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What is Divine Election and Why is it so Controversial?...Read More

The Biblical Terminology of Election...Read More

Let’s do some review.   The issue before us is why and on what grounds some are elected to salvation and eternal life and others are not. The question, then, is this: Does God elect people because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or does God elect people in order that they shall believe in Christ? Jack W. Cottrell, an Arminian, agrees that this is in fact the issue separating Calvinists and Arminians. Says Cottrell:   “The Calvinistic mi...Read More

Whereas some Arminians (such as Jack Cottrell) deny the doctrine of total depravity, most affirm it and account for human free will by appealing to the concept of prevenient grace. John Wesley affirmed:   "I believe that Adam, before his fall, had such freedom of will, that he might choose either good or evil; but that, since the fall, no child of man has a natural power to choose anything that is truly good. Yet I know (and who does not?) that man has still free...Read More

Thomas Oden (The Transforming Power of Grace [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993]) contends that “the eternal will to save may be viewed as either antecedent or consequent to the exercise of human freedom in history” (82). This Wesleyan-Arminian perspective recognizes “God’s primordial (or antecedent) benevolence, and God’s special (or consequent) benevolence. A distinction is posited between God’s antecedent will to save (voluntas antecedens, antecedent to the ...Read More

The Calvinistic concept of divine election proceeds on the assumption that God saves men and women in accordance with a plan formulated in eternity past. The events we see unfolding in time and history are not haphazard or chaotic, appearances notwithstanding. They are the divinely ordained means by which God is bringing this universe to its proper consummation in Jesus Christ. We would not think very highly of God if we knew him to have created all things without a clue...Read More

Faith and Repentance: Gifts of God or the Fruit of Free Will?...Read More

The real point of dispute between Arminians and Calvinists is not so much the nature of God and his will, but the nature of man and his. This may sound strange, for earlier I suggested that the principal area of disagreement is the basis on which God makes his elective decision. Perhaps an illustration will clarify this point. Consider the case of identical twin brothers Jerry and Ed. As much as is humanly possible they are the same in every sense: physical appearance,...Read More

What, then, of human freedom? To answer that question we must distinguish between “free agency” and “free will.” It is simplistic and misleading to say, without qualification, “man is free” or “man is not free.” To say that man has free agency is to say he is free to do what he wants. If he wants to reject Christ, he can. If he wants to accept Christ, he can. In brief, the human will is free to choose whatever the heart des...Read More

What is at stake in the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism is far more than a disagreement over terminology. At the heart of all this is the grace of God and how we understand it. I am not suggesting that Arminian Christians are deliberately impugning the grace of God in salvation. Nevertheless, by making election conditional upon something that man does, even if what he does is simply to repent and believe the gospel, God’s grace is seriously compromised. To...Read More

Grace is more than an attitude or disposition in the divine nature. It is surely that, but an examination of the usage of this word in Scripture reveals that grace, if thought of only as an abstract and static principle, is deprived of its deeper implications.   The grace of God, for example, is the power of God's Spirit converting the soul. It is the activity or movement of God whereby He saves and justifies the individual through faith (see esp. Rom. 3:24; 5:15...Read More

These passages are not listed in order of importance or clarity, but according to the order in which they appear in Scripture.   Matthew 11:25-27   “At that time Jesus answered and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. "Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no...Read More

John 6:37-40,44,65 (see also 17:1-2,6,9,24) "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal li...Read More

We now move from the Gospels and Acts to the Epistles. Romans 8:29-30 “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; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”  1 Peter 1:1-2 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered thro...Read More

Romans 9:6-13 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is a word of promise: ‘at this time I will come, and Sarah ...Read More

Romans 9:14-23 (1)   “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that my name m...Read More

Romans 9:14-23 (2)   As we return to Paul’s response, one should observe that the objection raised in v. 19 is not a humble inquiry on the part of an inquisitive student of theology, as if he were simply asking "How can these things be?" It is rather an indignant declaration and arrogant protest against God in which he insists that "these things ought not to be, and if they are, God is unrighteous!" Paul's emphatic "O man" and "to God" in v. 20 assign to th...Read More

Ephesians 1:3-6 “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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in t...Read More

Let’s return to the hypothetical case of our twin brothers Jerry and Ed. For several years both brothers had been attending church with their parents, reluctantly but there nonetheless. The gospel of Jesus Christ was a message with which they were both quite familiar. Indeed, familiarity in their case truly had bred contempt, for they both despised and quietly mocked what they heard.   But then one day seemingly "out of the blue," the gospel he has for so l...Read More

Regeneration or the New Birth This obviously prompts us to ask another question. What precisely was it that the Holy Spirit did in Jerry that he did not do in Ed? What was it, if anything, that the Holy Spirit did in Jerry that elicited the appropriate response to the call issued in the gospel? The answer is regeneration. Or to use an expression that everyone today knows, Jerry was "born again." Jerry believes the gospel because there has taken place within him a radica...Read More

Unfortunately, the label Hyper-Calvinist is used frequently in our day to insult or ridicule anyone who is more Calvinistic than oneself. As far as the Pelagians are concerned, semi-Pelagians are hyper-Calvinists. As far as semi-Pelagians are concerned, Arminians are hyper-Calvinists. As far as Arminians are concerned, four-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists. As far as four-point Calvinists are concerned, five-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists. Depending on where ...Read More

I am providing this additional material for the benefit of those who may wish to examine in more detail the many references to “calling” in the NT.             (1)            The verb “to call” (kaleo) is used some 147x in the NT. It has a variety of meanings. ·      It is used 72x with the meaning “...Read More

One of the more frequently heard objections to unconditional election is that it impugns God’s justice. God is unfair and unjust, says the Arminian, if he treats people differently or bestows on some a favor that he withholds from others.   But this is surely a strange way of defining justice. Justice is that principle in virtue of which a person is given his due. To withhold from a person what he deserves or what the law demands that he receive is to act u...Read More

Another objection usually follows quickly on the heels of the previous two. It is often conceded that whereas it may not be unjust of God not to save all, it is surely unloving of him at least not to try. If God is love, the Arminian argues, then he must manifest that love equally and universally. To answer this objection properly it will be necessary to discuss yet another controversial doctrine, the extent of the atonement. But our primary concern is still with electio...Read More

I’ve often heard people say that belief in the doctrine of election will diminish one’s love for the lost. Whenever I hear this, my mind turns immediately to something the apostle Paul said in Romans 9:1-5. What makes his comments especially poignant is that they appear immediately following his discussion of divine sovereignty in Romans 8:28-38 and immediately preceding a similar discussion in Romans 9:6-23. Here are Paul’s words.   “I am...Read More

The question is often phrased with brutal honesty: “If the spiritual destiny of all people is fixed and certain from eternity past, why preach, why pray?” I want to begin my answer to this question with the reminder of how the apostle Paul repeatedly speaks with perfect ease of both sovereign election and prayer for successful evangelistic outreach. Divine sovereignty does not preempt prayer, nor does prayer render God’s choice contingent. The God who ...Read More

Divine Election: How and Why does God Choose? Part One...Read More

Divine Election: How and Why does God Choose? Part Two...Read More