Unconditional Election

The “second point” in the Synod of Dordt’s response to the Remonstrance written by the followers of Arminius was that of “Unconditional Election.”  Remember, the “five points” are simply a direct response to the five main points in the Remonstrance, or Arminian positions.  it isn’t fair to the Scriptures or their Author to boil down the God-story to five points and each point should be taken into consideration within the whole context of the Scriptures.

Because Adam transgressed, God made it clear that he and all his decedents are guilty.  The sentence for that guilt is eternal death.  God was under no obligation to save Adam or a single decedent of Adam. His justice would have been completely satisfied by saving no one or obliterating His creation at the moment of Adam’s transgression and started over.

The doctrine of election, however, articulates the Scripture’s position that God, before He even created the world, chose some of Adam’s decedents upon whom He’d bestow amazing mercy.  These were those He would “save” from eternal punishment.  He could have chosen to save all men or none.  He, instead, chose to save some.  The fact that He chose only some is in no way unfair unless “…one maintains that God was under obligation to proved salvation for sinners – a position which the Bible utterly rejects.” (David Steele, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented)

Election doesn’t actually save anyone.  The Father elects, the Son gives Himself as redemption to save, and the Spirit renews the heart and instills that saving faith in the Elect.

Some interesting verses that highlight this election:

Revelation 13:8 – “And all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lam that was slain.”

Matthew 11:27 – “…no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

1 Peter 1:1-2 – “…chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with blood…”

God’s choice is not based on any foreseen merit or action by man:

Romans 9:11-13 – “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 his call, she was told, ‘The elder will serve the younger.’  As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”

Romans 9:16 – “So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy.”

God didn’t choose us because he foreknew we’d choose Him:

Acts 13:48 – “And when the Gentiles heart this, they were glad and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”

Philippians 1:29 – “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.”

Exodus 33:19 – “…I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”

Ephesians 1:5 – “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.”

There are countless others.  This was the doctrine that I stumbled upon.  The other doctrines of salvation I knew I was wrong about as a young believer (I didn’t always believe this way!  I was an Arminian believer for years!) were easy to overcome.  This one was hard.  He isn’t “fair?”  He “chooses” hell for some?

As the image of my daughter dying in my arms was still very fresh and as I considered the ridiculous books that some well-meaning people handed me full of unBiblical junk about salvation and how it happens, it hit me: If He created the universe, set the standard, and works out His will and personality through His creation; perhaps I should re-read the Scriptures without the lens of human preference and see what He is really saying.  The whole counsel of the Scriptures is about the Author, the Potter, and the Lord writing His story, molding His clay, and ruling over His creation.  Who am I to question His plan or his will?  Who am I to read into the Scriptures some effort, work, or decision I must make to be saved?  It sits well with my current base nature…but not with His eternal truth.

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