Arminian Today

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Class Election

I want to address the doctrine of election by offering a view that is often given by many Arminians and even some moderate Calvinist and that is the class election view. This takes the doctrine of predestination and seeks to answer the question, “Who are the elect?” According to the Calvinistic view, the elect are the redeemed of the Lord (1 Timothy 4:10). Historic Calvinism has taught that God has predestined from the beginning of time those who would be saved (and it seems John Calvin actually went further and taught double predestination which means God also predestined the non-elect to eternal damnation in hell although not all Calvinist agree with my assumption or double predestination). Calvinist take passages such as Romans 9-11; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Titus 1:1-2; and 1 Peter 1:2 and they see individual salvation in these passages. The elect are the saved.

Arminians have rejected this interpretation for several reasons. First, Arminius taught that Christ died for all of humanity. Christ’s death is sufficient for all men to be saved who enter into this salvation by faith. Passages such as Matthew 26:28; John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; and 2 Peter 3:9 are all viewed as passages which affirm this idea. Jesus’ death was not merely for the elect of God but for all of humanity. Secondly, the great love of God allows for all of humanity to be saved by humbling under the grace of God (1 John 3:1-2; 4:7-11). God’s grace can be refused, however, by simply not trusting in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and resisting the grace of God (Acts 7:51; Romans 2:4-7; 2 Corinthians 6:1-2). Third, there is not one single passage of Scripture that teaches that Jesus died only for the elect. Certainly Jesus died to secure a holy priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 1:5-6) but nothing in Scripture indicates that only the elect were with Christ on the cross (Isaiah 53).

However, in eternity with the Lord we will be able to know that Jesus did indeed die for the elect for the elect will be with Him (Matthew 24:31; Revelation 17:14). The non-elect will not be in God’s presence (Revelation 20:15). But the question that begs to be answered is, “Who are the elect?” One of the Arminian answers is that the election is not individual but is class election. It does have some merit to it. For example:

  • Jesus is called the elected one (1 Peter 1:20; 2:6).
  • Israel is called God’s elect (Romans 11:2).

Does this mean then that since Jesus was the elected one that it means unto salvation? Obviously not. All Israel were not included in the covenant simply by being born a Jew. John the Baptist destroyed that line of thinking in Matthew 3:7-10 and see Paul’s words in Romans 9:6. Just by being in Israel or born Jewish did not guarantee salvation. Salvation was individual within the class election. Israel was chosen but individuals still had to choose circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:25-29).

The same is true for Jesus and His Church. The Church is indeed chosen by God (Matthew 16:18) and those in the Church are called the ransomed of the Lord. But not everyone in the Church is part of the Church no more than those living among the Jews were all truly devoted to God. The Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). There are false disciples in the Church but God knows every man’s heart. The elect are those in the elected Church of Jesus Christ. Being born of water and Spirit (John 3:3-7; Acts 2:38,41; 1 Peter 1:18-21), those who are true disciples of Jesus are part of His body (Galatians 3:26-29). To be in the Church by the grace of God and the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) makes you part of the elect. Thus, class election sees the work of Jesus as sufficient for all men to be saved but only those who appropriate His work on the cross by faith (Romans 4:24-5:11) are truly part of the elect. Those under the old covenant must now repent and have faith in Jesus alone to bring them into the true election (Romans 9:14-33; 10:4, 14-21; 11:1-32) otherwise they too are lost (Acts 4:12).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2007 at 11:00 PM

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