Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unconditional Election (Pt.2)

“Just as He chose us in Him" (Ephesians 1:4).

As we look at this verse, I want us to consider what Paul is saying in his careful selection of words. He begins this verse with “Just as.” This is the Greek word kathos and is translated “just as” or “according as.” It refers back to the reason why Paul is blessing God. It is “even as, in conformity to or with the fact” of His blessing. Marvin Vincent says: “Explaining blessed us, in v. 3. His blessing is in conformity with the fact that He chose” (Vincent’s Word Studies). Kenneth Wuest says, “Here kathos designates the ground of the ‘blessing’ and so is also the note of its grandeur. The ‘blessing’ proceeded on the divine election, and took effect in accordance with that. It has its foundation, therefore, in eternity, and is neither an incidental thing nor an afterthought of God” (Word’s Studies from the Greek NT).  “The writer asserts that God has blessed believers both because and to the extent that he elected them” (Lincoln, A. T. (2002). Vol. 42: Word Biblical Commentary : Ephesians).

The word “chose” is the Greek word eklego. It means “to pick out, select” (Vine) or “choose out for one’s own self” (Wuest). This word “indicates God’s totally independent choice” (MacArthur). This verb is “found twenty-two times in the New Testament. It is used eight times of Christ’s choosing or electing his disciples (Luke 6:13; John 6:70; 13:18; 15:16 (twice),19; Acts 1:2; 2:4). On one occasion Jesus is himself the person chosen (Luke 9:35). Six times it is used in a context that does not pertain to salvation (Luke 10:42; 14:7; Acts 6:5; 15:7,22,25). The remaining seven occurrences refer to men and women as the objects of election to eternal life (Mark 13:20; Acts 13:17; 1 Cor. 1:27 (twice),28; Eph. 1:4; James 2:5).

The noun “elect” (eklektos) is also used twenty-two times in the New Testament. On three occasions Jesus is the “elect” one (Luke 23:35; 1 Peter 2:4,6), and in one text the word refers to angels (1 Tim. 5:21). There is also one passage in which the word has no bearing on salvation (Rom. 16:13). In the seventeen remaining cases the word is used of men and women as God’s “elect,” those chosen to eternal life (Matt. 22:14; 24:22,24,31; Mark 13:20,22,27; Luke 18:7; Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:9; 2 John 1,13; Rev. 17:14)” (Dr. Sam Storms, The Biblical Terminology of Election, Enjoying God Ministries, http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article.asp?id=293).

Charles Spurgeon said, “You cannot look to Christ before He has looked to you. If you are willing to be saved, He gave you that will” (Effectual Calling, March 30, 1856).

What is the doctrine of election?

It means “God elects, chooses, before the foundation of the world whom He will save and whom He will pass by and leave to unbelief and sin and rebellion. He does this unconditionally, not on the basis of foreseen faith that humans produce by a supposed power of ultimate self-determination (“free will”)” (John Piper, Summary of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation, December 10, 1997). One writer says, "Election is...that decree of God which He eternally makes, by which, with sovereign freedom, He chooses to Himself a people, upon whom He determines to set His love, whom He rescues from sin and death through Jesus Christ, unto Himself in everlasting glory" (Herman Hanko, The Five Points of Calvinism). John Piper adds, "Election...is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness. We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith" (Sermon manuscript What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, desiringgod.org). John MacArthur, in his book, The God Who Loves, also writes, "We are redeemed not because of anything good in us, but because God chose us unto salvation. He chose certain individuals and passed over others, and He made that choice in eternity past, before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4). Moreover, He chose without regard to anything He foresaw in the elect; simply ‘according to the good pleasure of His will [and] to the praise of the glory of His grace’ (vv.4-6, KJV). Election arises from the love of God. Those whom He chose, He ‘loved...with an everlasting love [and drew them to Himself] with lovingkindness’ (Jer.31:3) [p.12].

“The meaning of the phrase ‘before the foundation of the world’ means ‘from all eternity’ (Fritz Rienecker, The Linguistic Key to the Greek NT, 521).

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