God has elected certain people from all eternity.

Total depravity leads us to see that salvation is a divine initiative. Since regeneration is a monergistic work, God is the sole author of salvation. This leads us to the question why does God regenerate some people’s hearts but not others. This introduces the doctrine of Election. This doctrine causes great controversy and struggle with people because it strikes against the fallen heart’s disposition. So let’s look at this as objectively as possible.

We know that man likes to take credit for the things he has. The two doctrines of total depravity and election emphasize that salvation is totally of grace.

Ephesians 1:3 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, 4 just 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 to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, (NASB)

Vs. 4 – Before the creation of the world, a pre-set destiny.
Vs. 7 – In accordance to the riches of His grace.
Vs. 9 – According to His kind intentions.
Vs. 11 – Predestined according to His plan and purpose. God has chosen certain people for salvation for all eternity.

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

In Romans 8:28-30 again we see predestination, combined with foreknowledge. Some people have latched onto this term “foreknowledge” in order to explain away the reformed doctrine of predestination. They say God foreknew certain works and then elected people to salvation, based on something they do, or believe in, in and of themselves. For example; God foresees that a person will believe or repent and then elects them on the basis of foreseen faith or repentance. There are two problems with this view.

First in Rom. 8:29 good works, faith, repentance and any other idea that could be set forth to merit salvation isn’ t mentioned. The object of foreknowledge is the people, not their actions. God knows each individual. Since works are not mentioned, it is improper to add them or read them into the text.

Secondly, in this passage everyone who is foreknown is predestined to salvation. Therefore this is not a general foreknowledge of all mankind. In fact this is an unbreakable chain from foreknowledge to glorification. In Romans 8:29 foreknowledge also means foreloved. In verse 33 God justifies, not your works.

2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, (NASB)

He called us not on the basis of works or foreseen works. Salvation is of the Lord!

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (NASB)

The only ones who believe are those who have been appointed to eternal life. It’s not based upon foreseen faith.

John 6:44 “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (NASB)

Draw means drag, not woo or entice as some claim. Everyone who God draws is raised up on the last day.

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” (NASB)

It can’t be any plainer than that. No one can come to God unless it has been granted.

Next article in this series: Particular Atonement

About the author

Buddy Woods

Buddy Woods is an elder in good standing at Covenant of Grace Church.