Monday, February 15, 2010

grounding election: the existence of the doctrine

It wouldn't do us much good to have a conversation on what we should ground God's sovereign election in if we don't agree that the doctrine of election exists and is Biblical. A blog really isn't the place to have an all-out defense of the doctrine, but a few things can be said about it in a short matter of time.

The words elect, predestined, foreknown, chosen, etc. exist throughout Scripture. Just a quick look through a concordance will assure you of this. Below I've got some statistics gathered from a simple word search using Biblegateway. I've combined word references in the Gospels (that is, if the same situation is being talked about in Matt. 24 and Mark 13, I'll simply count them as one instance) and tried to ween out those verses that do not use them in a context that has to do with election (for instance, if "Lot chose" is in a verse, I've left that out of the count.) I've also included all variations on the word, elect, elected, election, etc.

Elect: 11 instances
Chose: 48 instances
Foreknew: 5 instances
Predestined (destined): 8 instances

Those are just where the exact words appears. The idea of election, though, is often implied in a text. "My people" is a common phrase (but I wasn't about to sift through all those instances), the idea of God doing as He pleases with people by making kings and rulers and destroying kingdoms (that is the point of the fall of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel), the idea that nothing happens outside God's will, and the prophecies found in Scripture (especially those that foretell of Jesus life, death and resurrection) all point to God's sovereign election.

Some have argued that God election is of a people, not individually but corporately. This idea, however nice it may sound, does not hold up logically. You can't choose a group without choosing individuals. You might not want everyone that is in the group, but by virtue of your choice, you have chosen them anyway. Election must ultimately become individual if it is to make any sense.

And finally, for me, the greatest Scriptural evidence of election is found in this glorious statement from Ephesians 1:

"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, even 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 for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."

I've marked up the text so that you can see a few things more clearly:
Red phrases are blessings or goodness given to us...notice how prominent they are
Blue phrases are those about our election
Green phrases are those that have to due with God's action in election
Purple is the ultimate purpose of election

I hope that makes sense.

Again, all I'm trying to show in this opening post that the doctrine of election is true and found throughout the Scriptures in a myriad of ways. We need to be agreed on this basic idea that it exists before a discussion can be made for us to rejoice in it.

Here is a basic outline of the remaining posts (coming every day or so for the next couple weeks)
Election should cause grief
God is not happy that anyone should perish
God is forever about his fame
Election should make us rejoice

There may be a few posts thrown in to help clarify points.


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