Doctrine of Election – Inductive Bible Study
The Doctrine of Election
1. Importance of Sound Doctrine
· Brethren, Paul admonishes Titus to…
· Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
· In verse 7 Paul instructs him to keep his doctrine pure.
· I speak to you tonight on the doctrine of election. I did not choose this topic to be in any way divisive, yet I am confident of the Lord’s leading for me to speak on this topic knowing that it is the Lord’s desire for us to have pure and sound doctrine
2. First, let us briefly consider the nation of Israel. Why did God choose Israel and leave other nations in their sins?
· Was it because Israel was more learned?
· Was it because they were more numerous?
· Was it was because they were more civilized?
· Was it was because God looked down the corridor of time and saw that the Israelites would
· abstain from sin?
· consistently demonstrate faith in their Lord?
· or that they would love Him supremely and never bow the knee to foreign God’s?
· Who thinks that it was because of any good thing which He foresaw in them?
· Deut 7:7-8
7 ” The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
· No, He chose the nation of Israel in spite of their unbelief and unfaithfulness. He chose Israel to demonstrate His sovereignty and exemplify His grace. If they had been deserving, it wouldn’t have been grace. They were no more deserving than any of the other nations.
3. What is the doctrine of election?
· Definition – To single out, to select, to choose, to take one and leave another. Election means that God has singled out certain ones to be the objects of His saving grace, while others are left to suffer the just punishment of their sins. It means that before the foundation of the world, God chose out of the mass of our fallen humanity a certain number and predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son.
· The King of kings and Lord of lords has absolute authority over His creation. He is sovereign over everything in His creation.
· Ps 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
· Ps 103:19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all.
· Ps 115:3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
· Matt 20:15 `Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’
· Isa 46:9-10 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘ My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure‘;
· Matt 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (This is the argument that if the lesser is true, then the greater is true.)
· 2 Tim 1:9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
· Eph 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
· Yes, He even exercises His sovereignty in regards to the salvation of men. Election is simply the facet of God’s sovereignty concerning the eternal destiny of our soul.
· Who determines the election? The Lord
· Mark 13:20 “. . . the elect whom He chose.”
· Eph. 1:4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, . . .”
· John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you . . .”
· 2 Thess. 2:13 “. . . God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation . . .”
· Rom. 9:11 ”for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad; in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls,”
· Rom. 9:18 “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”
· Jn 3:3-8
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The analogy that Jesus chose of birth to salvation shows that man takes no initiative, it is totally God’s doing. No one ever chose to be born either physically or spiritually.
· What is man’s part in election? Man plays no part in election. No passage dealing with election attributes any of the credit to man. In fact the election was made before man even came into existence. He specifically states in John 15:16 above that we didn’t choose Him. (Though this passage deals with the disciples in particular, by extension it is just as true for us as is the great commission in Matt. 28:19,20). Election is God’s choice alone.
· When was the election made?
· Certainly not at the time of conversion. Look at Paul’s (Saul at the time) conversion. Compare the following two verses.
· Acts 9:1 “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, . . .”
· Gal. 1:16 “But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, . . .”
· Eph. 1:4 “…as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, …”
· What is the basis for election, foreknowledge or predestination? I like the way
· Scofield answers this question. “Predestined” means to mark out or determine beforehand. In Scripture this idea is more inclusive than election. The latter is always limited to those specially chosen by God. But predestination includes the salvation of the elect and also all other acts and events in the universe, both good and evil (Acts 4:27-28).
27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
· Within the total predestined plan of God, it is necessary to distinguish between two classes of events: (1) events divinely caused, such as the salvation of the elect: and (2) events divinely permitted. To say that God predestined the evil acts of men does not mean that God caused these acts, for this would make God the author of evil Rather it means that God, foreknowing how men will act under various circumstances, determined beforehand to permit them so to act; thus making the acts certain to come to pass, as parts of His total plan, yet leaving all men fully responsible for what they do (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23). The Biblical truth of predestination raises difficult intellectual problems, but these cannot be escaped by rejecting predestination and affirming foreknowledge. Suppose for just a moment that election is based on the foreknowledge of God. It’s not, but just for the sake of discussion, suppose that it was. Scoffield says, “For, if God foreknows all events, then they are just as certain as if they were predestined”.
· For example, God, in His infallible foreknowledge knew that Bill King would trust the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior when he was 8 years old. Could Bill have made the decision a year earlier when he was only 7 or could he rather have waited until he was 9 or could he simply have decided to reject Christ and never come to Him at all? No, none of these could possibly happen because God is infallible. Bill had no free-will to choose Christ at 7 or 9 or reject Him completely. He was constrained to trust the Lord when he was 8. So even if election were based on foreknowledge which the Bible does not teach,it would still be just as certain. Bill did in fact exercise his will to be saved but it was not a free-will. It was a will that was subject to and inferior to the Sovereign will of God. (Please allow me a bit of humor here.) So you see that, Prov 21:1 is true! “Theking’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Man’s response to the gospel is determined by the Lord.
4. A few quotes:
· William McDonald – (Believer’s Bible Commentary) Rom. 9:11, 14, 15, 16a, 19, 20, 21, 22, 22, 24a My understanding is that the assemblies originally solidly stood by the sovereignty of God in election. Darby (as I understand it) was a strong proponent of election. Only in modern times has there been a movement toward the Arminian position.
· J. I. Packer – Anyone who prays and has faith that God will answer that prayer (James 1:6), believes in the sovereignty of God. If anyone makes any request from God, whether it be for salvation, health, finances, wisdom, encouragement, etc., acknowledges that God is the author of all things good. Thereby, confessing that God is the author and finisher of all events, even salvation (Heb. 12:2). This is again seen in the way men pray for unbelievers. They pray that God will bring this unbeliever unto Himself. This again confesses the belief in the sovereignty of God.
· Martin Luther – “If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free-will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright”.
· Berkof – “It is the eternal act of God whereby he, according to His sovereign good pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit, chooses a certain number of men to be recipients of special grace.”
· John MacArthur – “It is the doctrine taught by Scripture throughout Scripture that God sovereignly, independently, uninfluenced by any other person chooses who will be saved and that that choice was made by God before time began, before the world was created in eternity past and that He is in response to that choice redeeming His chosen people through human history until finally they are all together redeemed and gathered into His presence forever.”
“Probably ought to be the first thing you teach a young believer. Now that you’ve come to Christ, this is what I want you to know, you were saved by the sovereign grace of God who stepped into your life in the midst of your death and blindness and gave you life and sight and picked you up and brought you into His Kingdom. Sheer grace has done this for you. That, I think, is the first thing you should say to a new convert.”
· John Piper – This is the teaching that God chose, before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), who would believe and so be undeservingly saved in spite of their sin, and who would persist in rebellion and so deservingly perish because of their sin.
· Charles Spurgeon – “…free-will is simply ridiculous. The will is well known by all to be directed by the understanding, to be moved by motives, to be guided by other parts of the soul, and to be a secondary thing. …he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free-will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that He gives both; that He is “Alpha and Omega” in the salvation of men
5. What are some key passages that teach this doctrine?
· Rom. 9:6-24 This is an extraordinarily clear and comprehensive treatment of the issue. Please read this passage carefully and prayerfully. Ask the Lord to give you understanding of what is being taught here. This teaching on the doctrine of election is so clear and irrefutable in this passage that Paul deals with people’s predictable responses of, “That’s not fair . . .” or “My God wouldn’t send someone to hell . . .” within the passage. See verses 19-21. The creature cannot question the creator’s wisdom in this. We are only the clay. He is the potter!
· John 10:1-18 This is the passage that portrays Jesus as the Good Shepherd. John 10:16
16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
Verse 16 is almost universally understood as referring to Gentiles who would later come to Christ. Jesus calls them “sheep” in this passage. They are not goats who will be transformed into sheep at conversion. They were always sheep – just lost sheep. Goats always remain goats just as sheep always remain sheep. Scripture never teaches that believers were goats prior to conversion. The sheep (i.e. the elect) were simply lost but found by the Good Shepherd.
· Eph. 1:3-6 Election was determined by the sovereign choice of God “before the foundation of the world”.
· John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you . . .”
· Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
6. How are we to understand several passages that Arminian’s use to refute the doctrine of election?
· Acts 2:21 “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. (KJV) This passage does not speak to election. The fact that the word “whosoever” is used does not imply either that the elect or anyone else will call upon the name of the Lord. It simply states the method whereby salvation takes place. This verse confirms that Christ never turns anyone away. The particular question that this passage addresses in not, “Can they come, but will they come”? Because of the sovereignty of God and the sureness of the election, all of the sheep will by His grace “call upon the name of the Lord”. What of those who are not elect? They simply are not willing. They have no desire to come to Christ. Had God left it to man’s will, none would ever come to the Savior. Those who are not elect reject His gracious offer 100% of the time.
· John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” Doesn’t this mean that Jesus draws every person to Himself? The word “men” does not appear in the original text. The NKJ renders the more accurate translation, “… will draw all peoples to Myself”. Mcdonald says in the Believer’s Bible Commentary, “… probably the correct explanation is that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus resulted in all kinds of people being drawn to Him.” Free-willers would argue that the verse means that every single individual is drawn. McDonald specifically refutes that notion and states, “It does not mean all people without exception, but people from every nation, tribe and language.”
· 2 Pet. 3:9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness; but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance”. The “you” in this verse undoubtedly refers back to “beloved” in verses 1 and 8 of this chapter. This verse is talking about the Lord’s patience toward “you” (the elect). The others spoken of in this context (2 Pet. 3:1-9) are the “mockers” in verses 3-7. For them there is certain “judgment and destruction”. Finally the “any” in “not wishing for any to perish” must mean either the elect or all men. If it is understood to be the elect, then of course there is no difficulty. But how is this to be understood if “any” means all men? Matthew Henry says it like this, “God has no delight in the death of sinners: as the punishment of sinners is a torment to his creatures, a merciful God does not take pleasure in it. . .”
Scofield comments, “The sovereign will of God is certain of complete fulfillment, but the moral law is disobeyed by men; and the desires of God are fulfilled only to the extent that they are included in His sovereign will. God does not desire that any should perish, but it is clear that many will not be saved. (Rev. 21:8)”
The Lord does not wish for men to commit adultery, murder, theft, immorality, idolatry or any other sin, yet they do. In the same way, the Lord is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Yet men (in fact most men) will indeed perish.
1. Well then, if the Bible teaches the doctrine of election, what about “free will”?
· The Bible certainly teaches that man is a responsible moral agent who makes choices. “. . . Choose you this day whom you will serve. . .” (Josh. 24:15) The problem is that men:
· love the darkness rather than the light (John 3:19),
· are enemies of God (Rom 5:10) Apart from the sovereign will of God, would man ever bow the knee to Christ? Of course not. They would curse Him and hurl insults at Him. Consider the crucifixion.
· have hearts that are deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9),
· do not seek God (Rom. 3:11),
· dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1),
· the intent of his heart is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21),
· unrighteous (Rom. 3:10),
· do not fear God (Rom. 3:18),
· men are enslaved to sin (John 8:34), This complete enslavement of men to sin relates first and foremost to the will. Clearly man’s will is enslaved not free!
· and the list goes on and on.
· If man has a free-will, why does Jesus teach “…, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” John 6:65
· It is an absolute certainty that apart from the Lord’s gracious divine election no man would exercise his will by humbling himself, repenting of his sins and trusting the Savior with His eternal destiny.
2. What are some false implications of the doctrine of election.
· Some incorrectly conclude that if election is true, then somehow God is not just or is unfair.
· Praise the Lord that salvation is not a question of justice, but of grace. If it were a matter to be settled on the ground of bare justice, then every child of Adam must perish, for “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
· God exercises His sovereign will in countless other areas of life
· blind blessed with sight
· strong constitution and enjoys almost uninterrupted health ® incurable disease, early grave
· poverty with its miseries wealth with all its comforts
· criminal infidel parents parents are true believers, reared in a Godly home
· born amid heathen darkness enjoys the privileges of Gospel light
· These differences not only affect happiness in this life, but they are among the determining factors of character and destiny, and yet they are not at all dependent upon the character or conduct of those concerned.
· To say that God has no right to single out only certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son is to repudiate the cardinal fact of the Gospel. Salvation is not a wage which we must earn, nor a reward that we must merit. It is a free gift bestowed upon the un-deserving. But the moment we grant that salvation is God’s gift, we are logically compelled to accept the principle of election. Has not God a perfect right to dispense His gifts as He pleases? Certainly He has.
· Being our Creator, He states, “All souls are Mine.” Ezek 18:4
· He has the absolute right to do with us just as He pleases, since “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;” Ps 100:3
· God is indebted to none. He is not under obligations to save any. If He delivers any from the wrath to come, it is solely due to His grace. He is under no constraint to save all if He would save any. (1st highlight on page 8 continues) If the Lord were to allow every one of us to perish, we shall only receive our just deserts, and we have not one of us a shade of claim upon His mercy
· Another conclusion that some draw is that if election is true, evangelism is unnecessary. How does the doctrine of election blend with the scriptural imperative of evangelism? The Lord ordained that evangelism was His prescribed method to reach the world. The following passage illustrates that evangelism is the Lord’s prescribed method for reaching the lost with the gospel, “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14) Could He have done it differently? Sure, but in His wonderful grace, He chose to bless us by giving “. . . us the ministry of reconciliation. . . committing to us the word of reconciliation. . .” (2 Cor. 5:18,19). In fact, He has commissioned us so that “. . . we are ambassadors for Christ”! (2 Cor. 5:20) Another critical consideration is that evangelism is commanded. It is an imperative, not an option. (Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; I Pet. 3:15; Acts 10:42 and numerous other passages)
· Another incorrect conclusion is that man is relieved of his responsibility since his fate is determined by God. This is erroneous because:
God requires repentance. (Acts 17:30)
God commands everyone to believe. (I John 3:23)
Each one of us shall give account of himself to the Lord. (Rom. 14:12)
Man has no excuse because God has clearly revealed Himself. (Rom. 1:19,20)
· False teaching from the pulpit of WBC that are the result of a denial of the doctrine of election.
· Eddie Schwartz said concerning God’s sovereignty, “Now I’m telling you, I cannot bring myself to believe in that type of God.”
· “I am thankful that when I was 8 years old, I was pliable.” Bill King relating why he came to know the Lord.
· “If you are here and do not know the Lord, you can straighten your life out today.” Bill King speaking to unbelievers about salvation.
· Willis Stancil, “It does not say God makes the clay. He only works with it.”
1. What are some true implications of election?
· What about the non-elect? God never refuses mercy to those who honestly seek it. The sinner is bidden to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” He is freely invited to be a guest at the Gospel feast. The promise is wide and plain–”Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”But if the sinner will not come to Christ that he might have life, then his blood is upon his own head. If he will not believe, then it is his own will which damns him.
· Without election, everyone would reject the Savior! Not a single person would spend eternity with the Lord. “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. John 5:40 NKJ
· God’s election is sure because He is sovereign. Not a single person will spend eternity in hell who is elect. All the sheep will be in heaven with the Lord. Only the goats will suffer eternal destruction in hell.
· Election is a consequence of the sovereignty of God. To say that salvation is ultimately determined by us exercising our “free will” contradicts His sovereignty.
· It frees us to evangelize! What do I mean by this? Sometimes the lack of knowledge, experience or skill is given as an excuse for not sharing the gospel. The doctrine of election recognizes that the fate of the one with whom I am sharing does not depend upon my eloquence or having all the answers. His fate is in the Lord’s hands (Matt. 10:28). No, this does not excuse me from presenting the gospel as clearly, accurately and in as compelling a manner as possible.
· The Lord receives the glory to which He alone is due. I won’t get to heaven and say, “Let me tell you what I did to get here!” My salvation is not a result of something I helped the Lord with. Salvation is of the Lord (Psalm 3:8). I can take no credit in it. Did I place my trust in Jesus alone for my eternal life? Of course, I did. Am I trusting Him even now to keep me? Absolutely! But I can take no credit for my salvation. It wasn’t that I was smart or insightful or had some goodness in me or even that somehow I came up with the faith to make a decision for Christ after weighing all the evidence. No, Rom. 3:10-17 clearly dispels any notion that there was anything whatsoever in me (or anyone else) that was looking for God, was receptive to God or would embrace the gospel if I was just given the opportunity. I was completely and utterly dead in my “trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). “Nothing good (dwelt) in me, that is in my flesh; . . .” (Rom. 7:18). I was not God’s friend awaiting enlightenment. I was God’s enemy (Rom. 5:8-10). I was not seeking Him. Some would argue (though they would not state it this way) that we deserve some credit for trusting the Lord. The fact is that even the faith by which we trust Him is a gift from Him! Eph 2:8 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” The faith by which I trusted Jesus Christ to be my Savior was not found in myself. It also was a gift! The Lord declares that even my “righteous deeds are like a filthy garment”. (Isaiah 6:4)
I praise the Lord that He didn’t leave me in my sin but graciously elected me to be one of His own for eternity!
· In conclusion, please turn with me to Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.
· I ask you not to blindly take my word for it and I ask you not to blindly accept prior teaching you have heard on this topic.
· But I ask you to search out the scriptures and ask God to show you the truth.
· Friends, in closing, I would like to read you what Spurgeon calls the Arminian prayer. I do not believe there is a single person here tonight that would pray a prayer like this, but I ask you to honestly evaluate your doctrinal position and see if this actually reflects what you believe (even though you would never say it in these words):
`Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not – that is the difference between me and them.’