Election & Predestination

Election and Predestination

That God hat chosen some out of the world and destined them to eternal glory the Scriptures plainly teach (1 Thess.1.4). It is equally plain from the Scriptures that such as are chosen are personally responsible to receive the message of God's grace and, of their own volition, to believe on the Saviour whom He has sent.   As Sir Robert Anderson has said: 'The distinctive truth of election must not be lost in the kindred truth of the sovereignty of God.'  Or, to quote Guillebaud: 'Here the will of the infinite is impinging upon the will of the creature and must, in some measure, pass our apprehension. We may, however, reflect that even a human father may afford his child a free choice and yet influence that choice more than the child is aware.' And again, 'If God be infinite there may be many reasons for His choice other than those which we can see or apprehend.' These reasons can only be good, well-founded and altogether just; in fact it may be assumed they are in full consonance with all His other attributes.

To the sinner is proclaimed the message, 'Whosoever will may come' (Rev. 21. 17). Having come and believed in the Saviour the saint learns that he was 'elect before the foundation of the world' (Eph. 1. 4).

To quote Sir Robert Anderson again: 'Though to our finite ninds election and grace may seem as far as the poles asunder and as antagonistic as the magnetic currents which set towards them, to the Infinite they may appear but inseparable parts of one great whole.' We may look at a mountain from two vantage-points and view two distinct shapes apparently vastly different from each other, though it be the same mountain. So do the doctrines of election and grace appear.

In an orchestra, for example, there are many diverse musical instruments: and some of them, of themselves, are incapable of producing any pleasant sound; indeed, the particular part of any tune which they play may, of itself, be unpleasant to the ear; but when the whole orchestra is playing, that particular part makes an essential contribution to the harmony produced by the several instruments. 'Doubtless, election and grace may appear incompatible but to maintain that, therefore, they are so in fact is to put reason above revelation: in other words, to place man above God.’

Man has learned those laws which operate in the sphere which able to investigate: who can tell whether or not directly contrary laws operate n the sphere which he cannot examine ?

Election and predestination on the one hand, and the free-will of the person on the other hand, are not the only factors involved in such a great work, but they are essential and integral parts of it: if regarded as unrelated to all the other factors they seem to be inconsistent and illogical, but when the whole plan is revealed their harmony will also become plain.  ‘The good pleasure of God is the ground of election.’

Problems connected with this subject have for many generations engaged the thoughts of many, but it still remains an unexplained mystery so far as humans philosophy is concerned.  In handling it, reason must give place to faith.   There must be unreserved acceptance of God’s Word pending the revelation which will be given in the perfect day.

The two principles are not, as some have affirmed, mutually exclusive: and they arc not contradictory. Each is an essential feature of a moral universe in which God has inscribed His rights on the conscience of man, and in which He is working out the counsels of His will.

The late Dr. Moule when discussing this matter said: 'It must be owned a mystery whose explanation and harmony lie within the secret things of God.' Man's destiny is not altogether in his own hands. The elect are prepared before unto eternal glory (Rom. 9. 23). The unsaved are fitted by their own disobedience for judgment (Rom. 9. 22). Moule again says: 'The sovereignty of God viewed abstractly as one attribute amongst many must, of course, be conceived of as qualified by all the rest. It cannot be otherwise than an infinitely wise, righteous and merciful sovereignty.

God's sovereign election is not confined to those who comprise the Church. The nation of Israel was chosen by God (Deut. 7. 7), as also was Abraham (Acts 7. 2—one out of the three sons of Terah). Isaac was chosen and not Ishmael (Rom. 9. 7). Jacob was preferred to Esau (Rom. 9. 12). Those not so elected had no grounds for complaint, no more than the clay is entitled to say to the potter: 'What doest thou?' (Rom. 9. 20). God's sovereign rights are unchallengeable. Christ was ever before the mind of God: and in His choice of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob He had the people of Israel and their Messiah in view all the time.

Lamont has wisely written: 'The Christian confesses with his whole heart that the initiative in his salvation was not with himself but with God, but he is not permitted to say in the case of a man who may have finally rejected Christ that God took the initiative in that rejection. Many steps have preceded the fatal rejection. Every step in the fatal descent has meant a man's expenditure of the providential freedom which is his birthright. It has, however, meant increasing bondage. This is the inevitable corollary to the rejection of the overtures of the divine Spirit who has kept knocking at the door.' And again he says: 'Wc must repudiate a statement of this doctrine in terms of a severe logic which makes it equivalent to a scientific theory of determinism.’

Both Peter and Paul, in writing to the saints speak of their 'calling' (1 Peter 1. 2; 1 Thess. 1. 4 ; Rom. 1. 7), but each of them when announcing the glad tidings to the sinner employs the word 'whosoever' (Acts 10. 43 ; 13. 39). Neither allows the truth of election to modify the universality of the offer of God's grace. Neither divulges the secret to the unsaved sinner, but each discloses it to the believer.

God is entitled to say, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy'; God, in His providence, acts in this way as is shown by His dealings with Israel under Pharaoh, cited by Paul in Rom. 9. 15-18. Salvation is entirely of grace and no one can either complain if passed over or boast himself if saved.


© Douglas Carr 2021