What do we mean when we say that God is eternal? In God’s eternality, do we only mean that God began before time and will exist beyond time? (Above time.) Does God progress through time the way that people do? Does God learn things by observation as time progresses? Even if we admit that God is sovereign over time, does that mean that He has to control time from second to second, or can He do it all at once?
What do we mean when we say that God is independent? What are some synonyms for the independency of God? (Autonomous, sovereign.) Does God’s independency from man mean that He has no relationship with man whatsoever? How much control does God have over the affairs of men? Does that mean that He is sovereign moment by moment or over all things at once? (Both.) Could God in His sovereignty and omnipotence determine all things at one time?
God’s hand on human events is called “Predestination.”
What does the word “predestination” mean? Is predestination a Biblical word or a Biblical principle? Romans 8:28-30 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 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. Moreover whom he did PREDESTINATE, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Now turn to Ephesians 1:3-12 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having PREDESTINATED us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” The Greek word “proorizo” ( pro-or-id’-zo) is found in two other scriptures where it isn’t translated “predestination.” In Acts 4 after the arrest and then release of some of the Apostles. the church prayed: “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel DETERMINED BEFORE to be done.”
And then in I Corinthians 2 in discussing salvation Paul said, “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ORDAINED BEFORE the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Again, what does the word “predestinate” mean?
Predestination takes us right back to God’s sovereign control and pre-determination of human events. Does God’s control and predestination of some things prove that He predestinates all things? Nevertheless, in the great scheme of things, does God predestinate all things? If the Lord isn’t sovereign over all things, would He really be “God over all things?”
God’s predestination in the area of salvation begins with “election.”
Notice Ephesians 1:5-6 again: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Laying aside all our opinions and preconceived notions about ourselves or about God, doesn’t this verse say that God predestinated Paul and those to whom he was writing to be adopted through Christ to Himself? Doesn’t it also say that this predestination was according to the good pleasure of His will? If these things be true, then aren’t we talking about a sovereign choice on God’s part?
Verses 3 and 4 preface verse 5 with the words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Verse 5 says that God predestinated us, and verse 4 says that He chose us before the foundation of the world. Putting those two things together, doesn’t Paul state that God has chosen certain people before the creation of the world whom He predestinated to salvation and adoption? The question is not: do you think that this is fair or right? The question is: does the Bible teach that God predestinated certain people to salvation?
The words “chose” and “chosen” as in verse 4 are synonyms for what other common Biblical word? Matthew 24:31 – “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Luke 18:7 – “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” John 15 – “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Romans 8:33 – “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Colossians 3:12 – “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” II Thessalonians 2:13 – “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” II Timothy 2:10 – “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Titus 1:1 – “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” I 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.” I Peter 2:9 – “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Revelation 17:14 – “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
One of the things which should be kept in mind by the evangelist is that God not only knows who will repent and believe on Christ, but that those who will have been previously chosen or elected by God to do so. Is there anyone in the world who deserves to be saved? Is there anyone in the world who has a right to be mad at God if he isn’t ultimately saved? Is there anyone in the world who has a right to be angry with God that the Lord didn’t choose him to salvation? Is there anyone in the world who is not spiritually dead before God? Is there anyone who is dead who can of himself repent or believe on Christ? If it were not for the Lord’s election, and then His impartation of spiritual life and the gifts of repentance and faith, would anyone ever be saved?
It is sometimes argued that God elects those whom He sees or foresees repenting and trusting Christ. Sometimes I Peter 1:2 is used to augment that opinion: “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.” But doesn’t that idea demand that God has become dependent upon the sinner and his faith? Doesn’t deity imply, or demand, independency? If God is not sovereign can He really be God and omnipotent? Without going back into material that we studied last year, let’s just remember God’s foreknowledge is not simply the ability to see something before it happens. God’s foreknowledge involves His love of those people. Romans 8:29 tells us that it is people whom the Lord foreknows, not merely what those people do. “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.” The Lord foreknows the people who repent and trust because He chose them before creation. And because He foreknows them, at the ordained time, He gives them repentance and faith to believe. Foreknowledge refers to the love which the Lord has for those people from eternity. If the Lord did not specifically chose to save people, there would not be a single saved child of Adam, ever. Rather than finding fault with God for choosing to save only some, the world should be praising God for saving any at all.
It is sometimes argued that God’s predestination was only that the saved be saved through Christ and not through some other means. “According as he hath chosen us IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” If that argument be raised, then it implies that there could have been other ways for sinners to be saved, but that God merely predestinated this one. Could there have been some other means of salvation?
Does election eliminate the need evangelism?
Can a sinner be saved who does not repent and put his trust in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ? Does God’s election mean that sinners do not need to repent and trust Christ? Will a sinner repent and trust Christ who has not been given faith and repentance by God? Does God give repentance and faith to people whom He has not chosen? Does God not save anyone to whom He has given faith and repentance?
Election doesn’t negate the need for evangelism; it actually demands it. Let’s admit that God possesses sovereign control over the ultimate salvation of some individual. Could that man have been saved, if Christ had not died on the cross? So did God predestinate the crucifixion – guaranteeing that it take place? Do you mean that God not only ordained the eventual salvation of that man, but also the means of accomplishing that salvation? Could God have ordained that sinners be saved without repentance and faith? If God ordained the sacrifice necessary to save the sinner couldn’t He also ordain the sinner’s faith and repentance? If God ordained that sinner’s faith and repentance, could He also ordain the evangelism which brought to him the gospel and the exhortation to repent and believe? God’s sovereign decree of salvation concerns not only the end, but also the means to the end.
So does God’s sovereignty and election rule out the responsibility of man? That sinner has the responsibility to repent and to believe the gospel. Who else besides the sinner has responsibilities in this area of salvation? (The evangelist – you and me.) Election guarantees that evangelism will result in the conversions that God has ordained.
So what should be the relationship of the Christian towards the lost world? He should give the good news of the gospel to everyone who will listen. He should be an evangelist. Is it the evangelist’s responsibility to wring a confession of faith out of that sinner? Are there arguments that some evangelists use which are not God-honoring and Biblical? What happens when we use those arguments? (The work of the Holy Spirit is by-passed.) If the sinner that we are talking to is chosen unto salvation, then the Spirit will bring him to conviction through what the scriptures say of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. Is the Spirit obligated to convert that elect person the first time that he hears the gospel? If he is elect, will the Spirit eventually regenerate him?
The doctrine of Election should keep the evangelist Biblical in his approach towards the lost.