Monday, March 26, 2007

God's Sovereignty in Salvation: PART 2

"Unconditional Election"

When last I left you, in part 1 of this series, we discussed "Total Depravity." It is a necessary prelude to this second post in the series of God’s sovereignty in salvation, if you have not read it, please do so before you engage this post.

At the end of the first post I left with a very open ended question. The question in itself was one that make’s the soul in whom God is working despair. The question in essence was this: "If what Scripture teaches is true, and no one seeks for God and no one can choose God, and apart from God there is no salvation, what hope does mankind have?"

Scripture does clearly teach that this is the state of mankind. Lost, and hopeless to do anything about it. No amount of good works can save, because in God’s eyes "...No one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:12) If we were left alone to do what our heart desired, no one would ever choose to follow God. All would be lost.

So what hope do we as sinful humanity have? God’s Sovereignty is our hope of salvation. It is His free-will that He has, that saves those whom He chooses. God unconditionally elects, or chooses, those whom He will save.

Unconditional Election can be defined in this way:

"God has shown us in His word that from eternity past He has elected some sinners to be saved from the condemnation that is justly deserved by all, purely on account of His gracious mercy and love, not because of any foreseen merits in those sinners. Because of the fact of total depravity, salvation must originate with God, and we read in the Bible that it is God’s sovereign will alone that has determined the recipients of salvation."

Now, as always, let us turn our attention as well as our hearts and minds to the Scriptures, so that we can see that this is the teaching of God and not man.

Ephesians 1:3-12

"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory."

What incredible language God uses here! "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world." This rules out any possibility that our works justify us before God. God chooses us before we had the chance to even exist. Let’s look at some more Scripture.

Romans 9:9-13

"9For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son." 10And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call-- 12she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

Romans 8:28-30

"28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

Clearly, it is the teaching of Scripture, that tells us it is God who is completely responsible for salvation. Look what Jesus says in John 6:44.

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

Is this not merely compatible with what Scripture teaches about mankind’s fallen condition because of sin? We do not want God, seek God, know God. Therefore, because we are unable to turn to God ourselves, God must draw the sinner to Him by His power and grace. Indeed this is what Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches.

"8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

Grace is a gift of God.

Salvation is a gift of God.

Faith is a gift of God.

None of these thing are our own doing, they come from God who is the "the founder and perfecter of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2)

If you accept the clear teaching of Scripture regarding the fall of man and the doctrine that has been called "Total Depravity" then you must see that this is the only way anyone could be saved. The doctrine of "Unconditional Election" is also very clearly taught in Scripture as I hope you have seen.

What about some common objections to this doctrine? For instance, often it is proclaimed that when Scripture talks about God foreknowing someone as in Romans 8:29, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined...", that it means God looked into the future and saw that a person would accept Jesus as savior and so God predestined them to salvation.

Obviously, however, that cannot be the case. Why? Because man is depraved and no one seeks for God. If God simply let us do our thing and did not intervene, no one would choose Him, and no one would be "elect" if this were how God did things. The problem with this view is that it is man centered. Man likes to assume that he is in control of his life, and yet that is just not true. As we discussed in one post ( ), man’s will is enslaved to either sin or to God, but it is never truly free.

So "foreknowledge" does not mean to know in advance what is going to happen. In fact if you do a word study here, you will find that the root word here "knowledge" is the Greek equivelant to that of the Hebrew word "yada" which also means know. Let’s look at a few places where this word is used in Scripture, both in the Hebrew and the Greek.

Genesis 4:1

"Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten
a man with the help of the LORD."

Exodus 33:17

"And the LORD said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name."

To quote from James White’s book "The Sovereign Grace of God", which you all should read by the way, and can buy it here:, this is what Dr. White has to say about this same issue.

"Hence, we have seen that "to know" in Scripture, especially when it is God who is doing the "knowing" and when the object of this "knowing" is personal (a person, or a people, as in Israel), refers not to a knowledge of data and facts, but a personal relationship between God and the "knowee." With this concept in mind, let us now look at the concept of God’s foreknowledge in the New Testament." (White; 145)

Yes, let’s.

Acts 2:23.

"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

This again is the exact same word as we saw in Romans 8:29. Let’s put in place here in Acts 2:23 the same meaning that many try to place upon Romans 8:29. If we were to do that, it would read something like this:

"This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan of God, well, definite that is, because God looked into the future to see what Jesus (who is God) would do and since He saw that Jesus would indeed be crucified, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

You see the problem? Foreknowledge is not God’s knowledge of future events. Foreknowledge is God’s decision to enter into a personal relationship with a person from before they exist. Or in Jesus’ case God has known Him (or Himself within the trinity) personally for all eternity.

Clearly God chooses on the basis of His own free-will, and not on the basis of anything we do, whom He will save and whom He will not. As for other objections to this doctrine here is what
God says through Paul in Romans 9:14-24.

"14What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?"

Ultimately it comes down to this. God is God and I am not. I am unable to save myself, so my only hope is that God will save me.

If you accept the clear Scriptural teaching of Total Depravity, you must accept the equally clear Scriptural teaching that God chooses people by His own free will, unconditionally, apart from what we do. That is Unconditional Election.

In Him -Jacob


Papa J said...

Okay, so I will keep this brief and respond to only one point.

Where did Christ teach "Saved only by grace?" Grace as a concept was taught to a world that believed in sacrificial animals and ordinances. Which you and I know are a similitude of the sacrifice of the Son of God, they didn't. They had forgotten that and had to be taught otherwise by Paul and the apostles. Please find me one passage in the gospels that teaches grace as you teach it.

Christ only ever taught that we will be judged by our works. Matthew 16:27 "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." Not hypocritical works to be seen of men. For that will bring judgement as well. But real works. "Therefore whosoever heareth these saying of mine and DOETH them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:..." Matt. 7:24

Please, reconcile these different interpretations for me.

Your brother in Christ,

risen_soul said...

Saved by only grace.

I believe that this is taught all over the place. Ephesians 2:8-9.

“8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast”.

Another verse that teaches that salvation is by the grace of God is Romans 3:23-24.

“23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”

And Romans 5:17.

“If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

I could list many more that teach that we are saved by God’s grace. After all, the grace of God is the only hope people have to be saved if indeed we are enslaved by sin as I have put forth. Because we are incapable of trusting in Christ for salvation, apart from God’s grace coming upon us by His choice.

Now if you want me to quote Jesus in the gospels using the word grace, I’m not sure he does. However, I strongly disagree that “Christ only ever taught that we will be judged by our works.” I agree that unbelievers will be judged according to the law of God and will be found guilty because no man can fulfill the law other than Christ, but they will be judged for more than just there deeds. Indeed they will be judged for not trusting in Christ.

John 3:18; 36

“If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.....36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

And again we see that Jesus judges people on the account that He never knew them in Matthew 7:23.

So on one hand I agree with you that people will be judged according to the works they do, and the works that people do are always found wanting, that is why we need Christ’s righteousness. I believe that people will be judged and condemned by their failure to keep the law, but those who are in Christ are not judged by the law (Romans 6:14), because Christ who alone fulfilled the law has become the righteousness of he who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30). So unbelievers will be judged by works as Christ talks about, but not believers. Believers will be rewarded according to their works (Luke 6:35), but that is a different ball game.

Now I understand that you wanted me to quote from the gospels concerning the grace that is taught, but I believe that “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and therefore believe that Romans, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, as well as all 66 books of the Bible are the very words of Christ, because he put them in the heart of various men and guided them. So there is no difference between the “red letters” and the rest of the Bible.

There is no doubt that Jesus taught believers to do good deeds, but those good deed were not for salvation, but rather were an outworking of salvation that had already come by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.

In Him -Jacob

risen_soul said...

papa j,

I may very well not have a chance to read any comments or post again until tuesday. Just so that you know I'm not ignoring you.

Papa J said...

I love Romans chapter 3. It is an excellent explanation of grace.

Grace is to complete our repentance because we have "all come short" v.23. You'll note that this chapter starts out addressing the concerns that the new christian religion had. That is, did they have to observe the jewish law of circumcision? Presumably the deeper question was not just circumcision but the entire jewish law.

He continues his discussion about the applicability of jewish law through chapter 5 concluding in verse 21 "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

So, first we must have faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Then in the very next verse, Ch 6 v 1 he starts to explain what actions are REQUIRED to receive Jesus' grace.

We seek repentance and forgiveness through baptism.

v4 "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

So does being baptised into God's church save a man? After being baptised we become partakers of God's grace.

v15 "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid."
v16 "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"

v 23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

So, how I understand these scriptures is that we have 1st-Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; 2nd-We seek repentance; 3rd - We are baptised 4th we are bound to obey him in everything we do in order to obtain eternal life.

I don't know about you but I haven't been perfect on that fourth point. Like Paul, I don't seek sin but I still do sin. (Romans 7:24) And when I return, and offer a contrite heart to my Lord, His grace makes up my shortcomings.

We can never do enough to save ourselves. Isn't that what it means to come short? Still the master demands our obediance if we are to be His servants.

Grace is not a law too be obeyed, it is a blessing to be obtained. We obtain that blessing by obedience to all that Christ has asked of us and beleiving in Him.

Paul then explains forordination and the grafting of the gentiles into the house and promises of Abraham. I beleive you have already posted some on this topic and I will wait until another time to discuss it further.

Then in chapter 12 he returns to our obligations. We must become a living sacrifice (again a symbology that applies to the discussion of the Jewish law.) To be this living sacrifice we must use our talents for building His kingdom Ch 12.

Grace is not a gift evenly applied because God does not give us a specific measure. So, if not evenly applied, always fairly applied. If our attitudes and actions are worthy sacrifices to Him, (in otherwords done with the right intent) then we may become partakers of His grace. I do not believe that God keeps score of our righteous deeds and rewards us at the end of our lives according to the scorecard! Indeed, I think the parable of the workers in the vineyard teaches that concept very clearly.

Christ did not speak of grace because he spoke of the attitude required for us to become partakers of His grace.

I pray every day that at that great day, I will be found worthy.

Our actions do not of themselves save us, but they do put us in the proper attitude to be saved by God.

At the end of the discussion I think we mostly agree about grace. I am grateful for the atonement and I pray I will be a worthy partaker of it throughout my entire life.

In His name,

risen_soul said...


I certainly agree that Romans three does a wonderful job of explaining grace, but I think you have missed it. I'm really not going to get into a full response here because I think you still need to first answer Romans 3:10-18 as well as Romans 1:18-32 and the complete sinfulness of mankind. A sinfulness that penetrates the soul so much that man will never under his own free will turn to God.

You have gone to what seems great length to explain your point without answering what I have asked time and again. What do you do with the passages above mentioned?

How can someone Have 1. Faith 2. Repentance and so on if no one seeks for God? I disagree with your understanding of baptism and deny that the passage about being baptized into Christ's death is even refering to water baptism. But we can discuss that after we discuss this point that must be answered first.

We cannot obtain the grace of God, grace is a gift (Eph. 2:8-9).

Your theology forces you to say, "I pray every day that at that great day, I will be found worthy."

That hurts my heart for you Pat, because you have no guaruntee of your salvation, all you can do is hope you have done enough to merit God's favor. But the true gospel, "good news", is that you can't do anything, but Christ has done it for you. Those whom God brings to faith in Christ are secure in their eternal destination because they did not earn their salvation which could be lost, but they were given the gifts of faith, repentance and salvation which come from God. He is sovereign in salvation.

I urge you to rethink your beliefs and the inccorect view of God to which you cling, Because there is one God in thre persons and He is sovereign and He saves and whom the son sets free is free indeed.

I have no fear of Hell, because I know that Christ has saved me to the fullest because it is His will that I be saved.

Romans 8:29-30

"29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

Salvation is in God's hands, and He saves all those whom He intends to save and once a person is justified by God they are guarunteed to be glorified. I cannot lose what I have not earned. And I do not deserve what I have been given.

At the end of this discussion Pat, I am afraid we have radically different concepts of God's grace. I pray that you will carefully consider what we are talking about.

God bless.

Papa J said...


I will speak directly to the doctrine of grace as you have explained it.

When I write in CAPs it is for emphasis only, it should not be interpreted as shouting or anger in any way for I know that we share a love of the Lord and for His Glory and kingdom.

Phillipians 2:12-15

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling. 12 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 DO all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 THAT YE MAY BE BLAMELESS and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the mids of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Why should do fear for our salvation to cause us to tremble? Because if we do not align our actions with our understanding of Gods will and law we sin. If we are not aware of god's law we are blameless. Once we know God's law we are bound to obey.

We all sin. None is perfect in his actions and in aligning himself with God's law except Christ. His grace is applied to us once we prove to him we are willing through our actions.

In Luke chapter 18 Jesus speaks about our attitude in doing good as well. For doing good alone is NOT sufficient (man can not save himself.)

Versus 18-30

18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is God.
20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
21. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. (This is where the Mosaic law stops)
22. Now when Jesus heard these thing, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (Please note that this response requires two things: one stated and one implied. 1. ACTION on our part this is stated very clearly 2. FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ is implied.)
23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
(Because they are not willing to follow God with the complete devotion and action that God REQUIRES.)
26 And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? (Or in other words, "This seems like a pretty hard standard.")
27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
(Don't trust in MEN trust in GOD.)
28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. (Hey, do we qualify... It seems like we should.)
29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,
30 Who shall not receive manifold more in the present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

In other words: If you ACT for the kingdom of God, you will be rewarded with life everlasting.

One last example of Faith and action first, then forgiveness of sin:

Matt 9:2

2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus SEEING THEIR FAITH said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; they SINS BE FORGIVEN thee.

This man, subsequently healed of his infirmities, personally received Jesus' forgiveness. But it is no more than we may receive if we first have FAITH in him and prove it through our actions. Christ saw their faith through their actions.

Why doesn't God heal all men? Why didn't Christ wonder through the countryside healing anybody who needed it? Because our faith and our action are required before he can.

And when he does, that is his grace. When Paul spoke of that grace in Romans, he was explaining what more is required beyond action. Grace comes by faith.

There is no measure of our good. We have ALL sinned and come short. God does not say, okay you've EARNED forgiveness through a quota. We work out our own salvation through our faith in Jesus Christ AND through the demonstration of our faith through action. For the demons also believe, but they can not take action. Faith alone will not save you.

In His name,

risen_soul said...


You speak of Philippians 2:12-15. But again, I think you misunderstand the point. Why do we work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Because we must test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says:

"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? --unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"

It is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, to think that we believ we should not do works. The reformed position is that a true believer will do good works and such is evidence of genuine faith in Christ. This is what James speaks of in His epeistle "faith without works is dead."

You have said "If we are not aware of God's law we are blameless." This is not true according to Romans 2:12-16.

"12For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."

Clearly men are held accountable to God's law whether they are aware of His law or not. Therefore "they are without escuse" as Romans 1:20 says.

God does not apply his grace on the basis of our actions, our actions never show Him that we want Him. God must first show a sinner grace before we can ever please Him. We cannot prove to God by our actions that we are "willing."

Again, as I have answered you in the post on Total Depravity, you must distort the Scripture in order to say that man can make any move towards God on his own.

As to the rest of your response with Luke 18:18-30 and Matthew 9:2, you misunderstand. Faith is indeed what saves. And it faith alone. Faith is a gift given By God's grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Works then are a natural by product of faith, but they themselves are not meritorious. Our actions do not justify before God. Faith brings about justification (Romans 3:26) and our works justify (or prove) our genuine faith (James 2:14).

God bless friend, I'm praying for you!