The Letter "U" Unconditional Election
Last time we looked at total depravity and man's inability to choose God. So if no one can choose God, then God must have to choose us. We know scripture says that not all will be saved, so how does God decide who they (the elect) will be?
Does God choose on the basis of earned merit?
Does God choose according to His own private purposes
and good pleasure? (Page 20)
Did God simply look down the corridors of time and see who would choose him, and then in turn elect them for himself?
Election is not ratification. God did not ratify our choice of Him, or our faith in Him, by choosing us in return. He did not say, “I approve of your choice of me, so I elect you.”(Page 44)Again total depravity states none of us would choose God. There is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Men dead in trespasses and sin can decide nothing towards God(Ephesians 2:1-3).
Pastor David Morris defines election this way:
“Because of man’s Total Depravity and inability, salvation from sin and its penalty is completely of the Lord, our Triune God. In eternity past, before the worlds were created, God chose in Christ a great multitude that no man could number. The election of this number out of the mass of damnation of ruined mankind as they stood in Adam was based on God’s grace and good pleasure and on nothing in man by way of condition or foreseen quality. God purposed this election for His own glory.”(Page 37)
One of the clearest examples of this is Romans chapter 9.
And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad-in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls- she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:10-13)
God did not elect Jacob on the basis of personal merit. He was still in the womb and had not yet done anything. And, to ward off any debate that the choice was made on the basis of any foreseen acts by the twins, Paul added “not of works, but of Him that calls.” Notice, as well, that God spoke of His love and hatred in the past tense. These things were predetermined and foreordained.(Page 50)
This is where most struggle with this doctrine of unconditional election. The thought of God choosing some to salvation doesn't disturb us as much as "What about everyone else?" Realizing this stumbling block, Jim McClarty spends some time covering this topic.
Though it is not directly our subject, we must also consider one of the most misunderstood implications of this Doctrine of Unconditional Election: Reprobation. If humanity is willfully marching toward certain damnation and God chooses to “pluck some brands from the fire,” is He, by omission, committing the rest to destruction?
This is a favorite argument by the critics of this doctrine. The core of their objection is: “If God has the power to save sinners from their fate, why doesn’t He save them all? Election of only some is unfair!” The critics of historic Calvinism call this idea “double predestination” in order to create a paradigm where God destines people to hell in some cruel or capricious way. Then, they argue that Calvinistic theology makes God out to be a monster, and must therefore be rejected.
But, such emotional appeals aside, the simple and direct answer is: Yes, in saving only a remnant, God is reprobating the remainder. But, we must be cautious not to lay blame to God. The apostle Paul argued convincingly on this point.(Page 56-57)
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory- even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:18-24)
Now, the rest God will leave in their sins. So, the gainsayer will reply, “But how can God blame anyone if everyone is just doing what God ordained them to do?” Paul immediately declared the sovereignty of God and reminded the questioner that we are simply dust in the hands of the
Creator. Will the dust rise up and ask the Omnipotent why He does what He does? The implied answer is, “Of course not!” God owns everything. He is the Master of His creation. Who can question His decisions?(Page 57)
The argument that such reprobation is unfair or unjust misses the point. Justice and fairness would have demanded that all men be cast into Hell in accordance with their evil, rebellious character. But, God is not the root cause of any man’s destruction. Men are willingly following the inclinations of their wicked hearts and, as such, are completely responsible for their actions. And, God will get glory for Himself, both in demonstrating His mercy to His elect and in demonstrating His holy justice and righteous power to the sinners.(Page 58)
The bottom line is this: If God had not sovereignly choose to save some, then no one would be saved.
One thing to keep in mind is that God has always utilized his sovereign choice. He chose Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Saul, David, and John the baptist just to name a few. He also chose nations such as Israel. He chose the Levites to minister to him. Everywhere we look in scripture we see God choosing according to his own purpose and pleasure and ultimately for his glory.
This is such a brief treatment of this difficult doctrine. By Grace Alone covers this in much more detail. Read it online here.
Next on our adventure: Limited Atonement