Continuing our study of the doctrines articulated by John Calvin in response to the faulty premise presented by the followers of Arminius, a seminary professor of several centuries before, the second point in the acronym TULIP is “U” and stands for unconditional election. Like the first element in the doctrine explained by John Calvin, this argument directly addresses a point in the Arminian theological presentation. The Arminian position is that while God does elect, He does so with foreknowledge of who would respond to His call. Only those individuals who choose to believe – and God foreknows – are of the elect. It is not the Holy Spirit which draws the sinner to salvation according to Arminian theology, but rather the sinner’s choice to accept Jesus the Messiah rather than God choosing.
Because of our fallen nature, it would be perfectly just or righteous for God to allow all mankind to perish in our sin. He is under no obligation to provide salvation for anyone. The second point of Calvinism is that God, in fact, did choose certain individuals from along the sons of Adam to be the recipients of His undeserved favor. Those individuals, and only those individuals, He chose to save. He could have chosen to save all men or to save no men, but He chose, for reasons known only to Himself, to save some. The choice was made before the foundations of the world were laid and is not based on any foreseen acts or responses of those whom He chose. This election was not based on anything the chosen did, but was entirely an act by God. Those not chosen by God are left to their evil desires and the consequences of sin. For a person to question this selection is outside the jurisdiction of that person for He is the created, not the Creator. It is not that God was unkind to those He did not choose, but that He was kind to those He did choose. Had He not chosen the elect, all would perish. The act of election, by the way, does not save. What is does is to mark certain individuals for salvation. It takes the redeeming work of Jesus to justify and to pay the sins of those individuals whom God elected.
The basic concept of predestination in that God in His sovereignty chooses some to life eternal while condemning many others to eternal damnation at first seems very unfair and counter to our sense of justice, fairness, and right/wrong. How can God arbitrarily decide whether I or you or our loved ones will receive eternal life or eternal punishment? The answer to this legitimate question is found in the first element in this doctrine; that being “total inability”. The whole race of man is sinful because of Adam and none of us have any right or claim to the grace of God. Instead of allowing all men to be punished and suffer eternally, God – on His own initiative – choose to select (elect or predestinate) a remnant of His created beings for salvation and life eternal. This was, as we noted earlier, not based on our merit or our worthiness or anything that we may do as Christians, but solely on His prerogative. The wrath of God is not poured out, as it were, on the unrighteous; it simply abides on those He did not elect. God is sovereign and the act of election is a sometimes uncomfortable reminder.
Calvin, in his writings, did not shy away from the topic of those not elected by God. He uses the term “reprobation” and based this concept, just as he based election on the eternal purpose of God. He wrote, “Not all men are created with a similar destiny but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one of the other of the se ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death.” In another place, he wrote, “There can be no election without its opposite, reprobation.”
Martin Luther wrote on the same topic and reached a similar conclusion. “This mightily offends our rational natures that God should, of his own mere unbiased will, leave some men to themselves, harden them, and condemn them; but He gives abundant demonstration, and does continually, that this is really the case; namely that the sole cause why some are saved, and others perish. Proceeds from His willing the salvation on the former, and the perdition of the later, according to that of St. Paul, ‘He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.’” Another similar comment by Luther reads, “It may seem absurd to human wisdom that God should harden, blind, and deliver up some men to a reprobate sense; that He should first deliver them over the evil and condemn them for that evil; but the believing, spiritual man sees no absurdity at all in this; knowing that God would be never a whit less good, even though He should destroy all men.”
God has a chosen (elected) people. He has destined them for salvation.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. (7) 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 (8) but because the Lord loves you and because He would keep His oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a might 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 high heavens belong to the Lord your God,, also the earth with all that is in hit. (15) The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them. And He choose 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. The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man 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 benefit of Your chosen ones. That I may rejoice is the gladness of Your nation. That I may glory with Your inheritance.
Amos 3:2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
Matthew 11:27 “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone the Father except through the Son and the one whom the Sons wills to reveal Him.”
Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
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.” (24) “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (31) “And He will send His angels will a great shout of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Luke 18:7 “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night for Him though He bears long with them?”
Romans 8:28-30 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. (29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called. Whom He called, these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a change against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Romans 11:28 Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election, they are beloved for the same of the fathers.
Colossians 3:12-13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, (13) bearing with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Titus 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness.
1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (2) elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
1 Peter 2:7-9 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious, but to those who are disobedient, ‘the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’, (8) and ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word to which they also were appointed. (9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
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.
Before the foundation of the world, God chose some for salvation. This election was not based on any foreseen responses or acts on the part of the chosen. Faith and good works are the result of God’s election, not the cause of His choosing. In this section, there are a number of points and supporting verses.
Mark 13:20 “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s save, whom He chose, He shortened the days.”
1 Thessalonians 1:4 …knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning choose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
He chose before the foundation of the world and their names are written in the book of life.
Ephesians 1:4 …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
2 Timothy 1:9 …who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him (Satan), whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 17:8 The best that you saw was, and is not, and will ascent out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
God’s choice was not based on foreseen merit in the person nor based on foreseen good works that person would perform. It was not based on the foreseen faith of the person.
Romans 9:11-13 …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, (12) it was said to her, ‘The older shall server the younger’. (13)As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’
Romans 9:15-16 For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ (16) So then it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty (28) and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, (29) that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Good works are the results, not reason, for election.
John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I choose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit shall remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
Ephesians 1:11-12 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will (12) that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
God’s choice was not based on foreseen faith. Instead, faith is the result and evidence of election, not the cause of His choice.
Acts 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorifying the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
Acts 18:27 And when he (Apollos) desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.
Philippians 1:29 For you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, by beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in by absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (13) for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 …knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. (5) For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake,
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation though sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (14) to which He called you by our gospel for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Election is based on the sovereign choice of God. It was His will who determined which sinners would be granted mercy and salvation.
Exodus 33:19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Deuteronomy 7:6-7 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. (7) 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.
Matthew 20:15 “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?”
Romans 11:4-6 But what does the divine response say to him? ‘I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the new to Baal.’ (5) Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then it is no longer of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depts. Of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge or God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (34) For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor. (35) Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him. (36) For of Him and trough Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Ephesians 1:5 …having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will.