Need Humility? Consider Unconditional Election

If you ever need a good dose of humility, just consider your salvation.  Not the part where you are a child of God and get to enjoy the benefits of being adopted by the creator of the world.  Think about the part where you were totally depraved and had nothing good living inside of you; that it took the unconditional love and grace of God to revive your dead soul.  What you are considering is what is called unconditional election: God’s choice of certain person’s to salvation is not dependent upon any foreseen virtue or faith on their part.  In fact, the basis of God’s election relies entirely in the will of God alone.

What Scripture Says About Unconditional Election?

“And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”” (Genesis 25:23)

Before Jacob and Esau were born, one was already chosen to serve the other.  This was nothing of the babies doing.

“…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4–5 ESV)

We are chosen before the very foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God.  This means that before God created the earth we live on now, we were already predestined (elected) to be His children.  If this happened before the foundation of the world, then there was nothing we could have done to acheive or merit this election.  Thus, it is unconditional.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV)

Scripture is clear in that salvation relies nothing in ourselves, but solely is a gift from God.  Why?  So no one may boast.  If salvation was determined by our own merit, then we would have reason to boast.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44 ESV)

Those who are not called (or “elect”), will not be saved.  This leads into the doctrione of Limited Atonement (the next section of the TULIP acronym), but it is necessary to point out that the election and grace of salvation comes from the Godhead and is not arbitrary.

How Is Unconditional Election Misunderstood?

“What if I don’t want to be elect, but God forced me?”

This misunderstanding implies that God coerces individuals to believe, trust, and love Him.  This is not the case at all.  God does not save people agains their will, but through their will.  It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that a person’s eyes are opened to not only their sinful state, but the gracious mercy and salvation found in the Gospel.  In fact, if it were not for God’s gracious intervention, everyone would willingly reject God.  So when your heart is changed, you desire salvation.  If your heart is never changed by the Holy Spirit working inside of you, you will never want salvation through the Gospel (and you won’t be forced into accepting it either).

“God just chooses people at random. This whole thing is arbitrary.”

This is a common misunderstanding that implies there is no reasoning for whom God elects or doesn’t elect (which is called being passed over, or part of the reprobate).  This doctrine does not imply there is no reason that some receive salvation and others do not, but the reason does not lie in the elect themselves.  The reason lies in God’s secret will.  The truth is that we do not know why God chooses some and not others.  The danger here is failing to remember our state of total depravity, and that we all deserve to be passed over.  It is sheerly grace (unconditional grace) that even one person is elected unto salvation.

“Unconditional Election means I can do whatever I want, and if I am elect, I will be saved regardless of my actions.”

The misunderstanding here is thinking that salvation and election are the same thing.  They are not.  Salvation is broader than election.  There are also conditions for individuals in their conversion.  For instance, faith is a condition that goes along with salvation; repentance goes along with faith; and good works are a necessary evidence of faith.  What unconditional election does imply is that whether or not these conditions will be met ultimately depends on God and God alone.

How Does Unconditional Election Effect My Life?

God’s election is not based on foreseen faith, repentance, perseverance, or good works.

If our election was based on these, it would make our election conditional. These undermine the doctrine of divine sovereignty, and the doctrine of grace alone, because gives some ground for the elect to boast.  What does this mean for us?  You should not boast in anything of your own doing regarding salvation.  If you are to boast in anything, it is in Jesus Christ: His death and resurrection.

Unconditional Election frees you in evangelism and outreach.

Presbyterians get the name “frozen chosen” because of this doctrine, and the nickname is not completely unwarranted (they are chosen before the foundation of the world, and so they cold heartedly live their lives not evangelizing to others or being involved in missions because God will always save His elect).  In reality, this doctrine should have the opposite effect on Christians.  Think of it like this: your failures of evangelism can still be used by God to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. How wonderful is it to know that a person’s salvation does not rest squarely on your shoulders.  This allows people to stop evangelizing like door to door salesman (who sell doom and gloom, fire and brimstone salvation insurance), and actually start building relationships with individuals.  Imagine that, God uses this doctrine to allow organic relationships centered around the Gospel. 

Unconditional Election allows you to see God’s mercy

How many times have you thought, “God could never love a sinner as bad as me?”  Now, if you are a Christian and you have thought that countless times, imagine someone who is not a Christian.  This might be the very reason for them rejecting the truths of the Gospel.  This beautiful doctrine of election allows us to say to ourselves (and to those who despair, Christian and non-Christian alike), “You do not get to set the conditions or qualifications of what God can or cannot forgive.”  The fact is that God elected those whom he will save before the foundation of the world, before any opportunity for meeting conditions existed.  


For additional Scripture on the subject:

Genesis 25:23 (cf. Malachi 1:2-3); Deuteronomy 7:7-8; John 3:3; John 6:37, 44, 64-65; John 10:24-26; John 17:12 (cf. 1 Peter 2:7-8); Acts 11:18; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29-30; Romans 9:1-24; Ephesians 1:3-14; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:4-5; 1 John 5:1


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