In this regular feature Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call, here’s this week’s question:Dear Dave and Tom:I have a friend who is a Calvinist, and I have had many discussions with him.I believe a major issue that divides us is the definition of the term “election.”Could you give us what you believe is the biblical definition of election?I think that may be helpful even for those who know nothing about Calvinism.
Tom, Peter in chapter 1 of his first epistle says:“…Elect according to the foreknowledge of God.”Let me just turn there quickly so we can see exactly what he says.Election is never to salvation, but it is to certain blessings.“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, (This is verse 2) unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”So, we are elected unto a life of obedience.Now, it’s elect according to foreknowledge, so election is not like God says, Eeenie, meenie, minee mo, I’ll elect you to salvation, and I won’t elect you.But it’s according to His foreknowledge.What would foreknowledge have to do with election?It means God must have known something ahead of time about these people that he’s going to elect.What would God have to know?If He’s just favoring one person over another, he doesn’t have to know anything.So it is always—if we went to Romans chapter 8, predestined is the same thing, elect means you’ve been predestined to something.And let’s see what it says:Romans:8:29: “For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate”— Predestine to what? To salvation?Predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.God didn’t have to make us his children, he could have put us on a planet out there somewhere and delivered us from hell.So, we’re predestined to certain blessings.If we went to Ephesians chapter 1, we get the same teaching once again.Verse 4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” So what does elect, chosen, predestined, foreknown, they are all basically talking about the same thing.There are certain people that God knew would respond to the gospel, and he knew that beforehand, and it’s dependent upon their reaction, whether they believe in Jesus or they reject him.So let me read it from Ephesians chapter 1:“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children.”So, it’s the same thought, why would God choose certain people?Now you have to remember that when he chooses it doesn’t mean that’s not enough, because we get that in John chapter 6.Jesus says:John:6:70, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?He chose Judas.In other words, he’s giving them the opportunity to be what he wants them to be, but it is still up to their choice, they have a choice.
Dave, just let me, interject this, I was going to get to that and I’ve glad you got to it right away.Could you say that Judas was one of God’s elect, he had a purpose for him?See, at the beginning you said it was just unto blessings, but if God has a purpose, for example, aren’t the Jews God’s elect?Not all of them are saved but He did have a purpose for the Jewish people.
Yeah, and the purpose was to bless them, that’s what I said is under a blessing, the adoption of children, and so forth.Now when Jesus said in John 15, You didn’t choose me, I chose you, the Calvinist loves that.See, you didn’t choose me, I chose you.Well Tom, if you’re the owner of some business and I respond to an ad in the paper for a job offer, and I take my test or whatever and you hire me, you can say to me, You didn’t choose me, I chose you.But that doesn’t mean that I, as your employee, didn’t have some say in this.You didn’t force me to work for you.What it means is, you have the last word, I can’t force myself on you.Jesus is saying, You didn’t choose me, I chose you, I initiated this, but it still is up to you whether you want you to be what I have chosen you to be.
So, Dave, where this gets a little complicated, as you said, you brought up Judas, would you consider him one of God’s elect?There was a purpose, he played out a purpose, he was a part of, I don’t know whether you call it God’s plan, but God foreknew what he was going to do, so there were some things that he did that fulfilled God’s plan.Now is that?—
Let me try to explain it like this, Tom.God knew Judas.What about this mob trying to, Away with Him, Crucify Him?Did God engineer that?No, He didn’t engineer that, and he didn’t cause Judas to betray Jesus, but He knew Judas was a very avaricious man, and somehow, just when God brings me together hundreds of times on an airplane with someone I never knew and never expected, but somehow God has brought this about.I don’t think He changed anybody’s will, he didn’t do anything, but somehow he can bring this to pass, and he brought these people there in this mob, he brought Judas there, wanting to be Jesus’ disciple.Jesus chose Judas knowing exactly what he would do, but he didn’t cause Judas to be avaricious and be a thief.He didn’t cause Judas to want to betray him, that was part of his nature and God foreknew ahead of time that this was the man for the job. Not a good job, he wasn’t going to be godly, but that’s how it works, and He foreknew and then he chose.But He foreknew those who would say, Yes, to Jesus, and he marked a special blessing for them.