CHOSEN by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: Growing up, we didn’t realize how blessed we were to have someone like our dad in our lives. Not only was he a good preacher, but he was also very well-versed in theology. In fact, he was the principal of a bible college. I remember Sunday evenings he would have in-depth studies on the books of the Bible or certain doctrines at our church. He could not only explain things very well, but he could convince you in such a way that you couldn’t help but believe. One reason for that is he even had a law degree. One time, my brother decided to corner my dad as to whether he was a Calvinist or an Armenian. I loved his answer. “I preach like an Arminian, but I believe like a Calvinist. In today’s message, we’re going to take on this very controversial topic in theology. Here’s the main point: The call of the gospel is to all who will believe. Yes, we have a choice in this matter. No, we don’t bring anything to your salvation. No, it does not compromise your eternal security. Yes, God will finish what he has started in your life. Our view of evangelism and missions/outreach is also impacted by our theology.
Romans 9 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”
Context: Trying to resolve the matter of Calvinism and Arminianism or Predestination and Election is like trying to untangle a backlash on a bait caster. Trying to do it in 30 minutes? It is crazy! But, by God’s grace, we’ll try it. To start with, people often ask me – “Are you a Calvinist or an Arminian?” My answer is “I’m neither.” Then, they’ll ask – “On a spectrum between Calvinism on one side and Arminian on the other, where do you stand?” Again, I answer – “The spectrum is false.” Both systems have problems. In Calvinism, love of God for the lost is weak, determinism impacts responsibility, and it leads to legalism and superiority complex. In Arminianism, lack of assurance, denial of imputation and substitution, weak view of Scripture, and open theism. Not all are this way in both views. Rather, we must begin with first examining each passage in question in its original context; then, look at the meaning of the words in their original language; then study the grammatical and syntactical meaning of the passage in its immediate and larger context; study the passage in its proper historical and canonical setting; and finally look at it in the context of systematic theology. All this takes a lot of time, effort, and expertise. We begin with Biblical Theology and then go to Systematic Theology.
For time’s sake, I want to divide this message into 3 main questions:
1. What does the Bible say about predestination? Short answer: Nothing.
There are 2 passages in the Bible that address this issue:
1 Peter 1 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Verb Proginoskein = “to know beforehand” or “foreknow.” Noun Prognosis = “foreknowledge”
Romans 8 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Proorizein = pre-appointed (no idea of unconditional election); a rare Greek word.
In both passages, the emphasis is on foreknowledge as the reason for pre-appointment. There’s also Ephesians 1:5, 11, which we will see later, where the word is used, but it is about being “pre-appointed unto adoption as sons” and “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being pre-appointed.”
2. What does the Bible say about election? Short answer: Nothing regarding salvation
Eklegomai = “to choose”; Eklektos = “Chosen” or “Choice” or “elect”; Ekloge = election
Let’s begin with Luke 9:35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Some translations make it “My chosen One.” Instead of “agapetos,” it is “eklegomai.” In my study of the manuscripts, “beloved one” is better. Nonetheless, this was a fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” That’s how it went from “elect one” to “beloved.” The idea is the same, but there’s a bigger issue here. What does it mean in Isaiah by “my elect one.” In the LXX, the word is “eklektos.” It is the translation of the Hebrew word “bachir,” which means “chosen” but the context can also imply “choice one.” Here in Isaiah, it definitely carries the idea of the “Choice One.” Think about it – “Who else would God have elected?” In other passages in the Old Testament, it can be one or the other, based on the context. Psalm 105:6 “O seed of Abraham His servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones!” and Psalm 78:31 “The wrath of God came against them, and slew the stoutest of them, and struck down the choice men of Israel.” Same in the New Testament – 1 Peter 2:4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious…6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Again, the word “Choice One” would be far better.
How about passages like Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen”? Get the context. It begins in Matthew 21 45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet. Matthew 22 1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son…” He sent out his servants to invite the guests, but they were not willing to come. He sent out more servants, but they laughed at them, went about their business, and some even caught the servants, mistreated them, and killed the others. The king was angry, and he sent out his armies to destroy them and burned their cities. 8 Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. If you know the parable, as the king walks around the banquet hall, he notices a guest who did not have his wedding garment, and he commanded his servant “cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then he says in verse 14, “for many are called, but few are chosen.” What is next verse 15 “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.” When you take it out of context, it means completely different. John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws (Greek = “elkuw”) him; and I will raise him up at the last day…64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Also, the same word for draw John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (Greek = elkuw) all peoples to Myself.” Something else to keep in mind – many times the choosing was to ministry. John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” Sometimes, the choosing was in a group context regarding ministry and growth. 1 Thessalonians 1 1 To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
So also, 1 Corinthians 1 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. In the context, it was to confront the mockery of the gospel – 23 “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Here’s one that is very significant – Ephesians 1 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. The important point is the “in Christ” language about 20 times in the first two chapters. The point is that we are “chosen in him” not “chosen to be in him.” Ephesians 1 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. 15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Also, 2 Thessalonians 2 13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning (Greek = “ap arches”) chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
Other passages that also prove this when taken in their proper context: 2 Peter 1 10Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Titus 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
3. What about the Potter’s freedom?
Israel’s election was corporate for a task. Now the church has been grafted in for a period. Ultimately, they will be glorified, and the promises fulfilled for them.
Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? The people of Israel were picked by God for ministry, not salvation. Romans 10 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Their rejection of the Messiah has caused them to be set aside.Romans 11 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! 13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Their rejection is not final. Romans 11 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
Invitation: Yes, you have a choice in this matter. No, you don’t bring anything to your salvation. No, it does not compromise your eternal security. Yes, God will finish what he has started in your life. Our view of evangelism and missions/outreach is also impacted by our theology. We throw chums out on the water. Fish gather and we throw the net. God has called us to participate in winning the lost. Our obedience or lack thereof makes a difference. Are you saved? Are you winning the lost?