This is part 2 of a two-part series on the doctrine of grace called Unconditional Election.
We ended part 1, “Chosen in Him,” with several questions: Is saving belief a work that is a condition to becoming elect? Does election have conditions? Are there good works we must do to remain one of the elect? Is Jesus’ testimony in Matthew 7:21 that “he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” will “enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” a reference to such works?
This is part 1 of a two-part series on the doctrine of grace called Unconditional Election. It answers the question, What must I do to be saved?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ; even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him in love; having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely gave us favour in the Beloved, in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
In the above passage, found in Ephesians 1:3–7, the apostle Paul declares that God the Father has “predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself.” As we will see, the implications of this passage answer the question that so many people have, “What must I do to be saved?” Since Paul and the Christian Ephesians were faithful saints—that is, true Christians (see Ephesians 1:1)—the “us” in the passage refers to true Christians. So, what Paul appears to be saying is that God has predestinated Christians (pre-chosen their destiny) to be His children through Jesus Christ. In other words, Christians (who are the children of God by Jesus Christ) are Christians because God predestinated them to be so, not by any choice of their own.
A. The words Arminian and Arminianism come from Jacobus (or James) Arminius (also known as Jacob Harmensen or Hermansz), a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560 to 1609. Arminius studied at the University of Leiden and in Geneva under Theodore Beza (or Bèze), John Calvin’s successor.
That the Bible uses the words “elect” and “chosen” to refer to some people is indisputable. Sometimes it is referring to certain individuals whom God chose to a certain calling or position, such as that of a priest or a prophet. In the Old Testament, God uses it to refer to the nation of Israel: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). But what I want to discuss in this article is the New Testament’s use of “elect” and “chosen” to identify sinners whom God has saved. Theologians hotly debate the precise identity of these people and how they became elect. Let’s look at four teachings concerning the New Testament elect and see how these stand up to Scripture.
A. I appreciate your good question. What you are asking about is what people often term the difference between predestination and double-predestination. Those who believe only in the predestination of the elect to be saved (for the sake of clarity, I’ll call it single-predestination) say that God in eternity elected some to be saved. They say that God simply passed over the rest of humanity, leaving them in their sins. Thus, they are condemned by their own sinfulness.