Is Election Biblical?
Jonathan Edwards - The Great Awakening
John (Jean) Calvin
Election vs Free Will in the Western Church
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) who was at the core of "The Great Awakening" here in America and one who stood for election made the following observation concerning man and his part in salvation.
"You contribute NOTHING to your salvation but the sin that made it necessary"
It took me years to even broach the subject of election, as the bulk of my Christian experience had been within Baptist circles where they seem to try and avoid the subject as a rule. Kind of the "God loooooves everybody and the responsibility is upon YOU to decide" mentality. The problems I have with many of the doctrines so many hold dear is that there seemed to me to be too many scriptures that could only be rationalized to fit into that belief credo.
This discussion has been going on within the Western churches for centuries and is known as Calvinism versus Arminian theology. John Calvin (1509-1564) a French theologian formalized the doctrine of election and was countered by Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) a Dutch Reformed theologian who believed that the free will of man had a major part in one's salvation. I am not a Calvinist, I am a student of God's Word, the Bible, it is just that Calvin and I now hold many similar doctrines, yet I vehemently am opposed to another doctrine he espoused. The battle still is waged today with a way too many adopting a little of each doctrine which is really no doctrine at all; they just don't want to offend anyone.
What follows is my search and conclusion concerning this matter.
We Should Be Known By Our Quest for the Truth.
The Journey Begins:
One of the first things I pursued was to find one, just one character in all of the Scriptures that chose God and/or eventually Jesus by his own free will. This in itself is very troubling because I could not find one, but what I did find was:
- Even Israel as a people did not choose God but He chose them. Deuteronomy 7:7-8a "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the LORD loved you...".
- Adam and Eve did not choose to be born in the first place but were the product of the will of God as you and I are also.
- Moses did not choose to be God's man and even argued against his election to lead Israel out of bondage.
- Samuel was chosen as child by the voice of God in the night as he lay in bed.
- Abraham was enjoying his life in the land of Ur; David was tending sheep; Jacob wrestled with an angel; Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press; Sampson was not even born when he was chosen: Paul was on his way to Damascus to stop the new cult of those who believed in the resurrection of Jesus; and the list goes on.
- The disciples: John 15:16 "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you..." This also includes Judas, John 6:70, "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" You mean He chose someone to be an instrument of the Devil? Yes, just as He hardened pharaoh's heart that He might demonstrate His power before the wicked. Why, you may ask? When Israel departed from Egypt, there were a great many non-Israelites that went with them and would witness God's amazing power, kindness and provision for His own. Those who bless Israel, God will bless.
The journey continues.
Why We Need Election.
Why election is absolutely necessary!
The Scripture that started my search was Romans 3:10-18 emp. verse 11 & 12b "There is none that understandth, there is none that seekth after God ... there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Couple those verses with John 6:44 & 65, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. - And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that NO man can come to Me, except it were given unto him of my Father." Most every Christian knows John 14:6 and that Jesus claimed He was the only way to the Father. Why is it that no one preaches or teaches the fact that there is only one way to get to Jesus and that is if the Father actively draws them to Him! As we have seen from the Roman's passage that no one seeks after God, no not one! Either you believe what is written or you rationalize your way to a lukewarm Christian walk which is akin to vomit in God's eyes.
I spent two years (12/5/11 to 12/15/13) studying the doctrines of the Bible by daily journaling both Old and New Testament books by putting a code denoting the doctrine addressed and the scripture verse or passage. During this period I studied 23 books of the Bible and I found within these books, 63 verses or passages (226 individual verses in all) that addressed the doctrine of election alone. I found NO passages that directly addressed man's will in a positive manner when it came to godliness or salvation.
- John 1:13 "Which are born (saved), not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
- John 8:44 "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do:..."
Isaiah 53:11 & 12 (The Suffering Servant) states that our Lord's atonement for sin was for a limited number: verse 11 "...my righteous servant shall justify many.." and verse 12 "...was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many (not all)...".
Psalm 65:4 "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest..." Psalm 105:26 "He sent Moses His servant and Aaron whom He had chosen." Deuteronomy4:7 "And because He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed...".
1 Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:".
Final scriptural thought: Matthew 20:16 "...for many be called, but few chosen." and is repeated in 22:14. Think of all the people that have heard the Gospel yet have gone about their lives with absolutely no impact from salvation's message. What makes one person hear and respond while another was truly deaf to the call. The only answer can be that the Holy Spirit opened the spiritual ears of one and passed by the other, at least for the time being. I heard the message many times before I actually heard and believed. This is probably the case with most of my Christian readers also. We know that all have sinned, while we were yet dead in our sins and trespasses Christ died for us and when Paul lists the sins of which we were guilty prior to salvation: we know that we are no different from the lost except by grace we were plucked from the fire, some at the last moment.
How I picture election: imagine if you will a huge valley with all the world's population within its walls. Every person there is carrying protest signs: "I Hate God", "There is No God", "God Go Away and Leave Me Alone", "Love Evil", "Hate Good", "I'm OK, You're OK", "Evolution Rocks", "If It Feels Good, Do It" but NONE want anything or say anything good concerning God. Remember there are none that seek after Him, no not one. But our God has a plan. He reaches down into the roiling mass of humanity and begins plucking individuals out of the valley and setting them on the surrounding hilltops. He takes their stone cold hearts and replaces them with a heart of flesh, opens the eyes and ears to see and hear the Truth, and touches their lips that they may replace serving their selves with worshipping and praising Him. These in turn are sent back into the valley as an instrument of His love to reach more and more that His house may be full and He has a really big house.
Interestingly, Free Will Comes With Believing!
Only the saved have a free will; why? We have been set free, we no longer fulfill the lusts of our flesh or of the devil, mostly. We still struggle with this flesh and will until we go home. The unsaved absolutely follow the will of their flesh, the will of another or of the devil. They have no other choices and that is what sets the believer apart. We can actually choose to follow God or go our own way; we have free will. The problem with our free will is when we make the wrong choice, there will be consequences from our Father because He chastens whom He loves. When we do make the right choice we are blessed beyond measure even if it costs us our lives upon this earth. Free will can be a burden but it is one the lost will never experience.
There is so much more that could be said as some have written volumes on the subject. My purpose is encourage the reader to search the scriptures for themselves and come to their own conclusion. I have too many good friends who disagree with me and that is okay for one day we will all believe perfectly. But until then, may god bless!