Understanding Eternal Predestination and Election

by | Posted April 14th at 8:24pm

The doctrine of predestination often offends and triggers many with a bias against Calvinism. I prefer to view it as an important biblical doctrine easily defended by scripture.

Scripture, indeed, bears strong testimony to this doctrine; since it is a matter of supreme importance, yielding a proper understanding of the Lord’s will regarding the way of salvation. The doctrine inspires genuine sanctification and a love for our trinitarian God. Scripture refers to the election of a predestined group of people in a variety of ways. I have also written about how faith in the gospel message is operative and how all who call upon the Lord will be saved.

  1. The Lord Jesus Christ is called the Elect in Isaiah 42:1 NKJV: Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles; and 1 Pet. 1:20: He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.
  2. The holy angels have been elected to an eternal and permanent state for God’s service to assist the elect people who follow Christ. Please understand this distinction — the Lord Jesus has been chosen or elected by the Father for the salvation of men and not angels. As God and man, however, Christ is exalted above the angels who worship Him and whom He, as Lord, uses according to His will to the benefit of His elect. These holy angels have been chosen by God, which explains why they are called “elect” 1 Timothy 5:21: I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.
  3. Some people are elected to a specific office, possibly in government, as Saul was chosen to be king. 1 Samuel 10:24: “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? This was also true when he was rejected. 1 Samuel 16:1: “I have rejected him from being king”.
  4. Others are chosen to a ministerial office, as was Judas, who was also chosen to be an apostle. John 6:70: Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil. 

The predestined elect children of God

This manner of election is not under discussion here, but rather the election of some people unto salvation. It signifies a determination of a matter before it exists or transpires to bring it to a certain end as defined in Acts 4:28 NAS: to do whatever Your hand and purpose predestined to occur. This is further confirmed in 1 Corinthians 2:7, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.”

It is this word predestined which is used to refer to man’s destiny and the means whereby they obtain this salvation. Ephesians 1:11, 5: In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined… Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. In Romans 8:29-30 our predestined calling and election is for the divine purpose of sanctification unto holiness – a transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit into Christ-likeness, with an obedient holy viewpoint, being led by the Spirit: For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…And those whom he predestined he also called.

Election refers to a foreknowledge of God characterised by love and delight. For this purpose Christ is referred to as “the elect of God,” (Isaiah 42:1 NKJ) as stated in 1 Peter 1:20: He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.

Here election pertains to those called by the Spirit to follow the Lord Jesus: Romans 8:28-30 ESV: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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. This ties in with “for the LORD knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6); and But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” (2 Tim. 2:19). Believers are therefore called “elect… according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Pet. 1:2). It signifies election itself. “God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew” (Rom. 11:2); “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate” (Rom. 8:29, 9:11). Paul, makes it clear that God does predestinate people to salvation. Again in Ephesians 1:11 ESV: 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… (see also Acts 13:48)

1 Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992), 211.


Article posted by Glen R. Jackman, founder of GraceProclaimed.org

Glen has optimized his eldership role to teach the full scope of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ without boundaries.
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