Elder Oscar B. Mink
Now In Glory
“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.” (Ephesians 1:4)
Note the term, “according as” in the text. It looks back to verse three (3) of this chapter, and the words, “hath blessed”. This past tense phrase has inherent in it the blessing of being chosen in Christ before the world began. Plainly, Paul says: The salvation of the elect of God has for its foundation the eternal and gracious choice of the Sovereign Lord of heaven. The Greek word from which our English, “hath chosen” comes, literally means, “to mark off”, or “to select out” for one’s self. Owing to and according with the Father’s good pleasure, wherein He elected an infinite number of mankind, their blessings accrue. (Colossians 3:12)
The words, “chosen”, or “choose” are used many times and in various ways in the New Testament, but in our text, (Ephesians 1:4) it relates specifically to the salvation of sinners. The Greek word “ekiego” means to pick out, or choose for one’s self, and it is from this very Greek term that we get our word “elect”. Seeing then that the picking out of some of Adam’s posterity was done before Adam was ever created, it is correct to refer to the objects of God’s merciful choice as “the elect of God.”
From the foregoing, it is plainly seen that the doctrine commonly known as “unconditional election” is a Bible doctrine. There is no doctrine in the Bible which magnifies the glory and sovereignty of God more than this great truth. While this doctrine exalts God, it at the same time glaringly highlights the fact that man is utterly helpless to save himself. Man’s impotence in spiritual matters is due to his totally depraved nature, and his depravity being absolute, he cannot do the first thing pleasing unto God, much less choosing God to be his Saviour. So it unavoidably follows, if any of Adam’s defiant children are to be saved, God MUST do the saving. Seeing God does save some, we are forced to conclude He intended to save them before the world began, and this great truth is irrefutably stated in our text (Ephesians 1:4), which truth has correctly brought into vogue the term, “eternal unconditional election.”
Election is not salvation, but it is a Divine guarantee of the salvation of all whom Jesus represented in His vicarious suffering on the cross. Conversely, election does not send any person to hell, but if it were not for God’s election of grace, all men would justly go to hell. The doctrine of unconditional election is hated by the vast majority of professing Christendom, but the root of all opposition to this God honoring doctrine is found to be in fallen man’s conceit or inflated self importance.
ELECTION, A HUMBLING DOCTRINE
When the truth of Divine election is correctly understood, it will become the means of humbling pride, and eliciting praise and gratitude unto God. It serves to strip a person of all supposed ability in spiritual matters, and lays him in the dust at the feet of Him Who said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you …” (John 15:16) It was God’s elective grace that made the proud Saul of Tarsus, the ultimate Pharisee, to declare himself the “chief of sinners” (I Timothy 1:15), and to say: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (IICorinthians 10:17)
The doctrine of election was precious to Paul, and this fact is made apparent by the great emphasis he put on it in his writings. However, keep in mind that the teaching of this great doctrine is not peculiar to Paul, but it is uniformly taught throughout the whole of Scripture. To oppose the doctrine of eternal election is to go against the plainest revelation of Scripture, and is thereby a denial of the authority of God’s word. Speaking of the usurpers of God’s word, Paul said: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.” (II Timothy 3:5)
The Arminian counters with: “Well, how about the ‘God so loved the world’ of John 3:16? All Scripture must be rightly divided, otherwise a benighted counsel will ensue, and darkness will be taken for light. One thing we know, if God ever loved the whole world of mankind, He still loves them; for God is immutable and changeth not. (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17) Divine love (agape) is ever reaching forth to bless all upon whom it abides, and seeing God’s love is sovereign, it follows that there can be no spurning or rejection of His love.
In John 3:16, our Lord is telling Nicodemus that His love extended beyond Jewish nationality, and that His love was not inextricably bound to the seed of Abraham, but under the infinite canopy of His elective love was an innumerable host of Gentiles (Romans 9:24).God’s love is exactly that; His love. And He says: “. . . it is not of him (man) that willeth . . . but of God that showeth mercy.” (Romans 9:16). There is not a heresy more damnable than that which teaches God cannot accomplish His redemptive purpose except fallen man join his will to that of God’s, or cooperate with God in His efforts to save.
What is true of “Whosoever will may come,” it is equally true, that permission without desire or ability profits nothing. And so it is Christ says to the Jews: “And ye will not come to Me that ye might have life.” (John5:40) In the exercise of their will they crucified Christ, and the Gentile heart is as desperately wicked as that of the Jews, for in nature, there is no difference. The elective decree of God needs NO human adjuncts, nay, not the will nor the work of man. And so it is, volitional salvation of the creature is not merely a stranger to the Bible record, but it is a gross usurpation of the God honoring doctrine of election.
John 5:40 and 6:44 teach that man, as he is in nature, has neither the power nor the will to come to Christ, and every man left to his native strength is as sure to be in hell as Lucifer himself. But thanks be unto God, for He has chosen some of Adam’s helpless posterity unto salvation, and those Whom He has chosen are identical with the believers of John 3:16. The Holy Spirit brings conviction, contrition, and conversion to the heart of all God’s elect. Commensurate with these blessings, they learn that they have been enabled by the power of God to come to Christ without any effort on their own, and their heart is filled with gratitude toward God for His electing LOVE.