DOES TEACHING THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION LEAD ANY DOWN A WRONG PATH TO ETERNAL DAMNATION?
By Wayne Camp
TEXT: John 15:16-19 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
And I... will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will show mercy (Ex. 33:19).
God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation (II Thes 2:13). There is a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom. 11:5).
Pensacola Christian College publishes a magazine called PCC Update. In its August or September edition, 2003, issue, there was an article entitled Election and Free Will. Here are some excerpts from it that I find to be of interest:
. . . scripture teaches both election and free will. But some turn it into a lop-sided, false doctrine, saying that people are elected to either heaven or hell . . . They fail to consider that God designed a method for man's salvation, which gives man the free will to choose.
Before the foundation of the world, God elected the method He would use for man's salvation—Christ would be sacrificed for man's sin, rise from the dead declaring victory over sin and the grave, and 'whosoever believeth' would have eternal life. Thus, each person's free will determines his eternal destiny . . . each person chooses either to believe God for salvation or reject God's gift of salvation. Those who choose not to believe God will spend eternity in hell.
But our merciful, gracious God wants everyone to know beforehand how to receive eternal life and thus become God's elect.
Those who believe on Christ become God's elect, bound for heaven. The word 'elect' appears 14 times in the NT, referring to saved people.
Peter called believers the elect and a chosen generation—I(1Peter 2:6,9). They were 'elect' because they chose to believe God.
It is regretful that some twist scripture regarding God's invitation for all sinners to come to Christ for forgiveness, peace, and an eternal home in heaven. Deceived by Satan, they lead many down a wrong path to eternal damnation. (Emphasis mine, RWC)
I say without reservation, these are the people who twist Scripture to try to get away from the doctrine of Divine sovereignty in salvation. Not only do they twist Scripture, they totally misrepresent the doctrine of election. There are three things in these excerpts that show their deliberate perversion of the doctrine or their terrible ignorance of the doctrine. Perhaps there is some of both.
First, the article stated that the doctrine of election as taught by such persons as this writers says that people are elected to either heaven or hell. I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are just grossly ignorant of the doctrine and that that is why they make this untrue declaration. The truth is that election has absolutely nothing to do with one going to hell. Election, as I will show, is unto salvation; it is never unto damnation in hell, in fact, Dear Reader, I have met many people who believed the doctrine of gracious, unconditional election but not one of them ever advocated that some are elected to go to hell. Not one!!!!! This notion is hatched in the minds of those who oppose the biblical doctrine.
Second, the article declares the Before the foundation of the world, God elected the method He would use for man's salvation. Now my friends there is not a Scripture in all of the Holy Word of God that speaks of the election of the method God would use for man's salvation. The Bible speaks of the election of persons, not a method. God hath from the beginning chosen YOU to salvation, says the word of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13). One does not have to be a college graduate to know that this verse speaks of the election of persons, not a method. Again notice, Ephesians 1:4 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. It is so obvious that the election here is of persons, not a method, that a rational person would have to be willfully blind to not see it.
Consider also, 1 Thessalonians 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. Again we see that God's election is of persons, not of a method, as is affirmed in the article.
Again it is obvious from Romans 8:33 that election is of individuals, not some method of salvation. Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. God justifies his people when they believe on him. The elect in this verse are the same ones whom God justifies. He justifies people not a method. Therefore, he must have elected people, not a method of saving people. Surely the writer of the article should be able to see the perverseness of his doctrine when he considers the Word of God.
Once more for now consider another verse from Holy Writ, 2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that THEY may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is clearly an election of persons, not a method. How any can fail to see this is amazing. Moreover, at least some of the elect of whom Paul wrote in this verse had not yet obtained the salvation which is in Christ Jesus for he was enduring suffering for preaching the gospel so that they could obtain that blessed salvation.
More such scriptures will be cited in the message so I will move on to another error advanced in the article quoted above.
Third, the writer of the article under consideration said, Each person's free will determines his eternal destiny. According to that declaration, Jesus is not the Saviour. Salvation is not of the Lord. Your free will determines your eternal destiny. A man's free will is his saviour. His own free will determines his eternal destiny. The Bible declares differently. Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Because God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe he has the sovereign and inalienable right to do as he wills with his creation, including men. None other than God boldly sets that prerogative forth himself in one of our texts. / will be gracious to whom I will he qracious, He solemnly declares. Paul's inspired commentary on this is seen in his epistle to the Romans. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy (Rom. 9:18).
Fourth, the writer makes another error common to those who deny the true biblical teaching on the doctrine of election. He writes, But our merciful, gracious God wants everyone to know beforehand how to receive eternal life and thus become God's elect. Again, those who believe on Christ become God's elect, bound for heaven. Further, They were 'elect' because they chose to believe God.
We have already seen that men believe because they have been ordained to eternal life. Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. We have seen that Paul suffered so that the elect might obtain eternal life. 2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Notice they were elect before they obtained salvation and were ordained to eternal life before they believed. Thus the writer of the article once again shows his lack of understanding of the glorious doctrine of election.
Then comes the declaration that is the basis of this message. Deceived by Satan, they lead many down a wrong path to eternal damnation. Men are already on the path to destruction. Every unbeliever is condemned already because he has not believed on Christ. John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Note that he is not condemned because someone teaches the doctrine of election. He is condemned because he has not believed on Christ.
Every unbeliever is under the abiding wrath of God. John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Note again there is no reference to men going to hell because of the preaching and teaching of the doctrine of election. In fact, I challenge the reader to produce one single verse of Scripture that suggest than any person will be in hell because of the doctrine of election. I challenge him to produce one single verse of Scripture that remotely suggests that men are led down the wrong path to eternal damnation by the preaching of the doctrine of election. I will give him a hint. It will be found just after the verse that says that some are elected to go to hell. This sovereign prerogative of our great God and the exercise of it is clearly set forth by the Psalmist when he writes, But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased (Psa. 115:3). Again he wrote, Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places (Psa. 135:6).
It took the great king Nebuchadnezzar seven years in the seminary of insanity to learn that all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing and that the living God doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou? (Dan. 4:35).
Men who seek to vilify and lampoon those who teach the doctrine of gracious election and who seek to turn the grace of personal election into lasciviousness by falsifying it would have you believe that we teach an election that condemns multitudes of men to hell who could, ought, and probably would go to heaven if there were no election or if we did not teach the doctrine. This is not true. It is a grandiloquent lie pawned off upon listeners and readers by those who are the really deceptive teachers and preachers.
Jesus set forth the fact that God shows grace and favor toward some while bypassing others. When speaking at Nazareth in the early part of his ministry he made this declaration: / tell you a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Serepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian (Lu. 4:25-27).
In Israel a terrible famine was causing many to starve to death. As always, widows were having the roughest time of it. God did not send Elijah to one of those Israelite widows to give her an unending supply of food. God bypassed all those widows and let them continue to starve but graciously blessed a Gentile woman by sending Elijah to her. The fact that God fed one Gentile widow and left many widows hungry did not make those unfed widows any more the victims of famine than they already were. They were no worse off than they were before he fed the one. The intensity of the famine was unchanged by God's delivering this one woman from its grips. His choice of this particular woman to be the object of his favor caused no one to starve, and his choice of certain ones to be the objects of his saving grace condemns no one. All are already condemned.
In Israel there were many lepers during the days of Elisha. This disease was incurable and led to separation and death, it was a terrible disease with which many Israelites were afflicted. Could God justly and righteously leave those helpless Israelite lepers with their terrible disease and heal only one leper, a Syrian named Naaman? He did exactly that! He sovereignly chose to bestow his gracious delivering power upon Naaman while leaving many others in a leprous state. His choice of Naaman as the object of his healing power caused no one to get leprosy. It caused no one's leprosy to get worse or to progress more rapidly. The world had one less leper, not more, when God graciously healed Naaman.
All men are, by nature, choice, and practice sinners. As sinners all are justly condemned to hell. The fact that God has chosen to save some of them from their just and deserved punishment, and make them the objects of his electing love, distinguishing grace, and sovereign mercy has no condemning effect upon those whom he does not choose to save. They are no more condemned than they were had he chosen to bypass the whole human race just as he bypassed the fallen angels.
THE PREACHING OF THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION DOES NOT LEAD ANY DOWN A WRONG PATH TO ETERNAL DAMNATION BECAUSE THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF ELECTION DOES NOT OPPOSE ANY OTHER BIBLICAL TRUTH
Some objections that are often raised against the doctrine of election are easily answered. Quite often someone, upon hearing a message on the doctrine of election, will raise a question such as, How do you harmonize election with John 3:16? Another says, The doctrine of election contradicts God's promise to answer prayer. Others will say, I can't believe election and believe 'whosoever will may come'. The real fact is that the doctrine of election does not contradict any other Biblical truth.
Proof that these objections cannot be sustained by the word of God is abundant. Election does not contradict the biblical teaching on the goodness and love of God. The Apostle Paul wrote, But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). There is no problem with this verse and the doctrine of election. The us and we of this verse are the same folks that are in the first six verses of the chapter. Therefore being justified by faith, WE have peace with God through OUR Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also WE have access by faith into this grace wherein WE stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but WE glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in OUR hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto US. There is a group of people who can say that God commended his love toward them. Those who are justified by faith can say it. Those who have peace with God can say it. Those who, by faith, have access into this grace and can therefore rejoice in the hope of glory can say it. Those who have had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost.
Paul also tells us a little later that these same folks who are justified by faith were foreknown and predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's son (Rom. 8:29-30). Rather than contradicting the love of God, the doctrine of election explains and clarifies the love of God. They perfectly harmonize. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). This well-known and much-loved declaration does not contradict the doctrine of election. God forbid that we accuse the Holy Spirit of inspiring men to write contradicting declarations in the Bible!
The world of John 3:16 is not all-inclusive of the human race. It could not include Esau who was not the object of God's love. Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Rom. 9:13). There are others that are not included for David wrote of God and the impenitent reprobates are included in this group. Thou hatest all workers of iniquity (Psa. 5:5). The word world in John 3:16 must have reference to the world of believers; this is the world of the elect for it is the elect who believe on Christ. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). Saving faith is the faith of God's elect (Titus 1:1). God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and, BELIEF of the truth (II Thes. 2:13).
[COMMENT: The main purpose for Christ using the word world in this verse is to extend the salvation He is teaching to reach beyond the Jews. The Jewish people were a very nationalistic people and thought that the Messiah would come ONLY for them! Christ is telling them here that God sent His Son, NOT just for the Jews but for the world. In other words, for both the Jews and the Gentiles. As Bro Camp has already stated, this in no way makes the word world all-inclusive of all the human race. Just as salvation was not all-inclusive of all of Israel (Rom 9:6-8 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed) so neither is salvation all-inclusive of the Gentiles. As a result, we can say then, that Christ must mean the whosoevers of whatsoever nation that believed are those whom God sent His Son for. As this article has put forth, those whosoevers are the elect of God, therefore we can define the word world as the world of the elect, the elect who believe on Christ. --Matthew G. Bianco]
THE PREACHING OF THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION DOES NOT LEAD ANY DOWN A WRONG PATH TO ETERNAL DAMNATION BECAUSE IT DOES NOT PUT THE PREACHER WHO PREACHES IT IN CONFLICT IN ANY WAY WITH THE PROMISE OF ANSWERED PRAYER
The promise that God will answer our prayers is not contradicted by the doctrine of election. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (Lu. 11:9-10). And this is the confidence that we have in him that, if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, he heareth us (I Jn. 5:14). It is clear from these verses that God answers our prayers when we mean business and when we pray according to his will. Now, if I pray for the salvation of lost sinners ! must keep in mind the will of God who quickens whom he will (Jn. 5:21), John 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
There is not any doubt in my mind, having studied the eleventh chapter of John, that Mary and Martha prayed for the healing of their brother, Lazarus. They sent for the Lord. It was not God's will, however, to heal Lazarus and keep him from dying, it was God's will that he die and then Christ should come to Bethany to raise him from the dead. Therefore their prayers for healing went unanswered because they were not according to the will of God. John 11:4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Jesus did not pray for the world in his mediatorial prayer that is recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John. He prayed only for those whom the Father had given to him in the covenant of redemption. / pray for them: I pray not for the world but for them which thou hast given me. (Jn. 17:9). Again he said, Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word (Jn. 17:20).
Let it again be noted that those who shall believe are those who have been ordained to eternal life and who have the faith of God's elect (Acts 13:48; Titus 1:1). Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.
Should not we learn to pray as Christ prayed concerning the salvation of people? Let us pray for the salvation of God's elect and we can be assured our prayers are according to God's will and that they will be heard.
THE PREACHING OF THE DOCTRINE OFELECTION DOES NOT LEAD ANY DOWN AWRONG PATH TO ETERNAL DAMNATIONBECAUSE THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTIONDOES NOT DENY THE ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL WHO BELIEVE
The doctrine of election is perfectly consistent with the promise of salvation to all who believe on Christ. Let me assure you that every person who truly believes in Jesus Christ will be eternally saved. Jesus said, Verily,verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (Jn. 5:24).
Who does hear Christ's voice and words? My sheep hear my voice, declared the Saviour, Of sheep whom he had not yet brought unto salvation Jesus said, Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice (Jn. 10:27, 16). Once more let it be emphasized that those who believe on Christ are those who have been ordained to eternal life and who have the faith of God's elect.
THE PREACHING OF THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION DOES NOT LEAD ANY DOWN A WRONG PATH TO ETERNAL DAMNATION BECAUSE THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION DOES NOT CONTRADICT THE FREE INVITATIONS OF SCRIPTURE
There are many invitations set forth in Scripture. Some are limited in their scope; others may not be limited. None of them are contradicted by the doctrine of election.
There is a call to the heavy-laden. Most Bible students are familiar with the invitation set forth in Matt. 11:28-30. Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. This invitation is limited in its scope to those who are burdened under the load of sin.
Lost men in general feel not the heaviness and burden of sin. They love darkness and sin (Jn. 3:19-21). Until God begins to convict one of sin, he is not burdened by sin. When God awakens a sinner to his true condition, and that sinner sees his load of sin as more than he can bear, then that heavy laden sinner is invited to come to Christ.
When Moses went to lead the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt they said, Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians (Ex. 14:12). What made them willing to leave Egypt? When Moses went before Pharaoh and asked for the freedom of his people, Pharaoh increased their burdens and rigors of slavery until they were willing to go. God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would make it so hard on them that that they would want to leave. God did not force Israel to go; he made them willing to go by bringing the hand of Pharaoh heavily upon them so that they readily left, in the same way God causes the elect sinner to labor and to be heavy laden under the load of sin so that he will come to Christ for rest.
In Scripture there is an invitation to the hungry and thirsty to come and drink of the water of life, Isaiah penned the words of such an invitation to the thirsting sinner. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isa. 55:1). It should be pointed out that this invitation is to those who have a thirst for the water of eternal life. Surely no one will argue that all men thirst for God and for eternal life. If all men do thirst for God and his righteousness they will come in response to this invitation. Jesus declared, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they SHALL BE FILLED (Matt 5:6). Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled, or satisfied. Since many die in unbelief and in their sins one must presume that they never received a thirst for God's righteousness. They are like those who have not received a love of the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. There is no contradiction of this invitation and the doctrine of election. Those who thirst are invited to come; they do come and are filled. Their God-given thirst causes them to come. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causeth to approach unto thee (Psa. 65:4).
There is in Scripture a call to whosoever will come. We hear much about the so-called free will of men. It is not the purpose of this article to enter into that controversy at this time. Let it simply be affirmed that the doctrine of election in no way contradicts those whosoever wills and whosoever believeths of Scripture. In fact, the doctrines of grace explain those invitations and indications. Notice that the whosoever is always qualified. One preacher said to me on one occasion, The Bible says 'whosoever' and that disproves election. The Bible never simply says, "Whosoever," God is always specific in this matter. The Bible says, Whosoever WILL, let him take of the water of life freely (Rev. 22:17). The Bible says, Whosoever SHALL CONFESS ME before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God (Lu. 12:8). Jesus said, Whosoever DRINKETH of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst (Jn. 4:14).
All of these whosoevers are qualified as are all others. There are those who will respond to this call to take of the water of life freely. Who will come and take of the water of life freely? Who will be willing to confess Christ? Who will believe on Christ? Who will hear the voice of Christ? Who will come to Christ? Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power (Psa. 110:3). All that the Father giveth me shall come to me (Jn. 6:37). My sheep hear my voice (Jn. 10:27). As many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father (Jn. 6:65).
The invitation to whosoever will would bring no guests to the feast of salvation were it not for the unconditional election and the effectual call of those chosen. Left to their own free-wills which are controlled by their depraved natures none would ever come. Those who do come, come because they were chosen and caused to approach. Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple. They were enabled by the Father, taught by the Father, and quickened by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 6:44, 45, 63, 65; Eph. 2:1). They have been made willing in the day of God's power (Psa. 110:3).