, hyper-calvinism). Wherever God has an elect soul, in the fullness of His own time, He will in some way send the gospel to call that one from darkness into light (2Thess. 2:14; Acts 8:26-39).
God’s Divine election does not destroy the responsibility of the sinner to heed God’s command to repent and believe the Gospel (Acts 17:30; Rom. 9:l9-20). The total spiritual inability of the natural man gives him no right to question the actions of God. Election is not the cause of anybody going to hell, for election is unto salvation. Men go to hell as the result of God’s just dealings with them as sinners (Rom. 6:23). In election God simply chooses out of the whole mass of depraved mankind those whom He pleases to save, for just and holy reasons known only to Himself. The rest He simply leaves to the just consequences of their sin. While the sinner is without ability in spiritual things, that does not destroy his responsibility. The heathen is responsible for living up to the light of conscience that he has concerning the law of God (Rom. 2:12-16, 3:19, 5:12) so man is responsible for his spiritual inability.
Finally, election is a profitable doctrine in the lives of its advocates. The most eminent, the most courageous, the most aggressively missionary, and the most holy men of the religious world have held it (John the Baptist, John Huss, John Bunyan, John Clarke, John Gilpin, Charles Spurgeon, A. W. Pink, Roy Mason, J. B. Moody, T. P. Simnons, J. P. Boyce, J. R. Graves and many others including three generations of Riddick preachers). God’s unconditional election gives an exalted view of God (De. 7:6-9; Dan. 4:35). The acceptance of the mystery of election leads towards the understanding and preaching of the whole counsel of God. May the study of the doctrine of election be a blessing in your life.