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Archive for August, 2010

Romans 9:6a – Not all Israel is Israel

Paul begins his defense of divine election unto salvation thusly: “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Rom 9:6).

Paul responds quickly by saying, “Yes, it is true God chose Israel. Yes, it is true that God made a covenant with Israel. Yes, it is true that many in Israel are accursed and cut off from God. But no, it is not true that God’s Word has failed.” All that follows in the next several verses are used for the express purpose of proving this assertion of Paul’s. We must keep that in mind as we make our way through the passage.

In other words, Paul instructs his objectors that they have misunderstood God’s intentions as revealed in Scripture. Paul’s vocabulary reveals this in verses 6 and 11. Look at the following interaction:

 9:6 – “God’s word has not failed (fallen)”

is the opposite of

9:11 – “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue (stand)”

Note carefully why Paul is able to declare that God’s word has not failed and why God’s purpose will succeed: “Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (9:6). A literal translation of this verse reads, “all who are of Israel, these are not Israel.”

If God’s word is “all ethnic or natural-born Jews are to be saved,” then clearly God’s word and purpose has failed. However, Paul denies that God ever intended to save all of Abraham’s physical descendents. Instead, God’s purpose will be shown to be a plan to save a remnant of Israel, not the entirety of the race.

Paul’s point here is that the rampant unbelief among ethnic Israel does not invalidate God’s promises. Paul is going to argue that these specific promises were not made to ethnic Israel; they were made to spiritually elect Israel. To put it as simply as possible: not every person who is a physically ethnic Israelite is a spiritually elect Israelite. There is an Israel within Israel. There is a true Israel.

Also, it must be noted again that the only way to understand this verse is to think of individuals, not nations. Paul is most assuredly not saying, “They are not all nations of Israel who are descended from the one nation of Israel.”  That does not even make sense. Instead, Paul is addressing individual Jews who can trace their family lineage back to Abraham, the father of the Jews through his sons Isaac and Jacob.

Romans 9:6b-8 – True Israel

In order to prove his point, Paul next appeals to the national history of Israel – the families of Abraham and Isaac.

6 . . . For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

In verse 7, Paul writes that “not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring.” He explains what he means by this when he brings Isaac into the equation. Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. These two then had sons of their own. However, Paul tells us here that it is only “through Isaac shall [Abraham’s] offspring be named” (9:7b). To be related to Abraham physically does not guarantee that you will be a child of God. The Pharisees believed this to be the case, as seen in their interaction with Jesus in John 8:37-40:

37 “I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 They answered him, “Araham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.”

Finally, Paul tries to explain his point as clearly as possible in verse 8: “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” God could have done it differently but He is free to do as He wants. The promises and privileges Paul mentioned in the first five verses are for the “children of the promise” but not “children of the flesh.” The “children of the flesh” are physical descendents whom God has not chosen and “children of the promise” are physical descendents whom God has chosen to be beneficiaries of the covenant.

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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Romans 9:1-5 – Has God’s Word Failed?

To answer the anticipated objection voiced above (last post), Paul writes:

“1 I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit– 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”

In verses 4-5, Paul rehearses the great benefits that have been given to the Jewish people: adoption, glory, covenants, the law, worship, promises, patriarchs, and the Christ (the long-awaited Messiah) from within their own race. With all these “advantages,” why do so many Jews not believe Paul’s message? Israel is God’s chosen, covenant people, and yet many of them are accursed and cut off from Christ and salvation. Why has this happened? Has God’s covenantal promises to Israel failed? Has the rejection of Christ by so many Jews managed to thwart God’s eternal purposes? If God cannot or does not keep His promises with Israel, how can we be sure He will keep His promises with us? If we cannot trust in God in this, how can we trust Him with other promises, such as the security found in 8:33 (“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”)

Before we move on to Paul’s answer, it must be stated here than any explanation of this chapter that fails to deal honestly and consistently with these questions anticipated by Paul is not a good explanation. Many will say that Romans 9 is about “election to service.” Most objectors will say that Romans 9 deals not with individuals but with nations and national privileges.

However, if Paul is only talking about temporary, earthly blessings or historical privilege in service, what led him to do so after talking of salvation in chapter eight and picking up the topic of salvation once again in chapters ten and eleven? If only national privilege, then why does the author fill the rest of this chapter with the kind of language he characteristically employs everywhere else to speak of salvation and damnation? Note the terms used: accursed, election, works, unrighteousness, mercy, compassion, wrath, destruction, saved, righteousness, by faith, by the works of the law, whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame and many more similar phrases. All of these sound like they belong in a conversation about salvation.

When you hear someone teach about nations or national privilege, please ask yourself throughout the presentation, “What is the relationship between the parts of this passage said to be limited to nations to this initial question with Paul’s initial answer in verse 6- 13?” If you are in a presentation where you are able to ask questions, ask the teacher how the interpretation given answers the question Paul is trying to answer.

The many defenses against the Calvinistic interpretation of this passage will go to great lengths to take Paul’s words in Romans 9 as far from personal salvation as possible. In doing so, a great and obvious inconsistency is revealed.

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

The Immediate Context of Romans 9

Romans 8:29-30

In Romans 8:29-30, we find God at work and very active. For every verb mentioned in the list – foreknew, predestined, called, justified, glorified – God is the active agent. God is the one doing the work. The audience likewise does not change. For those of whom He foreknew He also did all the other things that result in final glorification. The passage is presented here again for your convenience:

 “For 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.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

The teaching that God’s predestination is determined by His foreknowledge is simply not taught in the passage. The Bible does not say, “Whom God foreknew would believe, He predestined.” Paul does not say that God chooses people on account of His prior knowledge.  In fact, the only thing the text declares is that God predestines those whom He foreknows. This passage teaches less than the advocates of foreknowledge desire and yet we will see that it teaches much more than they want it to teach.  As we saw earlier, foreknowledge here is not some specific propositional knowledge about people, but it refers to God’s relational knowledge of certain people themselves.

No one on either side of orthodoxy denies that God has foreknowledge! After all, how could God predestine someone He didn’t have in mind? As we will see in the ninth chapter, God had to have known Jacob to have chosen Jacob.

As it turns out, the only support this passage gives the simple foreknowledge view is the order of events. However, the same two ideas are presented in reverse order in Acts 2:23, where Peter says, “. . . this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

Actually, Paul’s use of the terms argues against the foreknowledge view. Paul progresses from foreknowledge and predestination to calling, justification, and glorification. Therein lies the problem for the foreknowledge view.

A crucial question to ask is, “What is the relationship between these activities? Specifically, what is the relationship between ‘calling’ and the remaining acts of God?” What does it mean for God to “call” someone? If we take “call” to be a gospel invitation that everyone can hear and respond to, then we must be consistent and teach that those whom He calls are justified. This cannot be the case because many reject the call of the gospel from those who witness to them.

Instead, we must make a theological distinction between the outward call of the gospel and the inward call of the gospel. This “inward call” is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a man or woman.

We say all this because of the proper inference that when you read the passage, you must mentally insert the word “ALL” before each major word. The word “all” is not there but it can (and must) be inserted into the reading for the passage to make sense. The passage practically reads:

“29 For ALL those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And ALL those he predestined, he also called; ALL those he called, he also justified; ALL those he justified, he also glorified.”

The only way around this is to force a certain theological interpretation into verse 29:

“[all] those God foreknew [would choose Christ] He also predestined.” It is necessary to insert “all.” It is wrong to insert “would choose Christ.”

To read the two verses any other way does serious damage to the meaning of the text. To insert “some” or “most” or even “all but one” in place of “all” is to do great damage theologically. This would leave you proclaiming that some whom God foreknew He predestined, some whom He predestined He called, some whom He called He justified, and some he justified He glorified. I trust you see the problem with that.

Here is the problem because of the above explanation: If you insist on defining foreknowledge as a passive look into the future to determine knowledge of a decision made, you must insert “some” into the chain. We know, though, that there is no good reason to import that type of theological baggage into this passage. It is irresponsible to do so.

Some might be tempted to say that an inward call is the correct way to view this verb but God only calls inwardly those whom He knows will respond. In other words, God does not “waste” the inward call but only gives it to those He knows will respond favorably.

In answer to that assertion, we must ask, “What purpose does this call serve and how powerful is this inward call from the Holy Spirit?” Is there any advantage or difference to be made in receiving this inward call? If it is only given to those whom God knows will respond to it, then it would seem to be in inward call with no real influence.

However, if it does have some sort of determining influence, then God is predestining an advantage to some that He is not predestining to another. A non-Calvinist would reject this idea of an unfair advantage. Finally, if the call does not influence, then what does it do?

Therefore, we must say that God predestines us based on His gracious commitment to us before the world was created. God chose to set His love upon people. To those for whom He did this (foreknowledge), He predestined, called, justified and glorified.

Romans 8:31-39

Immediately after stating the glorious truth in Romans 8:29-30, Paul asks “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:31). Notice the terms used here – “us” and “we.” Paul will use this same pronoun repeatedly in this section (note also the interplay between “us” and “God’s elect”).

  •  “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (8:32).
  •  “How will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (8:32).
  •  “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (8:33).
  •  “Christ Jesus is the one . . . who was raised . . . interceding for us” (8:34).
  •  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (8:35).
  •  “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (8:37).
  •  “For I am sure that [nothing] in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:38-39).

Who is the “us” in these verses? Obviously, Paul is inserting himself into the arguments he makes. We can plainly see that Paul is referring to born-again believers in Jesus Christ – the same ones who will face “no condemnation” because they are “in Christ Jesus” (8:1). This great love that did not spare Christ and graciously gives all things and intercedes and keeps from separation is a very real redemptive love. It is a saving love.

We have now established the context leading into Romans 9. Paul is speaking of the glory of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Romans 9 is typically seen as a very difficult and controversial passage. However, virtually all misunderstandings of Romans 9 stream from a failure to see that the verses that will follow were written to solve a problem brought about by Paul’s soaring words of security in the previous chapter. Paul envisions someone asking,

Paul, this is great but I have a problem. You say that the elect are secure in Christ. What about Israel? Aren’t they the elect? Weren’t they promised security as well? Of course they were. Don’t you realize that the vast majority of your own people reject your message of salvation by grace. If their election is the same as my election, how can you say that I can be confident in my security. If God can’t keep His promises to them, how can I be confident that He will keep His promises to me?

Let’s please keep this objection in mind as we begin to discuss this important chapter.

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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The Rationale for this View of Foreknowledge

Third, individuals who base election on God’s foreknowledge usually do so in a noble attempt to protect the honor of God and the free will of man in salvation. The attempt to protect God’s honor is based on a misunderstanding of the Calvinistic position. This view is quite satisfying to many who still hold strongly to the caricature that election is arbitrary and that it also makes all men puppets and God the great puppeteer. However, the veracity of a doctrine is not to be determined by is palatability.

However, this position does not provide that solace. If God can look into the future and see that Bob Black will come to faith in Christ and that Sue White will not, then those facts are fixed or determined. If we assume that God’s knowledge of the future is true and perfect and exhaustive, then it is absolutely true (even in eternity past) that Bob Black will be saved and Sue White will not be saved.

Also, in this same vein of thinking, it is often argued that unconditional election destroys the doctrine of the love of God. It is asked, “Is it right to say that a loving God activel only elects some to salvation and the rest He does not choose go to hell?” The same question must be asked of the adherent to conditional election: “Why does God create or allow to be born the individual that He knows will never trust Christ as Savior?”

The Problem with this View of Foreknowledge

To maintain the foreknowledge view, it must be argued that even though their eternities are determined, they are determined by something other than God. What then? Is there some force other than God who determines such things? Of course not. If we say that the eternal destinies of men and women are determined by those same men and women, then we turn election on its head. The act of predestinating something that one knows is going happen anyway is a meaningless exercise. It is like either predicting or commanding a man who has jumped into the air to come down. He will come down but not because you predicted it or commanded it. Your words will have nothing to do with the actual event.

The concept of election loses all integrity of meaning with this simple foreknowledge view. God does nothing more than “ratify” the decision already made by finite mortal fallen man. Charles Spurgeon wrote that this view “marries Christ to a bride He did not choose.”

In other words, the difference in the two views of election can be clearly seen in how proponents of both positions answer this simple question: “What is the deciding difference between a believer and a non-believer?” The one who holds to unconditional election will say that the difference lies in God and His freedom to elect. The one who holds to conditional election must say that the difference lies in the choice of the individual. The issue really comes down to “What is the ultimate cause of salvation and the believer’s choice to trust Jesus as Savior?” The final determinant is the choice of man – that is the difference between men in heaven and men in hell.

Finally, we can say that the major problem with the foreknowledge view is that it forces man to do the impossible: choose God while still in his fallen state. If election depends on God foreseeing our faith, we should first change the word to “post-destination” since God is responding to something we have done. More importantly, if election depends on God foreseeing our faith, we have to admit that none would be saved because God would never see any faith at all in anyone. As we learned in our discussion of the doctrine of total depravity, Paul has unequivocally stated that fallen man does not seek God and will never choose God on his own.

Now, with this in mind, let’s continue our look at the context of Romans 9 by investigating the immediate context – Romans 8:29-39.

(we will continute this study tomorrow)

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

Election and the Foreknowledge of God

In the Bible, we find the word “foreknow” used as a verb and the word “foreknowledge” used as a noun. If you foreknow something, you have foreknowledge of that thing. They are based on the same word but have different uses. The biblical authors are very consistent in how they use those two words, as we will see below.

The Biblical Definition of “Foreknowledge”

First, the word does not simply mean to have cognitive knowledge of something before it happens. The non-Calvinist concept of foreknowledge, appealing thought it may be, is not borne out of Scripture. The word means more than simply having advance knowledge or precognition of what is to come. God is not passively collecting information. Instead, the verb refers to an active and selective knowledge which regards a person with favor and makes the person foreknown an object of love.

Every time the verb “foreknow” is used and the action of foreknowing is attributed to God (as the subject of the sentence), the object that He foreknows is always (Always!) personal. God foreknows people! The Bible never tells us that God merely knows facts about people (such as the fact that they would believe). The word has its origin in the Hebrew concept of yada, which typically means an intimate knowledge – it was even used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

In other words, God looks into the future and thought of people in saving relationship to Himself and in that sense, He “knew them” long ago. Biblical authors use this sense of the world “know” often and the prefix “fore” simply means that God “knew” them in this way prior to their physical existence:

1. “If one loves God, one is known by Him” (1 Cor 8:3).

2. “You have come to know God, or rather to be known by God” (Gal 4:9).

3. “God saw the people of Israel–and God knew” (Ex 2:25).

4. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5).33

5. “O people of Israel . . . You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2).34

6. “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (Rom 11:2).

7. “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and they know Me” (John 10:14).

8. “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt 7:23).

The Biblical Use of “Foreknowledge”

Secondly, when we look at specific passages that speak of God’s foreknowledge, we find that God never speaks of our faith or the fact that we would eventually believe in Christ as the reason why God chose us. In fact, we will see as we continue in Romans 9 (and elsewhere), that Paul goes to great lengths to ensure that we do not come up with this reason for God’s free election (see Romans 9:11-13). The primary problem with a non- Calvinistic interpretation of certain passages that speak of foreknowledge is the propensity to simply read the English word and import a preconceived definition of that word in the verse. There is usually little to know exegesis of the surrounding verses or the passage as a whole. A good example of that is below.

The other main passage used to teach the foreknowledge view does not hold up under scrutiny. In Peter’s first letter, he writes “To those who are elect . . . according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:1-2). At first glance, this verse would seem to settle the discussion – election is according to foreknowledge.

However, just a few verses later, Peter uses the exact same term again and gives us a clue to his understanding of the word (which is of primary importance). He writes of Christ, and says:

 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (1 Peter 1:18-20).

Does Peter mean that “Before the foundation of world, God knew that Christ would choose to come to earth”? This conflicts with many passages that reveal to us how Jesus understood His reason for coming to earth:

  •  John 6:38 – For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
  •  John 8:42 – I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

There can be no doubt that the idea of “previous commitment” is the only possible meaning in Peter’s mind. In this passage, what is the object of foreknowledge? It is not Christ’s faith or any other action or attribute of His but it was Christ Himself who was foreknown. Just as it was the Father’s foreknowledge in 1:2, so here it must be the Father who foreknew Christ. This “foreknowledge” expresses a loving, committed relationship between the members of the Trinity.

In the same way, the Father began a loving, committed relationship with the elect. In 1 Peter 1:2 or 20, “foreknew” cannot mean simply “knew about ahead of time.” That interpretation would empty the passage of its meaning. It has to mean, “chosen” or “selected” ahead of time.

In Romans 11:2, we read that “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” To apply the simple foreknowledge view here, the verse would read, “God has not rejected his people whom He knew in advance would choose Him.” This is clearly not the case. God chose Israel, the smallest and weakest of all the nations, for His own reasons.

Deuteronomy tells us this:

“The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you . . .” (Deut 7:6-8).

The non-Calvinist must also struggle with the fact that immediately after Paul’s words in 11:2, he goes on to note Israel’s continued unfaithfulness.

To put it simply, the biblical idea of foreknowledge carries with it the idea of favorable disposition or selection as well as advance knowledge.

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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Election in Romans 9

Along with the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the ninth chapter of Romans stands out as a primary text on election. In this section, we will work our way slowly through this often disputed text. There are many different positions taken by interpreters but we will see that in handling the text in a straight-forward manner a single interpretation emerges.

The Context of Romans 9

Romans 8:1-28

We must first remember that Paul did not break his letter to the Romans into smaller and smaller sections (those divisions that we call chapters and verses).  Paul earlier talks about a certain people for whom it is said, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). Paul continues through chapter eight to write about these specific people who are “in Christ Jesus.” We note that he writes of:

  • “those who live according to the Spirit” (8:5)
  •  Those for whom “the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” (8:11)
  • “we all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (8:14)
  •  These have “received the Spirit of adoption as sons” (8:15)
  •  The Spirit bears witness with us that “we are children of God (8:16)
  •  A very real “glory” is “to be revealed to us” (8:18)
  •  We ourselves “have the firstfruits of the Spirit” (8:23)
  •  The Spirit “helps us in our weakness” and “intercedes for us with groanings” (8:26)
  •  The Spirit “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (8:27)
  •  God works all things together for God for “those who love God” and “those who are called according to His purpose” (8:28)

Paul is obviously writing about a very specific group of persons. In no way can he be writing about every single person who has ever lived. These are believers in Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, children of God, called by God according to His glorious purpose.

After the descriptive statements above, Paul enters into several verses that have brought much controversy. He moves from talking about “those who love God” and “those who are called” to “those whom He foreknew” (8:29). The full verse says:

For 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.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Obviously, this verse speaks of election, predestination, foreknowledge and much more. In the discussion of election, this verse comes up early and often. This is the primary verse behind the alternate view of election: the conditional view of election. Therefore, before we begin to discuss these two verses, we must first take a look at the doctrine of foreknowledge.

It is the rare believer who will argue against election. The disagreement between Calvinists and non-Calvinists occur over the basis of election. The non-Calvinist will say that God elects by looking into the future (because He is outside of time) and seeing who will believe in Christ and who will not. If God sees that a person is going to come to saving faith in Christ, the God will elect that person based on His foreknowledge of that person’s faith. If God sees that a person will not come to saving faith, then God will not elect that person.

(will continue with a study on “foreknowledge” tomorrow)

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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The Results of Election

We not only find the basis of election but the end results. Paul teaches us that the Father “chose us” so that we will be “holy and blameless.” We also see that God “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (1:5). Election ends in perfected sanctification and adoption. God sets us apart unto holiness and gives us the special status of being children of the King.

Some teach that election is only to national privilege or to service. However, it is eminently clear that election results in salvation. Paul says as much in his letter to the Thessalonians, when he wrote “we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess 2:13).

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, Paul references election four times, and then ties the doctrine of election to humility, “so that no human being might boast” (v.29). God intentionally designed salvation so that no man could boast of it. He didn’t merely arrange it so that boasting would be discouraged or kept to a minimum—He planned it so that boasting would be absolutely excluded. Election does precisely that.26

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

What should be our response to all of this? Peter answers for us in his first epistle:

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Far from being a doctrine that causes anxiety, pride, elitism, or division, the doctrine of election is seen to elicit praise to a holy God who calls people out of darkness into His marvelous light.

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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