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by James A. Henry

To deny the doctrine of election is to deny much of God's Word. The doctrine is clearly taught throughout the entire Bible. Some however, seek to make the matter of election dependent upon the actions of men, thus making it a human act that makes possible the divine act. If election is based on foreseen faith on the part of man as most teach, then God simply elects a man because He sees that the man will elect himself, thus the flesh has cause to glory in its salvation. 

The Bible clearly teaches that election is the sovereign act of God from before the foundation of the world, an act that is based solely on the good pleasure of a totally omnipotent God. Paul declared this great truth in Eph. 1:3-6, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved." In these verses Paul makes it clear that the choice or election was God's and not man's. He added to this when he declared in II Thessalonians 2:13-14 "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." Then Peter adds to this when he says in I Peter 1:1-2 "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." 

Now some say that the word foreknowledge means that God looked down the annals of time and saw who would believe and then elected them to salvation. This idea makes faith a work of the flesh and not the gift of God. In Acts 13:48 the Holy Spirit tells us through Luke that "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Now to make election based upon foreseen faith would make this verse read, "And as many as believed were ordained to eternal life," but this is not the way the Bible puts it. God ordains to eternal life and before the foundation of the world, then in time those whom He has chosen to eternal life come to believe. Jesus states this very clearly in John 6:37 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. " Our Lord states very clearly here that the Father has most assuredly given some to Him, and all who have been given the Son by the Father will come. This doctrine does not destroy individual responsibility nor does it say that man does not have a choice in His eternal destiny. Man is free to choose salvation, but apart from Divine influence no man will choose God. Man is totally depraved and cannot believe until he is quickened by the Holy Spirit. Paul declared to the Ephesian believers that they had been quickened by the Holy Spirit, he says, "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were be nature the children of wrath, even as others, But God, who is rich in mercy, for by His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.) Ephesians 2:1-5. To believe in salvation in any other way is to make it of works and not of grace. No man can really believe in salvation totally by grace without believing in unconditional election. If man is spiritually dead then there is nothing he can do to bring himself to God. God must take the initiative and draw man by the gospel after having quickened him by the Spirit. The fact that not every man is saved simply means that God does not draw effectually every man by His spirit. This is very offensive to the flesh and is the most hated doctrine of our Lord. But He taught it none the less. If we teach the blessed doctrine of unconditional election we too will be hated, even by those who might be saved, but do not really understand just what God has done for them. 

If election is not wholly the act of a totally Sovereign God, then men have a definite part in their salvation and can pray this prayer, "Father, I thank thee for sending Christ to die for me, and I thank thee for offering salvation to me; for unless thou hadst done these things I could never have been saved. And I thank thee that thou didst influence me by the Spirit. But, Father, I can thank only myself that I accepted thy offer of mercy. The credit for that belongs to me, since nothing that thou hast done was sufficient to irresistibly cause my acceptance of thy free mercy. Thou didst do so much for others that are still lost as thou didst do for me before I believed, therefore I have made myself to differ from them. Father, you can't in justice deny me the right to glory in this and boast of it throughout all eternity, as I will be especially moved to do when I think of the plight of the lost in hell and remember that it was my act that kept me from being in hell. Somehow, either through heredity or training or something else, I was better than they; for I submitted myself to thee and they did not. Thus, even though salvation was mostly of thy grace, yet it was not wholly so; for thou wouldst not have saved me if I had not been better than those who perish." Now I am sure that no true Baptist would take the attitude about salvation that is expressed in this prayer, but if one believes that salvation is based on foreseen faith, this is the only attitude one can honesty take. The only one who can give God all the credit for salvation is the one who believes in unconditional election. 

It is even foolish for us to pray for God to convert men if salvation is dependent upon the act of man. Election based on forseen faith is absurd for it makes man and not God the author of election. Bible election is the free act of a sovereign God in electing some to salvation for no other reason than He chose to do so. We must all say with Paul, "But by the grace of God I am what I am." There are no human conditions attached to true election, it is an act of God based solely upon His perfect will. Let us fall before Him and praise Him if we have the assurance that we are among His chosen few. 

This article is taken from the book Leaves, Worms, Butterflies & T.U.L.I.P.S. edited by V. C. Mayes. The book contains articles from a number of Sovereign Grace Baptists, dealing with various aspects of the Doctrines of Grace. It is available from The Historic Baptist, P. O. Box, 741, Bloomfield, NM 87413, $6.00 postpaid.

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