God chooses who to save?

God did not choose some to be saved and some not. He desires all to come to him.

Did God create some people to be eternally damned? What does it mean when God refers to Christians as the elect? Read on for the answers...

In reading the many passages about predestination and election it's easy to see how Calvinism could be derived. Calvinism assumes these passages refer to the election and predestination of each individual but something larger seems to be in mind by the New Testament writers.

In New Testament passages about election, the elect, predestination, preordination, and foreknowledge there is the clear idea of the plan of redemption being referred to — that when God created the universe as a place of pain and suffering for his created sentient creatures, he also predestined his plan of redemption.

In choosing to accept God's offer of salvation you become a member of the elect; you become elect. In this sense, God elects you because he provided the way for you to become elect.

The easiest way to clearly understand this is with the following question: Does God choose that some people will not be members of the elect? Of course the answer is no.


Five-point Calvinists teach that a person can only be saved if God chooses them. Here are ways of thinking that can accompany this teaching...

The Bible is clear that both God and humans have roles in the salvation process as I shall show.


Foreknowledge

An illustration of my view...

I needed to fence the back yard for the dogs, so I saw the fence in my mind with the gate over here. But when digging a post hole, there was a large boulder in the way. So I saw in my mind the solution: put the gate over there instead. Now there is a fence exactly as I foresaw it. Foreknowledge is not seeing a physical reality from the future but, rather, a creative process; working from the present moment forward (knowledge looking forward).


The chronological stages in salvation...



Step 1 — God reveals his light to all

Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-21)

We have a clear responsibility in the salvation process and must acknowledge God's existence and his deity.



Step 2 — We choose to accept or reject the light

Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)

God holds us accountable to respond properly to his call.



Step 3 — God gives more light to those who desire the light

Then He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. "For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him". (Mark 4:24-25)



Step 4 — God knows who loves him

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28-29)

To God's elect . . . who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:1-2)



Step 5 — God does not choose those who reject him

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)



Step 6 — God calls everyone, but only chooses those who choose him

The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, "Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding". But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, "The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding". So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, "Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?" And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:2-14)


A few points about this passage...

Point 1 — Some people were invited but refused to come (v 3). Verse 8 says that these people were not worthy. Verse 14 says these people were called but not chosen.

Point 2 — One person who was invited (v 9) came but did not follow the protocol (v 11). He was cast out (v 13).

Point 3 — In conclusion, all are called but some reject God's calling. Others act like they accept God's calling but attempt to do it their own way. There are 2 requirements for a person to be chosen...

Point 4 — When a person who is called satisfies these two requirements, they are chosen of God.

The ones who are ultimately chosen satisfy three conditions...



Conclusion



We have an active role in our election.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Peter 1:10)

Peter exhorts people to do things, to be diligent and to take an active role in their salvation. If God did all the work himself, there would be no need for Peter to make this statement. Therefore, we have a role and God has a role in the salvation process.



Scriptural Passages



Following are the main passages that strict five-point Calvinists use to support their doctrine.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)

Does the word chose refer to...

  1. God's specific choosing (or not choosing) of each individual, or
  2. God's choosing the church as a whole (just as he chose the nation of Israel as a whole)?

And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure. (Ephesians 1:9)

In the context Paul is talking about God's establishment of the church, NOT his dealings with individual Christians.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. (1 Peter 2:9)

Peter uses the word chosen to refer to the church — the institution which God established.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Again, it is the church as a whole that God chooses.

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. (Ephesians 1:11)

In this verse it is Christians as a whole who are chosen in him, and it is the church that was predestined, not individual believers.


The five points of Calvinism

T otal depravity

No one merits salvation. We do not have free will.

U nconditional election

God elects (predestines) some for salvation.

L imited atonement

Christ only died for the elect.

I irresistible grace

The elect cannot resist God's call. We do not have free will.

P erseverance of the saints

Once saved, always saved.



This is an absurd system! Worse, it is unbiblical...


The correct view of TULIP...

  1. Not total depravity, rather, we are wounded by original sin and require God's grace to draw us to himself. We have free will. We were created good and in God's image, and, at heart, we are still good.
  2. Not unconditional election, rather, God predestined the plan of salvation. He does not predestine any particular individual for anything. He calls everyone, but some reject his call.
  3. Not limited atonement, rather, Christ died sacrificially to provide the cure for sin. He did not refuse to pay the penalty for any particular person's sins.
  4. Not irresistible grace, rather, God's grace is strong but some are very obstinate.
  5. Not perseverance of the saints, rather, after baptism, committing habitual mortal sins and failing to repent of these results in losing one's salvation.

Calvinism is based on Sola Scriptura (scripture only) — but the Bible doesn't teach Calvinism.

Many Protestant denominations are founded on Calvinism including: Presbyterian, some Baptist, and Reformed (Puritan) denominations.

Luther, Calvin, and the other Protestant Reformers believed in predestination.

I highlight Biblical passages which clearly contradict one or more of these five points of Calvinism. In consideration of these passages and to be true to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, Calvinists must somehow resolve the contradictions. Some approaches they can take...

  1. Interpret these passages in a way supporting Calvinism (but on the surface the passages don't offer such support).
  2. Ignore these passages by declaring they are problematic and that, therefore, other passages supercede them.
  3. Admit that Calvinism is not taught in the Bible. But of course Calvinists wouldn't do this.

Biblical Passages Contradicting Calvinism...


But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7)

This verse does not support unconditional election.

It is God's plan of salvation which was predetermined, not an individual believer's salvation.


But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

This verse does not support unconditional election.

It is the gospel message which is predetermined, not an individual believer's salvation.


Who will have all men to be saved. (1 Timothy 2:4)

This verse refutes total depravity, unconditional election and irresistible grace.

Calvinism asserts that God only chose some, but this verse refutes that. Under Calvinism, if God really wanted all men to be saved, he would elect all men for salvation. But this verse states clearly that God does want all men to be saved.

We have free will to reject God.

We have free will to accept God's grace. Original sin doesn't prevent us from responding in faith. This implies that we are not totally depraved.


Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

This verse refutes total depravity, unconditional election and irresistible grace.

Lay hold — We have free will.

Calling does not guarantee we will respond. This refutes the notion of irresistible grace. We can resist God's call but he calls all.

Called as a result of his confession (profession).


Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10,11)

This verse refutes total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace and

perseverance of the saints.

Make — We have free will.

Sure, never fall — Salvation is not certain even for the elect.

Notice this passage refers to salvation; the reference to the "entrance . . . into the everlasting kingdom".


If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard. . . . (Colossians 1:23)

This verse refutes total depravity, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.

If ye continue in the faith — We have free will and can choose to persevere.

Salvation is not certain; we must persevere.


For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. (Hebrews 3:14)

This verse refutes total depravity, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.

Hold — We have free will.

Salvation requires perseverance.


Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

This verse refutes total depravity, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.

We have free will.

Perseverance comes from us, not from God (but we should ask God to continuously help us).


We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not. (1 John 5:18)

This verse refutes total depravity.

This verse refutes the notion that we are totally depraved.


Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. (Acts 2:23)

This verse refutes unconditional election.

God's plan (counsel) and his foreknowledge go together. Calvinists must of necessity separate them.

Calvinists typically believe God has elected [chosen] only some for salvation. Anti-Calvinists counter this argument by saying that God "elects" those who he "foreknew" would accept him. In this passage, God's plan and his foreknowledge are equated, which refutes the Calvinist view. I am not saying God "elects" those who he "foreknew" would accept him, but merely that God's plan (counsel) and his foreknowledge are in some way related.


Other views...

I recently watched some videos of a couple of well-known reformed Bible expositors. I have great respect for these men and attribute my conversion to Christianity decades ago to their Bible teaching on the radio. Nevertheless, I shall list a few errors that caught my attention...

  1. Because humans are totally depraved, no one has any hope of salvation unless God singles them out for redemption. For those God tags in this way, they will irresistibly be drawn to accept the gospel and receive salvation — this, without violating our free will.
  2. Because of a misunderstanding of God's holiness by every Protestant group except the reformed churches, only they are true Christians.
  3. The only people who will inhabit heaven are those having heard the true Christian gospel who accepted it in faith. Everyone else is eternally damned.
  4. They completely misrepresent Catholic teaching as do other fundamentalist evangelical Protestants.
  5. They are opposed to the charismatic movement (I'm not too fond of it myself) and think it first blossomed with Calvary Chapel and its offshoot, Vineyard.
  6. That the early church believed exactly what these modern people believe. This is laughable!

The idea that Jesus only died for the sins of the redeemed is based on a false conception of how Jesus paid for sin through his sacrificial death. His death in our place is not to satisfy the legal judgment of an angry God who must punish someone but, rather, to redeem human nature; to provide a pathway out of our home in the spiritual realm corrupted by the powers of darkness, to "deify" human nature. Jesus had to endure Satan's wrath upon himself to claim ownership of this spiritual realm of darkness inhabited by Satan.