Unconditional Election Part 1

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The goal of this series is to magnify God’s grace and to humble man’s pride.


We now come to one of the petals of TULIP that is most hated. As a review, we must not forget that men are dead in sin, thereby there is nothing in us that will attract God to choose us. None has the freedom to do whatever he wants because he loves to sin. 

Since men cannot and will not choose God, the truth of God’s election shines all the more.

The reason why men will choose God because from eternity they were chosen by God. Our choosing of God is the necessary consequence of His choice of us. He chose us before the foundation of the world that we may choose Him in His appointed time. If not for God’s election we will not choose Him. “For apart from our Father’s eternal choice of us to salvation no one would be saved. And apart from His choice, no one we share the gospel with would ever respond in faith.”1

We define Unconditional Election as God’s gracious choice of individuals from eternity, for salvation, based solely upon His covenant love. 

God has been please from all eternity to choose certain men and women out of mankind whom by His counsel secret to us, He has decreed to be saved by Jesus Christ. None are finally saved except those who are thus chosen. 

Election in the Context of Redemption

Those men and women whom God has been pleased to choose from all eternity, He calls in time, by His Spirit working in due season. He convinces them of sin. He leads them to Christ. He works in them repentance and faith. He converts, renews, and sanctifies them. He keeps them by His grace from falling away entirely and finally brings them safe to glory.

The First Link

God’s eternal election is the first link in that chain of a sinner’s salvation of which heavenly glory is the end. None ever repent, believe, and are born again, except the elect. The primary and original cause of a saint’s being what he is, is the eternal God’s Election. 

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. ~ Acts 13:48 ESV

To be appointed means to be foreordained unto or chosen for eternal life.

The Sovereign God

In the whole, large picture, God elects everything that He does. Everything that God does, He does because He chooses to do it and His choices are free from any influence outside Himself. So the doctrine of election fits into this broader comprehension of a sovereign God, by His own nature, doing whatever He chooses to do. That is the broadest perspective. 

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, ~ Ephesians 1:11 ESV

Foreordination means God’s sovereign plan, whereby He decides all that is to happen in the entire universe. Nothing in this world happens by chance. God is in back of everything. He decides and causes all things to happen that do happen. He is not sitting on the sidelines wondering and perhaps fearing what is going to happen next. No, He has foreordained everything “after the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11): the moving of a finger, the beating of a heart, the laughter of a girl, the mistake of a typist — even sin. 

Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism

Unconditional

So, conditional election means that God’s electing grace is distributed by God on the basis of some foreseen condition that human beings exercise themselves. Whereas the Reformed view is called unconditional election, meaning that there is no foreseen action or condition we meet that induces God to decide to save us. Rather, election rests upon God’s sovereign decision to save whomsoever He is pleased to save. 

R.C. Sproul, Unconditional Election

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:
2 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV

Exegesis

Several manuscripts read απαρχην (aparche) (“as a first fruit”; i.e., as the first converts) instead of απ αρχης (arche) (ap’arches, “from the beginning,”). but this seems more likely to be a change by scribes who thought of the early churches in general in this way. But Paul would not be likely to call the Thessalonians “the first fruits” among his converts. Further, απαρχην (aparche) (“first fruit”) is a well-worn term in Paul’s letters, while αρχης (arche) occurs nowhere else in Paul. Scribes might be expected to change the text to the more familiar term. Nevertheless, a decision is difficult and αρχης (arche) must be preferred only slightly. 

The phrase “from the beginning” means “from eternal past” or “from the beginning of God’s eternal decree.” The phrase doesn’t refer to the beginning of creation, but to a “time” that predated creation-a “time” before creation. Pro 8:23  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. From everlasting equals from the beginning. God chose them “from the beginning” he means, He chose them from everlasting. 

Remember what we have covered

  • Man is a sinner… through and through – Romans 3:9-18 
  • Sinners deserve death – Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23 

Therefore, if God were to be just and only give us what we deserve, we would all die – end of the story. God was under zero obligation to save or make salvation available to anyone! I don’t think you will EVER grasp God’s unconditional election until you grasp this.

An Election Primer

  • God could have chosen to save all men (He had both the power and authority to do so).
  • God could have chosen to save no men (He was not under obligation to save any).
  • God has chosen to save some (which shows both His justice and His mercy).

God has chosen certain individuals unto salvation

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 ESV

Based entirely on His Own Will

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. ~ Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV

God’s love is covenantal love. He set His love to His people out of His own good pleasure and for their good. 

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~ John 1:9-13 ESV

Not based on any foreseen faith or Good works

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.” ~ Romans 9:10-13 ESV

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV

According to the Canons of Dort, Divine Election and Reprobation Article 9,

This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the prerequisite, cause, or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: he hath chosen us (not because we were, but) that we should be holy and without blame before him in love (Eph 1:4).

Faith and Good works are the result of Election unto Salvation

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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. ~ John 15:16 ESV

Those who will insist that they are the ones who chose God do not understand the reality of sin and their deadness and depravity. 

Election is UNTO salvation; It is NOT salvation itself

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. ~ Acts 13:48 ESV

The elect will surely come to faith. Christ has accomplished the work of redemption and the Spirit will apply the benefits of redemption by causing new birth, giving them repentance and faith to believe Christ unto salvation.

Recap 

God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause of God’s choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation.

“No doctrine is so detested by proud human nature as the doctrine of election, which make nothing of the creature and everything of the Creator; yea, at no other point is the enmity of the carnal mind so blatantly and hotly evident” 

ARTHUR PINK

SOLI DEO GLORIA!


This is blog post is based on Covenant Reformed Seminary of Asia’s session on The Sovereignty of God and the Doctrines of Grace: Unconditional Election Part 1

References:

1 Wright, S. D. (2019). 40 questions about Calvinism. Kregel Academic. p. 155-156

Unconditional Election by R.C. Sproul from What Is Reformed Theology? (n.d.). Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/what-is-reformed-theology/unconditional-election

Palmer, E. H. (1980). The five points of Calvinism. Grand Rapids.
This article was published by Jeff Chavez for Herald of Grace Covenant Bible Church of Cavite. Click on the link for the original source: https://hgcbcc.com/2021/12/02/unconditional-election-part-1/

Jeff Chavez

Jeff Chavez

Jeff Chavez is a servant of the LORD Jesus Christ, husband of Gloryben, and father of Myrhh Abigail. One of the preachers and teachers at Herald of Grace Covenant Bible Church of Cavite.
Jeff Chavez

Jeff Chavez

Jeff Chavez is a servant of the LORD Jesus Christ, husband of Gloryben, and father of Myrhh Abigail. One of the preachers and teachers at Herald of Grace Covenant Bible Church of Cavite.

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