ENGLISH VERSION - Bulletin Nº 49 August 22, 2021

IS THE UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION BIBLICALLY BASED?

by Rev. Renato Souza Prates

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            The doctrine of unconditional election has raised countless debates throughout the centuries from Christianity to the present day. But the question we must ask before any doctrine is: Is this doctrine biblical or mere philosophy?

            According to the Reformed or Calvinist interpretation, which is a worldwide Presbyterian tradition:

 

            1. God gave human beings the right to choose between good and evil, which we call free will, in the Garden of Eden.

            2. It was because of their free will that human beings sinned against God in Eden, and continue to sin today, choosing evil instead of choosing good. God said to Cain, right after the fall: "If you do well, is it not certain that you will be accepted? But if you do wrong, behold, sin lies at the door; his desire will be against you, but you must master it.” Gen 4.7.

            3. We learn that the sins we commit are our own responsibility. God, the devil, or any other creature cannot be held responsible for my sins, because I chose to practice them, and for that, I suffer their consequences, like all the characters who sinned in the bible.

            4. Even though man has free will to choose to do good or evil, this right to choose does not apply to salvation, which is a gift from God. In other words, man does not choose salvation, he was chosen by God for salvation. Read Ephesians 1 and 2.

 

Let's look at some other texts that prove these statements:

 

Deuteronomy 7:6-7: For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own people, out of all the peoples that are on the earth. The LORD had no affection for you, nor chose you because you were more numerous than any people, for you were the least of all peoples,

 

Matthew 20:16: So the last will be first, and the first will be last because many are called but few are chosen.

 

Matthew 24:22: Had those days not been cut short, none would have been saved; but for the sake of the chosen ones such days will be cut short.

 

Matthew 24:31: And he shall send forth his angels with a great trumpet blast, which shall gather his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 

Luke 18:7-8: Will not God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night, though he seems slow in defending them? I tell you that, quickly, he will do them justice. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

 

John 6:37: Whosoever the Father gives me, he will come to me; and what comes to me I will by no means cast away.

 

John 17:20: I pray not only for these, but also for those who come to believe in me through their word.

Romans 11:5: So then also now, in this day, a remnant survives according to the election of grace.

 

Romans 9:20-24: Who are you, O man, to argue with God?! Perhaps the object may ask the one who made it: Why did you make me like this? Or does the potter have no right over the dough, to make out of the same clay a vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What shall we say then, if God, willing to show his wrath and make known his power, endured with great long-suffering the vessels of wrath, prepared for perdition, that he also might make known the riches of his glory in vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, which are we, whom he also called, not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles?

 

2 Peter 1:10: Therefore, brethren, seek with ever greater diligence to confirm your calling and election; for in doing this ye shall at no time stumble.

 

Ephesians 1:3-6: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ, as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him; and in love predestined us to him, to the adoption of children, through Jesus Christ, according to his good pleasure, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved,

 

Ephesians 1:11-12: in him, I say, in which we were also made an inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of him who doeth all things according to the counsel of his will, that we who may be to the praise of his glory in advance we hope in Christ;

 

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14: However, we must always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, that God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and faith in the truth, for which ye also he called through our gospel, to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

James 2:5: Listen, my beloved brethren. Did not God choose those who are poor for the world, to be rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom he promised to those who love him?

 

            However, there are some other texts that seem to contradict the texts that underlie the doctrine of election. Let's look at some of them:

 

Malachi 3:7-8: Since the days of your fathers you have departed from my statutes, and have not kept them; Return to me, and I will return to you, saith the LORD of hosts; but you say, What shall we return to?

 

Answer: Will man rob God? Yet ye rob me, and say, In what do we rob thee? In tithes and offerings. The context refers to a divine rebuke for the people's tithing infidelity, and is not about salvation.

 

Matthew 10:22: You will be hated by all because of my name; but he who endures to the end, he will be saved.

 

Matthew 24:12-13: And because iniquity abounds, love will grow cold in almost all. But whoever endures to the end, that one will be saved.

 

Answer: Endurance is the result of conversion, not the cause of it: Romans 5:1-4 declares: Justified, for through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom we have also gained access, by faith, to this grace in which we stand; and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also glory in tribulations themselves, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, experience; and experience, hope.

 

Matthew 11:28: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

Answer: This declaration of Jesus, while including the irresistible invitation of grace received by the saved, also includes an invitation for those suffering from all evils to come to Christ to be healed and relieved. Jesus not only healed the elect, but everyone in need.

 

Mark 16:16: Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

 

Answer: Before believing, there is the preaching of the Word, which the Holy Spirit uses to convince the sinner: See the previous verse (15): And he said to them: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Thus verse 16 is a result of verse 15; that is, who will believe and be baptized? One who is convinced by preaching the Word of God.

 

Luke 10:16: Whoever listens to you hears me; and whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.

 

Answer: This verse concerns the universality of the preaching of the Gospel, where Jesus sends the seventy disciples to preach. The gospel must be preached to all people without distinction, but only the elect will accept its message, and the non-elect will reject it.

 

John 1:6-13: There was a man sent by God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might testify of the light, namely, the true light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. The Word was in the world, the world was made through him, but the world did not know him. He came to his [Jews], and his did not receive him. But as many as received him [Elect], he gave power to become children of God, even to them that believe in his name; who were not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God [Election].

 

Answer: The gospel was offered first to the Jews, and then to all men, in general, but it is only received by those who are born of God's will, that is, his chosen ones.

 

Acts 7:51: Men stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.

 

Answer: This is Stephen's famous speech, where he declares that his audience is uncircumcised in heart, and because of that, they resist the Holy Spirit. According to Col 2:11, conversion is also called "the circumcision of Christ". Therefore, if someone has not been converted or circumcised by the Lord, he will always resist or reject the preaching.

 

Hebrews 6:4-6: It is impossible, therefore, that those who were once enlightened, and tasted the heavenly gift, and became partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, and they have fallen, yea, it is impossible again to renew them to repentance, since again they are crucifying to themselves the Son of God and exposing him to ignominy.

 

Response:

1. Illumination in the Bible refers to “understanding” or “revelation” (Eph 1.18; 3.9; and 1 Cor 4.5). Lighting is never used as a conversion.

2. The expression “tasted the heavenly gift” indicates a superficial experience, like seeds sown in bad land. (Mt 13:3-9).

3. "Participating in the Spirit" does not mean to be indwelt by the Spirit; but to participate in the gifts of the Spirit, as was Judas (Mark 3:13-19) and the group described in Matthew 7:21-23.

 

            We conclude then that this group of Jewish believers who have been enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gift, and partook of the Spirit, cannot be considered “saved” or “elected”, because in addition to falling and having no chance of repentance, they did not have a real experience of conversion, wrought by the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and sup with him, and he with me.

 

Answer: This is God's rebuke to the Church of Laodicea, not an invitation to salvation.

 

Application:

 

            What difference does it make to know that God chose a people for salvation before the foundation of the world, and that each person who makes up this people cannot resist the invitation of God's grace when the appointed time for conversion comes?

 

1. This doctrine raises an important question: Am I chosen for salvation?

The answer to this dilemma can only be found in the inner witness of one who has received the Spirit of God in his life. This is an individual experience, and cannot be judged by any other way than personal fellowship with God and knowledge of His Word.

2. Today's theme has been very misunderstood by most believers, causing confusion and division in the body of Christ for over 1600 years. Therefore, it is necessary to understand it better, since no truth of the Scriptures can divide the church.

3. Today's theme answers humanity's main existential questions such as: where did I come from? Why am I here? And where do I go?

4. Believing in election makes a difference because it deprives us of any sense of justice and self-worth, and we come to trust only in God's mercy.

5. Accepting the doctrine of election makes a difference because it brings security and hope to the Christian life. If, I am sure of salvation, I can feel safe in the Father's arms, without fear of being abandoned or rejected by Him, even when I make a mistake, because the Lord will always be willing to correct and forgive me.

6. Knowing the doctrine of election can make us worried about the salvation of people close to us, such as family and friends; however, it also reveals an important biblical truth: salvation is individual, and we cannot interfere with the salvation of another.

7. Knowing the doctrine of election will lead us to a Christian life more committed to the Lord: We were elected to be holy and blameless before Him, and not to live according to sin.

8. Accepting the doctrine of election is assuming our missionary responsibility: 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God's exclusive property, to proclaim the virtues of him who called you from darkness to its wonderful light.

            According to what we confirm through the Scriptures, if you are one of God's chosen ones, then you will understand that you are a sinner, that you cannot save yourself, and that no salvation in any other, in heaven or on earth, but in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

            Surrender to Him, confess your sins and receive the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus!

From this Sunday on, you will enjoy a Revelation Series with Dr. Joel Beeke. It is amazing studies from which we can learn more about this instigating book.

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