A Study of Theology III – Part 12
Theology 3, Part 12
III. Divine Election in Salvation
In the course, Study of God, this truth was considered as to the various definitions of decree, predestination, election and the problems involved in relating the sovereignty of God to the free will of man. It is not our purpose to review all that truth, but we can give a summary.
A. God’s Decree, or Eternal Purpose, is not restricted to the salvation of man; it extends up into angelic realms, and down to minute details of life. Therefore angels differ in glory and man is not created equal except in one sense, all are sinners. The creature has nothing to say about these things; all depends upon God’s election, I Sam. 2:7; Ps. 75:7; Dan. 2:19-22. So it is God Who has planned salvation from beginning to end, divine election operating together with divine grace and love.
B. The Sovereignty of God as it relates to the will of man.
There are many variations on this theme, so all we can do is give three general approaches.
- The strict Calvinistic View.
a. God is all in all. Man had no part in his own creation or his salvation; he is merely carrying out the plan of God, Phil. 2:13.
b. Christ died only for those predestined to be saved, John. 10:15; 17:2.
c. Man cannot accept Christ until he is regenerated; thus man does not believe in order to be born again, I Cor. 2:14; Jn. 3:3-7.
- A moderate view.
a. God has an eternal purpose, Rom. 8:28-30.
b. In this purpose, the saved were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1:4.
c. The divine provision for salvation is the blood of Christ, which was adequate for, and intended for the sins of the whole world, I Jn. 2:2; Heb. 2:9.
d. The divine method of salvation includes only faith on the part of man, apart from works, Eph. 2:8-10.
e. The gospel is to be preached to all men, with the confidence that it is for all, yet in the realization that not all will be saved, Rom. 10:9-18.
f. The provision of the work of Christ is unlimited, but the application is limited, II Cor. 5:18-21.
g. Thus, there is the divine provision and the genuine human responsibility–the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. To remove either would be fatal to the plan of God. In His plan He provided for the free will of man, predetermined that it must be so, and therefore man is responsible, even though God is in absolute control. Man’s free will cannot frustrate the plan of God; it is part of that plan. Remove the decree of God, and He is not sovereign; remove the free will of man, and God cannot condemn man for his unbelief, Jn. 3:18.
- The Arminian view.
a. Salvation is for all, not for the elect alone.
b. Our eternal destiny is not settled until death.
c. Man may believe and then fall from grace, if he does not keep himself saved.
d. Thus, salvation depends upon sustained obedience to God.
IV. The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation.
A. Revealing the gospel.
- The universal need for this revelation.
a. Man is dead spiritually, Eph. 2:1,5. He is not dead intellectually, but since he has not the Spirit (Rom. 8:9) he does not comprehend things of the Spirit.
b. The natural man does not welcome (dechomai) spiritual things, I Cor. 2:14, but this is not because he is incapable of believing; rather it is because he has not believed, Jn. 3:18. In fact, the unsaved are commanded to believe, I Jn. 3:23; Acts 16:31.
c. Man has been blinded by Satan, II Cor. 4:3-4; Jn. 8:44. Satan knows that unsaved man has the ability to respond positively to the gospel; so he blinds man, “lest the light of the gospel shine unto him.”
d. Natural man is not subject to the law of God, Rom. 8:7.
e. Man is totally unable to change his own spiritual condition, I Cor. 2:9-10.
- The Method employed by the Holy Spirit, John 16:7-11.
He convicts, from elegcho, “to show someone his sin and summon him to repentance,” Kittel, Vol. 2, p.474. Thayer, pp. 202-203, “to convict, to refute, confute, generally with the suggestion of the shame of the person convicted…..to bring to light, to expose, Jn. 3:20.” Please note that this is not regeneration, merely conviction.
a. He convicts the world concerning sin, Jn. 3:18, not of a person’s sins, or degraded life; rather it is of one particular sin, “because they believe not on me.” The sin of unbelief, of refusing Christ is that which keeps a person out of heaven.
b. He convicts the world of righteousness, Rom. 3:22; Phil. 3:9. While Christ was on earth He demonstrated the righteousness of God; but now the Holy Spirit takes up this work, declaring a righteous God to the hearts of unbelievers and causing them to see that they must abandon their self-righteousness and receive the righteousness provided by Christ as their means of fitness for the presence of God, Rom. 4:5. This is not a merit arrangement; it is imputed and imparted righteousness, II Cor. 5:21.
c. He convicts the world of judgment. This is not some future judgment, but specifically, “because the prince of this world has been (past tense) judged.” The sentence has been passed on Satan and the execution will take place. Thus, the sinner can be assured that there is no need to try to make peace with God, for this was accomplished when Christ triumphed openly over Satan and all his hosts at the Cross, Col. 1:20; 2:14-15.
d. The good news, the gospel incorporates all three of these aspects of conviction and enlightenment. We desperately need to give the sinner something to believe, not something to do.
- Common Grace and Efficacious Grace.
a. Common Grace is a ministry of the Holy Spirit whereby the truth of God is revealed to man whenever given in any form. This includes the conviction by the Holy Spirit already mentioned.
b. Efficacious Grace is a ministry of the Holy Spirit whereby the soul is effectually brought to salvation. Efficacious grace is irresistible, not in the sense that it is resisted and finally all such resistance is overcome, but in the sense that it is never resisted.
c. Explanation of the differences between these two:
1). Common grace falls far short of efficacious grace. Common grace does not have any certain effect on the will, and does not guarantee salvation.
2). No doubt there are stages in the work of common grace, beginning with religious instinct and a fear of God which is universal, up to the experience of those who understand clearly the means of salvation. Without this preliminary ministry, the work of efficacious grace would be impossible.
3). In every case where efficacious grace is not evident, common grace has been spurned.
4). The relation of the two, common and efficacious grace is inscrutable to our minds.
d. The relation of efficacious grace to the ‘drawing” of the Father, John 6:44; 12:32. “Draw” is from helku-o ; in Jn 18:10, unsheathing a sword; Jn. 21:8, drawing in fish; Acts 21:30, dragging a person. In Synonyms of N.T., pp. 72-74, R.C. Trench discusses the differences between suro, drag, and helku-o, draw. In suro there is always the notion of force, but in helku-o it is not necessarily there. “How is it that men are drawn to the Lord? Not by force, for the will is incapable of force, but by the divine attractions of love.” Trench then compares the LXX usage of helku-o in Jer. 31:3; Song of Sol. 1:3-4 rather than suro; “In helkuein is predominantly the sense of a drawing to a certain point; in surein merely a dragging after one.” Our conclusion, then, is that sinners are drawn to salvation, not dragged with no will of their own. It is clear from Rom. 1:28; Heb. 10:26; and II Pet. 2:20 that the natural , unsaved man, can comprehend the gospel with “full knowledge” (epignosis) and yet refuse to accept it. When a person is drawn by the Father and responds, this is an indication of efficacious grace. If a person dies unsaved, his condemnation will be as it has always been, namely because he has not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God, John. 3:18.