In this blog, we are going to look at Unconditional Election. The “U” in TULIP.
I warn you now, this is going to be a longer one because not only are we going to cover the doctrine itself, but also a few common critiques that some bring against this doctrine. Hopefully I can keep your attention here. Unconditional election is perhaps the clearest point that drives home the Gospel. It is simply the fact that there are elected to receive the gift of salvation. If you are a Christian, it means you were elected to be a Christian. God chose you, therefore you are saved. Ephesians 1:4-6 says,
“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 to Himself 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.”
Salvation is based completely upon God's grace and love toward those whom He has chosen. God has laid no criteria out in His word as to what He basis His decision upon. We simply get to be the recipients of divine grace and marvel at the fact that God would choose to save us. Election is unconditional. That means our election is not based on any type of condition we are aware of. God alone chooses and has the right to choose whomever He will. This election is not based upon race, gender, social standing, intellectual prowess, personal will, choice, or works of any kind. It is based completely on His own desire. This is shown again in Ephesians 2:8-10 where it says,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The reason no one is able to boast is because no one has played any part in their salvation. If we did, even the smallest bit, we would have a reason to boast. Scripture does not give us that option.
Let's look at this logically for a second. If God's election is based upon anything other than His will, this would mean there is an outside source that God is subject to. If God's election is a response to man's will, God is basing a decision of His upon something other than His desire. If God's election takes into consideration man's will or desires at any point, the election becomes contingent and dependent upon that criteria. If God is dependent upon man to choose Him, then God is not completely sovereign over all things. This places man in the driver seat and causes him to be the factor of causation in regards to salvation. If God is basing His election upon man's will or desire and is reacting to a decision that man makes, this logically infers that there is some aspect of the cosmos that God is not in control or sovereign over. This makes God dependent upon man. The problem with this is that any god that is dependent upon man is not God. If God is not sovereign then God is not God. God's sovereignty is one of the defining characteristics of His deity. If there is a rouge molecule in the cosmos that is out of God's sovereign control, He is stripped of His deity and becomes less than God. The logical and theological implications of God not being sovereign are terrifying at the very least. A god that bases his decisions upon me is not a god that I want to be in control. This just isn’t the God of the Bible. Why would we say God is sovereign over all things, yet with the same breath say that God needs people to choose Him? Take a look at the order of salvation given to us in Romans 8:29-30.
“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.”
Nowhere in this order do we see a place where man makes a decision to follow Christ. We do not see God waiting for someone to “ask Him into their heart.” We do not see God being dependent on anything. We only see Him exercising His divine authority and saving the dead.
Something to also take into consideration is that if salvation is not based upon election, Jesus took a major risk in sacrificing Himself on the cross. If God was not sure who would accept Christ and left it up to the will of man, there is a chance, however small, that no one would make the decision to follow Christ. Christ sacrificed himself on the cross with the blind hope that someone would decide to accept the gift that He was giving. This just simply is not true. Some will attempt to make the claim that God looked down the corridor of time to see who would choose salvation and based His election upon that. The problem with this analogy is that it still places man as the deciding factor. It depicts a God that is dependent upon man's action or decision. This is not the God of the Bible.
The wondrous truth of unconditional election is that God, in His holiness and righteousness, chose to love and save individuals that were in the very midst of cursing and blaspheming His name. The question is not why did God not save everybody, but rather why did God choose to save any at all? In that light, I suppose that there is an element of unfairness to the doctrine of election. It seems unfair that God would choose to put the sins of some people upon the shoulders of One that was completely innocent. It seems unfair that Christ should have to suffer for the wrongs that were committed by me. It seems unfair that I get to reap the benefits of the love and grace of God while Christ hung bruised, bloodied and suffocating on a splintered piece of wood. This is what is unfair.
Yet for some reason we scream and cry for our “free will” and say something along the lines of “God doesn’t want robots to love Him.” This argument drives me up a wall so please allow me to rant for a brief second and understand that this critique comes out of a genuine desire for people to know the true God of the Bible and rest completely in His power. I truly believe this is a hill on which to die on. The issue here is not whether God did or did not make us robots. The issue is if God wanted robots to worship and love Him, then He dang well made you a robot because like it or not, that’s what it means to be God. He gets to do what He wants, when He wants, without question because He is God and you are not. You are not part of the equation. Your opinions do not matter. Your thoughts do not matter. Your feelings do not matter. You are nothing. God is not accountable to you. If any of this offends you I would lovingly ask you to please get off your self-righteous high horse and eat the dirt that you were graciously created from and do not presume even for a second that you have a fraction of the mental capability to understand what God would or would not do.
Who do we think we are when we think like this? "What about my free will?" Are we serious? Where were you when God laid the foundations of the earth? Where were you when He commanded the light to shine and the stars to form? Were you there when when He split the darkness with blinding light and causes the mountains to rise? Were you there when He weaved the cosmos into a glorious song that shouts His praises throughout eternity? Will you put Him in the wrong? Will you condemn Him that you may be right? Will you say He is unfair? Are you so arrogant to believe that you understand a fraction of His glory or being? He is not some equal with which you have the ability to debate. This is GOD. The ultimate power and supreme ruler of the cosmos. He is enthroned on the highest throne overseeing His creation with power, authority and truth. He knows all and is in all and everything is sustained because He causes it to be sustained. This. Is. God. Dear Christian, open your eyes to the God of the Bible. He is more than we can handle.
Some will say this view of God makes Him to be a tyrant. Oh Christian, with all this power and holiness, how does He choose to interact with us - the sinners rebelling against Him? Friend, the wonder of election is that you and I were rotting corpses and God, in His ultimate authority, glory and holiness, looked upon us with love and gave us Jesus. These are not the actions of a tyrant. These are the actions of a God that is more loving, more gracious and more caring than we can ever imagine. This is truly amazing. This is the Gospel. This is God. Worship Him for He is worthy. Love Him for He is faithful. Confess that all worship, honor and glory are due to Him and Him alone and thank Him for unconditionally electing us to be the recipients of His divine love, grace and forgiveness. Do not save for yourselves the tiniest amount of responsibility for your salvation. Give all the glory to God and bask in the wonder of your election. This doctrine is absolutely wonderful. I cannot think of anything more comforting. I will leave you with 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this He called you through our Gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”