• TULIP III – Unconditional Election

    Posted Nov 27th, 2009 By in Pastor Brian's Blog, TULIP With | No Comments

    As we meditate upon the implications of Total Depravity, we inevitably come to the place where we throw up our hands and with the disciples say, “Then who can be saved?” (Lk. 18:26). When that question is raised, you know someone understands this doctrine. The answer is simple: God overcomes our fallenness and depravity by his grace and power according to his meticulous and sovereign plan. To take the words of Jesus on our lips, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Lk. 18:27).

    God overcomes our depravity in two ways, one historical (that is, before creation), and one that unfolds in time. In time, our depravity is overcome when he subdues us, makes us alive, and grants to us faith that we might believe the promises of the gospel. We call this Irresistible Grace. However, this is not an afterthought or a reaction to our current condition. Far from it. This is the very plan of God that extends back prior to creation. Paul states this clearly in Eph. 1:3-4:

    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 would be holy and blameless before him.Eph. 1:3-4

    Before the world began, the church was already selected by the sovereignly gracious plan of God:

    …share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.2 Tim. 1:8b-9

    We must also emphasize the un in unconditional. All Christians believe in election and predestination because, as we have seen above, the Bible uses that language. The real debate is about the basis of that election. Those who reject TULIP embrace and articulate a conditionalview of election, usually conditioned upon foreseen faith. As the theory goes, God looks down a long corridor and sees who is going to freely believe. Then, based upon what he sees, he elects. This is troubling for a number of reasons. The most disconcerting of them all is that it makes God out to be a learner. There was a point in time when he was unsure of who would believe, then he saw who believed and acted in election. This is a tragic error. God learns nothing. All things unfold according to God’s will (Eph. 1:11) and nothing catches him by surprise.

    Does this mean that God also reprobates the non-elect? The answer is, of course. There are two sides to this coin. God, in his mercy and good pleasure, grants to some grace and forgiveness. He also, in his wisdom and justice, passes by those whom he chooses to reprobate, that they might meet the consequences and punishment their sins deserve. After all, the potter does have dominion and authority over the clay (Rom. 9:14-26).Our response is one of amazement and awe. Our salvation is shown to be all the more precious, and we throw up our hands with Isaac Watts proclaiming, “Why was I made to hear your voice, and enter while there’s room, when thousands make a wretched choice and rather starve than come?” (TH 469)

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    Pastor of New Life La Mesa Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA.

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