Unconditional Election, Part 2
Tell Me Again Please … When Does Election Take Place?
Stop for a moment and ask yourself this question. When does the Bible say your election took place? Before the foundation of the world. Right? Okay, does the Bible teach anywhere that God first looks into the future to determine the decisions people will make in the future before He then goes ahead and makes His plans for the future? Not at all.
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I
please” (Isaiah 46:10). “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalms 33:11).
God didn’t consult the future in the past (prior to laying the foundation for the world) in order to determine what will happen so He could then plan for it to happen that way. Sound strange to you? It should. Yet, this is exactly what Arminianism teaches.
The Bible says God decrees what will take place in this world before it happens so He can demonstrate to all people throughout history that He makes good on His word because He has the power to carry out His decrees because is God. “… I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do” (Isaiah 46:9-11).
Is God in Control … And if so is God a Sinner?
Whatever happens in time and space happens because God has planned it that way. And God actively brings His word to pass. “… so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). His plans and purposes are carried out.
Much of what happens on this earth doesn’t include the decisions and actions of men. Man doesn’t control the weather, or earthquakes, or many other things. But some events do happen because of our choices – good and bad.
The Bible is clear that when people commit sinful actions and purpose them as sinful they are accounted as sinful to those individuals. God doesn’t sin; man does (James 1:13). But God is still sovereign over those actions, and His purposes are carried out through those actions. (For more examples see passages such as Isaiah 53:10; Acts 4:27-28; Genesis 50:20; Psalm 105:17; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 20:24; Proverbs 21:1; Jeremiah 10:23; Romans 9:17).
Are We Born Again Before or After We “Make a Decision for Christ?”
So where does our faith and our choices fit into the scheme of salvation? Arminianism teaches that people hear the Gospel, then acquire faith to believe it, and then make a “personal decision” for Christ. God has supposedly based their election on this faith (which He knew they would acquire) and the choice (He knew they would exercise). But if you truly comprehend the total depravity of man you already know this Arminian view has to be mistaken.
I noted at the beginning of this article that unregenerate (“individuals not born again”) persons in the state of total depravity cannot have saving faith or make a “choice” for God. Why? Because they’re spiritually dead. They can’t make Godly choices. The only choices they can make are sinful choices. When Arminianism teaches that faith and repentance take place in a person before their regeneration (new birth) it places the cart before the horse.
According to Scripture, regeneration must take place before we come to Christ in faith. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins… But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5).
God regenerates elect individuals and draws these persons to Himself. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him” (John 6:65). “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28).
Election and regeneration are sovereign works of God – – accomplished by His grace. “Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven’” (Matthew 16:17). “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “… no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again… Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 6-8).
The Elect Are Chosen By God, Not Determined By Man … Man’s Election Is Un-Conditional …
“Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls – she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’ …It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’ Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden” (Romans 9:11-13, 16-18).
Those who are elect will truly come to Christ. They will decide to become followers of Christ because God has determined that they will do so beforehand. God, in His mercy, enlightens some men while choosing to let others stay in darkness. “I praise you, Father, Lord of father and his son found for themselves on the island. The men routinely abused the father and son. Even took to beating them out of sheer boredom and enjoyment. Each and every day, at least one of these men was exceedingly mean, cruel, selfish, and hateful.
These three evil men enjoyed telling each other about their wild adventures at home. The drinking…gambling…drug abuse…stealing and fornicating. They missed it. They enjoyed it all. They loved to brag about each and every sin. For each of them, the worst part about being stuck on a deserted island was that their circumstances actually kept them from practicing all the sin they wanted to engage in.
The kindly father and his gentle son attempted to speak with these men about their lives. About living life in light of a created purpose…about morals…about right and wrong. They also kindly asked the men not to be cruel
This greatly angered the three men. They cursed and beat the father and his son more than ever because of it. On occasion, they even forced the father to watch as they did cruel and wicked things to his son just for sport.
Then one day something happened. All five were traveling across the island together. The three wicked men had managed to find a bottle of whiskey the pilot had hidden in the cargo hold of the plane. They passed the bottle to each other and got drunk while walking along. And each one managed to stray into a pit of what appeared to be a mixture of sand and mud.
The three began to curse and joke about getting dirty. They didn’t see any danger. The father and son, however, knowingly look at one another. They pleaded with the men to get out of the pit. They even offered to help the men. But the three scoffed and cursed the father and his son.
So the father and his son decided to act. The father threw a line out to one of the men and directed his own son to get into the muddy substance himself. The son, without regard for his own life, grabbed hold of the man. The man cursed him. He even hit the son. He spit in his face. He poked at the son’s eyes. He told the son to leave him alone. Still, the son continued to drag the man out of the thick mud- like substance. And just about the time he pulled the cruel man out of the pit the son fell back into the thick substance. He was tired, and was quickly overcome by it. He went under and disappeared.
This made the two men still in the pit roar with laughter. They mocked the old man and made fun of his son. They still didn’t realize the father and his son were offering to help them out of quicksand. They called the man whom the boy had rescued a sissy. They cussed the old man and told him they didn’t want his help. They could get themselves out just fine.
The father choked back tears at the thought of losing his precious son. Still, the kindly old man began cleaning off the man his son had dragged from the pit. The father was glad in his heart for the life of the man in front of him – the one his son had saved.
Now, something else happened. The man who the son had saved began to realize what had just taken place. He began to understand that this kindly old man who he had cursed and beaten and stolen from had actually rescued him. And this father’s only son had saved his life in spite of all his efforts to push him away. Not only that, this father’s son, his most precious possession, had lost his own life to save him.
The other two men were still stuck. In pride, they told the old man they could get out by themselves. They didn’t want his help. “We’re men,” they said. “Not sissies.” The old man looked at them. He decided to let them have it their way. And their cursing was the last sound in the air before they too went under.
The old man helped the man his son had rescued to his feet. That man was sobbing now. He saw his past sins come accusingly before him in his thoughts. He knew how he had treated the kindly old man and how he had abused his son. He thought of how he had cursed, and scoffed, and mocked and stolen from the father and his son. He was ashamed.
The father put his arms around the man, told him he forgave him and let him know that his son had freely and willingly risked his life to save him – even though this man didn’t think he needed saving or even want to be saved at that moment.
The man continued to sob as he pondered, “Why had this man’s son been willing to risk his own life for someone like me? Why would this father be in agreement with what his son had done?”
The man was changed from that day onward. “How can I not change,” he thought to himself. He owed his life in this world to the very ones he sinned against most in this world. He kept on wondering, “What kind of love does something like this?” It’s the same question we should ponder when we think about the doctrine of unconditional election.
Written by: Dr. Charles F. Betters and Joe Farinacchi