TULIP: Unconditional Election, 1

Intro | Total Hereditary Depravity 1 | Total Hereditary Depravity 2 | Unconditional Election 1 | Unconditional Election 2 | Limited Atonement 1 | Limited Atonement 2 | Irresistible Grace 1 | Irresistible Grace 2 | Perseverance of the Saints 1 | Perseverance of the Saints 2tulip

by William J. Stewart

This doctrine is perhaps better known as Predestination. It is introduced by the Westminster Confession in this way:

God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass…

Do the Calvinists not realize the implication of this statement? If God has ordained all things that come to pass, He is ultimately responsible for sin. If not, why not? If all things in life are predestined, and we are just playing out God’s script for us, we can rightly charge God with causing every man’s sin.

However, that is not the case. Not all things that take place on earth are foreordained by God. Even Jesus acknowledged this when He prayed:

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

It would be pointless to pray for God’s will to be done if there is no alternative. The problem in the world is that too many are not doing God’s will. Every sin is contrary to God’s will.

Describing predestination, John Calvin stated:

All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death. (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Predestination is a biblical concept, Calvinistic predestination is not. Those who are in Christ are the elect, the chosen, the predestined (Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Peter 1:2; 2:9). Election is based upon their union with Christ, not an unknown and unexplained random process of selection by God.

There are several serious issues with Calvinistic predestination. We will notice a few here.

Who does God want to be saved?
Calvinists tell us that though God created all men, He only desired to save some; in fact, He created most to be eternally condemned. The selection of those who are saved has nothing to do with anything they have done, but is entirely a matter of God exercising His pleasure to choose them and reject others.

The Bible consistently says that God desires to save all people. Hear the apostle Paul:

…this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Calvin says God only desires to save some; Paul says God desires to save all. Who should we believe, John Calvin or apostle Paul?

It is blasphemous for the Calvinist to say that it is God’s good pleasure to condemn the majority of humans He has created. His desire is for them to be saved. In fact, notice how Paul speaks about the Lord:

…to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)

He is the Savior of all—not some. Again, that doesn’t mean all are saved, but salvation is available to all. Calvin’s doctrine of Unconditional Election says otherwise.

Again, the doctrine of Unconditional Election presumes to tell us that it is God’s will that only a few be saved and that many perish in sin. Notice the words of the apostle Peter:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

If it was God’s eternal will and desire to only save some and condemn the rest, the Holy Spirit failed to reveal such to Peter.

Does God Show Partiality?
God could save all or save none, and do so without partiality. However, for Him to save some and not others, if He is to remain impartial, the opportunity for salvation must be extended to all. To save some and reject others for no reason than He says so is partiality.

The Bible clearly tells us that God does not show partiality (Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:23-25; 1 Peter 1:17). Standing before a Gentile audience, Peter declared:

In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10:34-35)

Calvin says that God saves and destroys “without any respect to human worth” (ibid). That is not what the apostle told those who were assembled at Cornelius’ house. Peter clearly said that God accepts those who fear Him and work righteousness. We are saved or lost based upon our response to God’s offer of salvation through His word.

The Bible’s Focus On All
As we close our discussion today, I want us to notice the focus on the word “all” in the Bible with regard to salvation.

Paul told Titus that God’s grace has appeared to all (Titus 2:11-12). Again, that doesn’t mean that all respond to it, but it has been extended to all. Those who do respond are redeemed and purified as God’s special people (v 14).

The gospel is “…the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). The opportunity to believe in Christ is available to all; those who believe and obey shall be saved (Hebrews 5:9; 11:6).

The Lord has called all to come to Him (John 12:32). He has offered His rest to all (Matthew 11:28-30). The gift of salvation available by His righteous act has come to all men (Romans 5:18). Jesus was delivered up for all (Romans 8:32). God has commanded all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

Total Hereditary Depravity necessitates Unconditional Election, but as we saw in our previous two articles, THD is not a Bible doctrine; and as we have seen today (and will further pursue next week), neither is Unconditional Election. God has extended salvation to all—will we accept His offer or reject it?

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