Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election (5)

4. Its Scripture Proof

Not only for the sake of the young reader, but also for some of our readers who never had the benefit of instruction in this doctrine, we must give proof that it is entirely scriptural. Copies of this series no doubt come into the hands of some who know very little about this truth. What they have heard of it has been in the way of misrepresentation and perversion. When they question their pastor about it, he instantly affirms that he believes it, mumbles something about “foreknowledge” or “foresight” of man’s “accepting” Christ, and then immediately changes the subject. It will be well, then, to show just how biblical this truth is. It must be shown that predestination is not the theological figment of Calvin, of the Westminster divines, nor of the Dutchmen of Dort. It is the plain revelation of Scripture truth.

To anyone with only a mediocre acquaintance with the Bible, it is certain that God has an elect people. The terms “predestination,” “elect” and “election” occur prominently in outstanding passages of Scripture. But what these passages and terms mean can be known only when the Lord reveals the meaning of the Spirit, and may be determined only by the receptive, humble and contrite heart. Now when the Lord does reveal this truth before the eye of any man, it is not only foolishness but rebellion to refuse it or to oppose it. The Christian who believes that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice ought to have no difficulty in bowing to the scepter of Holy Writ at this point.

Aside from the question why God chose any, or unto what He chose them, it certainly is plain that God had an elect nation in Israel of the Old Testament. “The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, Israel for His peculiar treasure” (Ps. 135:4). “Thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend… I have chosen thee and not cast thee away” (Isaiah 41:8, 9). Then within the nation of Israel, God made a distinction between carnal Israel and spiritual Israel. Like a kernel within the shell, there was an election within an election. There was a particular people within the nation. “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel, neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Romans 9:6-8). “I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal: even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Israel (the mere political nation) hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election (the true Israel of God) hath obtained it” (Romans 11:4-7). The nation itself was chosen to be a kind of trellis to the vine, while the vine was chosen to be the plant which the heavenly Father has planted, and which shall never be rooted up. God has an elect people, as is plain from the fact that “For the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened…that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect… and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds” (Matthew 24:22, 24, 31). “Shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him?” (Luke 18:7). “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” (Romans 8:33). Then there is mention of “the purpose of God according to election” (9:11), and “the faith of God’s elect” (Ti. 1:1). If this is not sufficient Scripture evidence, take your concordance and not the fact that “elected” or its various forms, and “chosen” and its various forms appear on the divine record well over one hundred times. Surely, then, there is a divine election, God has an elect people, and the truth is deeply imbedded in Scripture.

In election the choice is God’s and since His is a sovereignly free will, His choice is a selection, a singling out, a picking out, and God has singled out form the mass of His creatures a people He has determined shall be His eternal possession. We hope to have more to say later of this divine choice of a people from the mass of God’s creatures. But by the way, that selection we do not view as a picking out a portion from Adam’s race, at least not out from a portion of Adam’s fallen race. For the scriptural picture of predestination has a stronger frame than that of infralapsarianism.

The Arminian must by virtue of his humanistic philosophy hold to the element of chance. Perchance a given sinner will believe in Christ. But there is also the chance, a much greater chance that he will not. But God, in His decree of election, leaves nothing to change. The completion of the body of Christ is not left to the fickleness of the sinner, the caprice of man, or to any contingent event. The fixing of destiny does not depend as modern evangelists present it, on the will of man, but on the will of God.

The highest exemplification of election we have in Christ. The next highest is in the angelic host. Election includes that heavenly company. There are “elect angels” (I Tim. 5:21). The implication is that there are also reprobate angels. There can be no elect angels without reprobate angels. The elect angels are confirmed in holiness, and so are called “the holy angels.” They are holy because they were chosen, and not chosen because they were holy. The “angels that sinned,” on the other hand, were “cast down to hell” and “delivered in chains of darkness” (II Peter 2:4). But God’s purpose of election was not to glorify Himself as the elect head of the angels, although He is that, but to be glorified in a race of elect men. Again, in this connection, C.H. Spurgeon is well worth reading. He says, “Now this is a wonder of wonders. When we come to consider that the heaven, even the heaven of heavens, is the Lord’s. If God must have a chosen race, why did He not select one from the majestic order of angels? Why was not Gabriel fixed upon? Why was he not so constituted that from his loins there might spring a mighty race of angels, and why were not those chosen of God from before the foundation of the world? What could there be in man, a creature lower than the angels, that God should select him rather than the angelic spirits? Why were not the cherubim and seraphim given to Christ? Why did He not assume the nature of angels, and take them into union with Himself? An angelic body might be more in keeping with the person of Deity, than a body of weak and suffering flesh and blood. There was something congruous if He had said unto the angels, ‘Ye shall be My sons.’ But no! Though all these were His own, He passes them by and stoops to man.”

It might be argued that the reason why God had primary preference in mankind as over against the angels was because man fell, so affording God greater cause to glorify His mercy. But the angels also fell, one third of them, yet had no gospel preached to them, no Saviour sent them, being reprobate. Man would be God’s peculiar treasure above all creatures. Why? What will they who hate the truth of God’s absolute sovereignty and who belittle the doctrine of unconditional election say to this? They constantly prate about God being no respecter of persons and showing no partiality. Then why did He show partiality between elect men and reprobate men? Between race and race (Amos 3:2)? Between elect angels and fallen angels? And why did He favor fallen men as He never did fallen angels? Man cannot answer these questions. The best he can do it to take God’s own word in explanation. For one, He gives no account of any of His matters (Job 33:13). He, rather, does whatsoever He will with His own things (Matt. 20:15; Prov. 16:4). We can resolve the question no better than with, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.”

Predestination is often said to be one of those secret things which belong to the Lord our God (Deut. 29:29). It is, indeed, a divine secret, which comes from the inscrutable will of God in eternity. But it does not always remain entirely secret. For in time, in the process of progressive revelation, God revealed His secret, eternal counsel. From the beginning, God made it known that predestination is “double,” that there is an elect line and a reprobate line, in Gen. 3:15. Here He made it plain that the atonement is limited, that it never was, even from the beginning of time, the purpose of God to love all men or to save all men. The covenant is particular, proceeding in the line of the continued generations of the seed of the woman, to the consistent rejection of the seed of the serpent. God’s elective love is plainly particular, and not universal.

God chose Abel, which is evident from the fact that he was a man of faith (Hebrews 11), and the fact that only those ordained to eternal life believe (Acts 13:48). God rejected Cain, as is plain from the fact that he was of that Wicked One (I John 3:12). Since Abel was murdered by the serpent’s breed, the covenant line was cut off, and the antithesis was destroyed. So the devil would have it. But God continued the line of election in Seth, and not in Cain, then in Enoch of Seth, and not in Enoch of Cain. Yet Seth’s generations became so corrupted that God with the flood swept them all off the face of the earth. Still God maintained His covenant and His electing love in choice f Noah. After the flood He distinguished between the children of Noah. Shem is chosen, but Canaan is cursed. From the sons of Shem, Asshur, Elim and Eber, the latter was chosen, so that not the Assyrians nor the Persians, but the Hebrews were a chosen race! Of the Hebrews, the Lord did choose Abraham (Neh. 9:7) in sovereign mercy. Out of the vast extent of the city of Ur. God “called him alone” (Isaiah 51:1, 2). Yet there was nothing in Abraham that made him any better than his fellow heathen neighbors. For Abraham with them was of a corrupt origin (Joshua 24:2). The outstanding virtue which we know made Abraham an eminent man of God was the result, not the cause of his election.

So the Scripture places strong and constant emphasis on the truth of election. In the N.T., God’s people are called “believers” twice, “Christians” only three times, but “elect” fourteen times, and “saints” sixty-two times. Where there is no specific term denoting election, there is one which necessarily and inescapably implies it. Redemption presupposes eternal election, as it implies a previous possession. Christ purchased those who were God’s from all eternity. Regeneration implies a previous spiritual son ship which became lost in Adam’s fall. The Holy Spirit renews those who are the seed of the woman. Reconciliation implies not only previous estrangement, but a relation of fellowship and friendship and friendship existing previous tot eh estrangement. These terms simply cannot be understood apart from the doctrine of election. And if the non-Reformed reader does not find this body of biblical proof sufficient, it would be useless to furnish him with more.
(To be continued, D.V.)

Young twigs are easily bent and made to grow another way, old trees most difficulty. So persons in youth are more easily turned than others. Again, a young plant is much more easily plucked up by the roots than after it hath long stood and is rooted deep in the ground. So it is easier to forsake sin in the beginning than after a long continuance in it.
Jonathan Edwards