5 reasons to embrace unconditional election

John Piper: I use the word embrace because unconditional election is not just true, but precious. Of course, it can’t be precious if it’s not true. So that’s the biggest reason we embrace it. But let’s start with a definition: Unconditional election is God’s free choice before creation, not based on foreseen faith, to which traitors he will grant faith and repentance, pardoning them and adopting them into his everlasting family of joy. 1. We embrace unconditional election because it is true. All my objections to unconditional election collapsed when I could no longer explain away Romans 9. The chapter begins with Paul’s readiness to be cursed and cut off from Christ for his unbelieving Jewish kinsmen (Romans 9:3). This implies that some Jews are perishing. And that raises the question of God’s promise to the Jews. Had it failed? Paul answers, “It is not as though the word of God has failed” (Romans 9:6). Why not? Because “not all

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Wisdom from Spurgeon on the Mystery of Divine Election

Sam Storms: …there is still in the human soul an uneasiness concerning God’s sovereign choice. To many, it seems arbitrary and unfair. If this is problematic to you, read carefully Charles Spurgeon’s response. It’s lengthy but well worth the effort: “But there are some who say, ‘It is hard for God to choose some and leave others.’ Now, I will ask you one question. Is there any of you here this morning who wishes to be holy, who wishes to be regenerate, to leave off sin and walk in holiness? ‘Yes, there is,’ says some one, ‘I do.’ Then God has elected you. But another says, ‘No; I don’t want to be holy; I don’t want to give up my lusts and my vices.’ Why should you grumble, then, that God has not elected you to it? For if you were elected you would not like it, according to your own confession. If God this morning had chosen you to

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10 Things you should Know about Election

Sam Storms: 1. Election is a pre-temporal decision by God, a choice he made before any of us ever existed. God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). God “saved us,” said Paul, “and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Tim. 1:9). 2. Divine election is not merely corporate, but also of individuals. Whereas it is true that Christ is himself the Elect One, and whereas it is true that the Church is the chosen or elect people of God, individuals are themselves chosen by God to believe in Christ in order that they might become members of the church. In other words, God didn’t simply choose the church. He chose the specific individuals who would comprise the church. On a related note, this glorious act of God’s grace in

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God’s Secret Work of Election

  Colin Smith: If God had waited for me to seek after him, he would still be waiting. No one seeks God (Romans 3:11). No one! Not even you. By nature we run from God. If we seek him, it is only because he has taken the initiative to seek us. I came to Christ because his grace first came to me. Abraham was not seeking God. He was an idolater (Joshua 24:2). God swept into Abraham’s life uninvited and promised, not only to bless him, but to bless people from every nation on earth through him (Genesis 12:3). God always makes the first move, and he planned your salvation long before you were born. God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:3-5). Think about this: You

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Praise God for His electing grace

  Make God the peculiar object of your praises. The doctrine of electing grace shows what great reason you have to do so. If God so values you, set so much by you, has bestowed greater mercies upon you than on all the ungodly in the world, is it too little a requital for you to make God the peculiar object of your praise and thankfulness? If God so distinguishes you with his mercies, you ought to distinguish yourself in his praises. You should make it your great care and study how to glorify that God who has been so peculiarly merciful to you. And this, rather, because there was nothing peculiar in you differing you from any other person that moved God to deal thus peculiarly by you: you were as unworthy to be set by as thousands of others that are not regarded of God, and are cast away by him forever as worthless and filthy. — Jonathan

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Election and the Gospel

  Let no one say that the doctrine of election by the sovereign will and mercy of God, mysterious as it is, makes either evangelism or faith unnecessary. The opposite is the case. It is only because of God’s gracious will to save that evangelism has any hope of success and faith becomes possible. The preaching of the gospel is the very means that God has appointed by which he delivers from blindness and bondage those whom he chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, sets them free to believe in Jesus, and so causes his will to be done. — John Stott The Message of Ephesians (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1979), 48 (HT: Of First Importance)

3 Degrees of God’s Pleasure In His Children

  Tony Reinke: Does God find pleasure in you? When he looks at you, does he smile? In short, if you’re in Christ, the answer is yes. But the answer to how and why and on what basis needs some explaining. We can break God’s delight for the redeemed into three categories: (1) a delight in election, (2) a delight in redemption, and (3) a delight in holiness. 1. Delight in Election First, God has expressed delight in his children in the election. Unconditionally and freely, without a hint of injustice or unfairness, God chooses to set his delight on certain human souls, and this delight is an expression of the delight of the triune God (Luke 10:21). God freely delights in electing children for redemption and for adoption into his family (Romans 9:10–18, Ephesians 1:3–6). Such a predestined delight over us in election is unconditional to anything in us. 2. Delight in Redemption Second, God delights in the redemption

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The Deciding Factor in Salvation

“Calvinism and Arminianism both affirm that God has chosen not to save everyone; the paths diverge over whether God’s electing grace or our free will is the deciding factor in salvation. In the Calvinist account, though, God’s love is finally greater than the fallen heart’s rebellion and resistance. God will not let those whom he has chosen have the last word in this matter, but redeems them, renews them, and keeps them until glory. In the case of neither the elect nor the reprobate does God coerce the human will. Rather, in the former case he frees sinners from their bondage to sin and death, and in the latter case he leaves sinners to go their own way.” – Michael Horton, For Calvinism, page 64 (HT: Josh Harris)

For whom did Christ die?

From John Owen’s incredible treatise: The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. “The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either: 1. All the sins of all men 2. All the sins of some men, or 3. Some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said: a. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved. b. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. c. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, ‘Because of unbelief.’ I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He

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Freely offered and fully finished

“There is no inconsistency or incoherence in the teaching of the New Testament about, on the one hand, the offer of Christ in the gospel, which Christians are told to make known everywhere, and, on the other hand, the fact that Christ achieved a totally efficacious redemption for God’s elect on the cross. It is a certain truth that all who come to Christ in faith will find mercy (John 6:35, 47–51, 54–57; Rom. 1:16; 10:8–13). The elect hear Christ’s offer, and through hearing it are effectually called by the Holy Spirit. Both the invitation and the effectual calling flow from Christ’s sin-bearing death. Those who reject the offer of Christ do so of their own free will (i.e., because they choose to, Mat 22:1–7; John 3:18), so that their final perishing is their own fault. Those who receive Christ learn to thank him for the cross as the centrepiece of God’s plan of sovereign saving grace.”  J. I. Packer, Concise Theology, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 138-39 (HT:

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Whitefield on Election

We should not have so much disputing against the doctrine of election, or hear it condemned (even by good men) as a doctrine of devils. For my own part, I cannot see how true humbleness of mind can be attained without a knowledge of it. And though I will not say, that everyone who denies election is a bad man, yet I will say . . . it is a very bad sign. Such a one, whoever he be, I think cannot truly know himself. For if we deny election we must, partly at least, glory in ourselves. But our redemption is so ordered that no flesh should glory in the Divine presence. And hence it is, that the pride of man opposes this doctrine because according to this doctrine and no other, ‘he that glories, must glory only in the Lord.’ But what shall I say? Election is a mystery that shines with such resplendent brightness that, to make

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5 Encouragements from the Doctrine of Predestination

By BJ Stackman: Often predestination and election get treated as something meant for controversy and debate or as a mystery to be pretty much left alone and avoided. This is a sad, and, in my opinion, weakens the church because of the tendency to either dodge or debate this glorious aspect of its identity. I’m convinced that if you ignore or just argue about the doctrine of predestination you will miss out on one of God’s ways of blessing you (Eph. 1:3). The first several verses of Ephesians 1 unpack predestination in order to show that it is a part of the multifaceted ways that God has blessed you in Jesus Christ. Therefore predestination should enhance your joy not disturb it. What follows are a few of the many encouragements for Christians to draw from the reality that God predestines: 1. God chose you because he loved you. Ephesians 1:4-5, in the ESV translation, says, “in love God predestined”. Therefore predestination is motivated by

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Election: Handle with Care

David Mathis: I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. –2 Timothy 2:10 The doctrine of election is a sharp scalpel. It can be wielded with care and skill, and taken up to give life and heal. Or, in the hands of an untrained fanatic or detractor, it can be used to harm, to sever vital arteries and mutilate hurting people by spinning out untrue implications. In this five-minute clip of his most recent sermon, John Piper encourages us to follow the apostle Paul’s powerful example in 2 Timothy 2:10 and wield the dear doctrine of election with gospel care. .

The Critical Difference Between Monergism and Synergism

John Hendryx writes: This is the one point that monergism establishes and synergism in all its formsdenies: namely, that sinners are impotent to lift a finger toward their own salvation, but that salvation, from first to last, whole and entire is of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory for ever; amen Remember, divine election, by itself, has never saved anyone. It marks out certain individuals for salvation; it is God’s “blueprint” of what he intends to do in time through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. God the Father elects, the Son redeems them, and the Spirit applies the work of Christ to the same. The Trinity works in harmony to bring about God’s purposes of election… and He gathers them through the preaching of the gospel, the seed which the Spirit germinates and brings to life. Again, salvation is of the Lord. Synergists teach that ‘salvation depends on human will’, but

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Round-table discussion with Sproul and Ferguson, et al

Watch as R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Teaching Fellows Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. engage in this round-table discussion (May 19, 2011) covering topics such as dispensationalism, regeneration, election, evangelism, and Harold Camping. Very highly recommended. (HT: Reformation Theology)

His Soul-Transforming Love

On one of his seven trips from Britain to America, George Whitefield was battling depression and feelings of failure and was stabilized finally only with meditation on God’s love in Jesus Christ. Nothing could possibly support my soul under the many agonies which oppressed me when on board, but a consideration of the freeness, eternity and unchangeableness of God’s love to me. I need not fear the sight of sin when I have a perfect, everlasting righteousness wrought out for me by . . . Jesus Christ. The riches of His free grace cause me daily to triumph over all the temptations of the wicked one. . . . May he enlighten me more and more to know and feel the mystery of his electing, soul-transforming love. Nothing like that, to support us under present and all the various future trials. . . . But the Lord has apprehended us and will not let us go. Men and devils may

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Why must we work out our salvation?

John Bloom writes: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13) The same man who wrote the verses above also wrote, “by grace you have been saved through faith. . . it is the gift of God, not a result of works.”1 So why do we need to work out our salvation when works do not save us? Because though we are saved by God’s unconditional electing grace2 through the gift of faith, the works we do prove that our faith is real. 3 Works are evidence of election. That’s why on one hand Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father. . . draws him”4 (election), and on the other hand he says, “If

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Entering in and looking back: two views of the same door

Phil Ryken, The Message of Salvation: The famous American Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895–1960) often used an illustration to help people make sense of election. He asked them to imagine a cross like the one on which Jesus died, only so large that it had a door in it. Over the door were these words from Revelation: “Whosoever will may come.” These words represent the free and universal offer of the gospel. By God’s grace, the message of salvation is for everyone. Every man, woman, and child who will come to the cross is invited to believe in Jesus Christ and enter eternal life. On the other side of the door a happy surprise awaits the one who believes and enters. From the inside, anyone glancing back can see these words from Ephesians written above the door: “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” Election is best understood in hindsight, for it is only after coming to Christ

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Q&A with Storms and Ortlund

My thanks to Justin Taylor for this excellent resource: Last year at the Clarus conference—where Wayne Grudem and Randy Alcorn will be the keynotes at this year’s conference—Sam Storms and Ray Ortlund fielded a number of great questions from Pastor Ryan Kelly of Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM. The links below take you to the YouTube videos for each question. Questions on Worship How does the average Christian pursue worship in spirit and truth? Part 1 How does the average Christian pursue worship in spirit and truth? Part 2 How does the average Christian pursue worship in spirit and truth? Part 3 Questions on Miraculous Gifts If we believe in the continuation of all spiritual gifts, should we pursue them? Tell us about being a “charismatic Calvinist.” Further thoughts on pursuing miraculous gifts… Questions on Election and Predestination If God has already chosen who will be saved, why witness and pray? How did you begin to understand election? Does “foreknowledge” mean God

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Why the Doctrine of Election is Precious to Me

This is very helpful from Juan Sanchez, at the Gospel Coalition Blog: For some the doctrine of election (God’s free and sovereign decision to choose a people for salvation from the foundation of the world-Ephesians 1:3-6) is an abominable thought that produces great fear and concern. However, I propose that a clear understanding of this doctrine should instead produce hope and assurance. Allow me to share some of the reasons why the doctrine of election is so precious to me. The doctrine of election is precious to me because it is biblical. In a display of the Father’s love for the Son, He gives a specific people to the Son (John 6:37). This truth is evident in the testimony of the book of Revelation when it declares that the only ones entering the eternal heaven are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). John further testifies in Revelation 13:8, that these names were written in this book

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