Unconditional election is the teaching that God chooses (elects) who will be justified (saved) by and through grace (divine enablement) (Ro 11:5), independently of human works or merit (unconditionally). (Ro 11:6) This is predestination, a pre-choosing of our destiny (Ep 1:5) before the world began (Ep 1:4) based on God’s own will (Ja 1:18), not based on free will. (Jn 1:12-13)
Since Man is desperately wicked (Total Depravity) (Je 17:9), he only does good by the irresistible grace of God. (Ro 9:19) Man is unable to even consider doing anything good without God’s aid (2Co 3:5); without Him we can do nothing good. (Jn 15:5)
While infallibly saving only a few, God mysteriously offers salvation to all (1Pe 4:9), inviting all to come to Him and be saved (1Ti 2:4), refusing no one who repents and turns to Him. (Is 55:7) Yet no depraved soul will ever come to God (Ro 3:11) unless He first moves in them to do so. (Jn 6:65) This is implied in Man’s nature when left to himself (Ro 1:20-21); it isn’t God’s fault. (Ro 3:4)
God forces no one against their will; He allows the wicked to sin according to His purpose (1Pe 2:8), while irresistibly and graciously working in and through His elect to will and to do good as it pleases Him (Php 2:13), guiding and forming our will so that we seek Him, believe on Him, obey Him and follow Him. (Ro 8:29-30)
All the Father ordains to come to Christ will come to Him and be saved eternally. (Jn 6:37) Our election, salvation, and sanctification are all ultimately due entirely to God, not ourselves. (1Co 1:30-31)
3 thoughts on “The Election of Grace”
In my experience, all arguments against Unconditional Election (predestination) and Irresistible Grace are rooted in rejecting Total Depravity. Those who do so argue from silence, not experiencing total depravity, even in those rejecting Christ. Those who oppose these ideas for other reasons please comment here, otherwise perhaps we can focus our discussion under the Desperately Wicked blog.
Here is a very good video opposing the doctrines of Calvinism (TULIP). The author, Leighton Flowers, observes that the traditional Calvinistic teaching on Total Depravity includes a claim that God decrees people to be damned and that God actually causes them to be evil and to be damned, expressly creating them this way and for this purpose. He claims this is unbiblical and then bases his rejection of the remaining points of Calvinism on this error.
While I agree with Leighton that God does not cause people to do evil or to be damned, I think Leighton commits a strawman fallacy by failing to refute a (more) biblical concept of Total Depravity.
The way this evidently works is that a biblical perspective on predestination and election depends on getting a biblical perspective on the nature of Man, which is the topic of Total Depravity.
If we start with an incorrect view of Man, and get the definition of Total Depravity wrong, or make an incorrect deduction about God based on a good definition (which is evidently what traditional Calvinists do), we may more easily dismiss the remaining points of the TULIP theory by repeatedly appealing to this wrong definition or application.
However, once we get the definition of man’s total depravity correct biblically, and retain a biblical view of God’s nature in light of it, I believe the remaining points of Calvinism (at least when stated as below) follow and can be well supported scripturally.
Here’s my understanding, with supporting links and logic for each point:
T – Total Depravity: Unregenerate Man will make the most evil choice God will allow him to make every time he makes a choice of his own free will, including rejecting Christ.
U – Unconditional Election: God freely (of His own will, not Man’s) chooses a remnant to be saved, leaving the rest to their own free will to reject Him. This is the only way for there to be a believer if T is true.
L – Limited Atonement: God atones only for the sins of those who believe on Him; Christ’s work is limited in efficacy, not in availability. This is the only way the atonement itself can be grounds for our justification while being legitimately offered to everyone if U is true.
I – Irresistible Grace: God causes the elect to believe on Christ by irresistibly drawing them to Christ and enabling them to believe on Him. This is the only way believing on Christ can occur if T is true.
P – Perseverance of the Saints: The saints persist in believing on Christ and never lose their salvation. This follows from L and I.
The above links (and the relevant links to related posts and articles they contain), comprise my understanding of how all this relates to Free Will: that Man makes evil choices freely based on his fallen nature, without being coerced for forced to do so, and that God never forces anyone to do anything contrary to their will. I invite anyone to challenge these points and their implications biblically if they disagree on any detail of it.
Since personal experience may be our best teacher, I recommend that we each carefully evaluate our own prayer life and integrate what we find within our own spirits with our understanding of God’s sovereignty. I expect we will find that we already believe God is utterly sovereign, in total control of everything, even salvation; most of us just don’t realize this intellectually yet.
Where I may differ from traditional Calvinist teaching:
1. I believe God loves all people.
2. I believe God invites everyone to come to Him and be saved.
3. I believe God draws all people to Christ through the cross.
4. I believe God never causes anyone to sin.
5. I believe God makes Christ’s atonement available to everyone.
6. I believe God does not justify anyone until they believe on Christ.
7. I believe Man has free will; God does not force Man to choose.