Old Doxoblogy

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

TULIP Part 3

Unconditional Election

The doctrine of 'Unconditional Election' is the doctrine that countered the 'Arminian' doctrine that stated, 'God elects or reproves on the basis of foreseen faith or unbelief.'
This is probably the most popular view concerning election in the Christian church at present. Sadly, it's wrong. This statement actually negates itself, and by virtue of being negated is a useless attempt to explain a useless doctrine. Consider it for just a moment, if God elects based on the fact that we would have faith, then, what's the purpose? Is God trying to steal our glory? Is God taking the glory for our faith by imposing His election over the top of our faith? This is a question that 'Arminians' must deal with. All Christians have a doctrine of election. We must have a doctrine of election because election is in the Bible. But to base election on our faith begs the question, why should God even bother revealing a doctrine of election if it is just His response to our faith?
The answer is that God reveals this doctrine of election to us through the pages of scripture, not because it is based on anything that we do, but for His own glory. (Ephesians 1:1-14, Romans 8-11, John 15:12-17)
I guess I need to address the two verses that always gets pulled on me when I mention election.
Acts 2:23 ...This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (ESV)
This verse is usually cited and I am told that Jesus death was based on foreknowledge. I agree. But foreknowledge is not foreseeing that something will happen. The context of this verse bears that out. Rather, foreknowledge is God determining before hand what will happen and knowing what He is doing. And this is exactly what this verse teaches. That the foreknowledge of God delivered Jesus into the hands that God's foreknowledge ordained for the death of Christ.
Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
This verse actually strengthens my belief in God's 'Unconditional Election more than any other. The picture this verse paints is of a God who knows me, and yet loves me anyway, and based upon no good quality in myself, manifests His love to me through the gift of predestination to salvation. Ephesians chapters 1 and 2 show this also very clearly.
Now to the misconceptions. Election is not unconditional as it relates to God Himself. God has very definite and purposeful plans for each of His chosen. Election is unconditional as it relates to us. In and of myself there is no good thing abiding in me. I am an enemy of God, full of sin, and without faith. But God, in spite of me, and based upon no goodness in me, solely for His own glory and pleasure set His love on me and saved me. It is not of works foreseen, but by His grace alone that I have been saved.


Since I am 'Totally Depraved', I must trust in God alone and His grace. I don't just need help, I need a Savior. God is my Savior. As a depraved being I was running towards hell as fast as my legs could take me, but the God who made me, loved me, even before I was born, and determined to save me. And if anyone is ever saved, it is solely based on His 'Unconditionally Electing' power.


Jeff Wright said...

Hmm... good old Tulip.

I wonder about the Romans 8:29 passage. I see your point but I wonder (and here my lack of abilities in the Greek) if the aspect of predestination doesn't refer specifically to the conforming of the believer to the image of Christ.

Basically that God predestined that those in Christ would be sanctified.

If so, you could hold that verse regardless of your views on election in terms of salvation because it would be obvious (I would hope) to Calvinist and Arminian alike that God wills His children to be sanctified (and/or/ie conformed to the image of Christ).

Not my position. Just wondering.

Jeff Wright said...

Let me add to the part in parenthesis "really frustrate me" after the part that says "and here my lack of abilities in the Greek"

Jeremy Weaver said...

Election, predestination, conversion, adoption, sanctification, and any other aspect of salvation are all concentrated on making us like Christ. In other words the goal of salvation is glorification. So being conformed to the image of Christ in my mind refers not to sanctification, but glorification. And then verse 30 shows us what that process that brings us to glorification is. Predestination, calling, justifiaction, and then the goal, glorification. Verses 31-39 then assure us that God can finish His work of salvation, namely 'make us like Christ'.
What do you think?

Jeremy Weaver said...

By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog.

Mike said...

This is a post I already read and I could repeat my comments here. Prehaps our understanding fails us in the fact that God is timeless. We get all concerned with "before the foundation of the world" but God sees it all at once, not like we do. I am not saying there is something good in us that would cause God to chose us. I am not saying that He sees into the future and sees what we will decide and then predestines us. I'm not saying any of that. What I am saying is that the Bible clearly gives a condition for salvation that requires response on our part - he has chosen Christ. His pleasure is in Christ and the only way to Grace is to be "in Christ". All this focus on TULIP "U" takes the onus off of man.

ALso - isn't God more glorified by requiring that we are FREE in our relationship to him, else why would he have placed the tree in the garden? By the way, I understand Jeff's ponderings to be what the verse means. It is not in respect to individuals that the election and predestination is spoken of. It is a group - the church - those that are in Christ. The invitation is to all to get in that group by responding to HIS gift. I DO believe salvation is all of GOD - responding is not a work or a goodness - it is a wretched sinner saying "Lord, save me!" By the way, I see the point mentioned a lot that Christ said we are dead in trespasses and sins... DEAD, not sick and on and on... you don't walk up to a corpse and ask it to do something...(reformer) Let me challenge that view also. In order to call something dead, wouldn't that mean it was alive at one time? I believe Christ was speaking figuratively in talking about our end if we didn't repent and turn to Him. We are, in effect, dead because we are facing the second death after our flesh dies. You know Christ often spoke in these ways. By the way, if the unsaved are now dead, then aren't they going to experience two more deaths and how can the one after physical death then be called "the second death"? I submit to you and your friends that the unsaved are not "dead yet", but pre-born and unviable if they suffer physical death before salvation occurs. (I digress - the latter part of my ramblings were about the "I").

Jeremy Weaver said...

I think the passage you are referring to is Ephesians 2:1-5.
Paul writes,
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--
(Eph 2:1-5 ESV)
If you will notice we were dead before salvation and are made alive with Christ. So the classic orthodox interpretation is supported by Scripture. We were dead just like the rest of humanity. When God told Adam and Eve that they would surely die if they ate of the forbidden fruit, He really meant it. And when they ate, they died, and all their descendants died with them. The Apostle describes this death in verses 1-3.
It is being in sin,
Following the course of this world,
Following the prince of the power of the air who animates the children of disobedience,
Living in the passions of the flesh,
Carrying out the desires of the body and mind,and
Being under God's wrath, children of wrath just like the all of the rest.
And then we decide to follow Christ! No, not in Paul's mind. There is a greater and higher cause, God, in His love and mercy made us alive with Christ!

Consider also the what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:3,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
And then again in John 3:5-8,
"Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
(Joh 3:5-8)

There is not a single person in the world who, apart from God's Spirit making them alive, will enter Christ's kingdom. As a matter of fact Paul in Romans 3:10-18 states the opposite very clearly,
"as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.", "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
(Rom 3:10-18)
No one seeks after God. If anyone is ever to be saved God must change their dispositions.
It cannot come as a surprise then that God does exactly this.
He created man, knowing that man would sin and knowing that He has also created hell for sinners. Here the Calvinist and Arminian alike must say, "God is all-wise and we must trust that He knew what He was doing." There is no doubt to the fact that God knew that people would go to hell when He created us. God also knew that no one would seek Him in and of their own volition. So God is left with at least two options. He can call the whole thing off, or He can plan to save people from hell. Because of His great love for what creation will be He creates, knowing the aforementioned plight of mankind. But not without a plan. What is called an ´Eternal Covenant´, is formed within the Persons of the Trinity. Here God again has two options. He can plan to save all of humanity, or He can plan to save some of humanity. The Bible tells us that some people go to hell so God must chosen to let them continue in their dead state and at the same time, show mercy to some of those who were headed to hell. Here is where mercy gets sticky. If God is Holy and Just, and we are unholy and depraved, then how can God show mercy to anyone? It is inconsistent. Mankind is guilty and God is a Just Judge. Obviously, what follows is the condemnation of mankind, not mercy on mankind. Now we come to election. We all believe (except for those who do not believe in an All-knowing God) that God knows who will end up in hell and heaven. How does God know this? Is it because He has powers to see into the future, or, because He has planned the future from the beginning? May I submit that God knows the future because as you said, He lives in eternity. But here is the problem. If God is watching it all play out at while still knowing how it will play out it must also be because He planned the outcome.
So, God in eternity past planned to rescue some of mankind while He planned to allow the rest of mankind to continue on to hell. This is election. Then, He not only planned who He would save, but also the means of their salvation. The Son's part in the 'Eternal Covenant' comes into focus. Since mankind must pay for mankind's sin, God the Son must become a man, in order to accept our hell on the cross for us. He must do this by living a pure and perfect life. He lives a perfect, sinless life and dies a death He does not deserve. He not only dies physically but experiences that second death for those that God chose to save. The reason Calvinists say it like this is to avoid a misconception that arises when some speak of the Atonement. This misconception is that since Christ suffered and died as a man, all mankind's sins have been paid for. This is not true. If it were true then no one would have to suffer in hell, and since we are told in scripture that people do suffer in hell that would make God unjust in making them pay a second time for their sins. All (a generalization with exceptions because of a current development in Christianity, i.e. inclusivism)Christians believe that Christ's death is only for those who believe. Without faith and repentance no one can be saved. This brings us to another problem. I agree that faith and repentance are requirements for salvation, but how do people opposed to God and who are dead and who run from God put their faith in Him? This is by the preaching of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel as it is preached. How is it that in the place where the Gospel is preached that some believe and repent and others do not? It is as Jesus said,
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes."
We know that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe. But why doesn't everyone believe? Because no one wants to. That is why we blelieve that the Spirit makes 'dead' alive. In other words, He turns their wills upside down, or rightside up, as is probably more accurate in our context. So regeneration must precede faith and repentance, otherwise who would come to Christ? In our natural state we are His enemies. God overcomes this by His mercy.
And I assume that you believe that only those who persevere to the end are truly saved by your previous remarks. But this can only be true if God initiates salvation. If we initiate salvation the we can stop it where we like.
I look forward to your future comments on this topic or another.
Let me also say that I am glad you are conversing with me. We got started a little off but I pray that we can become close through the study of God's Word together.
And I do believe that you are my brother in Christ. I publicly repent of any public comments that I have made that may have made you feel otherwise.

mike said...

Thanks for being willing to discuss it.

First of all, Matthew 25 says that hell was "prepared for the devil and his angels". That doesn't mean that people won't go there. I know they will - many of them (Mt.7:13). But you said in your scenario of God's foresight (very imaginative, BTW- I think it is good to try to imagine what He must have been thinking - but just way beyond us) that he prepared Hell for sinners [man]. May I submit, we can go there, but it was never His preferred place for any human being.

Second of all, you said near the end of your last comment:
"And I assume that you believe that only those who persevere to the end are truly saved by your previous remarks. But this can only be true if God initiates salvation. If we initiate salvation the we can stop it where we like."

This is a strereotype (however not as condescending as Reformer's in the other post when I first came into your blog). I do not believe a) we initiate salvation OR b) we can lose salvation. God initiated salvation at the cross. Now He is drawing all men unto Himself. But not all will come, you're right. He calls to us "come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden". Not all people heed that call, though, do they? But it is beacause they reject God, they are not heavy laden over sin, not because they weren't "elected". Therefore, they are responsible!!!!! Also - He will not let a single child go, and that is what we become when we are saved. You cannot really divorce your parents.

I believe there is nothing good in man, just like you pointed out, because that is what the scripture teaches. But, there is something in man that is empty. Some people want that emptiness filled. This doesn't make them good. This doesn't mean they are any less depraved. When I was saved at the age of 20, I asked the Lord to come into my life and forgive me, not because I was smart or good, but because I thought, "I have nothing to lose - I am really messed up. He will take me just as I am - this is free". You all insist that by saying people are free to cry out for mercy or ask the Lord to save them, that means they are "seeking God" and the Bible says no one seeks God. But, when GOD SEEKS MAN by using the gospel, His Word and the Spirit, some respond and God is glorified. Why don't all respond? Because they don't want to, like you said. But people are individuals and they may have many reasons for their choices, not just two: elected or non-elected.

I was dead in trespasses and sins (Paul, not Jesus, you were right-oops-it was late. Jesus said "let the dead bury the dead"). But while there is still life in this body, (God animates mankind-the unsaved owe Him the very breath they have, not the devil) we can call on the name of the Lord. We must!!! (I'm still not clear how many deaths that makes...hmmm)

A new believer just was telling me yesterday about His salvation - He was saved only within the last 4 months. He said, he was broken -after a lot of things that we won't get into - but He was lying on the floor, humble because of pure failure in his life. He was pondering the gospel that he had been hearing for a while and He prayed and said, "I don't know what to do, do something with my life Lord, save me, come into my life". This man is changed dramatically since then! According to ULI, if I'm not mistaken, God put His spirit in this person, then called out to Himself. But I see it as a poor desperate soul gave in to the drawing of the holy spirit. We know that some do resist the Holy Spirit. (Acts 7:51)

"ULI" portrays God as immutable in regards to man. How does this work, when he says otherwise in Amos, Chronicles and Jonah. e.g.: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened". (Jonah 3:10) Abraham saw Him change His mind over S&M.

God wants willing praise and love and obedience from His creation and for that, HE was willing to risk the jewel of His creation, mankind, by giving us that free will, knowing that He would lose some, but that others would recieve Him, when they saw the plight that sin had brought and that He was the solution.

So there. I am tired of "U" and "I". "L" is just flat out unscriptural (1 John 2:2). But they are all married together, I think. I look forward to hearing some more thoughts from you, brother, on them all. You are really helping me understand the calvinist mindset. I wish I was a more effective challenger! Could you ever question it? Ever? What would it hurt?

Jeremy Weaver said...


You said, "I wish I was a more effective challenger! Could you ever question it? Ever? What would it hurt?"

Just so you know, I grew up in a preacher's home. We were Independent Fundamental Premillenial Pretribulational King James Only Baptists. In short, I was brought up to recite the arguments that you have given until I was about 12 years old, my brother Steve was 14 years old. Steve began reading through Romans and started asking my dad questions which my dad could not answer. I did not become a Calvinist at this time. My brother, I think did. My dad progressed in his study and eventually came to believe these truths. It was not until I was 17 or 18 that I began to understand the Calvinism through study of the Bible. It was not careful study, as I didn't know how to interpret Scripture by other Scriptures, but it was a study of the relevant texts. As I have grown in my abilities to study the Word of God through different aids (I stand on the shoulders of giants and they lift me up to where I can see things to high for me to reach, use word studies, and tried and tested commentaries on Scripture, and have learned a little in the realm of hermeneutics), I have not found any reason to doubt the conclusions made back then. I have refined my beliefs and in the process have become more 'orthodox'in line with most of Christian history. So I think you err in thinking that I have not considered the alternative. In fact, I have considered, believed, lived, and seen the alternative to Calvinism, and to be frank, find that it does not match up with the Word of God, conscience, experience, or Christian history.

As it seems we are not going to resolve this issue in this kind of setting, may I give you a couple of suggestions on resources to read, encouragement to start a blog of your own, where you can publish your thoughts of your own studies(I will visit and comment, and you can continue to comment here and thus create opportunity for greater dialogue), a response to your comment, and give you the last word in this debate?

Debating Calvinism, by James White and Dave Hunt (White is a Calvinist, Hunt is not)
Chosen by God, by R.C. Sproul

Start a Blog and give me the address!

1)I think that you read a little much into one statement made by Christ in Matthew 25:41. Just because Jesus says that Hell is prepared for the devil and his angels, does that necessarily mean that it is not prepared for sinners also? But the point is irrelevant. The fact is, as you have agreed, that sinners do end up there.

2)This 'stereotype' is proven by the number of 'Five Point Arminians' who do believe you can lose your salvation!
The major difference we have here is, you say "God initiated salvation at the cross", and I say "God initiated salvation in eternity past and salvation was accomplished at the cross".
When Christ says in John 12:32 that He will draw all men to Himself, there are two ways we can understand this. The greek word 'pas'(all) can either mean every single one, or some of every type. If we say that every single person is drawn by Christ we must either recognize that every single person must be saved as a result of this drawing, or, that there is some lacking in Christ's ability to draw. I lean toward the other option, which is, He will draw all kinds of men to Himself. This interpretation is supported by the context (verses 20-31). Gentiles come seeking Jesus, Philip takes them to Andrew, who in turn brings them to Jesus. This interpretation is also supported by Jesus' own statements in John 6:29,37-40,44-45,61-65,10:1-18,25-30.
I have heard it said that unbelief is the only sin that will send you to hell. This seems to be your sentiment as well, so forgive me if it is not. May I reject this and say,"Sin is the reason people go to hell". Therefore, everyone is responsible for their own sin. The Gospel (shorthand)is, God became man, took our sin upon Himself, bore that sin on the cross, and left our sin buried when He rose again. Rejection of this is not what sends a person to hell. They're already on their way. However, faith in Christ identifies us with this act of Christ in His death and resurrection by casting all our hope for salvation on Him.

3)All men are empty, and all try to fill themselves with something. Some try drugs, some family, some entertainment, some religion, some 'thing' to fill that emptiness.

"Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it rest in Thee."-Saint Augustine

It is sad indeed to find people searching for something to fill their emptiness while at the same time running from the ONLY One who can fill their emptiness. Herein lies our mission. We must point them to Christ, who can fill them. I can't really question your or your friend's experience, but would encourage you to see that it squares away with the Word of God.
As for Acts 7:51, the word 'resist' used there means 'oppose' and in context is drawing an allusion to those who were about to kill Stephen for doing the same to the Prophets who the Spirit had spoken through before.

4) I'm not sure if 'portraying God as immutable in regards to man' is such a bad thing. Clarify yourself and be careful on this mode of interpreting these Old Testament passages because it seems as though you are heading towards 'open-theism' (a belief that God does not know the future and so must react in different ways in different circumstances).

5) I have no dipute with your defintion of will, since earlier you wrote, "Why don't all respond? Because they don't want to, like you said. But people are individuals and they may have many reasons for their choices,"
I too, believe that we must have a reason for choosing what we choose. We do not choose Christ because we do not want Christ more than anything else at any particular moment. Therefore, there must be a reason for us to want Christ. I say that this reason is God Himself causing a person to want Him. If there was no cause for each and every choice that we make then there would be no need for salesmen, because we would just choose things willy-nilly. But the salesman is there because we do not choose things without a prior cause. We buy a car because we need transportation. We choose a car based on the ability of a salesman to present a certain car as the best option. You get the idea. We choose God because He works in us so that we can see Him for who He truly is. So, in order for God to have willing praise from unwilling people, He must 'draw', or as the old-timers used to say, 'woo' them to Himself. Since He is infinitely more valuable and worthy tahn anyone or any thing, He doesn't have to talk Himself up to people. He just shows them Himself. But people are blind, so He must open their eyes first.

6) 1 John 2:2 is again a matter of context. Who is John writing to, why is he writing, and what result does he expect?
I'll let you do the work on that one.

You get the last word.

"mike" said...

Since you have so graciously agreed to let me have the last word, I will take it! (but not necessary - I'll still check back here for a couple of days to see if you say something else - I've really enjoyed our back-and-forth). I'm thinking about a blog.

I wonder about that Greek word 'pas'. That word is used a lot. It is the same word in John 1:3, "all things were made through Him..." and Rom. 3:23 "all have sinned and fallen short..." (is THIS 'pas' saying 'some of every kind?...) Doesn't it bother you just a little, to apply an alternate meaning in the verses that might steer you away from ULI, but when the clear meaning of the Word fits into that TULIP, you seek no other? (isn't there a law of hermenuetics on that?)

I'll go along with your statement about God initiating salvation before the foundation of the world, too. But may I say, the root of our problem with this whole discussion is our lack of ability to understand eternity - becuse we are finite.

I also totally agree - sin is why people go to hell - sinfulness, not "rejecting Christ". Our sin is dealt with at the cross - but we cannot be cleansed from that sin without going to the cross. (If Christ paid for all sin and then some go to hell, that is not sin being paid for twice. It is the carrying out of a consequence upon those that won't have their sins dealt with God's way, by identifying with Christ as you said). Amen, brother!

You said, "If we say that every single person is drawn by Christ we must either recognize that every single person must be saved as a result of this drawing, or, that there is some lacking in Christ's ability to draw." What about about the other obvious possibility? Matt 23:37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" I know this is not talking about salvation, but it is clear that men don't always respond to God's mercy. Simple! There is the answer. Mankind is responsible for their will!! Don't take the onus off of people.

For example, you said "I can't really question your or your friend's experience, but would encourage you to see that it squares away with the Word of God". What if it didn't square with the Word of God, as you say. What can I do about it, if my response has nothing to do with salvation? Just sit here and feel dejected because I am not chosen? Or wait for Him to draw me? (I am not there, but that is really the end conclusion/result to your theology/soteriology).

I DO get discouraged by ULI in my evangelsim (I know, you guys don't) because it would seem (if you are right) that God already made up His mind and certain relatives may be beyond hope. I must fight this thought!

At one time in church history, it was important to declare yourself a Calvinist to make sure you steered clear of the false tenets of Arminianism, but not so today. Even Calvin himself, in his more mature writings, abandoned what today is the "L". It is OK to NOT have it all so neatly figured out. There are some things about the way God works that we cannot grasp. I fear that TULIP is antithetical to that principle. It attempts to put God in a box. We cannot limit God.

Finally, I'm glad that you are not a King James Only anymore (I think from what you said), but that is another discussion!! However, don't think of my arguments as "things I used to recite until I was 12", but consider them. Then dismiss them if you wish. Thanks again for your kind, humble interaction. "mike"

Jeremy Weaver said...

I had just one thing to say about that comment but decided to let it go so as not to be a liar.
I have enjoyed this debate as well and hope you continue to visit my blog, I will post on other topics, but beware, they could be tainted with Calvinism. Take me to task on those points.
Get your blog going! I think you'll find that we probably agree on 95% (at least) of what the Bible teaches. Just be sure to give me the address of the blog if you go through with it.

Your brother 'from the foundation of the world',:)

Rose said...

I don't want to show my face because I have to tell you something: I am Mike. Sorry if that was deceitful, but here is my reason: sometimes I feel like people of the male persuasion shy away from interacting with women ... we are just ignored and dismissed by some men. I don't really understand the reason...fear of flirting ... superiority ... perhaps it is perceived as inappropriate to talk with women...I don't know. Do you?

I needed to hash out this thing, and you were willing to discuss it with my psuedonym. Maybe you would have been equally as helpful if I just said who I was from the beginning...I didn't know.

Anyways, I want to thank you and ask you to forgive me for the lie about my identity. I also want to ask forgiveness for my sometimes intense voice as Mike...it was because I was tormented by the TULIP!

Finally, I assure you I am not an egalitarian, but I grew up with 4 brothers and I just usually have a good rapor with males. (when they don't ignore me.) Friends?

Rose~ said...

Thanks for the brief comment...but do you forgive me? Friends, Jeremy?

Jeremy Weaver said...

Of course. No hay problema.