Time and again in this ministry we receive communications that deny God’s election of human beings to salvation. Most of them are vicious. All of them are wrong, as they present a hotch-potch of ideas gleaned from Arminian writers who loathe the sovereignty of God.
‘Free-Will’ is paraded before us as a reason why we may choose salvation and God, even though ‘free-will’ is a non-starter intellectually and theologically. In this article I will show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God elects us to salvation. We will look at election, foreknowledge and predestination, and will see that my assertion is right… it HAS to be, because it is what God says in His word!
No genuine Christian can ignore the fact that God’s word contains clear statements on these three doctrinal teachings. They are there, in black and white! Only those who reject God and His plan of salvation can ignore what is plainly written.
We see the basis of election in the Old Testament, apart from the fact that God called Abraham out of Ur to become the patriarch of the Hebrews, even before he knew what his part in God’s will would be.
Isaiah 42:1 says
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring judgment to the Gentiles.”
This same ‘servant’ is Jesus Christ, Who God “called… in righteousness”. God called Him to be elect. “Elect”, bachiyr, means chosen, choice one, chosen one, the elect of God, so we cannot deny that God chooses who will be elect. The root, bachar, merely repeats and underlines these meanings and facts, and includes the meaning of ‘selected’ and to ‘decide for’. The root also includes the idea of being acceptable and to appoint. The word mibhar also denotes ‘the best’, with a link to ‘choice silver’ (Proverbs 10:20) – ‘choice’ being another derivative of ‘elect’.
In each and every case, whether root or derivative, the meaning is that of a very carefully thought-out choice. It also bears the meaning of a choice that has ‘ultimate and eternal significance’. At no time is ‘elect’ used arbitrarily – there is always a sound reason on God’s part. That reason is NEVER used of decisions by mankind. Immediately, then, this tells us that ‘the elect’ are not elect because of anything they do, but because of something in God’s will and sovereignty, through grace.
Note that whilst God chooses or elects some for His own divine and good purpose, He can also decide NOT to choose someone for good, which links to the biblical picture of God as The Potter. That is, God will deliberately choose some for His own pleasure, and deliberately reject others, which contradicts the weak and inane idea of men that God does not choose anyone to hell but only agrees to it because they fail to choose Him!
Very clearly, God delights in those He elects to good, and He puts His Spirit in them. In itself this is a judgment upon all who are not similarly elect.
In the New Testament ‘the elect’ is always eklektos. This, too, means to be picked out, chosen by God; salvation through Christ, ‘the elect of God’; choice, select (as being the best; excellent). The root, eklegomai, adds the meaning of choosing for one’s self (i.e. by God); choosing one out of many; God choosing some to receive His favours and separated from all others to be His own people, given His benefits and protection; people chosen to be Christians out of the irreligious masses, with the emphasis on Christ and His merits as the sole ground for the choice.
The middle voice, ek (a root, of two, of eklegomai), again underpins this idea of being taken out of and not choosing to become part of. The other root, the verb, lego, refers to an affirmation (by God), and to a call by name. Each person who is elect is chosen by God, called by name, to be favoured by God with salvation and all its benefits. The point is obvious – that God calls some out of the masses to be given a singular distinction to receive salvation and to enter Heaven. This automatically means He does not choose most people. In itself this means they are left to damnation BY CHOICE. Or, to put it in a way hated by Arminians and universalists – they are chosen to damnation: the elect are ‘chosen, or picked, out’ before the foundation of the Creation.
This choosing out of the masses is found in, say, Mark 13:20, where we are told: “but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen…” In this text “chosen” is eklegomai. In Colossians 3:12 we see that the elect are “holy and beloved”. This is never used of the unsaved, who are not elect. In this election by God we are on par with the angels who are also elect (1 Timothy 5:21). The Church, too, is called “the elect lady”, because every member of that universal Church is saved and therefore chosen or elect. None are self-appointed. The choice is on God’s part, not ours. As for being elect according to foreknowledge – see below.
The ‘elect’ are bachiyr – chosen and choice. In every instance they are bachiyr by God’s choice, not by man’s decision. “Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name” (Isaiah 45:4). As we find in Romans 8:33 concerning the elect: “It is God that justifieth” not mankind.
This word only appears 6 times, in the New Testament, as the feminine noun, ekloge. Note that the preposition, ek, tells us that this election removes some ‘out of’ others. Ekloge is the act of picking out by God’s will, which give blessings to a few even before they are born, and before the world was made. This was done by God’s decree, by way of the grace of Jesus Christ, and is therefore law. The root is eklogomai, whose roots are the same as above.
Those who base their objections to election on the “elect according to his foreknowledge” should now note that “the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” ‘Works’ are ergon, which, amongst other things, is an action taken by those who put their mind to something… that is, a choice made by human beings in the case of salvation. We are specifically told in this text (Romans 9:11) that this choice is “not of works” but “of him that calleth”. ‘Calleth’, kaleo, means to call out loud, to receive the name of, to be given a title by God. Thus, the calling is not by mankind to God, but by God to mankind.
Again, in Romans 11:5, this is reinforced by “a remnant according to the election of grace”, where grace, charis, is a free gift of goodwill, a merciful kindness given by God, not by request or decision of men, but by His own choice. To repeat - the election is “of God” (1 Thessalonians 1:4) and not of any act or request by men.
‘Foreknowledge’ is only found twice in the Bible, yet Arminians rest their case on these verses rather than on the many more referring to election. What they claim is that God does not deliberately choose some to salvation or many to hell. Rather, He looks into the future and knows who will seek to be saved, and therefore He elects them. Frankly, this must be one of the most intellectually absurd beliefs there is!
It is also a stark difference of teaching from scripture. It is, by any stretch of the imagination, like someone playing a game. It means that God knows everything anyway, but has to look way into the future to see if a man chooses salvation. Then, He rewards that right decision by electing him… even though He already knows what the man will do, without needing to ‘look’ ahead!
That Arminians and others cannot see just how ridiculous and fruitless such an action is, it’s incredible. Let us suppose I know a man who must have urgent medication and I know he will break down in his car when he drives it across the desert. I know it because I know his car! I let him drive off. After a week I get a cell ‘phone call from him to say he is desperate and has broken down. So, I drive out to find him and after a week I find him close to death and bring him back. Logic says – why not just fix the car in the first place? Or, stop the man from going? This kind of idiocy is what Arminians think is clever reasoning.
“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
Now, remember that there are only two direct mentions of ‘foreknowledge’ in scripture. Therefore, this one must link to the second:
1 Peter 1:2
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
‘Foreknowledge’ is prognosis (as used today in medicine to produce a probable future status of a disease or condition). It means what it says: foreknowledge, but also means forethought or pre-arrangement. Its root clarifies the real meaning – proginosko: to foreknow those whom God elected to salvation. And another meaning that reinforces this – to predestinate! It is not the weak and insipid idea of God just knowing in advance who would be saved – it tells us He knew in advance whom He would elect!
It means – predestination. In real terms, one fact does not precede the other; thus God did not save some because He knew they would turn to Him. Rather, He foreknew and elected at the same time. Or, more precisely, these actions have always existed. Foreknown means foreordained. The idea that one step precedes another is unintelligible in terms of eternal design. It is simply not possible for God to make decisions after ‘looking’ into the future, because all God’s ‘decisions’ are already extant in eternity, ‘ready-made’. It means God does not make decisions in our sense of the word, for everything, literally, is at once known to Him, including His actions. Therefore, even God does not ‘foresee’, and then later act upon what He foresees. To do so would make Him less than God.
There cannot be ‘steps’ to salvation in eternity. Thus, one is either ordained to salvation or one is not. It is not brought into effect by foreknowledge, because foreknowledge is included in election. It has to be, because God is omniscient. His foreknowledge is, then, bound together with His preordination.
The human will is connected to this eternal act, but does not alter God’s will. Rather, we can only acknowledge what God has already determined. To say otherwise is to bring in works as a means to salvation. This is explained in the use of the preposition, ‘according to’, or kata: according to one’s own decision, which is… predestination. The Arminian-style concept is intellectually wrong, theologically impossible, and badly flawed.
The hostility shown towards predestination by Arminians is indicative of the source of the anger – Satanic deception. In Romans 8:29, the word ‘also’ is important.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
“He also did predestinate”. The word does not come second place, as if it were the result of foreknowledge. This is exemplified by the word ‘also’, kai. This conjunction, joining two phrases, means ‘and’, or ‘indeed’, ‘even’. Thus, to rephrase: ‘whom he did foreknow and predestinate’ or’ whom he did foreknow and indeed predestinated’, or ‘whom he did foreknow he predestinated also’. In the Greek the word ‘also’ precedes the word it stresses, but this order is reversed when used in English. And, it is copulative – it connects two words or phrases, so they are not separate.
Romans 8:30 continues with the definition, saying that God predestinated those whom He called. This very clearly tells us that the two actions were one, as the same conjunction, kai, proves. To be ‘called’, kaleo, is to be called for, out loud, by name, and invited to partake of salvation. However, it is not an open invite, where the person called can reject the invitation. It is the invite of a king to a subject, where the subject must accept. The calling is also a vocation – that is, something a person is elected to by divine nature.
To predestinate is proorizo. It is a verb meaning to predetermine, to decide beforehand. Decide before what? There is no time in eternity, so there can be no ‘beforehand’, including foreknowledge. And there can be no ‘decision’ in strict terms, because that implies something done outside of God’s immediate knowledge. Therefore, election is extant – it just ‘is’. God decreed from and in eternity; it is to foreordain or to appoint beforehand. Though the word is separate from proginosko, it is nevertheless intimately interwoven with it and essentially means predestinated! The roots of ‘predestinate’ underpin this fact; to ordain, to appoint.
Obviously, this is a very short introduction to the subject, but it is sufficient to dispel the errors propagated by Arminians and others. To predestinate is included in the notion of foreknowledge, which can be interpreted as predestination anyway. People are not elected because of God’s foreknowledge, but as an integral part of it: foreknowledge and predestination being virtually the same thing. This they have to be, or we make a mockery of the concept of eternity and God’s omniscience.
The concept also means that whomever God chooses cannot, by any means, reject or escape the divine ‘invitation’. If he were able to use his own will to choose or reject, it would mean God’s election was fallible – which is another impossibility.
© July 2011
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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