II. Unconditional Election
By unconditional election, Calvin meant that some are elected to Heaven, while others are elected to Hell, and that this election is unconditional. It is wholly on God’s part, and without condition. By unconditional election, Calvin meant that God has already decided who will be saved, and who will be lost, and the individual has absolutely nothing to do with it. He can only hope that God has elected him for Heaven and not for Hell.
This teaching so obviously disagrees with the oft-repeated invitations in the Bible to sinners to come to Christ, and be saved, that some readers will think that I have overstated the doctrine. So, I will quote John Calvin in his
“Institutes,” Book III, chapter 23,
“…. Not all men are created with similar destiny, but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestined either to life or to death.”
So, Calvinism teaches that it is God’s own choice that some people are to be damned forever. He never intended to save them. He foreordained them to go to Hell. And when He offers salvation in the Bible, He does not offer it to those who were foreordained to be damned. It is offered only to those who were foreordained to be saved.
What Calvinism really teaches about “unconditional election” is that God’s election of people to salvation is done with no conditions attached, either foreseen or otherwise. God elects people to salvation by His own sovereign choice and not because of some future action they will perform or condition they will meet. Those who come to Christ become His children by His will, not by theirs. “They were not God’s children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children” (John 1:13, GotQuestions on the web).
The Truth of the Matter in Church History
This teaching insists that we need not try to win men to Christ, because men cannot be saved unless God has planned for them to be saved. And if God has planned for them to be eternally lost, they will not come to Christ.
Calvinism stimulates evangelism. It is because God has determined to save some of the Fallen sons of Adam that the gospel is to be preached in all the nations on earth. From the nations, God will save a great multitude which no man can number.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Rev. 7:9).
Under the influence and direction of John Calvin, a great missionary enterprise was established in Geneva. The Venerable Company of Pastors in Switzerland sent missionaries to Italy, Germany, Scotland, England, and France.
“When we come to study the influence of Calvinism as a political force in the history of the United States, we come to one of the brightest pages of all Calvinistic history. Calvinism came to America in the Mayflower, and Bancroft, the greatest of American historians, pronounces the Pilgrim Fathers ‘Calvinists in their faith according to the straightest system.’ John Endicott, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; John Winthrop, the second governor of that Colony; Thomas Hooker, the founder of Connecticut; John Davenport, the founder of the New Haven Colony; and Roger Williams, the founder of the Rhode Island Colony, were all Calvinists. William Penn was a disciple of the Huguenots.
It is estimated that of the 3,000,000 Americans at the time of the American Revolution, 900,000 were of Scotch or Scotch-Irish origin, 600,000 were Puritan English, and 400,000 were German or Dutch Reformed.
In addition to this the Episcopalians had a Calvinistic confession in their Thirty-nine Articles; and many French Huguenots also had come to this western world. Thus we see that about two-thirds of the colonial population had been trained in the school of Calvin.
Never in the world’s history had a nation been founded by such people as these” (Loraine Boettner).
William Carey (1761- 1834) is known as the “father of modern missions.” He was a Calvinist Baptist minister, missionary to Calcutta, and founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, which is still in existence today. Additional missionary activities can be found in Calvinist and Reformed hymnwriters such as William Cowper, John Newton, A. B. Simpson, Augustus Toplady, and Isaac Watts.
Our Omniscient God
There is the Bible doctrine of God’s foreknowledge, predestination, and election. Most knowledgeable Christians agree that God has His controlling hand on the affairs of men. They agree that according to the Bible, He selects individuals like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David as instruments to do certain things He has planned. Most Christians agree that God may choose a nation-particularly that He did choose Israel, through which He gave the law, the prophets, and eventually through whom the Saviour Himself would come- and that there is a Bible doctrine that God foreknows all things.
The question is asked, “How does God foreknow all things?” Does He come into knowledge? No. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). The Bible teaches that God is all knowing or omniscient.
“The word “omniscient” comes from two Latin words omnis signifying all, and scientia signifying knowledge. When we say that God is omniscient it means that He has perfect knowledge of all things. He does not have to learn anything, and He has not forgotten anything. God does not have to reason things out, find out things, or learn them gradually.
He knows everything that has happened and everything that will happen. God also knows every potential thing that might happen. God even knows those things that humankind has yet to discover. This knowledge is absolute and unacquired. The omniscience of God means that He has perfect knowledge, perfect understanding, and perfect wisdom as to how to apply the knowledge” (Don Stewart).
I have often said, “Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God?”. God in His foreknowledge knows who will trust Jesus Christ as Saviour, and He has predestined to see that they are justified and glorified. He will keep all those who trust Him and see that they are glorified.
Born to be Damned?
But the doctrine that God elected some men to Hell, that they were born to be damned by God’s own choice, is a radical heresy not taught anywhere in the Bible.
The Bible does not say that “God elected some men to Hell”, nor should any Christian utter such a phrase.
The biblical Doctrine of Election is reserved for those who are chosen by God.
When a nation elects, or choses, a president, they do hold another election to non-elect the loser(s) of the presidential race. Those individuals are simply passed over.
In like manner, the Doctrine of Predilection is reserved for those unbelieving souls who are LEFT in their sin, and who, as free moral agents, choose to go to hell, for they will not have the God-Man, Christ Jesus to rule over them. Arminians and semi-Pelagians would do well to study the Doctrine of Predilection and also the Doctrine of Reprobation.
Arminians would do well to know that no man in his natural state will ever seek after the God of revelation, for they are enamored with the gods of their imaginations. Therefore, if any soul is to be redeemed from the cesspool of sin, God must move, and He does, so that it can be said, “We love Him BECAUSE He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The love of God is a particular love, not an indiscriminate one, according to Romans 8:29. Study the word “foreknew”: proginosko. It often means an intimate knowledge and regard for someone. It can denote sexual intimacy as per Gen. 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.”
There is also the Doctrine of Reprobation, which is the teaching that God is sovereign not only over those who will come to eternal life, but also over those that will resurrect to eternal death (John 5:29). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines reprobation as “The act by which God condemns sinners to eternal punishment.”
The concept of reprobation is biblical, and the actual word is used in a few places (Psalm 15:4, 1 Cor 9:27, 2 Cor 13:5-7). –James T. Allen
We say again that no one should ever say that “God elected some men to hell” because the Bible does not say it that way. The Bible says that God predestines people to heaven, to service, to glorification, and He elects them for salvation, but the Bible never turns biblical phrases on their heads. Nor should Arminians.
A Valid Observation
I have in my hand a booklet entitled TULIP written by Vic Lockman. In the booklet Mr. Lockman attempts to prove the five points of Calvinism. Under the point, Unconditional Election, he quotes Ephesians 1:4, but he only quotes the first part of the verse: “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. “
However, that is not the end of the verse. Mr. Lockman, like most Calvinists, stopped in the middle of the verse. The entire verse reads: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” The verse says nothing about being chosen for Heaven or Hell. It says we are chosen that we should be holy and without blame before him in love
Under the same point, Unconditional Election, Mr. Lockman quotes John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” Again, Mr. Lockman, like most Calvinists, stops in the middle of the verse. The entire verse reads: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
Calvinism notes that individuals do not choose to be saved, or to sincerely serve the Lord until they are divinely chosen. The natural person does not love the Lord, nor do they long to close with Christ, apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, for every unsaved person acts consistently with his or her nature. The nature of the unconverted is to be enslaved to sin, and hostile to the Lordship of Christ until the soul is set free from its former master, Sin (Rom. 6:18).
The verse says nothing about being chosen for Heaven or Hell. It says we are chosen to go and bring forth fruit, which simply means that every Christian is chosen to be a soul winner. The fruit of a Christian is other Christians. Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
Nowhere does the Bible teach that God wills for some to go to Heaven, and wills others to go to Hell. No. The Bible teaches that God would have all men to be saved.
Second Peter 3:9 says that He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
After accusing Vic Lockman, and “most Calvinist”, of quoting only a part of a verse to prove a point, Mr. Hudson immediately does the same! Oh well, no one ever accused Christians of being consistent!
The whole text says…
2 Peter 3:9 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Calvinism observes that, in context, Peter is addressing the Church (2 Peter 3:1) and so has in view God’s suffering is “us-ward”, the elect, the beloved.
There are many Scriptures that teach, in definite terms, Christ performed a saving work so as to infallibly redeem a particular people, the elect, given to Him by the Father (Matt. 1:21; John 10:15; and Gal. 1:4). Peter illustrates the truth of a definite redemption by teaching that the Second Coming of Christ will take place according to the will and purpose of God, which includes the patient calling out of a people prior to that hour of the Second Advent.
God is not slack regarding the fulfillment of His promise. Rather, there is a group that is the object of God’s forbearance, and God is not willing that any one of them should perish. Those whom God wants to come to repentance, will believe. Christ will then return when the saving of His people is complete. Until then, God will work to bring the elect to salvation. If the Lord waits until every single person is saved, then He will never return, for the wheat and the chaff, the saved and unsaved, will always exist together.
Why Are Not all People Saved?
First Timothy 2:4 says, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Calvinism notes that, if God would have all to be saved, without exception, then He would have so decreed their salvation. God does will, and has decreed that, wherever the gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit is to convict and convert.
Arminianism and Calvinism are in agreement that God does not delight in the perishing of those who do not repent, and that He has compassion on all people, reflected in His common grace.
What is in view here is the will of God which is twofold. There is God’s permissive will, whereby individuals are permitted to refuse the gospel and be damned. There is God’s decretive will, whereby He draws [Gk. helkuo, to drag] with irresistible strength those whom He has given to the Son. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
“The Arminians ridicule the distinction between the secret and revealed will of God, or, more properly expressed, the distinction between the decree and the law of God; because we say he may decree one thing, and command another. And so, they argue, we hold a contrariety in God, as if one will of his contradicted another” (Jonathan Edwards).
Nevertheless, the distinction stands. God does will for sin to come to pass, illustrated in the death of Jesus Christ.
While Judas was morally reprehensible for betraying the perfect Son of God (Luke 22:3), it was rooted in the foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23).
Those who teach that God would only have some to be saved, while He would have others to be lost are misrepresenting God and the Bible. Does God really predestinate some people to be saved, and predestinate others to go to Hell, so that they have no free choice? Absolutely not!
Nobody is predestined to be saved, except as he chooses of his own Free Will to come to Christ and trust Him for salvation.
Arminianism argues from some presuppositions.
First, there is the presupposition that the Natural Man has a free choice unaffected by sin enslaving it as a ruling principle.
Second, there is the presupposition that sinners, the ungodly, want to come to faith in Christ in an of themselves.
Third, there is the presupposition that the Natural Man, the ungodly, the unbeliever has the ability to act contrary to his fleshly nature and please God. The Bible says, “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).
Since each of these presuppositional beliefs is contrary to sound doctrine, and divine revelation, it is no wonder that man’s will, ability, and power is exalted by Arminianism. Secular Humanism does the same. It promotes the power and ability of man over his dependency and need for God. Arminians and Secular Humanist unite their voices to declare:
“I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
People Choose to God to Hell
And no one is predestined to go to Hell, except as he chooses of his own Free Will to reject Christ and refuses to trust Him as Saviour. John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Both the Calvinist and the Arminian agree that God’s wrath is upon all who do not believe and obey the gospel. A wrathful God is not a propitiated or satisfied God (1 John 2:2). What Calvinism insists upon is that no eternal wrath will ever be poured out on the soul who is safe and secure forever in the Saviour (Rom. 8:1). “When conscience tells me I am a sinner, I tell conscience I stand in Christ’s place, and Christ stands in mine. True, I am a sinner, but Christ died for sinners. True, I deserve punishment, but if my ransom died, will God ask for the debt twice? Impossible! He has cancelled it. There never was, and never shall be one believer in hell. We are free from punishment, and we never need quake on account of it. However horrible it may be-if it is eternal, as we know it is-it is nothing to us, for we never can suffer it. Heaven shall open its pearly portals to admit us; but hell’s iron gates are barred forever against every believer. Glorious liberty of the children of God!” (Charles Spurgeon)
Nothing could be plainer. The man who goes to Heaven goes because he comes to Jesus Christ and trusts Him as Saviour. And the man who goes to Hell does so because he refuses to come to Jesus Christ and will not trust Him as Saviour.
Calvinism would say Amen to that statement with the caveat that the ultimate reason a person comes to Jesus Christ and trust Him as Savior is because he has been chosen and drawn by God the Father, given to God the Son, and regenerated by God the Holy Spirit.