Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Problem With Protestant Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 22, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, another Paul Dohse parenthesis in our Heidelberg Disputation series, “The Problem With Protestant Election.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com.

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Before we get started tonight, I must implement our new policy here at False Reformation. I think as recovering Protestants, we must embrace our fears and failures. One example is the sin minefield. Whenever disciples endeavor to embark on some new project, deep introspection ensues. Could the project cause us to sin? Pray tell, what are our true motives? And overall, we deem it our duty to recognize the major weaknesses of the other disciples, and for me, that is, “going off on rabbit trails all the time.”

Therefore, as a recovering Protestant, I have decided to embrace this failure as one no longer under condemnation. Yes, whenever I go down a rabbit trail, I want to make it a memorial of remembrance that I am not condemned for going down that rabbit trail. Hence, from now on, just prior to going down a rabbit trail in this show, the rabbit trail will be introduced with the following song:

So basically, when you hear an excerpt of that song on the program, you know that it is a rabbit trail coming. The upbeat introduction is also a remembrance that I need not seek forgiveness for the rabbit trail least I be condemned. Ahmen.

What is the major problem with the Protestant view of election? It is tenfold. First, as thoroughly documented by TANC ministries, the Protestant Reformation is dead wrong on salvation. The second point exacerbates the problem: all positions on election come from Protestantism, and all positions are framed by Protestant scholars. In other words, Protestant academia controls the context in which the issue is debated. Think about the insanity of this: all arguments about election start with a Protestant context; the so-called 5 points of Calvinism. In the same way that a “Band-Aid” viz, a brand defines what something is, Protestants of the authentic Reformed tradition have completely co-opted the context and framework of the argument which virtually guarantees the outcome that they want; either capitulation, or confusion which only bolsters their worldview that mankind cannot comprehend reality.

Thirdly, while there are many verses in the Bible that seem to indicate an individual preselection for salvation and damnation, there are also many that indicate that mankind is able to choose or reject salvation. There is obviously a contradiction which is written off as paradox, BUT, with one side of the paradox being the engine of existence. What am I saying here? They claim paradox, but only one side of the paradox is applicable—the sovereign side.

Fourthly, Protestantism deliberately uses a process of assimilation based on allowing the saints to assume things about orthodoxy at its progressive points. As the saints are gradually assimilated into full blown Platonism dressed in biblical garb, they are allowed to assume that “faith alone” does not include sanctification, and that “total depravity” does not include the saints, and that God does not preselect people for eternal damnation. This is a 500 year-old system of assimilation that is evil genius. And they know exactly what they are doing. How do they condone it? Well, we must not teach things that the great unwashed masses are not yet “ready for.” Nevertheless, in the same way that pot leads to harder drugs, hardcore Protestant Platonists invariably move from a grudging soft determinism to soft determinism, ie., so-called 3 or 4 point Calvinism, but eventually become advocates of hard determinism.

Fifthly, we are allowing a religion that continually produces bad fruit to dictate the confines of the debate and define the interpretive terms and words. Protestant orthodoxy has effectively defined all of the biblical terms in which our reality is interpreted, and be sure of it, those who effectively define the definition of words control reality. We have allowed a religion that continually produces rotten fruit to co-opt the grammar. That’s a really, really bad idea.

Sixth, a casual reading of Scripture is tortured because of the overall biblical dialogue found by independent reading. If God preselects some for salvation and others for damnation for his glory and self-love, why do we have Christ weeping over Jerusalem, why do we have God saying, “come let us reason together saith the Lord,” why do we have the apostle Paul expending all kinds of energy to “persuade” people in regard to the gospel? If individual determinism is true, the Bible makes NO sense whatsoever. Let’s look at a specific example of this:

Luke 16:19 –  “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No,father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Ok, so, the guy asks Abraham to send Lazarus over to give him relief from his suffering, and Abraham’s answer includes nothing about preselection; why not? If the guy is over there suffering for God’s glory, what’s all of this other discussion about? And why do they discuss the best means of persuasion? If the point is preselection, how people might be best persuaded is certainly a mute point, no? What is problematic is the Bible’s constant passing on making the preselection angle the main point when such opportunities appear over and over again throughout the Bible. Let’s look at another example. Matthew 26:24.

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Well, doesn’t God always want what’s best? Consider this verse in context of what love is via 1Corinthians chapter 13. Love ALWAYS seeks what’s best for others. Bottom line: if preselection is true, the Bible is nothing more than a convoluted quagmire of confusion. But God is NOT a God of confusion.

Here is another thought. The Reformed love to talk about the potter and the clay deal in Romans 9. The potter has a right to make some vessels for wrath and others for salvation and He is glorified by both. But then there is this also…

2Timothy 2:20 – Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Here, what kind of vessel you are is determined by “cleansing” yourself. We will not be discussing Romans 9 tonight, but it will be covered in a series of articles I am presently writing.

Seventh, Biblicism rejects plenary paradox as an interpretive method because of interpretive presuppositions demanded by Scripture itself: God is NOT a God of confusion. Though paradox is a biblical reality, it is rare, and always suspect. It is guilty until proven innocent.

Eighth, individual HOPE is an acid test for truth. If something lacks individual assurance or hope, it is extremely suspect. And regardless of Protestant squealing of denial in epic volume, the engine of its progressive salvation is predicated on the so-called Christian being under a greater awareness of condemnation and fear—not a soteriology that escapes the terrible-two.

Ninth, because of the way the Bible is written, Protestant paradox demands an inconsistent method of interpretation. In some verses paradox is employed while in others grammar is employed without any determinate principle whatsoever except orthodox presuppositions. In other words, interpretive methodology demanded by the context is ignored and exchanged for orthodoxy. I suppose the classic example of this is Romans 8:2 where the same word for “law” used twice in that verse is interpreted both as a written standard and a realm. Once you break an interpretive rule of that sort, anything goes; you can interpret the Bible any way you want to.

Lastly, the injection of chapters and verses into the Bible by the Protestant Reformers has made it possible to proof-text orthodoxy without considering the corpus of Scripture. Furthermore, it suits preaching and not the necessity of reading the corpus without elements being emphasized through a numbering system. It is incredible to consider that chapters and verses were deemed unnecessary until the 16th century. It should not only seem suspect, it should be deemed such. Chapters and verses make it possible to sell a doctrine with a collection of biblical one-liners.

Therefore, an alternative to the traditional view of election must be sought, and the traditional definition of the words used to discuss this issue must be traded for their biblical assessment.

Indeed, there are many verses in the Bible that seem to indicate that people are preselected for salvation; after all, the word “elect” is in the Bible, but there are just as many or more verses that seem to indicate people are able to believe or reject the gospel. You can understand why we are still at a stalemate 500 years later. But again, is this because we are constrained by Protestant rules of engagement? Unfortunately, for the most part, logic enters in based on subjective criteria rather than conclusions drawn from the objective definition of words. And again, if one buys into the paradox argument, they are merely on their way to being full-blown predeterminists.

Before we get into the meat of our study, let’s serve up a few appetizers. First, the word “elect” or often translated “chosen” does not always apply to people who need salvation or people at all for that matter. The word “election” sometimes applies to deity, ie., Christ, or the holy angels, or a thing such as the nation of Israel. The nation Israel spoken of as being elect is a major Old Testament theme.* Not only that, in Romans 11:2, Israel is spoken of in the exact same way that elected individuals are spoken of in Romans 8:29. This should alert us that something is up with all of this.

Secondly, the definition of “called” creates critical problems for the 5 points of Calvinism (TULIP) with the other points attempting to cover for the one fundamental flaw. Again, this has to do with the definition of “called.” God calls all people because Christ died for everybody. In the minds of the Reformers, if God preselected some for salvation and others for damnation, He could not have possibly died for the sins of the damned. If He died for their sins, they are forgiven, and only need to accept the pardon. If Christ died for all sin, this suggests a choosing by men rather than God. Hence, the Reformed called for a limited atonement (the “L” in TULIP) effected by an “effectual calling” (Irresistible grace [the “I” in TULIP]).

Herein is the problem: Christ died to end the law, and how many people are under the law? Right, everyone. So, Romans 10:4 alone completely blows up the leading authority on predeterminism; the 5 points of Calvinism. Or…

Colossians 2:11 – In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God,who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Instead of Christ dying for everyone, which throws a large monkey wrench into the 5 points of Calvinism, the Reformed merely keep the so-called “saints” under the law and its “legal demands.” This takes care of the problem of the law being ended because everyone remains under it while those who are preselected receive a perpetual forgiveness from Christ for their ongoing sin. This makes limited atonement possible. According to the Synod of Dort  and the Canons of Dort in 1618 and 1619 which codified the 5 points of Calvinism:

For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle. (Christ’s Death and Human Redemption Through It, Article 8)

Here is the point: the leading authority on Protestant election is the 5 points of Calvinism which is plainly wrong and defines the saints as unbelievers according to the biblical definition of under law versus under grace.

Verses that assume choice more or less speak for themselves—let’s examine verses that seem to indicate preselection, and we will start with the book of Ephesians:

1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 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. 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 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Let’s begin by defining who the “we” and the “us” are. In context, it is the Jews. When Paul wrote that “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” he is talking about the predestination of the Jews as a group, not individuals. Hence…

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The first to hope in Christ and obtain an inheritance are the Jews. The “you also” are the Gentiles to whom Paul is writing. Keeping in mind that Christ is elect, note the following:

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. 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 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

It’s Christ and the plan of salvation that is in Christ, or the “mystery of the gospel”** that is preordained—not individuals. But, how do individuals obtain this “inheritance”?

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

“You also” is the Gentiles in general, “when you heard the word of truth, and believed in him” is how the inheritance is obtained: by individual faith. At the time one believes they receive a “guarantee.” This is why Christ is elect, and why Israel is also elect: national Israel is also part of the salvation plan and the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Other than the fact that this passage makes being part of the commonwealth of Israel synonymous with salvation, we see that “we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” This speaks of two groups, not individuals who have access to the father through the Spirit. God’s clear purpose in election was to unite both Jew and Gentile into one body, not the preselection of some individuals over others.

There are many, many other verses we could discuss, but we will close with a couple of tough ones in this whole discussion. First, the dreaded Acts 13:48.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

First of all, as Andy Young aptly pointed out in his Acts series, the context of Acts 13 is a historical account of Romans 11 in full action. Second, many who contend against preselection of individuals quibble about the actual meaning of the word “appointed” or “ordained” in said verse. For example, here is what the late Dave Hunt said about it:

Some claim that the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate
that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a
translation… going back to a “redacted Hebrew” version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like “as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved (Dave Hunt, What Love is This? 3rd Edition, 2006, page 264).

Perhaps, but I think there is a better explanation. Go with me to Romans 13:1ff.

 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good.

See the word, “appointed” in this verse? It is the same word for “appointed” in Acts 13:48. In fact, I believe, if I am not mistaken, these are the only two places in the NT where the word is used in the exact same form (tense, voice, etc., etc.). It is the governmental authorities that are ordained for a specific purpose plainly stated in the context. Now, let me ask you a question: does that mean everyone who works in government didn’t have a choice to do so? Does this mean that everyone who works in government was preselected to do so and had no choice? Or, did their own decision to work in government make them the appointed authority? You see that God appoints the means to an end and not necessarily those who choose to be part of the means. Likewise, as many Gentiles who believed became God’s appointed heirs to the commonwealth of Israel in Christ. That doesn’t mean they had no choice in the matter.

Let’s look at this from yet another angle. If an appointed means necessarily means that all of the individuals that are a part of the means were also preselected, does that mean all government officials were chosen to be such by God? Did God choose Adolf Hitler for your good? That’s the stated purpose for governmental authorities, no?

But thirdly, why are the Reformed so keen on using this verse anyway? By their very doctrine, those who presently believe do not necessarily possess ETERNAL life. If you presently have eternal life, it’s eternal, right? Because of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (the “P” in TULIP), the jury is out on whether you get eternal life or not at “the tribunal” as Calvin called it.

In closing, what am I saying here? Am I saying that this proposition is the definitive answer to Protestant determinism? No, so what am I saying? I am saying that the purveyors of a false gospel have dictated the definitions and confines of the debate for 500 years, and the time for an honest discussion is now, and that discussion must be divorced from Protestant orthodoxy found egregiously wanting. I do believe that this proposition, ie., God preselects the means and not individuals, is a good starting point.

With that, let’s go to the phones.

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* Deuteronomy 7:6

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Exodus 19:4-6

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Psalms 135:4

For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession.

Isaiah 41:8-9

“But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.

Isaiah 43:10

“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.

Isaiah 44:1-2

“But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, And Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.

Isaiah 45:4

“For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me.

Amos 3:2

“You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

** Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 4, 2014

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This will be our ninth and final lesson on election. We will now continue on in our verse by verse study of Romans. We will resume in Romans 14:1. Just three chapters left in our study of Romans. We are not quite ready to relent from our focus on justification in this gospel-illiterate age, so our next verse by verse focus will be Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

I wanted to divert into a temporary journey of discovery regarding election because it is an important part of Paul’s letter to the Romans. As I have stated before, I was comfortable skimming over the subject because of the overall ignorance in regard to justification. I somewhat rethought that position and decided to look at election closer. The first eight parts of our interlude have set forth a mostly logical argument against the idea of salvific preselection of individuals, but I believe our study here nails down a definitive doctrinal argument based on grammatical interpretation.

I have come to believe that individuals are not preselected, but it is the plan of salvation that is elected, and the end of it predetermined. Hence, the certain outcome of God’s plan for the ages is what is predetermined, and that is part of the good news: a hopeful outcome is predetermined, not specific people. Certainly, God knows who is going to be saved, but He does not preselect individuals for eternal life and eternal damnation. I have seen this vaguely in Scripture from time to time, but the first three chapters of Ephesians have convinced me of it.

This is why we are going to move on in the book of Romans; we could spend a lifetime learning about election, but I think basic understanding is enough for now as we will see more of the pieces come together in future readings.

Whenever election appears in the text of Scripture, the subject is almost always Jew and Gentile, and that is what we see in the first three chapters of Ephesians. Election is not about individuals, it is about God’s purpose for groups in His overall plan of salvation. Individuals are not excluded from the plan of salvation. The plan is offered as a gift to man, and there is no other way to be saved. That’s the theme of election—it is the offering of a gift; viz, God’s plan of salvation for all men.

Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 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.

“Us” refers to both Jew and Gentile. Jew and Gentile were chosen before the foundation of the earth, not individuals. Paul will also cite the specific purposes of God’s plan accordingly. Two groups of people are in view here, not individuals. As we move along, this becomes clearer and clearer. These groups were chosen “in Christ.” His death made the inclusion possible. These groups will also be adopted sons, or part of God’s literal family.

Ephesians 1:7 – 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 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

What is elected is Christ and God’s plan for the ages. The “mystery” of His will is according to His purposes set forth in Christ. The purposes are, “to unite all things in him,” which includes heaven and earth, and to make it all “known to us,” that is, Jew and Gentile.

Ephesians 1:11 – In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

“We” is Jew and Gentile. But, “we” in verse 12 are the Jews only who were first to hope in Christ. God’s will is that they be the “praise of his glory.” Note “In him you also” (verse 13) is obviously talking about Gentiles. Individuals are not the subject here. What is in view is God’s plan, purposes, and the groups that He has chosen to bring about those purposes according to the counsel of His will.

Individuals enter into the privileges and purposes of God’s plan when they hear the word of truth and believe. It is when we hear the gospel and believe that we are “sealed.” Hence, it is God’s plan for people groups that is predetermined, individuals are saved in time when they hear the gospel and believe. It is “when” we heard and believed that we were “sealed,” we were not sealed before the foundation of the earth; we were sealed in time when we believed. There is a clear distinction in the text between these two ideas. We enter into God’s family and His plan for the ages “through” faith.

Ephesians 2:1 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

“Made ‘us’ alive together with Christ” continues to show the dominant theme of Jew and Gentile and God’s purposes in making both groups joint heirs of God’s salvation and entry into His family. Now, many take note of “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”…

See! See! Your very faith is a gift. Not only is the plan predestined, your faith is predestined.

So, the question becomes, is it God’s grace (salvation) that is the gift, or faith? Let’s answer the question with Scripture:

Romans 3:22…For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.

Clearly, it is grace that is the gift, made possible by Christ’s death, and “received” by faith. In both texts, the fact that grace is the gift excludes boasting, not the idea that our faith is predetermined. Also, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power” (Eph 3:7). Grace is the gift, not faith. Faith comes by hearing the word and being persuaded that it is the way of salvation.

Ephesians 3:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

This is the “mystery” that is now revealed:

Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

And another purpose is stated:

Ephesians 3:8 – To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

The revealing of the mystery and its purposes in Christ is what is elected, not individuals. This is the very theme that is initially stated:

Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 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.

Again, “us” is both Jew and Gentile—that the two would be one is what is predetermined—not individuals. It is an “eternal” purpose (Eph 3:11). We gain “access” to this purpose and become part of its covenants and promises “through our faith in him” (Eph 3:11). Faith is distinct from the eternal purpose which is elected. God elected the means which are accessed through faith. If faith is the mark of those who have been preselected as opposed to those who haven’t been preselected, why wouldn’t the Bible state that fact in plain terms? This is why some peradventure to make faith a gift in the same wise as grace using Eph 2:8. Romans 3:22ff and many other texts refute that idea—grace is the gift. In one sense, faith is an indirect gift because without grace there is nothing to believe in, but in the biggest sense salvation is a legitimate offer and mankind’s choice to either accept the gift or reject it.

In this discussion, let’s consider Matthew 22:

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Again, the context of election is two groups: Jew and Gentile. Jesus directs this parable towards the Jewish leaders who were rejecting Him and leading the Jewish people to do the same. The original invitation to the wedding feast was to the Jews. When they, for the most part rejected the invitation, and even murdered those who invited them, the King orders His servants to call anyone they can find to the feast (the Gentiles). The one found at the feast without the traditional wedding coat represents a Jew who comes to the feast on his own terms.

What I would like to address is verse 14, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Just about everywhere else in Scripture, the same word translated “chosen” here, is eklektos which appears 21 times in the New Testament and translated “elect.” So, a better translation here would be, “many are called, but few are elect.” Jesus was addressing the mindset of the Jewish leaders that they would be a part of the great feast because they were God’s chosen people. In reality, they were being called to God’s elect purposes which included Christ, the elect angels, and the election of Jews and Gentiles both. Their rejection of this elect purpose would condemn them to eternal punishment. The point saturates the context surrounding this passage.

This brings us to the infamous Acts 13:48:

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed (ESV).

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the various translations of this verse, the context is God’s predetermination that the Gentiles would become heirs of the promises made to Israel. There would not be two classes of people in the kingdom—Jew and Gentile would become one body in the commonwealth of Israel. That is the mystery of the gospel revealed in this age. Acts is the historical account of this plan being unfolded. The point in Acts 13:48 is the inclusion of a group, not the preselection of individuals. I do believe that many translations slant this verse towards that conclusion (individual selection), but clearly, it doesn’t fit the context and is off-topic.

It is amazing how we have been conditioned by Protestantism to interpret everything through the prism of individual selection. Every instance of intervention on God’s part is used to assume plenary predeterminism and thereby plunging the Scriptures into total confusion. God “opened” Lydia’s heart, so that means nobody understands anything unless God shows it to them. Hence, all ignorance is predetermined by God. “Study to show thyself approved,” but you aren’t going to understand anything unless God “opens” your eyes like He did to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

This extreme view of Scripture starts with plenary monergism, and can only lead to one place: a caste system that inserts philosopher kings as mediators between mankind and God. This is also why Reformed theology posits Christ as the primary member of the Trinity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit playing secondary roles: Christ is promoted to the role of Father so that men can assume His role as mediator between God and mankind. This is where a Platonist worldview is essential to the mediation of elitist philosophers construct. God predetermines certain men to rule over the great unwashed masses. This, in turn, leads to absolution and salvation being found in an institution run by elitists.

Yet another consideration:

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Once again, what is the context? In fact, what is the context of what follows in Romans chapters 10 and 11? Answer, the whole Jew/Gentile issue… “even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” Because of God’s elected purpose, neither Jew nor Gentile has reason to boast. And again, it is grace that is elected, not individual choice. Does the Bible ever say directly that individual choice is predetermined? I don’t think so. Rather, freedom to choose seems to be assumed. For certain, what man can choose is predetermined, but the choice itself is not predetermined. Many things such as God’s intervention and helping us in our weakness is interpreted as plenary monergism—I think this is wrong—weakness does NOT equal total inability.

Furthermore, indeed, God hated Esau and loved Jacob before they were even born…or did he? Read the text carefully. Before they were born, he predetermined that the older would serve the younger based on what God knew about these two men and their lives beforehand. Esau would not be selected to further the linage of the coming Messiah because of what God knew about his character beforehand. If you read the Old Testament text that Paul uses to make his point (Malachi 1:2,3), you will find that God hated Esau because of his betrayal of Israel in time, not because God predetermined his behavior.

God elected the plan of salvation and His  purposes for the ages. All men are “invited” (klētos: Rom 8:28; Matt 22:14) to be a part of this plan THROUGH faith. Many are invited, but only those who love God are part of His elect group called out for His specific purposes. The plan, and the way he works all things together for the elect is His “workmanship,” not individuals per se. In other words, God doesn’t predetermine our choices as God’s elect. He may intervene at certain points to bring about our good, but we are responsible for our own choices. Unsaved people are free to accept the invitation or reject it.

This is why many of the Reformed make it a point to call the gospel an “announcement,” “herald,” or “proclamation.” The idea that the gospel is an “invitation” creates huge problems for them.

The so-called “church,” ekklēsia, is the “out-called,” ek (out) – klesia (called). It is not an institution; it is a calling to Gods purposes for the ages and an invitation to be a part of it. You are being called away from all other plans to God’s plans that have a certain end—you can also call that “repentance.” You are “persuaded” by the invitation and believe it.

You are then part of God’s elect.

Acts Lesson 35

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 27, 2014
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