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Election, Predestination and Foreordination

Election, Predestination and Foreordination

The following is a guest post from James Quiggle

These subjects keep coming up in posts here and there. This essay considers them all together.

God did not predestine anyone to salvation or election. Predestination is “God’s decree to conform the believer to be like Christ according to certain aspects of Christ’s spiritual character and physical form (Romans 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2), and to place the believer in the legal position of God’s son and heir (Ephesians 1:5, 11), so that the believer has an inheritance from God and is God’s heritage.” Predestination is a decree affecting believers only.

God did elect some sinners to salvation. Election is “the choice of a sovereign God, 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect the salvation of some sinners, and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny salvation to other sinners.” Election is a decree affecting unsaved sinners only.

The word “elect” or “choose” (eklégō, eklektós, eklogé) in every use throughout Scripture never says anything about those not chosen. Jesus chose twelve disciples out of many disciples to be his apostles. There is no indication of future prejudice or bias against those not chosen. Those not chosen continued to be disciples, even though they were not chosen to be apostles. In Acts 6:5 the Jerusalem church chose seven men to make the daily distribution to the needy. Many males met the qualifications; seven were chosen. Those not selected continued as they were.

Election in an illustration, “The river of sinful humankind is justly racing toward the waterfall of death emptying into the lake of eternal fire; God reaches into the river and saves many; he prevents no one from swimming to the safety of the heavenly shore; he puts his saved people on the shore encouraging all to believe on Christ and be saved; he saves all that come to him by faith in Christ.”

God did not make anyone a sinner. This is the issue of foreordination: “the decree of God occurring between his decision to create and his act of creation as to which agents, events, and outcomes, out of all possible agents, events, and outcomes potential in the decision to create, would pass from possible to actual, in which the liberty or contingency of secondary causes is established, in which God is not the author of sin, and in which no violence is done to the free will of his creatures.” Foreordination is God choosing what kind of universe he would create, in order to fulfill his purpose in creating.

In foreordination, in regard to humankind, sin, and salvation, God decided Adam’s freely made choice to sin would pass from possible to actual. Could God have foreordained a different choice in Adam? Perhaps in all the possible choices Adam might make, there was a choice not to sin; perhaps all Adam’s possible choices were to commit his act of sinning? As created beings it is not within our authority to judge the sovereign God for his decisions. God decided Adam’s exercise of free will to choose to sin would pass from possible to actual.

Adam’s freely made choice to sin placed all his descendants in the state of sin. Because of Adam’s freely made choice to sin, God saw all human beings as sinners. In mercy and love God chose to give some sinners his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8) to save those particular sinners from their sins. All other sinners God justly left in their sins, never taking any action, neither for nor against, regarding their salvation. There is never any prejudice against those not chosen; they are left to continue as they were before the selection was made.

Why did God foreordain Adam’s freely made choice to sin to pass from possible to actual? God designed into human nature the moral authority to make decisions. God does not act contrary to what he has created. God allows human beings to exercise their free will to make morally right and wrong decisions. God justly warns against wrong decisions and warns against the consequences of wrong decisions. God justly as punishes morally wrong decisions, if not in the here and now, then in the hereafter. God regulates morally wrong decisions through his laws, commandments, providence, and grace. To try and make God culpable for human sin because he foreordained Adam’s choice is to say, “I would not have done it that way”; it is to judge God for being sovereign. As a created being I choose not to judge my Creator.

God foreordained Adam’s exercise of free will to choose to sin. God is not culpable for Adam’s freely made choice to sin, for it was Adam’s misuse of his free will. Nor is God culpable for the freely made choices of Adam’s descendants to reject God and his salvation, because it is the misuse of their free will. Sinners act according to their nature, making choices according to the spiritual boundaries of that nature. Sinning is the natural choice of the sinner, the free exercise of the will to rebel against God and reject his salvation.

God foreordained to save some, choosing to initiate faith in them by giving each his gift of grace-faith-salvation (the salvation principle, Ephesians 2:8, saved by grace through faith) at a particular moment in their personal history. God’s gift changes the rebellious human nature, gives spiritual perception of the issues of sin and death and faith and life, and the person now freed from the rebellion of sin chooses to exercise saving faith. God’s gift guarantees salvation; that is its purpose; that is God’s choice.

God does not act to prevent any non-elect from coming to him in faith and being saved. Their nature, fueled by the sin attribute–the principle of rebellion against God–chooses to reject God and his salvation. God would act savingly toward any non-elect person, if he/she would come to him through faith in God and his testimony of salvation. They need only overcome their sin.

But the person without God’s gift always chooses not to overcome their sin. The sinner freely chooses sinning because his will is of itself always inclined to choose sinning, and as being rebellious and disobedient toward God never desires to change its inclination to choose sinning to rebel against God, disobey his commandments, and seek a path in life apart from God.

There is no force, there is no fate, there are only choices: God’s freely made choices and the person’s freely made choices. God choose to give humankind free will. God choose to allow humankind to exercise their free will, for good or ill. God choose to rescue some from their choice to sin and thereby they freely exercise saving faith in him. God chose to leave others in their sin and chose not to prevent those others from freely deciding not to come to him to be saved. They freely choose to continue with sin, not God.

God gets glory from the exercise of all his attributes. In relation to this particular discussion, God gets glory from his mercy and love eternally rescuing sinners, and God gets glory from his holiness and justice in eternally punishing sinners. If you doubt, consider the cross, where Christ suffered God’s justice against sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) because of his mercy and love for sinners (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4–5).

(Definitions from Quiggle, “Dictionary of Doctrinal Words”; explanation and illustration from Quiggle, “God’s Choices, The Doctrines of Foreordination, Election, and Predestination.”)

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