The Gospel of Christ

Series: Calvinism

Lesson: Unconditional Election

(a capella singing)

The Gospel of Christ: Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now, Kevin Pendergrass…

“Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” Ephesians 1:5.

Welcome to The Gospel Of Christ. We are continuing our study in refuting the false doctrine known as Calvinism. In our first lesson, we learned about total hereditary depravity, also known as original sin. And what that doctrine taught was that babies are conceived, and when they are conceived, that baby is one hundred percent sinful. We looked at Bible passages that taught that that was false. We learned that each individual is accountable for their own actions.

Well, now we are moving on to the next at the net in the doctrine of Calvinism, and that is the U. Always keep in mind that you can know the doctrine or the teaching of Calvinism by the acronym tulip, T-U-L-I-P. The U now stands that we've come to in our lesson stands for unconditional election. The U is unconditional election. What is unconditional election? Well, this is what it teaches. It teaches that God has pre-chosen, unconditionally certain individuals to be saved. So if you want to go to heaven but you are chosen to go to hell, then guess what? There's absolutely nothing that you can do about that. Now, on the other hand, if you want to go to hell, I don't know why you would, but let's say for just the argument's sake that you wanted to go to hell, but you've been chosen to go to heaven, then guess what? There is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. There's no conditions placed upon salvation. God has chosen you, and if you're part of the saved, then you're saved, there's nothing you can do about it. If you're part of the lost, then you're lost, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Now, this belief is clearly in contradiction with many Bible passages. First of all, this contradicts what the Bible teaches in regards to choice. The Bible teaches that all accountable individuals have choice. In the book of Joshua 24:15, the Bible says, “And it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose,” that word “choose” “for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your Fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” So here in Joshua 24, the principle is laid forth that we have choice. Joshua's point is if you want to serve God, Jehovah, then serve God, Jehovah. But if you don't want to serve Him, then don't serve Him. Now, there's consequences eternally speaking if you don't serve Him, but you have the choice. In 1 Kings 18:21, this is a good parallel to Joshua 24:15 because the context of 1 Kings 18 is Elijah going up against the prophets of bail. And you have a group of people there who are listening and they're seeing what's going on, and Elijah, he says listen, why are you wavering between two opinions? This is what we read in 1 Kings 18:21. He said if it seems evil for you or if you don't want to choose Jehovah God, then don't serve God. But don't waver between two opinions. Make a determination on what you are going to believe and who you're going to serve. And so we see both of these passages in the Old Testament teach that we have choice as to whether or not we want to follow God.

The Lord has an invitation. Sometimes we'll hear people say, “Have you accepted the Lord's invitation?” What that means is that the Lord has invited any and everybody to come fellowship with Him. Now, there are requirements in order to be in fellowship with God, but the Lord has invited everybody. And we see this in Revelation 22:17. The Bible says that “the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Here you have this invitation. Not just certain individuals that the Lord chose to be saved, but anybody who wants to take of the water of life, they can come freely. The Lord is giving that to anybody who is willing to do what it takes to be right with Him. Another Old Testament passage that I want us to look at is found in Deuteronomy 30:19. In verse 19 of Deuteronomy 30 the Bible says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Here's what the Lord says. He says, “I've set before you life, death, blessing and cursing, and you can choose what you want. It's up to you. You make the decision. I've set the choices right in front of your faces, and you have the decision to choose your salvation.” Now, that's not what unconditional election teaches. That is not what that view teaches, that the Lord has unconditionally chosen certain individuals. No. The Lord says I have put it right before you, and it's up to you. One of the most beautiful things about Christianity is that we have choice. We have choice to follow the Lord. But you know what? We're never going to threaten you if you don't follow the Lord. We're not going to come to your house and threaten to kill you or threaten to beat you up. We're not going to do that. Because we're going to preach the truth, we're going to preach the gospel, but it's up to you whether or not you want to follow it or not. And now there are rewards if you do follow it. You're going to have heaven as your eternal home. Not only that, but you're going to have the best life here on earth. But there will be consequences if you do not follow it.

And that's why we teach with what the Bible teaches about hell. If you do not do what the Bible says, you will go to hell for eternity. I've heard individuals before say, “Oh, well you're threatening.” No, we're not threatening, we're warning. We're telling you what's going to happen if you do not follow the Lord. And so the Bible does teach that we have choice. Proverbs 3:31, the Bible says that we're not to choose evil. “Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.” We have the right to choose what the oppressor does or not to choose it. Now, the Lord says don't do it, but we do have that privilege of choice. In James 4:17 the Bible says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” When you know you need to be doing the right thing and you choose not to, Bible says it is sin if you do that. In John 6:60-68, and while there are many passages we could look at that show we have choice, we're just really touching the hem of the garment here on all these different verses we could be looking at. But in John 6:60, Jesus had just finished talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. And that's why some people said, “Oh, they believe in physically, literally, eating Jesus' body.” That's not what Jesus was saying. Jesus went on to explain what he was talking about. In verse 60 the Bible says that “many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who could understand it?’ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said ‘Does this offend you?’” Now, Jesus goes on to explain what he was talking about. In verse 62 Jesus said “’What then, if you should see the son of man ascend where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh prophets nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are the Spirit and they are life.’” Jesus said, “When I'm talking about consuming My flesh and drinking My blood, I'm talking about the words that I'm speaking to you.” You need to consume My word. You need to follow Me. Verse 64 says, “’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. And He said, ‘Therefore I said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’” Now look at verse 66. Verse 66 is the key verse here. You had these disciples who were following the Lord, they heard what Jesus said, they didn't like it, it offended them, and verse 66 says, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” They made a decision; they made a choice to no longer follow the Lord. In verse 67 the Bible says that Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Notice that. The Lord says, “Listen, the gospel is for anybody, truth is for anybody, but you don't have follow Me. You don't have to follow Me. You can walk away if you want to.” Verse 68 said, “But Simon Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life.’” What a beautiful illustration of choice, that you can choose the Lord, you can choose his words or you can walk away and the Lord's not going to stop you. He wants you to follow Him, but it's going to be on your own free will. Humans were not created as robots, puppets or pawns, but intrinsically and fundamentally they were created creatures of choice. When you go all the way back to Genesis 2:16-17, remember that God had placed in that garden a tree in the midst. The Lord said, “You are not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” He gave them a choice whether or not they were going to follow Him. And what did they do? We know the story. Adam and Eve ended up sinning. They ended up violating the law. They did exactly what God told them not to do. But they did it on their own free will. Another passage when we come to the New Testament is found in 1 Corinthians 2:6-9. The context is Paul is writing to the church at Corinth and he's talking about the Jews that crucified Jesus Christ. And here's what he says in 1 Corinthians 2:6. The Bible says, “However we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would have not crucified the Lord of glory, but as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” Now, don't miss Paul's point here in 1 Corinthians 2:6-9. Paul said that the Jews who crucified Jesus, had they had known, if they would have known what they were doing, then they would have not crucified Jesus Christ. Keep in mind the Jews thought they were doing the right thing. They thought they were crucifying a false prophet. They didn't realize what they were doing. Even though the prophecies were right there very clearly in the Old Testament law, they missed the whole point. And Paul said if they really realized what they were doing, they would have not done it. Now, how does this go against the idea of unconditional election? Well, it shows that the knowledge would have changed the fact of what they would have done. If God would have already elected them to do that, then they couldn't have changed their mind, any way. But the Bible teaches they could have changed their mind if they would have had the proper knowledge. Now, that is what gets us to change, the power of the gospel, the written word, knowledge. Knowing when we're wrong and changing that. And so the first point is that this doctrine is false because the Bible teaches that individuals do have choice. And so unconditional election is false.

A second point is that unconditional election is false because the Bible teaches God is an impartial God. In Romans 1:16 the Bible says, “For I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” This shows that God is an impartial God. Not just for certain individuals, but for everybody. It doesn't matter if you are black, if you are white, it doesn't matter if you are a male, if you are a female, if you are poor, if you are rich, God is an impartial God. And wants all to be saved. In Acts chapter 10 we read of Cornelius and his household, the first Gentile converts. And the principle is seen clearly in Acts 10:34-35 that God is not a partial God. You really can't get much more clear than what the Bible says in Acts 10:34-35. The Bible says that “then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’” See, if God went through and only chose certain individuals to be lost and certain individuals to be saved, that would make Him a partial God. Romans 2:11 says, “For there is no partiality with God.” We see that from Acts 10:34-35 and Romans 2:11. And so the false doctrine of unconditional election cannot be true because it goes against choice and it goes against the doctrine of God being an impartial God.

 Now, that being said, I want us to look a good portion of this lesson at what the Bible does say about predestination. You've probably heard that term before, predestination. Well, the Bible Greek word sometimes translated as predestination in English Bibles literally means this. It means to set or to Mark out a boundary or limit beforehand; means to predetermine or pre-appoint, to pre-ordain, to prefix, to pre-set, to pre-define or to pre-explain. That's what this word literally means. And God's eternal purpose was not to arbitrarily save or condemn select individuals whom He chose. Rather, He made a predetermined plan as to the type of person or the type of people that He would save. The limit or the boundary that God set before the world began was as follows. It was going to be those who chose to go through Jesus Christ for salvation and remain faithful in Jesus Christ, will be saved. That is what the Lord predetermined. He predetermined that anybody that followed Him would be saved. Now let's look at Ephesians chapter 1 beginning in verse 3. And I want us to look at a lot of verses within this chapter because the Bible does teach predestination. I've heard people say, “Well, the Bible teaches no form of predestination.” Well, all predestination teaches is to make a decision or a mark beforehand. And the Bible does teach predestination.

But what does predestination mean when we go to the Bible? Well, let's read. Ephesians 1:3, the Bible says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” As we read this, you're going to want to make a mental note or maybe even literally mark in your Bible the phrase “in Christ” or the word “in”, because that's going to be very important to our understanding of this context. Verse 4 says, “just as he chose us in Him…” There's that phrase “in Him”. “Before the foundation, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Now, verse 5, here's where we see predestination being taught. “Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…” Verse 6, the Bible says that the Lord has “predestined” or predetermined us. But the question is, how has He done that? Well, let's keep reading. Verse 6, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” “In Him,” there's that phrase “in Him” again, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound towards us in all wisdom and prudence. Having made known to us the mystery of His will court His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth-in Him.” So notice, you keep reading: “in Him”, “in Him”, “in Him”. There's where all these things are being done. There's where all these things are being predetermined. “In Him”. Let's keep reading. Verse 11, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” Now finally verse 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.” So the Bible teaches that we are predestined. But how are we predestined? Well, notice. The Bible teaches that all of those who are in Jesus, all of those who are in Christ are the people that are going to be saved. It is not that the Lord went through and said, “You're going to be saved, you're going to lost, you're going to be saved.” He didn't do that. All that are going to be in Christ are going to be the saved. And according to verse 13, we have a choice of whether or not we're going to be in Christ or not. It's up to us. After we've heard, it's up to us whether we are going to accept. Let me give you an illustration of this. If I were to say that everyone who is at my house at 3 o'clock this afternoon is going to receive a free meal, guess what I just did? I made a predetermination. I predestined that anybody who's going to be at my house at 3 o'clock this afternoon is going to receive a free meal. Now, I don't know the individuals who are going to come, but I do know the type of people I've determined: all of those who are going to be in my house. Well, the Lord did the same thing. He predetermined that all of those individuals who chose to follow Him, all of those who are going to be in Christ, those are His predetermined people. All the saved ones are those who chose and who continue to choose to be in Christ. Notice Galatians 3:28. The Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is scriptural predestination because it shows us how God predetermined the boundary that God Himself set. That is the boundary.

That's why we must preach what the Bible teaches in regards to the one church. The church is the body, Ephesians 4:4, Ephesians 1:22-23. And there is only one body, and God predetermined that. And I have to be in the one body if I want to go to heaven. Now, anybody can be a part of the one body. The Lord has invited anybody to be a part of the one body if you obey Him. But you must be in the body in order to be saved. That's why we must teach against denominationalism, against false religious groups, because God did not choose that. God's plan was to choose Christ coming to this earth, dying, purchasing the church with his blood, Acts 20:28, so that we could live faithful in Christ. That's where the saved are at. Paul continues in the book of Ephesians 3:3 to say that by revelation God made known to Paul the mystery. You see, this was part of God's plan before the foundation of the earth. In Ephesians 3:4 the Bible says that when the brethren at Ephesus or anyone reads the mystery, they can understand it. Ephesians 3:5 said that “in other ages this mystery was not made known to men, but now it's been revealed by the apostles and the prophets.” And the mystery is this: The mystery is that Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, Ephesians 1:22-23, and partakers of God's promise in Christ through the gospel, Ephesians 3:6. God's wisdom is made known by the church that He built, 1 Timothy 3:15, the churches of Christ, Romans 16:16. And God accomplished His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ, Ephesians 3:10-11. And so yes, the Bible does teach predestination. But God predetermined the type of people and he would save only those who are willing to be saved and who would follow Him. And the Bible teaches in Hebrews 5:8-9 that the Lord is the “author of our eternal salvation only if we obey Him.” Anybody who obeys the Lord, the Lord is going to be the author of their eternal salvation.

Now, another Bible passage I want us to teach look at that teaches this is found in Romans 8:28-30. In Romans 8:28 the Bible says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 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. More over whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” What type of people does God say all things work together for good? “Those who love God and those who are called according to His purpose.” Well, what does it mean to be called? Well, here's how we're called. We are called through the gospel. The gospel invitation is calling all of us, but we have to answer the calling. 2 Thessalonians 2:14, the Bible says, “To which He called you by our gospel for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He called you through the gospel so that you could obtain salvation and be in Christ and be part of the predestined, be part of the elect that God chose before time. That all of those who are in Christ would be saved. And the only way that you can be in Christ is by obeying the gospel. The Bible teaches in Romans 6:3-4 that we are baptized into to Christ. Galatians 3:27 also teaches that we are put into Christ when we are baptized for the forgiveness of our sins.

And here's why we have to understand what do we have to do in order to be saved. How do I become a part of the elect? How exactly does that happen? Well, it's not going to be some sort of mystical feeling or magical feeling that overcomes you. First of all, you have to do what 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says. You've got to listen to the call, and you're called through the gospel. The words of the God call anybody, invites anybody to be part of the elect, to be part of the chosen.

The Bible also teaches that you not only have to be called, but you've got to go to the right standard, Romans 10:17. This is where you're going to be called. You may have answered a calling before, but you have never answered the gospel call if you've not obeyed what the Bible says. Romans 10:17 says that “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” Not your preacher. Don't listen to the false doctrine of Calvinism. Don't listen to people who say that you're either chosen to be saved or chosen to be lost, and there's nothing you can do about it. The Bible doesn't say that. The Bible teaches that anybody can obey the call. So once you go to the right standard, then you must believe it: John 3:16, John 8:24. Jesus taught that we must believe that he is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If we don't believe that, then we can't be saved. But the Bible teaches there's more to being the elect than just believing in Jesus Christ. You must also repent of your past sins. Repentance means to change. In Acts 17:30 the Bible said that “there was a time that God once overlooked ignorance, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent.” We have to repent. We have to change to do the will of God, Acts 3:18-19. If we want forgiveness of sins, we must repent of our past sins. The Bible teaches that we must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, Romans 10:10. But confessing Jesus and simply saying, “Lord, Lord” is not enough. Matthew 7:21, Jesus said that it's “not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my God that is in heaven.” We have to do the will of God. We have to do the will of the Father. It's not enough just to say, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” We must do what He says. That's why Jesus said in Luke 6:46 “why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things which I say?” It's one thing to call Jesus “Lord”. It's another to follow Him as your Lord. So then the Bible teaches, though, that you've got to be baptized. Mark 16:16, Jesus said, ‘he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Both belief and baptism comes before salvation. The Bible teaches in Acts 2:38 that you “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins”. That is in order to have your sins washed away. And that's why passages such as Romans 6:3-4 and Galatians 3:27 teach that when you do that, you are being put into the body. Only the Lord can add you to the body, Acts 2:47, Colossians 1:13. And the Lord will only do that when you obey Him.

So make sure that you are part of the elect. Anybody can be a part of that if you follow the Lord. But if you've yet to obey the truth, we pray today that you will obey the gospel of Christ.

The Gospel of Christ is brought to you by loving, caring members of the church of Christ. The McLish Avenue church of Christ in Ardmore, Oklahoma, oversees this evangelistic effort.

For a free CD or DVD of today's broadcast, please write to

The Gospel of Christ
607 McLish Avenue
Ardmore, Oklahoma, 73401

That's

The Gospel of Christ
607 McLish Avenue
Ardmore, Oklahoma, 73401

You may call 580-223-3289.

Please visit us on the web at thegospelofchrist.com. We encourage you to attend the church of Christ, where the Bible is loved and the Gospel is preached.

(a capella singing)