The God Who Saves: Election/Predestination [session 2]

I been in many conversations with people and when the topic of predestination or election comes up, the respond, “I just don’t believe in election.” There are a couple of options on dealing with this theological topic, but the above option isn’t a very good one.

Why? The topic can be found all throughout the pages of scripture.

And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power” Dt 4:37.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face.” Dt 7:6–10.

For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mt 22:14.*

“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” Ro 11:5.

So our best option isn’t to simply not believe in it, but to approach the topic from a biblical point of view.

What does the Bible mean when it uses the term election? (3 major viewpoints)**

I. Foresight Election

God elects on the basis of foreseen faith.

Probably true that a great majority of evangelicals consciously or unconsciously hold this concept of election

“By election we mean that sovereign act of God in grace whereby He chose in Christ Jesus for salvation all those whom He foreknew would accept Him” – Henry Thiessen.

“And those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Ro. 8:29

“God looked down the corridor of time and in His foreknowledge saw sho would accept Christ and then elected them to salvation. This makes foreknowledge foresight without any pretemporal elective action on God’s part.” – C. Ryrie.

II. Corporate Election

What we currently have in evangelical circles is an adaptation from Karl Barth.

“God elected a plan of salvation which he accomplished in Christ. Man may either reject this plan or accept it.”***

“The choosing of the group, the church, in Christ, but not of individuals until after they become members of the group by faith…When an individual believes in Christ, he is placed in that elect group, and then he can be said to be elect.” – C. Ryrie.

“What did God choose before the foundation of the world? The church. Not individuals, but the body of Christ.” – Dan Esterline

III. Individual Election (Unconditional Election)

“that eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of men to be the recipients of special grace and of eternal salvation.” – L. Berkhof.

Key Concepts:

  1. Unconditional – nothing within the individual conditions God’s choice.
  2. Pretemporal – before the foundation of the world.
  3. Unmerited – it is because of grace.

God elected individuals (not on the basis of foresight), and those elect individuals for the group, the church.

“28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Rom. 8:28-30


Often Romans 8:29 is the key verse used to promote a view of foresight election. However, this verse speaks, not that God based his predestination upon the fact that a person would believe, But it does say that God knew persons, not that he knew some fact about them. It is a personal, relational knowledge

See also:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Eph 2:8–9.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Ro 3:27–28.


even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Eph 1:4–6.


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Eph 2:8–9.

who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” 2 Tim. 1:9.


*”More plainly, salvation is difficult to attain, and though many are called to it, few are willing to give up their temporal flesh-life for the sake of their eternal soul-life.” Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 457). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.NOTE ON  THE ABOVE: Salvation is not “attained” but given.  Nonetheless, few are willing to give up the priority of self required to receive it.

“Jesus’ closing statement had a proverbial tone. Note that he did not say that all men and women are called. But many are invited. God had issued to a wide audience his invitation (command) to join with him in covenant relationship. But few are chosen. Not everyone who is invited will be among the chosen. The adjective chosen suggests that the faith decision is not totally in our hands, but it is a response to God’s sovereign election. In particular, the unbelieving religious leaders were among those called but not chosen.” Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 353). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

** The three viewpoints come from Ryrie, Charles. Basic Theology. Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Publishing. 310-11.

*** Hobbs, Herschel. What Baptist Believe. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press. 107.