Monday, August 24, 2009

Unconditional Election

We are in a new series called “The Doctrines of Grace” or “The Five Points of Calvinism.” We have already looked at the first point, total depravity, and tonight we’re considering the second, unconditional election. As we consider this, I want to look briefly at Ephesians 1:4. Verse 4 is a very familiar verse of Scripture to any child of God. Notice what it says,  “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”

Paul begins this letter in verse 3 by eulogizing or speaking well of God. Why does he do this? Verse 3 says because God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Now beginning at verse 4 running through verse 14 he gives what some of those blessings are. He begins in verse 4 with election. In verses 5-6 he mentions predestination and adoption. In verses 7-8, he mentions our redemption and forgiveness. In verses 8-10, he talk about God making “known to us the mystery of His will,” in other words, revelation, and in verses 11-14 he concludes with our inheritance. No wonder Paul blesses God! God has blessed us with election, predestination, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, revelation, and inheritance. Unfortunately we will not be able to look at all these spiritual blessings, because that is not our purpose in this study. But we must keep them in mind to help us understand the context of what Paul is saying here in Ephesians 1:4.

The doctrine of election is not a new teaching for the apostle Paul. He references it over 50 times in his 13 epistles. It is sad that there are some in the church who hate this doctrine and lead others to hate it because it is a glorious doctrine. This doctrine has certainly divided many in the church. A.W. Pink said, “No doctrine is so detested by proud human nature as this one, which make nothing of the creature and everything of the Creator; yea, at no other point is the enmity of the carnal mind so blatantly and hotly evident” (The Doctrine of Election). Without the doctrine of election we would not understand salvation. We would be left to “boast” thinking we had something to do with it. But because it is here in God’s Word, it confirms the opposite—our salvation is wholly of God. He calls, elects, chooses— He is in control of our salvation. A.W. Pink again says, “God is not working at random: the gospel has been sent forth on no uncertain mission: the final outcome in the conflict between good and evil has not been left indeterminate; how many are to be saved or lost depends not on the will of the creature. Everything was infallibly determined and immutably fixed by God from the beginning, and all that happens in time is but the accomplishment of what was ordained in eternity.” So “Let it be plainly announced that salvation originated not in the will of man, but in the will of God (see John 1:13; Rom. 9:16), that were it not so none would or could be saved—for as the result of the fall man has lost all desire and will unto that which is good (John 5:40; Rom. 3:11)—and that even the elect themselves have to be made willing (Ps. 110:3), and loud will be the cries of indignation raised against such teaching” (The Doctrine of Election).

For those who say the Bible does NOT teach the doctrine of election, I want to invite you to just listen to the following verses:

In John 15:16 Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” Earlier in John 6:70 He said to them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” Acts 13:48 says, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Paul refers to the Colossians in Colossians 3:12 as “those who have been chosen of God.” When Paul sent his first letter to the Thessalonians, he was thankful to God for them after he saw their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, he knew their “election by God” ( 1 Thess.1:4, NKJV). Paul said in his second letter to the Thessalonians that “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess.2:13). When Paul was speaking with Timothy concerning persecution and suffering he said 2 Timothy 2:10, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” When Paul wrote to Titus, he said in Titus1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.” 1 Peter 1:1-2 says, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” Psalm 65:4 says, “How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.” Psalm 105:6 says, “O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!” Deuteronomy 7:6 says, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Isaiah 43:20-21 says, “The beasts of the field will glorify Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people. 21 "The people whom I formed for Myself Will declare My praise.”

What was the common truth in all of those verses? God’s chosing. Salvation is God’s choice. As we saw in our previous study of total depravity, man is dead in trespasses and sins and therefore unable to choose God. As Acts 16:14 illustrates, God has to open the “heart to respond to the things spoken.” When Paul went to Philippi, he went to a place “where [they] were supposing that there would be a place of prayer, and [they] sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thysatira, a seller of purpose fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” In other words, God’s gave her the faith to believe the gospel spoken by Paul. According to verse 15, not just her but also “her household.” Over and over in Scripture we hear that “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Ps.3:8). It is, as David confessed in Psalm 51:12, “your salvation.”

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