Predestination & the Doctrine of Election – Part 2 (Salvation)

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It should be understood that God is the one who initiates salvation; for apart from God initiating salvation we are all like sheep gone astray. This is not to say that man does not exercise his free-will in choosing to reject or receive salvation, but only that it is God’s arm throughout history which continually stretches forth unto us; and thus salvation is ultimately born out of God’s will and not from the desire of man.  In John 1:12-13 we are to understand this relationship between God’s will and man’s free choice.

“But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”

While we know that God extends his call to everybody, It should also be understood that he sovereignly elects people for his divine purpose; such as the apostle Paul and the nation of Israel. This doesn’t mean that God forces them into submission (as the history of Israel clearly illustrates), but rather he persuades them of his prevailing majesty by various different ways and methoods e.g. divine revelation or supernatural encounter; thus “to everyone who has been given much, much will be required.”

How then are we to reconcile the idea of God’s elect with the call of salvation extending unto all men? In order to understand this we first need to understand more about the elects purpose, for this we turn to John 1:6

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might be saved.”

We see that God does not elect people in order that they might simply enjoy salvation from a private booth; rather, they are vessels of mercy that bear witness to the glory of God. The elect are beacons of light through which God initiates salvation unto the world. We see how even Jonah in his day was sent to the Assyrian capital Nineveh to preach repentance among’st the gentiles. God’s election is ultimately reserved for more than that of a remnant, the elect of God are to bear the image of Christ and offer themselves as living sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel.

Now we know that God initially elected Israel as his chosen people, and yet through them rested the abundance of the world:

Romans 11:12

“Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the gentiles, how much more their fulness!”

Was it not also said unto Abraham?

“And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed

In the scripture the word elect is used interchangeably for two different Greek words: Ekloge and Eklektos. Up until now we have only been dealing with Ekloge. Ekloge occurs a total of 9 times in the NT, and is used to describe those that are specifically selected out by the grace of God for a divine purpose, those “whom he set apart while they were still in the womb” if you would. Ekloge is used primarily throughout Romans describing the election of Israel and is also used in Acts to describe Paul as a chosen vessel “for a vessel of Ekloge(choice) is this man to me.”

The word Eklektos occurs 23 times throughout the NT and can be used to describe those who become God’s choice by freely receiving his general call which is extended to all. For example, in the parable of the wedding feast Jesus says

“so go to the street corner and invite to the banquet anyone that you can find.. for many care called, but few however are Eklektos(chosen)”

this refers to man’s ability to partake in the election of God by freely responding to the gospel, which is the power of salvation to all that believe.

Both Ekloge and Eklektos represent the body of Christ, as such we are to be extensions of the Lord himself, we are his mouth piece, his instruments for publishing salvation unto all the world. God so closely identifies himself to his followers that we are in essence ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven, we are emissaries for the King himself that whoever will believe our message shall be saved.

Luke 10:16

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

God has never excluded any from salvation; we must never think in this way, for God shows no partiality to men, but He is gracious unto all. Rather it is man that takes side against God; in doing so God allows the wickedness of man to be carried out, giving them over to depravity. Even so He is constantly stretching forth His hand in mercy, sending His Son that all might be saved.

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Amen!

Predestination & the Doctrine of Election – Part 1 (Introduction)

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The doctrine of election is a central debate among’st many theologians and scholars today. Those who advocate the doctrine of election generally state that God dictates everything that happens through the sovereignty of his own will. That having foreseen the wickedness of his creation before the beginning of the world, He arbitrarily selected out those who would and wouldn’t obtain salvation. It’s the idea that God has predetermined everything that is going to happen, and nothing happens which He has not sovereignly ordained.

 The doctrine of election is commonly used to answer the philosophical question, why do some choose to believe in God while others don’t? Though the doctrine is inconsistent with many scriptures throughout the bible, one of the most common and compelling passages used in support of it is Acts 13: 48

 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”

I presume that ones initial interpretation of this reading (as mine was) is that salvation is ultimately a God given desire. However, when examining this scripture a little further, particularly in its original Greek text, we begin unraveling what could be Paul’s intended meaning. If we read the end of v.48 in its word-for-word Greek translation, it goes like this:

 “and – believed – as many as – were – appointed – to – life – eternal.

There’s two key words when studying this passage, first is the word believed; interpreted from the Greek word episteusan, which is derived from pisteuo – “to have faith in“. Secondly is the word appointed, which comes from the Greek tasso, it’s a military expression literally translated – “to assign” or even “to commission“. Notice the word for appointed here is not the word we find for predestined or foreordained, which is proorizo. Thus one could reasonably interpret this scripture to read something like:

“and as many as believed (had faith) were assigned to eternal life.”

 This translation parallels with the language of scripture throughout the bible:

John 3: 16

“For God so loved the world that whoever believes(has faith) in him, shall not perish but have life eternal”

Mark 16: 16

“Whoever believes(whoever has faith) and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe (have faith) will be condemned.”

The bible makes it quite clear, faith comes by hearing the word of God; and God gives man free-will in choosing whether to obey or disobey the word of the Lord. We further understand this truth in Jeremiah 18: 7-10

 “if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.”

This passage clearly illustrates the harmony between Gods sovereignty and mans free will. While its a common assumption that God foreknew every decision that man was ever going to make, this is not what the bible teaches us. God is sovereign over the affairs of man, He has not predetermined them, meaning He can do what He wants when He wants to do it, He could shine his glory down and reveal his power and make all the heathens call out to him in fear and trembling, but this is not what God desires, for he establishes the righteous through faith, as it says “the just shall live by faith”.

Ultimately God is orchestrating a divine work in the world, but this is not to say that He predetermines our choices. Rather He continually yields to will of man just as the prophet Jeremiah describes. In Genesis 6: 5-6 we understand that God neither predetermined nor foresaw the wickedness of his creation.

 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he made man on earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

The Lord mourned and repented that He ever made man on the earth! This hardly depicts the creator who preordained everything that was ever going to happen, but rather reveals Gods unique vulnerability to the choices of his creation.

Those who advocate the doctrine of election will often argue that while Gods predetermination and man’s free-will are impossible to reconcile in the human mind, we simply need to receive it by faith. While I acknowledge there are qualities of God which our earthly minds can’t comprehend, I feel that in this case this argument is conveniently being used to bridge the gap between false doctrine and what the scripture actually teaches.