Why Election to Salvation, and Why Reprobation to Damnation? Part Two

Peter Ditzel

Green, immature wheat growing in a field. The Bible uses the illustration of wheat and chaff to picture election to salvation and reprobation to damnation.
This picture of immature grain can help us understand God’s love. The leaves, stalks, and husks are necessary to bring the kernels to maturity. God sends rain on all of it, but the goal is to produce the kernels of grain. Once the grain is harvested, the kernels are put into the barn, but the rest of the plant becomes the chaff that is burned. If this is seen as a picture of humanity, does God love everyone?
Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

We left off in Part 1 with the crucial question of how reprobation to damnation can possibly agree with the fact that God is love.

If God Is Love, How Can He Have Reprobated Some to Damnation?

How can God be love while determining that some people will be damned? Many think that purposely creating people to be damned would make God unloving and unfair. But to determine in eternity that to create people to love, He would also need to create people He would not love, does not make Him either unloving or unfair. Reprobate people do not want the true God. They believe either in a fictional God of another religion or reject the idea of God altogether. They live in sin and rebelliousness and get exactly the destiny they deserve. No one deserves salvation, but God shows His love by saving some.

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be! For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.

Romans 9:14-16

John 3:16, understood in context, shows that God’s love is limited to believers only:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.

John 3:16-18

God loves the world by loving only the believers. He does not love the unbelievers, who are already judged. This does not make God unloving, but perfectly loving toward those He chose in eternity to love. God created the elect for the express purpose of loving them as His sons and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ. He created the rest of humanity for an entirely different purpose, and that purpose did not include His loving them. In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, we read of “Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” This tells us that there is a coming wrath, that there are obviously people upon whom it will come, and that Jesus has delivered us from it. Is it unloving of God to have so ordered the world? Of course not. It shows His immense love toward the elect. Far be it from us to ever dare to judge God over this!

If God Can Save the Elect, Why Doesn’t He Just Save Everyone?

Although what I’ve said already answers this question, I’ll state it plainly. To save some with the depth of love He wants them to have in eternity, God had to reprobate others. These others carry on the affairs of this sinful world from which God must save the elect. These others must be damned to show the elect what the atonement of Jesus Christ has saved them from.

Since the elect needed to be born into this world and live in it, the world needed to be populated with other people to carry on the essential arrangement or economy of the world. These people would be humans and sinners just the same as the elect, but with a different destination. From eternity, God determined that these people would not be saved and would receive the just punishment for their sins.

Ephesians 1:3-7 says it plainly:

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 blemish 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 bestowed favor on us in the Beloved, in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace….

All of this is entirely consistent with the fact that the elect and the reprobate are the same essentially. None deserve salvation. All deserve damnation. But they are different conceptually and positionally. God has chosen some from eternity to be saved. And, God has determined the rest to receive the damnation that they have earned.

Or hasn’t the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath made for destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory….

Romans 9:21-23

Notice that in the above passage, the potter makes the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy from the same lump of clay, which represents humanity. They are all essentially the same. But, as can be seen from the fact that God makes them as different kinds of vessels, they are different in God’s mind.

I should also point out something in the parable of the wheat and weeds. The weeds are the seed of the enemy (Matthew 13:25, 28). Similarly, in speaking to the Pharisees,

Therefore Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven’t come of myself, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand my speech? Because you can’t hear my word. You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn’t stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and its father.

John 8:42-44

I believe the Bible describes the reprobate as the children of the devil because they express the devil’s characteristics. They are liars, they’re unrighteous, and they have hatred in their hearts. John states this plainly: “In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn’t do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn’t love his brother” (1 John 3:10). Although all humans are the same flesh and blood—and all sin—conceptionally and positionally, God sees the elect as His children and the reprobate as the children of the devil.

Conclusion: Why Election to Salvation and Reprobation to Damnation

So, in eternity, God has determined each human who will ever live. Each will have individual characteristics of looks, strengths and weaknesses, personality, and so forth. But they all also have essentials in common. One of these essentials is that they will all be sinners. Yet, knowing each of these people as individuals, God chose some to be saved and others to not be saved. God did not make this choice based on their essentials. None deserve to be saved. Yet, God’s very act of choosing their destination causes them to be different conceptually in God’s mind and positionally in their relationship to Him. When they live their lives in time, God will call to salvation and righteousness in Christ those He elected for that destination, and He will purposely not call to salvation those people He chose in eternity to reprobate.

When the Bible speaks of sheep and goats, etc., it clearly teaches that there is a difference between people in God’s mind. God’s distinction between Jacob and Esau illustrates this: “Even as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’” (Romans 9:13). And Paul again makes God’s sovereign choice over election and reprobation very clear by drawing an analogy between a potter and God: “Or hasn’t the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9:21). God loves the one and hates the other, and the two have very different destinations.

The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and him who loves violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain blazing coals; fire, sulfur, and scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous. He loves righteousness. The upright shall see his face.

Psalms 11:5-7

God is love, but He doesn’t love everyone. His love is only toward those He determined in eternity to make righteous in His Son, Jesus Christ. “So will it be in the end of the world. The angels will come forth, and separate the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49-50).

But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

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