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THE 'DOCTRINE OF ELECTION' - WHO CAN BE SAVED?
PART 2
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Copyright © Abel Ramirez. All rights reserved.

           The real truth is that many people who believe in the ‘doctrine of election’ on the surface fail to see the obvious flaws with this teaching when it is followed to its logical, Biblical, and practical conclusion. The ‘doctrine of election’ changes how we witness to people.  For example, if we truly believe that ultimately God has already chosen who goes to Heaven and who doesn’t and that man plays no part whatsoever in the process of salvation because of his ‘totally depraved’ state, then we could never truthfully, without any reservation, make the following statements to any lost person:

 

“Jesus died for you.”  Can we really say this to anyone we meet?  Well, not exactly, what I really believe is that Jesus died only for the certain people that God has already picked out. 

 

“God wants you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.”  Well, I really can’t be 100% sure if He wants you specifically, but I do believe He does pick certain people.  So, keep your fingers crossed.  The ‘doctrine of election’ actually makes all of us participants in some sort of ‘salvation lottery’ because we play absolutely no part in our salvation.  It’s simply a matter of God picking and choosing certain people for reasons unknown.  If we believe in ‘the doctrine of election’ the message we honestly should be telling people is, “Keep your fingers crossed; you may be one of the lucky ones.  Good luck to you.”

 

            If we follow the logic of the ‘doctrine of election,’ the real message to the lost that we truly believe becomes, “God loves SOME of you.” “Jesus died for SOME of you.”  “God wants SOME of you to believe in His Son Jesus Christ.”  “God wants SOME of you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.”  This message contains no power, no hope, and no love at all!  Our ‘relationship’ with God, by any definition, is no relationship at all.  In truth, our very salvation is nothing more than pure chance!  That’s one of the problems with ‘the doctrine of election’ as some teach it.  It results in a staggering contradiction to what the message of the Gospel truly is!      

 

           If we believe in the concept of the ‘doctrine of election,’ then we believe that salvation is not open to everyone.  This is not a message of hope.  This does not describe a message of “good tidings and great joy, which shall be to all people described in Luke 2:10.  Common sense tells us that the only way that the birth of Jesus Christ can be considered ‘good tidings and great joy, which shall be to all people’ is if the salvation found in Christ is available to all people.  If it isn’t, then His birth is not ‘good tidings and great joy, which shall be to all people but rather ‘good tidings and great joy for some people.’  I find it impossible to believe that God would inspire Luke, the writer of this passage, to write “all people” when the truth should actually be “some people.” 

 

Let’s look at this another way.  Scripture tells us that the majority of people will not be saved.  Jesus said, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14.  So from this verse we know for a fact that the majority of mankind will not go to Heaven.  The ‘doctrine of election’ slams the door on hope by saying to the lost of the world that the majority of mankind is going to be eternally condemned because, as unbelievable as it sounds, that’s the way God wants it!  This is in direct contradiction to verses like 2 Peter 3:9 and 1Timothy 2:3-4. 

 

So, God is sovereign and in control of everything which means, according to the ‘doctrine of election,’ God gives man no choice in the matter of his own salvation.  It’s completely up to God who goes to Heaven and who doesn’t and it has already been decided.  So there is nothing you can do about your situation.  If God picks you, He’ll make you believe when you hear the Word. If He doesn’t pick you, He’ll make sure you don’t believe.  Good Luck.  This is not “Good News” at all.  This is not what the Bible teaches.  The Bible teaches that the Hope for all mankind is Jesus Christ! 

 

Believers in the ‘doctrine of election’ also teach that the atonement for sins provided by the death of Jesus on the cross was limited.  In other words, Jesus didn’t die for everyone.  They teach that Jesus died to atone only for the sins of ‘the elect’ making His atonement an ‘actual’ atonement instead of a ‘potential’ atonement for anyone who believes.  This belief is not supported by Scriptures.  In fact, the Scriptures state the exact opposite, “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” Romans 5:18.  This verse clearly defines an equal amount of justification for an equal amount of condemnation.  If all men are condemned then all men can be saved.  All were condemned by the act of one man, Adam, and in the same manner all have the opportunity for justification by the act of one, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

 

Some believers in the doctrine of election have even argued that the statement, “Jesus died for you,” is not a biblical statement when proclaimed to unbelievers.  This astonishing claim is proved to be completely false by the Scriptures.  Here is what Paul said in the synagogue, preaching to Jews and Gentiles alike when presenting the Gospel, "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." Acts 13:38.  The only way this statement can be true when proclaimed to a group of unbelievers is if Jesus had died for the sins of all mankind, without exception.  If the Apostle Paul believed that Jesus had only died for the sins of some, then he would have had to specifically say, "the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to some of you."  Otherwise, he would be lying! 

 

It is the fact that Jesus did indeed die for the sins of the entire world, without exception, as stated in John 1:29 and many other verses, that Paul can boldly, and specifically say loud and clear, "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”  So, we can also boldly proclaim to any lost person just as the Apostle Paul did, "Through Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you."  Or in other words, "Jesus died for your sins."  "Jesus died for you."  All of these are completely biblical statements which are supported by many Scriptures such as:  John 3:16, John 1:29, John 4:42, Galatians 1:4, Ephesians 5:2, John 8:12, Romans 5:6, Romans 5:8, Romans 14:15, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 1 Corinthians 8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:3, 2 Peter 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:10, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 2:2, Romans 11:32, 1 Timothy 4:10, 1 John 4:14, 1 Peter 2:24, and Hebrews 2:9.

 

They go on to argue that a ‘potential’ atonement would mean that Hell would be full of sinners whose sins have been forgiven. Well, that’s almost right.  Hell is actually filled with sinners whose sins could have been forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ if only they had believed and accepted the gift of salvation.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.  That is also one of the many unbearable agonies of Hell for all those condemned - the bitter realization that Salvation was right there in front of them if only they had believed, if only they had chosen to accept the gift freely offered to them.

  

What the believers of the ‘doctrine of election’ are forgetting is that people don’t go to Hell because they are sinners.  They go to Hell because of their unbelief.  Jesus didn’t say ‘whoever sins is condemned.’  He said, ‘whoever does not believe stands condemned’ John 3:18.  The same thing was said of the Jewish people. They were ‘broken off because of unbelief’ Romans 11:20.  It’s a forgone conclusion that everyone is a sinner and if you look at it from a strictly human perspective, there are sinners in Heaven and sinners in Hell.  The only difference is that those who choose to believe are justified and saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and those who choose not to believe are ‘condemned already.’  Why?  Because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’ John 3:18.  This is echoed again in John 8:24 when Jesus said, ‘I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.’  Again, Jesus didn’t say you would die because of your sins but rather because of your unbelief.  It should also be noted that Jesus did not say ‘you will die in your sins if God does not compel you to believe.’  He clearly tells us that belief is our choice to make. 

 

            God gives us everything we need to be saved.  He draws us to Himself.  He opens our eyes.  He opens our ears.  He opens our hearts.  He opens our minds.  He gives us His Word.  He gives us His Son.  He even gives us the faith required to live as Christians. So how do people still end up condemned when everything we could possibly need for salvation is provided for us?  It’s simple; He also gives us one more thing – a choice, which is the only thing that makes it possible for God to judge the heart of man.  “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.  “The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.  If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9.  If man is simply at the mercy of the irresistible call of God and responding in the only way possible, what is there to judge?  On the other hand, if man is left to his ‘totally depraved state,’ he would also be responding, according to the ‘doctrine of election,’ in the only way possible.  Again, what would there be to judge?  The Bible is absolutely clear that God does not compel people to believe and that the individual is responsible for responding to the Lord.  “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord” 2 Kings 22:19. 

 

There is no great mystery why some people go to Heaven and some don’t.  God doesn’t send some people to Heaven and some people to Hell.  God doesn’t send anyone to Hell.  People send themselves by their unbelief.  Again, from the very beginning, God has always given us everything we could possibly need for our salvation and the power to back it up and make it happen.  He stops just short of compelling us to believe because if He did, there would be no choice and we would not be given the opportunity to show God our love is real. That is why the Bible pleads with the sinner to be reconciled to God.  We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20.  It beseeches the sinner to repent in both the Old and New Testaments.  "Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD.  Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.” Ezekiel 18:30.  “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:5.   

 

The Bible tells of Jesus pleading because of Jerusalem’s unbelief.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37.   The Bible tells how God begs Israel to get right with Him.  “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!  Why will you die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11.  In the book of Jeremiah God weeps over Israel’s apostasy and unbelief, But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD's flock will be taken captive.” Jeremiah 13:17.  If God does not give man the ability to choose and all He has to do is make people believe, why would He beg and weep for anyone’s decision not to believe?  It wouldn’t be the sinner’s choice; it would be God’s. 

 

The Bible clearly teaches that we are the elect, we are chosen, we are called and we are predestined.  All of these are Biblical truths, but none of these terms refer to God compelling us to believe. All who choose to believe are elected to salvation because of God’s foreknowledge of the heart of every person.  God knew every single person who would have faith in Him and every single person who wouldn’t before mankind was ever created, and He elected those who would believe in Him to spend eternity with Him.  These are the true ‘elect’ – not people compelled to believe, but all those whom God knew, before creation itself, would choose Him when given the opportunity through the process of salvation. 

 

We are not chosen, called, and predestined to believe.  We are chosen, called, and predestined for the work God has for us to do according to the plan He put in place before creation for all whom He knew would believe.  “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” Ephesians 1:11-13.  God’s plan has many different goals and purposes for those who believe.  For example, we are chosen to be obedient to Christ.  “To God’s elect….who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:1-2.  God didn’t elect those who believed to simply go to Heaven when they died.  He set down a plan for them to live a certain way.  Not only did He choose us to be obedient to Christ, in His plan we are also chosen for good works, For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10.  In His plan, we are also chosen to be holy.  “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight’ Ephesians 1:4.  

 

When the Bible says we are called, it does not refer to God compelling us to believe.  Everyone, at one time or another, is called by God because salvation is open to everyone and that is part of the process of salvation.  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.  There is no excuse that will get you into heaven.  Only belief in Jesus Christ will do that.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” Acts 16:31.     

 

           We are called into fellowship with Christ.  “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:9.  In this next verse, the word ‘called’ does not mean compelled to believe; it refers to ‘a holy life.’  “But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” 2 Timothy 1:8-9.  This holy life, just like our very salvation, is nothing we deserve but is a product of God’s grace and mercy upon those He knew were His from before time began.  It is part of His plan for all those He knew would believe to live ‘a holy life’ and we are called to do so. 

 

           We are also called to be free.  “You, my brothers, were called to be free.” Galatians 5:13.  We are free to serve one another. We are free from the letter of the Law and free to live by the Spirit of God.  We are free from sin.  “But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14.  “You have been set free from sin” Romans 6:18.       

 

           When the Bible says we are predestined it does not mean we are compelled to believe.  Predestined refers to our role in God’s plan for mankind which was set in place before time began for all those He knew were His.  Part of God’s plan for all those who believe is that we are predestined to become like Christ in our nature and character by the power of His Holy Spirit.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29.  He predestined all who believe to be His children.

 

           So who can be saved?  The answer is clear.  Anyone can be saved!  This is the amazing message of love and hope we share with the world.  This is truly “GOOD NEWS!”  Does God already know who will and who won’t be saved?  Of course He does. He’s GOD!  He knows everything.  He knew the name of every single person who would believe before mankind was ever created.  Does His foreknowledge of all those who will be saved mean that He compels people to believe?  No, not at all.  In fact, allowing mankind to choose has been a part of His sovereign plan from the very beginning.  By giving us a choice, a very small part in the process of salvation, God allows us to express our love towards Him and He is able to judge our hearts to see if our love is genuine.

 

His foreknowledge does allow God to decide which group of people will spend eternity with Him – those who will believe or those who won’t believe.  So before the creation of the world, the Bible clearly teaches us that God elected those for salvation who would believe and He put in place a plan for how they are to live and what they are to become.  “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6.    

 

God is sovereign.  He already knows the heart of every person who will ever live, and He already knows every decision of every person who will ever live.  He controls all circumstances.  He is the Potter.  We are the clay.  This description refers to His sovereignty over us, not His relationship with us.  The Bible clearly admonishes all of us, over and over again, to make a choice.  The Bible also clearly teaches us that God chooses those for salvation who believe and we can only really believe if we have a choice not to.  We can only really love God if we have the ability to choose not to love Him.  It is through God’s love, mercy, and sovereign will that we are given the choice to believe which allows us to receive the gift of faith and it is through God’s grace and power that our salvation becomes a reality.

 

“The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15.

  

           “All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord.  All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.” Jude 1:25. (NLT)