DOES TEACHING THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION LEAD ANY DOWN A WRONG PATH TO ETERNAL DAMNATION?
By Wayne Camp
In the last issue of the paper I began a critique of a very unscriptural article that appeared in the PCC Update, a magazine published by the Pensacola Christian College. In its August or September edition, 2003, issue, there was an article entitled Election and Free Will.
Several rather outrageously false statements were made in the article, the worst one being, Deceived by Satan, they lead many down a wrong path to eternal damnation. (Emphasis mine, RWC). “They” in this statement refers to those who teach the doctrines of grace with the emphasis on the doctrine of unconditional election.
Last month we showed several reasons why this statement and the other things said about the teaching of Sovereign election were wrong, absolutely wrong. Now we will continue our exposure of the ludicrous positions taken in the article.
THE PREACHING OF THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION DOES NOT LEAD ANY DOWN A WRONG PATH TO ETERNAL DAMNATION BECAUSE THE OTHER INVITATIONS IN SCRIPTURE ARE IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
What has been said about the above invitations (discussed in last issue) may be said about all others.
The invitation to come and reason together with God is to those who see that their sins are as scarlet and red like crimson (Isa. 1:18). Most do not see their sins as scarlet or red like crimson. I have had unregenerate persons say to me, “Oh, I guess I sin but nothing really bad.” None with that attitude will ever come to Christ for cleansing.
The call to return from your evil ways is to those who have been awakened to the evil of their ways. Jeremiah 35:15 I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. Again, it should be said that most folks do not see their ways as evil so this invitation is not to them. The call to sinners to turn from your evil ways is to those who have eyes to see that their ways are evil.
Not one of these invitations is at variance with the doctrine of election. They perfectly harmonize and agree with the doctrine.
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 NEGATE NOR MITIGATE THE COMMAND TO PREACH THE GOSPEL INTO ALL THE WORLD
The gospel is to be preached into the entire world and to every human being. We should boldly declare that all men are commanded to repent not withstanding their inability to repent unless God grants them the grace of repentance. God must grant repentance if there is to be true repentance and true conversion. The church at Jerusalem praised God that he had granted repentance to the Gentiles. Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Jesus was highly exalted to give repentance to Israel. Acts 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Only God can grant this repentance and he does so in the grace of regeneration.
We should readily proclaim that all men are commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We read of the obedience of faith. Romans 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.
Paul very clearly sets forth the fact that faith is a gift of God. Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. A person does not conjure up faith within himself as one Baptist preacher once told me he did. When one savingly believes on the Lord Jesus Christ it is because God has granted him repentance and graciously given him the faith to lay hold of Christ.
Paul warns of the destiny of those who obey not the gospel. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our calling on men to believe in Christ should be accompanied with the declaration that men are commanded to believe.
The apostles often declared in one manner or another that men are commanded to believe o the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter warns of those who do not obey the gospel. 1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
And what of those words of John. 1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
But, notwithstanding this command to believe and obey the gospel of Christ, many cannot believe. God has judicially blinded some so that they cannot and will not believe on him. John 12:39-40 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. Isaiah 44:18 They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
Some cannot believe because of their love for honor that comes from men, rather than from God. John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Others cannot believe because God has sent them a strong delusion so that they will believe a lie, rather than embrace the truth.
Yet, men are admonished to believe.
They are invited to believe.
They are commanded to believe.
The gospel of Christ is preached to them, and should be preached to every creature with the same zeal that we would preach it to the elect if we could know whom they are.
There is no contradiction to this. To them that are perishing, the gospel is foolishness. To them who are being saved, it is the power and wisdom of God. It is the elect who are being saved but the gospel is to be preached to all men.
There is no contradiction, NONE!
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 WARNINGS OF SCRIPTURE
There are many warnings in Scripture issued to unbelievers. The doctrine of election does no contradict the many warnings of Scripture. Warnings are designed to bring the elect to repentance.
There are some clear warnings in Scripture that in no way contradict the doctrine of election or vice versa. Consider the warning to repent or perish. The Lord warned some, Except ye repent ye shall ... perish.
This is absolutely true.
Unless the elect sinner repents he will most certainly perish and this warning, when in divine providence is given to one of God's elect, is designed to provoke repentance. As we have already noted, God grants his elect the gift of repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18), and they all do repent and do not therefore, perish.
A good illustration of a warning being used to bring salvation to the elect is seen in Acts 27:21-31). Acts 27:21-31 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. 27 But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adrian, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; 28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. 29 Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. 30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
The ship on which Paul was being conveyed to Rome was caught in a storm that became so bad that it appeared all would perish. Yet at the darkest hour Paul said to the men on the ship, I exhort you to be of good cheer for there shall be no loss of any man' life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all the men that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Later, when some were about to leave the ship Paul issued this warning, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be, saved (v-31).
The promise that none would be lost was an unconditional promise. God had unconditionally given all of them to Paul and assured him that all would escape the storm alive and well. The warning that their only way to be safe was to remain in the ship does not annul or contradict the unconditional promises in verses 22 and 24.
The warning accomplished its purpose. The soldiers cut off the rope and let the lifeboat drop and all remained in the ship. The design of the warning was to accomplish God's purpose in this situation. It did.
Likewise, in the covenant of redemption God gave to Christ a great multitude of persons to save. Jesus said, All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me (Jn. 6:37). That is an unconditional declaration. He was called Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).
We preach to all men the warnings of Scripture. Repent or perish, and that is delivered with all sincerity for it is certainly true. Believe not on Christ as personal Saviour and you will be damned forever. That is absolutely true and certainly sincere for its design is to bring to repentance the elect. The non-elect hear it and are hardened. The elect hear it and turn to Christ and the purpose of the warnings of Scripture is accomplished.
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 NEGATE NOR DENY ANY VERSE OR VERSES OF SCRIPTURE
There is neither verse nor passage of Scripture that is negated by the doctrine of election. When you preach or speak of election it is not unusual for someone to ask, But what about II Peter 3:9? 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. I am always very please when someone asks me this question.
The idea behind this and similar questions is to imply that if the doctrine of election be true it contradicts certain verses of Scripture. The truth is usually discovered by an examination of the verse that is raised up to contradict election.
Consider John 6:37. Most Baptists known to me readily use the last part of John 6:37 to prove the eternal security of the children of God. Long before I came to the doctrines of grace I would use the last part of that verse, carefully avoiding any mention of what was in the first part of it. That is not a misuse of the verse for it certainly does teach the eternal preservation of the saints.
The first part of the verse, which is often ignored by many Baptists, teaches the doctrine of election. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me (Jn. 6:37). This sets forth the fact that at some time the Father did give to the Son a multitude of folk to save. He assured Christ that all those given to him would come to him. They were not given to him because they came to him, but they come to him because they were given to him.
This doctrine of election set forth in the first part of this verse does no harm to the responsibility set forth in the words shall come to me. Men must come to Christ to be saved and secure. Some will not come that they might have eternal life but will die in their sins. The elect, those given to Christ, will definitely come to Christ for eternal life.
Election is clearly not contradictory to human responsibility for both are found in this one verse. Compare John 6:39 and 6:40. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up at the last day (Jn. 6:39). And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth me and believeth on him may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day (Jn. 6:40).
In verse 39 the doctrine of election is clearly set forth. If Christ is to fulfill the Father's will he must not lose one of those given to him by the Father. He also states that the Father's will for him to raise up, at the last day all those given to him by the Father.
In verse 40 there is no hint of the doctrine of election. Jesus here states that it is the Father's will that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is definitely and wonderfully true that all who see Christ and believe on him will have everlasting life.
The question is again before us: Who will, believe on Jesus Christ? The answer is, Those who have the faith of God's elect believe on Christ (Titus 1:1). Those who were ordained to eternal life believe (Acts 13:48). Those given to Christ come to him. Christ's sheep hear his voice and know him (Jn. 10:1-29). It is clear that there is perfect harmony between these two verses.
Those who see the Son and believe on him are the same ones who were given to him. He will raise them up at the last day. The very same people are in both verses!
Consider Romans 8:19-30 and Romans 10:9-13. Romans 8:28-30 is one of the strongest passages one can find on the doctrine election, predestination, and effectual call. And we know that all things work together for good to then that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Romans 10:9-13 is a special and favorite passage for those who deny the doctrine of election. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raise him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Did Paul, in Rom. 8:28-30, contradict anything in Rom. 10:9-13? Absolutely not! The first passage sets forth the eternal purpose of God and its objects are the elect who are the called according to his purpose. Before the foundation of the world God set his electing love (foreknowledge) upon a people. These he predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. In his mind and purpose he effectually called them, justified them, and glorified them.
What he has purposed he does. I have purposed it, I will also bring it to pass (Isa. 46:9-11). In time God calls, justifies and glorifies those upon whom he set his affection and whom he predestinated to the adoption of sons. They hear his voice and come unto him.
The folk in Rom. 8:28-30 are the same as those in Rom. 10:9-30. They hear his eternally purposed call and confess Christ as Saviour and believe the gospel. They are not ashamed to confess Christ as Saviour. They call upon him confessing that they are totally incapable of saving themselves and are trusting him as Saviour. They are saved when they trust Christ because they were predestinated to this and the calling is the expression of this faith that has already been exercised. There is perfect harmony again.
Compare II Thessalonians 2:13 and II Peter 3:9. Paul, in II Thes. 2:13, clearly sets forth the doctrine of an eternal election that is, unto salvation. God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation. These he calls by the gospel (v-14).
The “us” and “any” of II Peter 3:9 are the elect according to the foreknowledge of God (I Pet. 1:2). A study of II Peter 3:9 reveals that God is longsuffering toward the elect and is unwilling to allow one of them to perish and they will not. Again there is perfect harmony.
What has been said about these verses can be said about many others that those who seek to denigrate and vilify the doctrine of election try to array against the doctrine. If these folk would simply remember, God has not contradicted himself in his Word. There is perfect harmony.
The preaching of the doctrine of election does not lead any down a wrong path to eternal damnation because election has never claimed a victim for hell. Election is unto salvation not unto damnation. Election, thank God, has claimed many souls for heaven who ought to be in hell. He shall save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Not one of his sheep will perish. Men who are by nature children of wrath and who ought to be tormented in hell forever are saved and brought to an undeserved glory because God did sovereignly choose to be gracious to them before the foundation of the world. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.