Ordo Salutis: Election

Calvin

Election is easily one of the hottest debate topics in all of Christianity. I’m going to put my opinion out there now, just to get it out of the way. I’m a full-on Five Point Calvinist. I am very much Reformed in my soteriology, really past the point of no return. Now, I don’t want to spend this post defending nor arguing for Calvinism. The whole point of this series isn’t to prove my Order of Salvation is better than yours, but rather to remember how salvation is God’s act of glorifying himself. Predestination is not special in this regard. I want to stand aside, set my opinions aside, and let God’s glory shine through what I write.

What Election Really Is

Many people (Arminians in particular, but not just them) often have a misconception of how I view election. People throw all kinds of accusations at Calvinist that aren’t even true. So I would like to take a brief moment and talk about what Election really is not.

Let’s blast before we build. Election is not an abolition of free will. Election is not a free license to sin without ever truly repentance. Election is not God choosing people to go to hell.  Many will often say that holding to predestination makes Calvinist’s cold-hearted and that we play, what my favorite preacher calls, “Duck-Duck-Damnation”, where we don’t evangelize to lost people. Sadly, this is slandering our point of view by saying that we are dangerous, and that our doctrine is hateful and cruel. That isn’t even close to what the truth is.

Now that we’ve blasted, we can build! Election is God’s sovereign choosing of people to be objects of his saving grace. It’s important to remember our situation when God saves us. We are not naturally good. Rather we are the exact opposite. We are horrifically sinful, evil, and utterly horrendous people! As I said, election is not an abolition of free will, but rather our will leads us not towards God but in opposite direction towards hell. God then sees us running towards hell and instead of letting us perish and die forever like we deserve, He instead is so amazing, so insanely loving, so filled with grace, that He is willing to choose and save those who despise him and spit in his face. And that is the heart and motive in Election. Not some cold-hearted, cruel, loveless salvation, but the exact opposite! The fact that God is  willing to look at us and say “Mine” when all we do is rebel against him, I can do nothing but worship him; this is what election is all about.

What Election Is All About

Now that we know what we’re even talking about, let’s look at God’s amazing work of election that shows his Glory ever so brightly and lovely. Let’s examine the beginning of Ephesians 1:

4 even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.

Let’s take this nice and slow. God (He in verse 4) chose us before the world began. Typically what happens is the Calvinist will stop after the foundations of the world part and just keep on debating. I say that because I have done it. It is so easy to get caught up in the argument, to forget what God’s reason behind predestination is. And here in Ephesians we see three of his reasons.

JLY

1. Love: God’s love is one of the most cliched attributes of God. We have said ‘Jesus loves you’ so many times that it has become waves against a rock; there’s no effect. We need to stop for a second and consider this. Jesus loves you. The almighty, self-sufficient, holy, all-knowing God of the universe loves you. It becomes extremely personal with predestination, because God chooses you, specifically you. Not because of anything you’ve done, but completely out of grace. Grace is key here, because then and only then can we understand the glory of God. Whenever I read verses on predestination it strikes me how often the love and grace of God are so closely tied to election. I’ll give you an example. In Malachi 1:2-3 when God says that he loves Israel, and they question His love, He goes to His sovereign choice over who His people would be. It says ““I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated.” The incredible emphasis of the text is that it is entirely in God’s hands who he chooses to love. Of course this opens up questions over how God can be said to be selective in his love with one verse and seemingly universal in others (such as John 3:16) and that is an important topic that will be addressed elsewhere. For here though we must rest, as Christians, in the incredible truth that God has decided to love us and that choice was entirely his. Both Ephesians 1 and Malachi 1 show this breathtaking truth clearly.  This isn’t a point to defend predestination, rather God uses it to defend His love! Jesus loves you! Praise Him for his love!

2. Adoption: Now I don’t want to spend too much on this point, as I am hoping not to spoil the forthcoming post on adoption, but a word on it is needed here. God doesn’t just elect us to be some faceless number in his Kingdom, but rather to be a beloved member of His family (Galatians 3:26). God is so amazing, that He goes beyond dying for us (which is far beyond what we even deserve) , but now he makes us part of His own family! We are now heirs of the kingdom, to one day be allowed to glorify Him in His presence (Galatians 4:7)! I want to plant a thought in your head to ponder until I write on adoption again, and that is this: why are there genealogies in the Bible? Why did God think it needed to list names in the Bible that no one can pronounce, and these people are never mentioned again? Think about it.

3. His Glorious Grace: Oh the glories of God’s grace! That we mere mortals that rebel day and night against the almighty, holy God, could taste the sweetness of grace. The Gospel is the full expression of all of God’s attributes. There we see God’s sovereignty, God’s glory, God’s mercy, God’s justice, and the most amazing of them all, His Glorious Grace. Why do we deserve this? We don’t! Plain and simple! We deserve death and punishment for what we have done. That’s the glory in God’s Glorious Grace. That He loves us just the way we are and is willing to die for us while we are still sinners. Thanks and praise be to him! Never cease to think of God’s Glorious Grace! Go forth and praise his name, making his name great in all nations. Thank God for His Glorious Grace.

-The Ransomed Sinner

Why We Hold To Calvinism: Understanding TULIP

In the next few weeks I’d like to lay down the biblical foundation for, although it is only one component of “Reformed Theology”, what is commonly referred to as Calvinism. This issue is of paramount importance to address in an appropriate depth and comprehensiveness for two reasons:

1. The very word Calvinism is fraught with misconceptions and often comes as a “loaded term” relative to who your talking to.

2. Here at Proclaiming His Glory we strive to magnify God in every way possible and we are convinced that if we are to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) then we must clarify and explain why we view God the way we do.

Therefore, in the course of this post I will explain how Proclaiming His Glory views the above two statements.

Allow me to begin with a word on definitions. Often times, in both my own personal communication and review of others, I have heard a concerned expressed over the very meaning of what Calvinism is. Does it express an agreement or indicate a follower of the teachings of John Calvin? Or does it simply refer to the “predestination, free will” talk that always gets thrown around with reference to its name? In its most literal sense it would seem to imply that Calvinists are followers of the teachings of John Calvin! John Calvin

This is precisely why I either don’t call myself a Calvinist or immediately explain what I mean when I do so. It normally depends entirely on whom I’m talking to. As much as I would like to say I am a Calvinist in the literal sense of the word the problem is, I haven’t read any of his works or really extensively studied his views on every subject. Not only did the man write exhaustively on a wide breadth of doctrines, but I must be honest when I say that I haven’t taken the time to read any of his works! Oh sure, I’ve read a few quotes and excerpts here and there but I can’t possibly be honest and say, in the strictest sense possible, that I am a “Calvinist”. Starting to see some of the baggage that comes with the term?

Hold on a minute though! You may say, “Isn’t the very title of this post about why you do hold to Calvinism?” and of course this would be true. How does one resolve this dilemma? Enter TULIP.

Before I explain it allow me to give you a bit of important history first.TULIP, was a mnemonic formulated in the early 20th century which attempted to easily summarize the result of what came out of the main controversy that took place four centuries early at the Canons of Dort in 1618. Now its important to note that John Calvin himself died in 1564 and his most famous student Jacobus Arminius (surprised?) died in 1609. Therefore, it was Arminius’s followers that formulated the original five articles of the Remonstrance which demonstrated a departure from Calvin’s teachings on the will of man, election, predestination etc. At the Canons of Dort in 1618 Calvin’s followers developed and summarized their specific responses to the five articles of the Remonstrance.  These responses were then organized and first described in print in a 1932 work on the reformed doctrine of predestination.

So why is it important to know that history? What I want you to remember is that the purpose of TULIP was not to describe the totality of what John Calvin, or Reformed Theology for that matter, teaches. Historically, the purpose was to easily identify the differences with the Arminian viewpoint. Now unfortunately that is not the way it is viewed today. Therefore, for the purposes of conversation in today’s common understanding of Calvinism (which is strictly an adherence to TULIP) I will, and the other authors on this blog, readily identify myself as such.

So what is this TULIP I have keep referring to? Now that we understand the way that I will using the word “Calvinism” I would say that TULIP is the best way to remember the tenets of Calvinism. They are the following:

TULIP

 Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

 

I will be the first to admit those titles can be misleading and slightly confusing as to what they are intended to represent specifically. Nonetheless, it will be my intent to clearly elucidate what we mean by them and why we hold to them.

Let me close this post on an important note. The question may arise “why would you claim to be a Calvinist when you haven’t read much, if any, of John Calvin’s work?”. The reason I haven’t read much of Calvin is because I don’t rest my belief in Calvinism on his shoulders. They stand 100% on scripture. Although I would never deny that I have been influenced by theologians I read, I must make clear that my adherence to Calvinism was formed before I had ever read a word written by the man. Therefore, it is essential when discussing these issues to primarily rest our discussions and debate over what the word of God says in its contents.

Additionally, please don’t view these posts like they are, as my favorite rapper would say “controversy for the sake of controversy or theological nitpicking”.  A.W. Tozer once said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What the Bible says on topic like Calvinism will profoundly affect how you view God and therefore it is essential to study carefully. That’s how we “rightly handle the word of truth” and by doing so we Proclaim His Glory

-praisethekingofglory