God’s Predestination and Election in Christ
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, 14 for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. 15 Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’” Exodus 9:13-16
In our last sermon, we looked into the doctrine of being saved by grace alone through faith alone. This, as we saw, does not mean that we must first make Christ Lord of our lives (MacArthur’s Lordship salvation). Logically, that cannot happen until one is saved. It is faulty logic based on a faulty premise.
We also cannot logically repent of sin prior to our conversion in the way that Ray Comfort of The Way of the Master presents. It is true, we are sinful beings, and we need a Savior. But to repent of sins as Ray Comfort states then implies that we know all of that which is considered sinful, turning from all of that, and only then can we can be saved. This too is faulty logic.
We turn from sin as we discover that which is displeasing to God, and that comes from discipleship, not calling on Christ by faith to receive the gift of salvation which God offers in Him.
Both of those teachings were shown to be faulty because they present a faulty view of the simple gospel – salvation by faith alone through grace alone. But what is the process provided by God that even gets us to that point? And once we arrive at that point, what are the results of the act of salvation which God provides?
These doctrines, those of predestination, election, and that of the security of the believer, are major doctrines. Today we will look at predestination and election. Next week, we will look at the security of the believer.
However, these are not separate in the mind of God, as we will see today. Each point of doctrine leads logically and absolutely to the next because of the very nature of God. That they are combined, is seen in the words of Paul to the Romans in a single verse, Romans 8:30, but for more context, we will give you both verses, 29 and 30…
Text Verse: “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. 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 8:29, 30
Paul speaks of being foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified – all in just two verses. Each of these five verbs is in the same tense – aorist, indicative, active. In essence, the act is defined at a particular moment, it is past, and its effects are ongoing.
Today, we will look at some of the mechanics of what this means for the individual who is to be saved by God through Jesus Christ. Be advised, though, that no matter what is said in the next few minutes, another ten volumes of commentary could be added to each point, and there would still be someone who says, “But you didn’t cover this verse in Romans,” or “Why didn’t you mention that particular point.”
The study is vast, and it takes a lifetime of pursuit. So, please don’t think that every “i” has been crossed or every “t” has been dotted… Wait! reverse that, please. This is just a short talk to hopefully encourage you to desire more. Because there is ever so much more to be desired in His superior word. And so, let’s turn to that precious word once again, and may God speak to us His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.
God’s Predestination and Election in Christ
Paul says that believers are predestined, and they are called. The Greek word, proorizó, translated as “predestined” means “to mark out beforehand.” It comes from the preposition pro, meaning before, in front of, and so on, and also the verb horizó, meaning to mark off by boundaries or determine. You can see the English word “horizon” in it. One might think of “pre-horizon,” and thus “pre-determined.”
God has “pre-determined” those who will be saved. But what does that mean? Did God actively choose each before creation as in, “I will make a Charlie Garrett, and I will save him”? If this is so, does He then say, “I will make a Joseph Stalin and I will condemn him”?
Or does God say, “I will make a path to salvation. This is the predetermined boundary, and any who accept that path will be saved”? Or, is there some variation between these that God will use to save man?
One thing is for sure, Paul says believers are predestined, and so there is no reason to argue if this is true or not. What needs to be established is what that actually means, and how it comes about. The importance of why this needs to be known translates directly into the nature of God – His love, His competence, His trustworthiness, and so forth.
It also translates directly into what the believer needs to do in salvation, and even after salvation – both in regard to his salvation, and in regard to his obligation to others for their salvation.
In order to understand at least a small part of predestination and election, we will go over various views on what is involved in them. To do this, we will repeat points already covered in earlier sermons from the books of Moses, and in several Bible studies that some of you have already attended or watched.
However, as this is a series on doctrine, the repetition is necessary, and it will – hopefully – be a good refresher for those of you who have already heard these things before. So, no napping and sit up straight.
Paul’s words of Romans 8:29, 30 are a result of his statement in 8:28 about all things being worked out for good for those who are the called according to His purpose.
Based on this, he says that those whom God “foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Those who are a part of God’s plans and purposes will be conformed. It is already done in God’s mind. How does this come about?
Four main views will be presented – supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, sublapsarianism, and Wesleyanism. Despite being mentally challenging and a bit complicated, we can simplify the big words for your mind by using easier examples for you to grasp.
In the past, I have used ducks in a pond which then flows into a river. That was so that people wouldn’t quack their heads by thinking too hard. Today, we shall use real people stuck in the same dilemma. The wrong views will be explained first, who believes them, and why.
*The first view is known as Supralapsarianism (supra – above). It says that election, or predestination, is logically prior to the decree to permit the fall of man. In other words, even before sin entered into the picture, election was made for all people. The big word is more easily understood from its parts – Supra-above. Lapse-fall. Ism-doctrine. This is the doctrine of “before the fall.”
This view involves a group known as hyper-Calvinists. It is also known as double-predestination because its effects actively go in two directions. It is radical and biblically unsound. It inevitably leads to judgmental egoists who feel God loves them and hates everyone else.
The reason for this is because their assumption is that God predestined humanity before He permitted the fall of man. Therefore, He actively elected some for salvation and actively elected others for condemnation. The fall hasn’t even happened, and He has made His choice.
In His act of creation, He purposefully created with the intent that His people would either be saved or condemned. That is their state and they have no choice in the matter.
This means that God provides and applies salvation only for the elect. This is known as limited atonement. Christ’s atonement is limited only to those who were elected, and it applies – both potentially and actually – only to certain people. Another term must be applied to those who are saved and those who are unsaved – forced salvation to the one, and purposeful condemnation to the other.
To explain, we can look at the Garden of Eden where God placed man. God created both the garden and the man. The man was placed in the garden, and even before the man has done anything wrong, God has already chosen which of his descendants He will love and which He will hate.
Only after this decision, this one man and his wife disobey. In this, the catastrophe of sin entered into the realm. Man was forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. However, that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete, total, and eternal separation from God.
But, during the course of time, God actively comes along and initiates a process of salvation for those He chose to save even before any wrong had been committed. He gives them his Spirit and seals them for future glory whether they want it or not. The choice was made even before the fall, and they were saved at that point in time. The work of Jesus may be a part of this process, but it is actually an afterthought in the stream of events.
And the ones He created for condemnation, He actively withholds His saving of them, forcing them into condemnation and hell because He chose them to be created for condemnation. This is a mean and angry God who actively hates some of His creation, the non-elect, even before He created them.
If you think about it, for those who espouse this doctrine, there is absolutely no reason to evangelize anyone. Why bother telling anyone about Jesus or sending out missionaries? God chose and that’s that. And more, why go to church or read your Bible? If you are elect, there is nothing needed by you in regard to that nonsense. So, live it up, elect!
It ascribes evil to God because the evil that exists is not attempted to be corrected by Him when it could have been corrected by Him, even by those who may have desired it.
This view, double predestination, was held by the first Calvinist, John Calvin. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 21, Section 5, he states –
“All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” John Calvin
Such is the view of the first Calvinist, and it is a heretical view of what God is doing in the stream of human existence.
*The second incorrect view is Infralapsarianism (infra – below). This concept says that the decree of election, meaning to call someone to salvation, is logically after the decree to permit the fall. This is held by strong Calvinists, but it is technically not double-predestination.
In essence, God created all and then He permitted the fall of man. Since then, He has and will continue to elect some and will pass by others. He provides, and applies, salvation only for the elect. He chooses who will be saved and they have no choice in the matter.
Traditional Calvinists such as RC Sproul, John Piper, and others, are in this category. This view still holds to limited atonement like the first view. Christ’s atonement is limited only to those who were elected and it applies – both potentially and actually – only to certain people who will be saved. To the saved, it is forced salvation, and to the unsaved we could use the term uncaring condemnation.
We’ll go back to the Garden of Eden to understand. God creates the Garden and the man. After this, man disobeyed, and the catastrophe of sin entered into the realm. It is at this time that God decides who He will save and who He will simply ignore.
In the meantime, man is forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. But that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete and total separation from God.
During this course of time, God actively comes along and initiates a process of salvation for some of these people. He gives them his Spirit and seals them for future glory whether they want it or not. The rest, He simply ignores. He does nothing to secure their salvation.
They were simply not a part of His plan. One might argue that this isn’t a hateful God, but that is incorrect. He is uncaring about those He didn’t elect, and to not care about their eternal state is an unloving act.
He made the choice for salvation or condemnation after the fall, but He also did so before He actually took any action to correct the matter. Thus, the cross is an afterthought in God’s redemptive plans and purposes. In His mind, they were saved before His decree to correct their state. Like the first view, the work of Jesus may be a part of this process, but it is actually a secondary thought in the stream of events.
There is an implicit problem with this view which brings it to the same level as the first view. God is all-knowing. The order of the occurrences as I am presenting are for our benefit and understanding, but they are not actually how God’s mind see things. He knows all things at all times. To state that God didn’t actually create some for salvation and some for condemnation in this view would be a hard sell.
In both views so far, God loves only the elect in terms of salvation. The others, He either actively hates, or He simply doesn’t care about them. Which, by default, is a hateful act.
Another problem with this is that God is love – He loves everyone equally. There is no increase or decrease in His love for us from His perspective. The Bible proclaims this. But to pass over some while choosing others, especially after finally providing the means of salvation to the world, is actually no different than actively condemning them. Both views present an unloving God towards the non-elect.
This “passing by” someone, when He knew before creating them that He would “pass them by” is actually more than uncaring. It shows a disdain for a certain portion of His creatures. Calvinist’s like to say that those who are not elect are “simply not a part of His plan,” and that may be true, but it is He – not the poor soul who might want to be – who determines it is so.
In order to justify this, many verses have to be taken out of context, and entire doctrines which are, in fact, taught in Scripture – such as free will – have to be dismissed. By denying free will in the process of salvation, Calvinists then supposedly remove this stain from God, as they view Him.
Like the first view, there is no reason why someone would bother telling anyone else about Jesus or sending out missionaries. They will dispute this, but it is the logical result of such a view. If God chooses us for salvation apart from our will – and even before He has initiated the plan for man’s salvation – then honestly, what is the point? Are God’s plans going to be thwarted by us somehow?
Further, proponents of this faulty view would say that if it was intended for all to be saved, then all would be saved – because God’s sovereign intentions must come about. God is, after all, sovereign – as we saw in a previous sermon. Therefore, if it was not intended for all to be saved, then it was only intended for some, meaning the elect.
This is a fallacy of thinking known as a false dilemma. The atonement of Jesus is an offering and it is intended to save all, but it only applies salvation for those who believe – as 2 Peter 3:9 states explicitly –
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Calvinism wrongly assumes, and therefore asserts, that the atonement of Jesus has only one purpose, which is to secure the salvation of the elect. In other words, Jesus died so that we can be saved. This is incorrect.
It can be inferred that Jesus’ sacrifice, according to Romans 1:32, has another purpose – to reveal the righteousness of God in judgment. God sends His Son to die in your place, but you turn Him down. Even without the cross, we are condemned. How much more just is God in judgment because of it!
The result of the idea of limited atonement is that it denies that God really desires all people to be saved. This is contrary to His omni-benevolence and also to what Peter wrote, as inspired by God, and which God included in His infallible word.
To understand this view more clearly, one needs to consider the concept of free-will. Do we freely choose Christ, or does God choose us apart from our will? The two options are known as monergism and synergism.
**Monergism, or Unconditional Election, teaches that regeneration is completely the result of God’s work and man has no part or cooperation in it. It is salvation by irresistible grace leading to regeneration and then to faith. In other words, if thought through logically, a person is saved before he is saved. This is in accord with the two models we have already discussed – supra- and infralapsarianism.
To justify this, Calvinist doctrine says that one is born again by the Spirit. After that occurs, they then choose Christ Jesus, and then they are saved. In other words, being “born again” is not salvation, but rather an intermediate step on the road to salvation.
One could paraphrase that by saying, “Nobody has freewill unto salvation, but God chooses a person to be saved, gives them freewill to choose through regeneration (being born again) and then he uses that free will of choice to be saved.
But if they have free will to choose after being born again, and they cannot use it to reject Christ, then it really isn’t free will. Rather, it is “forced will.” Calvinism is convoluted and it involves very unclear thinking and a twisting of the Bible.
Further, this view actually usurps God. If you have no choice in your salvation, then how do you know you are saved? How can anyone make a claim that they are saved when they didn’t have anything to do with their salvation? In other words, you are speaking for God by claiming salvation at all.
Of course, an answer might be, “I believed after regeneration; therefore, I am saved.” However, there are false gospels and people believe them. There are people who believe wrongly and yet claim they are saved. When they find out they are wrong, they change their belief (hopefully) in order to be saved. So, when were they saved? When they believed correctly!
But Calvinism says they were saved by God’s predetermined will, even before they were created. So why did they go through the times of falsely believing they were saved. What exactly was God doing with them at that time? If He wasn’t doing something with them at that time, then they had to have been freely choosing to do what they were doing. Hence, they had free will in the matter.
False gospels imply there is a true gospel and the spirit of the antichrist implies that there is a true Spirit. Belief must precede regeneration. And it does. This is what the Bible teaches. Your faith brings salvation. Finally, monergism denies free will in fallen man, but free will is necessary for love because forced love isn’t love at all. And if you are forced to will, then you are not freely loving.
**Synergism, or Conditional Election, on the other hand, teaches that we freely choose Christ and then are regenerated to life. This is exactly what the Bible teaches numerous times, both by Jesus’ words as well as the apostolic writings –
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13,14
An argument against this though is that the Bible says we are dead in our sins and that it is Jesus who restores us to life. The argument is, “How can a dead person choose life?” RC Sproul, who is now dead, basically says it this way – “You have as much power to awaken yourself from spiritual death as a corpse has the power to awaken himself from physical death.”
This is a fallacy, or an error in thinking, known as a category mistake. We are spiritually dead in our sins. We are not dead beings. God made us with the ability to reason, to choose, and to decline. In fact, this is exactly what Genesis 3:22 implies –
“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…’” Genesis 3:22
Just because we are totally depraved beings, incapable of saving ourselves, it does not mean that we cannot see the good and receive it. People always strive towards what they perceive is good. And this is what Jesus came to do, to lead us as a beacon back to God. As He said Himself –
“He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:44-46
Christ is the Beacon, and man comes to God through Him. Nobody in his right mind who has read the Bible accurately assumes that he can restore himself to life. Only Christ can do that. He has done all that we need for that to happen. We simply receive it, and He accomplishes the rest. Peter speaks of this synergistic model in 1 Peter 3 –
“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 3:21
There, he uses the word suneidésis, translated as “conscience.” It is a compound of sýn, meaning “together with” and eídō, meaning “to know or see.” It provides a look into the idea of synergism.
It is a word used frequently by Paul that signifies joint-knowing. In other words, man has a “…conscience which joins moral and spiritual consciousness as part of being created in the divine image. Accordingly, all people have this God-given capacity to know right from wrong because each is a free moral agent” (HELPS Word Studies).
Peter says that man uses this God-given capacity, acknowledges what God has done through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he is saved. As man is a free moral agent, and as his conscience must work out an acceptable faith in the work of Christ – a work which culminated in His resurrection – then it shows that man is not regenerated in order to believe as Calvinism wrongly states.
Rather, man’s free will must actively reason out his state before God, see that he is lost in a world of filth (meaning moral unrighteousness), and come into the Ark of Safety, which is the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and thus be saved.
The faith in Christ leads to the “baptism” which is the demand, or question, by which God answers – “Am I right before God?” The answer is, “Yes.” It is Christ who allows this to occur.
Mixing categories, and rejecting core doctrines of the Bible – as Calvinism does – leads to bad theology, such as monergism. To understand the doctrine of free will better go back and watch our Genesis 2 sermon entitled Free to Will or Not Free to Will.
The Bible teaches what we would call anthropological hylomorphism – we are a soul/body unity. The spirit of man is dead, but the spirit of man is tied to the soul. Paul, speaking to saved believers in 2 Corinthians 5, says the soul without a body is naked. The spirit of man is made alive when we call on Christ, even if the body later dies.
This is eternal life, and it occurs the moment we believe. We don’t become a soul/body/spirit unity. Rather it is our soul which is now spiritually alive. Adam’s spirit died at the fall, faith in Christ regenerates that spirit. As I said, the spirit of antichrist which John speaks of confirms this. This is the error of Calvinist thinking. The spirit is not a separate entity. It is a reconnection of the soul to God.
The third wrong concept of our four major categories is Wesleyanism – named after John Wesley. Jacob Prasch, who we mentioned in a previous sermon, is a proponent of this faulty view. It says that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge but not necessarily in accord with it. In other words, God’s decrees are conditional; He changes His mind.
This is the beginning of major error and it goes back to a guy named Jacob Arminius who lived in the 1500s. His view denies eternal security. It reveals a God who is changing and makes mistakes.
John Wesley couldn’t decide what was right and so he followed the teaching of Arminius after asking God for a sign and then throwing lots twice. But we don’t get our theology from happenstance and chance. Instead, we get it from the Bible.
John Wesley, the Methodists, the Church of God, Mennonites, and others who hold this view are wrong – frightfully wrong. Like the previous view, they believe that God created all and then permitted the fall. Then He provides salvation for all people.
God knows who the elect are based on the foreseen faith of those who believe. Because of this faith, He applies salvation only to believers, but believers can lose their salvation.
Going back to the Garden of Eden for an example, God creates the garden and the man. The man disobeys God and the catastrophe of sin entered into the realm. Man is forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. However, that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete and total separation from God.
God, however, offers the corrective measure for man – He sends His Son to die for their sin. The Son calls out, “Come to Me and be saved.” Some never hear the message and continue through life without Christ. Some respond and come to Him. Others like the existence they are living and have no care about where their end will be, or they simply fail to believe what they hear, and they reject what God has offered.
For those who come to His Son, however, they can never know if they have upset God enough for Him to take away the salvation He has provided. They must keep doing things, or not doing things, in order to continue to be saved. If they fail in the doing, or not doing, God removes His salvation from them, and they are returned to the highway to hell.
There is never true safety, and in fact, those who are saved can’t really tell if they are saved or not from day to day. They spend their entire life trying to please a group of lower level pastors, preachers, and scholars who carefully decide what constitutes acceptance or rejection.
When God says in the book of Hebrews that those who believe have entered God’s rest, it is a conditional statement. When God says in the book of Ephesians that the seal of His Holy Spirit is a guarantee, it is so in name only. But a guarantee in name only is not a guarantee. In this, God – and what God says in His word – cannot be trusted.
Where Jesus says that hearing His word and believing in Him who sent Him results in 1) everlasting life, 2) that they will not come into judgment, and 3) that they have passed from death to life, does not really mean that. Jesus’ words are not to be taken at face value, but rather, they are conditional.
As this is so, one must earn his salvation, and thus salvation is not by grace through faith. This is a failed system of deceit which comes from a God who vacillates and changes. His decrees are conditional.
Understanding this, we can make a simple and logical refutation of Wesleyanism. First, there is actually no chronological order in the decrees of God. We put them in an understandable order for our benefit, but in God, there is no chronology.
He does not think in time or in sequence. Rather, God knows everything immediately and intuitively. All thoughts in God are simultaneous, and so chronological thinking is therefore excluded. However, there is an operational order in what God has done.
He has willed all things to occur in the temporal sequence of time. One thing happens and then another. We know that God created first. Only after creation came the fall of man. Only after the fall did God then begin to explain His plan of redemption. That plan slowly unfolded in the stream of time.
In this, we can think of a person getting sick. Once sick, a plan is made to bring him back to health, the doctor writes a prescription, and if the man follows what has been prescribed, he will get well. But this plan is unfolded for our benefit. What God has decreed is eternal –
“All of God’s attributes, thoughts, and decisions are eternal in accord with one another, and none is logically dependent on or independent of another. If it were, there would be contradictory logical sequence in a God who has no multiplicity, not even in His thoughts.” Norman Geisler
God provides salvation. Man accepts the prescription which has been filled out for him. The man is saved. The man is sealed with the Holy Spirit. The salvation is eternal. Each decree is eternal, none is taken out of the whole, but is in accord with the whole, and man is saved. That corresponds wholly and accurately to Paul’s words of Romans 8:29, 30 which was our text verse today.
Our final view is what is correct. First, it makes sense from a philosophic standpoint. Second, it makes sense from a moral standpoint. And third, it is the only view which is supported by the Bible. It also answers the question of why we fell in the first place.
Further, it answers where evil came from without ever ascribing it to God. Without this view, one is forever searching for where evil came from. This is a question that Calvinists must, and do, ask. They can never find an answer to it because their theology leaves no room for it.
Their mistaken idea is that God created everything perfect and so if man fell, then God must have blown it by creating a being that could fall. This is especially true because if intent to sin is evil (as Jesus clearly says it is), then Adam fell before the fall because he lusted after the fruit before he ate it. But they know God didn’t create evil, so – as RC Sproul is noted for asking – “Whence comes evil?”
As a short and logical reason for free will in Adam, it is obvious that what Adam did involved self-determination. That Adam sinned can be taken as an axiom. But was it caused by another, meaning it was determined; was it uncaused, meaning it is undetermined; or was it caused by himself, meaning self-determined?
We know that God did not cause him to sin, and the serpent did not force him to sin. So, it was not determined.
As far as Adam himself, there was no lack in him concerning the matter at hand. What he possessed in himself as created by God was perfect. Though he did not possess the knowledge of good and evil, that was not an imperfection. A lack does not necessarily correlate to, or imply, imperfection.
Adam was given a command which he could obey. He simply did not. As there is no such thing as an uncaused action, the action was not undetermined. The answer to “Whence comes evil?” is that it was self-determined by Adam.
For our views on predestination and election, the correct view is sublapsarianism (sub, meaning under or after). In order of decrees, God’s order to provide salvation came before His order to elect the people of the world, as the Bible reveals in Revelation 13:8 where it calls Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
“I will send My Son to die, and then all who call on Him will be saved.” It provides unlimited atonement for everyone potentially, but only for God’s people who choose Christ actually. Thus, it is unlimited atonement, potential; limited atonement, actual.
Like the previous two views, this view holds that God created all and then permitted the fall of man before election. He provides salvation for all people, but the elect of God are those who believe. God passes by those who do not believe based on their rejecting His offer of Jesus. It isn’t that He doesn’t care about them, it is that they don’t care about Him.
This view applies salvation only to believers who cannot lose it. This is in accord with Scripture which reveals there is security, eternal security, in the arms of Christ. A theological basis for this view is that God is omni-benevolent. In other words, He loves all of the people of the world because He is love, as the Bible states.
There is no hatred of the person willing to come to Him, and no active passing by people. He offers to any and all who hear the message, and the elect respond. He desires all to come to Him for His unmerited salvation and favor. This doesn’t mean there is good in us, it means we see the good in Him and we come to it – as the Bible states. Christ is the Light drawing all men unto Himself.
For a final, and correct visit to the Garden of Eden – God creates the garden and the man. The man disobeys God, and the catastrophe of sin enters into the realm. God, at this time, reveals that He will provide salvation for man – before He elects anyone to that salvation.
This is the order which is revealed in the Genesis 3 account. Man fell, God’s curse came, but even during the curse, He promises a Redeemer. After that, Adam demonstrates faith in the promise by naming his wife Khavah, or life, and because of that act, God covers the man and the woman – a picture of man’s atonement.
This pattern continues outside of the garden for those in the stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. The stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell and complete and total separation from God, it is true. Jesus said it is so in John 3:18 –
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18
God, however, offers the corrective measure for man – He first promises a Redeemer and those who believe are rewarded for their faith, such as Abraham. Eventually, He sends His Son to die for sin. The Son calls out, “Come to Me and be saved.”
Some respond and come to Him, others like the existence they are living and have no care about where their end will be. Or, they simply reject Him out of disbelief. Or, they are never told the message because a bunch of Calvinists who say that God’s plans in salvation cannot be thwarted – and so it isn’t necessary to share the gospel for people to be saved – fail to get out and share the message of Christ. Or, for whatever other reason the word doesn’t get out.
For those who come to His Son, they move from condemnation to salvation. They move from hell to heaven. They move from mortality to immortality. They are further protected from themselves by Christ, even if they fail Him along the way.
They are clothed in Christ, they are no longer imputed sin, and therefore, they cannot die again, because “the wages of sin is death,” but death comes through sin. If sin is not imputed, death no longer reigns. And, as a witness to them that this is true, God’s word says that they are sealed with a guarantee – not a crummy Wesleyan Arminian guarantee that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but the guarantee of God in Christ.
God was pleased that they believed. He saved them, and He continues to save them, even if they may have forgotten it. Peter even says that can happen in 2 Peter 1:9. A person can go so far away from God that he can forget he was ever saved, but God never does. God’s redeemed are eternally secure because of what He has done, not because of what we may do or fail to do.
God even gives us examples of people who either commit such grievous sin that what they do is worse than anything Paul can describe among the Gentile nations, or who completely shipwreck their faith, and yet Paul uses terminology saying that they are saved, and they will remain saved, yet as through fire. Meaning they will suffer great loss at their judgment.
Concerning predestination and election, the first two views hold to salvation only for the elect. The third view holds to salvation for believers but that they can lose it. The correct view holds to salvation for believers, who are the elect, even though it is offered to all – and when that is accepted it is a done deal, the salvation cannot be lost.
This will be the subject of our next sermon entitled “Once Saved Always Saved? Or, Not So!” There is ample biblical support for salvation being offered, free will in the process, and also of eternal salvation. Any verses which appear to contradict these views are taken out of context by the theologically confused Christian.
John 6:44, for example, is a boilerplate verse used by Calvinists to deny that one can come to Christ through free will. It says –
“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
“See, you have no free will to come to Christ! See!” Wrong! The problem with using this verse for saying that one does not have free will in salvation is at least two-fold. First, it rejects the context of what Jesus relayed to the people. His words were based on the argument he had begun to build in John 5. There He said –
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39, 40
God had drawn them, through His word, for about 1500 years. However, they were unwilling to accept the word and failed to come to Christ. When Jesus said that no one can come to Him unless the Father who sent Christ draws him, that is true.
Nobody can come to Christ apart from the word of God. Paul says as much in Romans 10 – “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Paul goes on to show in the next four verses that God did, in fact, draw them, and He continues to do so today.
The problem isn’t the drawing by God. The problem is the rejection by the people. This is without a doubt, because, secondly, John 12:32 – which comes after John 6 – says the following –
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
God draws all men to Himself through His word, and it is His word which tells of the cross of Christ, by which Christ will draw all people to Himself, and thus all people to God. Likewise, this goes for John 15 where Jesus says –
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16
NEWS FLASH: Jesus was speaking to His disciples. The entire chapter deals solely and only with them. He said the same to them in John 6:70. He chose them. Such verses cannot be used to justify God electing people apart from their free-will.
Predestination is what God has done for the people of the world by sending Christ. When they receive that, they are a part of God’s predestination. Election is God’s calling in Christ. This comes about when one hears God’s message of salvation and responds to the call. When this occurs, the man is justified. And when that occurs, the man is glorified.
In God’s mind, these are eternal decrees which came about through His will being expressed in the temporal sequence of time. Our response to them results in an action which is not conditional, but which is fixed and forever.
To further solidify this, we will spend next week looking at the doctrine of eternal salvation as a separate doctrine. But you can see from what has been submitted today, they are only separate in our minds, not in God’s. This is something that will be confirmed in our closing verse.
As I said at the beginning of this sermon, we could go on and on, for hours, and yet someone will find a reason why I should have also addressed this particular precept, or this particular verse. There is no end to the learning that can be done.
What matters concerning this sermon is not the content which is not provided, but the content which is. And that which you have been provided is accurate, it is logical, and it is in accord with the word of God. Please be sure to now take this information, and use it as a basis for going forward and analyzing the countless other precepts which this short sermon did not include due to its time limitations.
Closing Verse: “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.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14