Calvinism Is So Yesterday, Part 2: Unconditional Election

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Part 2: Unconditional Election

Standing on the (errant) idea that the citizens of the world, since the Fall of Adam on out to the present, has been (and continues to be) “totally depraved,” Reformed Theology systematically posits four addition points that, when chronologically observed, serve to provide people with a lock-tight understanding of biblical soteriology.

We recall from our last Blogpost (Blog 5 Part 1 of 5 Total Depravity) the biblically supported fact that Man was once, because of the Fall, incapable of choosing or seeking God by their own volition and in the face of this the Living God has reached out in numerous ways to spark the human desire to know and follow Him.  We additionally made clear that all of the effects of the Fall were overcome by and through Christ and that today, the world has been collectively, albeit spiritually, returned to the Garden of Eden (so to speak) and each individual is equipped with enough “spark” to choose who they will worship and how they will live.

The idea of Total Depravity, however, when it is assumed to be universal and still in operation lays the groundwork for the next logical step in the Reformed mind – since God is the one who must call people and equip people with the power to believe on Him and come to saving faith, then God’s election of these fortunate people is considered, “Unconditional.”  The meaning of unconditional election, therefore, goes something like this:

Human kind is totally depraved since the Fall and therefore all persons are incapable of choosing to seek, believe or follow God.  Because of this, God and God alone is in charge of who and when someone is elected to believe.  The next logical step, for a Calvinist, suggests, “And when God elects an individual to believe, that election is unconditional.” 

Part of the problem in understanding the biblical descriptions about what is known as election (God choosing to save some, God electing) is that there are plenty of places where He appears to do just that – which is a fact that cannot be overlooked.  Consider the following scriptural supports relative to the Living God choosing the Nation of Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:6-8 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 10:14, 15 “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.”

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, And the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

Psalm 65:4 “Blessed is the man whom You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple.”

Psalm 106:5 “That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.”

There is no doubt that the Living God chose/elected the Nation of Israel out of all the other nations on earth to be His own.  But relative to this fact, we might ask, “to what end?”  Some believe that they were elected because they were good and holy people.  Some because of other reasons like their superiority in order, record-keeping or a number of other possible factors.  But the reality is YAHAVAH elected them to bring forth the Messiah who would ultimately save the world.  In other words, His election of them was to bring the salvation of many who were not them.

By the time we get out in their history to the age when their promised Messiah was readied to enter His ministry, His purpose, in the face of their refusing to be an obedient spouse to God, was to gather the elect from that day, age and time, into a worthy pure Bride, first from among His own, and then followed by Gentiles who were invited to join in by faith.  For this reason, we are introduced (again) in the Apostolic Record about “an elect or chosen” people.   This time they would be elect in coming to faith in Yeshua the Anointed.  Let’s consider some evidences for this.  We will begin with Yeshua telling four of His apostles about signs that would exist in those last days, saying,

Matthew 24:22, 24, 31 “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. For false christ’s and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

These words about “the elect” referenced them in that day before they were gathered up and taken prior to the promised “great and dreadful day.”  Luke also speaking of God’s vengeance on behalf of “the elect” also support the notion that in that day, God elected souls.

Luke 18:7 “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?”

Paul spoke freely to the believers in Rome about their election from God, saying,

Romans 8:28-30, 33 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”

Paul references “the elect” all through his writings to these believers in that day.

Romans 9:11 “… (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls).”

Romans 11:28-29 “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering….”

Titus 1:1 “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness….”

The apostle Peter used the same term for the believers in his day, saying,

1st Peter 1:1, 2 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ….”

The apostle John recorded in Revelation 17:14 

“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Because of these passages, and passages like them, the modern Bible reader, without any sort of authorization or passage, typically reads these references and assigns them to themselves.   But the fact of the matter is, whether we are speaking of the Nation of Israel or the Bride of Christ in that day, the elect were the Jews who walked by faith.  Period.

One of the biggest scriptural supports Reformed Theologians use to support the notion that God elects individuals to salvation is in the first chapter of Ephesians.  Let’s work through these passages together to aid us in understanding God’s election.  Pay particular attention to Paul’s use of the words (in verses 3-12) “we” and “us.” 

Ephesians 1:3-14

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 5 He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us.  9 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  11 In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.

At this point ask, who is the “us” and “we” that Paul is addressing here?  Could be the Apostles, but I suggest that it was those from the Nation of Israel who believed.  Notice,

At verse 10 where Paul lays out why God elected them – 

“as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Herein we discover the answer to why God elected the Nation and then individuals from that Nation.  But Paul does not stop there.  Take notice on how he shifts from speaking of “us” and “we” and turns his attention to “you” in the next few verses.

13 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

These passages seem to speak to people (not Jews) who chose to believe from the Gentile world, souls who,

“have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”

When it comes to God unconditionally “electing,” or “choosing” people in the scripture, it seems to be clear – He did.  But context proves the following:

  1. His election was first of the Nation of Israel to bring about the Messiah who would save the world.
  2. His election was next, Jews from that Nation in Yeshua’s day, “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
  3. The Gentiles of that day, came to faith not by election but because they, “heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit . . .” and then,
  4. Through these means, God reconciled the world to Himself, opening wide the flood gates for all to now come to Him by and through choosing faith.

In summary, Unconditional Election is a grievous misappropriation of the sacred text which strips its meaning from the context of what God did through the Nation of Israel and assigns it to every individual who has ever lived ever since.  This understanding of His Election removes one of the most essential traits of God (His Love for personal liberty and choice) and relinquishes Him to a despotic autocrat who lacks any and all care for any human being other than those He chooses.

I cannot imagine a more ruthless Creator.  

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