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John Wesley’s Notes on Selected Election Passages

The following are taken from John Wesley’s notes on the New Testament.  The passages have been chosen by myself on the doctrine of election.  These passages are the most common passages cited by Calvinists for their view of unconditional election wherein God chooses to save some of humanity while condemning the non-elect.  While some Calvinists seek to avoid the doctrine of double predestination (the teaching that God predestines the elect to salvation and the non-elect to Hell for His own glory and purpose), I don’t believe the doctrine can be avoided if in fact unconditional election is true.

Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last – Not only with regard to the Jews and Gentiles, but in a thousand other instances.For many are called – All who hear the Gospel; but few chosen – Only those who obey it. Matthew 19:30; 22:14.

Matthew 22:14 Many are called; few chosen – Many hear; few believe. Yea, many are members of the visible, but few of the invisible Church.

John 6:44 Christ having checked their murmuring, continues what he was saying, John 6:40 .No man comes to me, unless my Father draw him – No man can believe in Christ, unless God give him power: he draws us first, by good desires. Not by compulsion, not by laying the will under any necessity; but by the strong and sweet, yet still resistible, motions of his heavenly grace.

John 6:64 But there are some of you who believe not – And so receive no life by them, because you take them in a gross literal sense.For Jesus knew from the beginning – Of his ministry: who would betray him – Therefore it is plain, God does foresee future contingencies:
“But his foreknowledge causes not the fault, Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.”

John 10:26 Ye do not believe, because ye are not of my sheep – Because ye do not, will not follow me: because ye are proud, unholy, lovers of praise, lovers of the world, lovers of pleasure, not of God.

John 12:39 Therefore now they could not believe – That is, by the just judgment of God, for their obstinacy and wilful resistance of the truth, they were at length so left to the hardness of their hearts, that neither the miracles nor doctrines of our Lord could make any impression upon them.

John 15:16 Ye – My apostles, have not chosen me, but I have chosen you – As clearly appears from the sacred history: and appointed you, that ye may go and bear fruit – I have chosen and appointed you for this end, that ye may go and convert sinners: and that your fruit may remain – That the fruit of your labours may remain to the end of the world; yea, to eternity; that whatsoever ye shall ask – The consequence of your going and bearing fruit will be, that all your prayers will he heard.

Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God – The apostle here anticipates an objection, Why did God suffer such a person to be so treated? Did he not know what wicked men intended to do? And had he not power to prevent it? Yea. He knew all that those wicked men intended to do. And he had power to blast all their designs in a moment.But he did not exert that power, because he so loved the world!Because it was the determined counsel of his love, to redeem mankind from eternal death, by the death of his only – begotten Son.

Acts 13:48 As many as were ordained to eternal life – St. Luke does not say fore – ordained. He is not speaking of what was done from eternity, but of what was then done, through the preaching of the Gospel. He is describing that ordination, and that only, which was at the very time of hearing it. During this sermon those believed, says the apostle, to whom God then gave power to believe. It is as if he had said, “They believed, whose hearts the Lord opened;” as he expresses it in a clearly parallel place, speaking of the same kind of ordination, Acts 16:14.  It is observable, the original word is notonce used in Scripture to express eternal predestination of any kind. The sum is, all those and those only, who were now ordained, now believed. Not that God rejected the rest: it was his will that they also should have been saved: but they thrust salvation from them. Nor were they who then believed constrained to believe. But grace was then first copiously offered them. And they did not thrust it away, so that a great multitude even of Gentiles were converted. In a word, the expression properly implies, a present operation of Divine grace working faith in the hearers.

Acts 16:14  A worshipper of God – Probably acquainted with the prophetic writings whose heart the Lord opened – The Greek word properly refers to the opening of the eyes: and the heart has its eyes, Ephesians 1:18 . These are closed by nature and to open them is thepeculiar work of God.

Romans 3:11 There is none that understandeth – The things of God.

Romans 8:29-30  Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated conformable to the image of his Son – Here the apostle declares who those are whom he foreknew and predestinated to glory; namely, those who are conformable to the image of his Son. This is the mark of those who are foreknown and will be glorified, 2:19 . Philippians 3:10, 21.

Them he – In due time. Called – By his gospel and his Spirit. And whom he called – When obedient to the heavenly calling, Acts 26:19.  He also justified – Forgave and accepted. And whom he justified – Provided they “continued in his goodness,” Romans 11:22, he in the end glorified – St. Paul does not affirm, either here or in any other part of his writings. that precisely the same number of men are called, justified, and glorified. He does not deny that a believer may fall away and be cut off between his special calling and his glorification, Romans 11:22.  Neither does he deny that many are called who never are justified.  He only affirms that this is the method whereby God leads us step by step toward heaven. He glorified – He speaks as one looking back from the goal, upon the race of faith. Indeed grace, as it is glory begun, is both an earnest and a foretaste of eternal glory.

Romans 9:10-23  And that God’s blessing does not belong to all the descendants of Abraham, appears not only by this instance, but by that of Esau and Jacob, who was chosen to inherit the blessing, before either of them had done good or evil. The apostle mentions this to show, that neither were their ancestors accepted through any merit of their own. That the purpose of God according to election might stand – Whose purpose was, to elect or choose the promised seed. Not of works – Not for any preceding merit in him he chose. But of him that called – Of his own good pleasure who called to that privilege whom he saw good.

9:12 The elder – Esau. Shall serve the younger – Not in person, for he never did; but in his posterity. Accordingly the Edomites were often brought into subjection by the Israelites. Genesis 25:23.

9:13 As it is written – With which word in Genesis, spoken so long before, that of Malachi agrees. I have loved Jacob – With a peculiar love; that is, the Israelites, the posterity of Jacob.And I have, comparatively, hated Esau – That is, the Edomites, the posterity of Esau. But observe, this does not relate to the person of Jacob or Esau nor does it relate to the eternal state either of them or their posterity.
Thus far the apostle has been proving his proposition, namely, that the exclusion of a great part of the seed of Abraham, yea, and of Isaac, from the special promises of God, was so far from being impossible, that, according to the scriptures themselves, it had actually happened. He now introduces and refutes an objection. Malachi 1:2-3.

9:14 Is there injustice with God – Is it unjust in God to give Jacob the blessing rather than Esau? or to accept believers, and them only. God forbid – In no wise. This is well consistent with justice; for he has a right to fix the terms on which he will show mercy, according to his declaration to Moses, petitioning for all the people, after they had committed idolatry with the golden calf. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy – According to the terms I myself have fixed. And I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion – Namely, on those only who submit to my terms, who accept of it in the way that I have appointed.

9:15 Exodus 33:19.

9:16 It – The blessing. Therefore is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth – It is not the effect either of the will or the works of man, but of the grace and power of God.The will of man is here opposed to the grace of God, and man’s running, to the divine operation. And this general declaration respects not only Isaac and Jacob, and the Israelites in the time of Moses, but likewise all the spiritual children of Abraham, even to the end of the world.

9:17 Moreover – God has an indisputable right to reject those who will not accept the blessings on his own terms. And this he exercised in the case of Pharaoh; to whom, after many instances of stubbornness and rebellion, he said, as it is recorded in scripture, For this very thing have I raised thee up – That is, Unless thou repent, this will surely be the consequence of my raising thee up, making thee a great and glorious king, that my power will be shown upon thee, (as indeed it was, by overwhelming him and his army in the sea,) and my name declared through all the earth – As it is at this day. Perhaps this may have a still farther meaning. It seems that God was resolved to show his power over the river, the insects, other animals, (with the natural causes of their health, diseases, life, and death,) over the meteors, the air, the sun, (all of which were worshipped by the Egyptians, from whom other nations learned their idolatry,) and at once over all their gods, by that terrible stroke of slaying all their priests, and their choicest victims, the firstborn of man and beast; and all this with a design, not only to deliver his people Israel, (for which a single act of omnipotence would have sufficed,) but to convince the Egyptians, that the objects of their worship were but the creatures of Jehovah, and entirely in his power, and to draw them and the neighbouring nations, who should hear of all these wonders, from their idolatry, to worship the one God. For the execution of this design, (in order to the display of the divine power over the various objects of their worship, in variety of wonderful acts, which were at the same time just punishments for their cruel oppression of the Israelites,) God was pleased to raise to the throne of an absolute monarchy, a man, not whom he had made wicked on purpose, but whom he found so, the proudest, the most daring and obstinate of all the Egyptian princes; and who, being incorrigible, well deserved to be set up in that situation, where the divine judgments fell the heaviest. Exodus 9:16 .

9:18 So then – That is, accordingly he does show mercy on his own terms, namely, on them that believe. And whom he willeth – Namely, them that believe not. He hardeneth – Leaves to the hardness of their hearts.

9:19 Why doth he still find fault – The particle still is strongly expressive of the objector’s sour, morose murmuring. For who hath resisted his will – The word his likewise expresses his surliness and aversion to God, whom he does not even deign to name.

9:20 Nay, but who art thou, O man – Little, impotent, ignorant man. That repliest against God – That accusest God of injustice, for himself fixing the terms on which he will show mercy? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus – Why hast thou made me capable of honour and immortality, only by believing?

9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay – And much more hath not God power over his creatures, to appoint one vessel, namely, the believer, to honour, and another, the unbeliever, to dishonor?  If we survey the right which God has over us, in a more generalway, with regard to his intelligent creatures, God may be considered in two different views, as Creator, Proprietor, and Lord of all; or, as their moral Governor, and Judge.

God, as sovereign Lord and Proprietor of all, dispenses his giftsor favours to his creatures with perfect wisdom, but by no rules or methods of proceeding that we are acquainted with. The time when we shall exist, the country where we shall live, our parents, our constitution of body and turn of mind; these, and numberless other circumstances, are doubtless ordered with perfect wisdom, but by rules that lie quite out of our sight.  But God’s methods of dealing with us, as our Governor and Judge, are dearly revealed and perfectly known; namely, that he will finally reward every man according to his works: “He that believeth shalt be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Therefore, though “He hath mercy on whom he willeth, andwhom he willeth he hardeneth,” that is, suffers to be hardened in consequence of their obstinate wickedness; yet his is not the will of an arbitrary, capricious, or tyrannical being. He wills nothing but what is infinitely wise and good; and therefore his will is a most proper rule of judgment. He will show mercy, as he hath assured us, to none but true believers, nor harden any but such as obstinately refuse his mercy. Jeremiah 18:6-7

9:22 What if God, being willing – Referring to Romans 9:18-19.  That is, although it was now his will, because of their obstinate unbelief, To show his wrath – Which necessarily presupposes sin. And to make his power known – This is repeated from the seventeenth verse. Yet endured – As he did Pharaoh. With much longsuffering – Which should have led them to repentance.The vessels of wrath – Those who had moved his wrath by still rejecting his mercy. Fitted for destruction – By their own wilful and final impenitence. Is there any injustice in this ?

9:23 That he might make known – What if by showing such longsuffering even to “the vessels of wrath,” he did the more abundantly show the greatness of his glorious goodness, wisdom, and power, on the vessels of mercy; on those whom he had himself, by his grace, prepared for glory. Is this any injustice?

Ephesians 1:3-14  1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us – God’s blessing us is his bestowing all spiritual and heavenly blessings upon us. Our blessing God is the paying him our solemn and grateful acknowledgments, both on account of his own essential blessedness, and of the blessings which he bestows upon us. He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, as man and Mediator: he is his Father, primarily, with respect to his divine nature, as his only begotten Son; and, secondarily, with respect to his human nature, as that is personally united to the divine. With all spiritual blessings in heavenly things – With all manner of spiritual blessings, which are heavenly in their nature, original, and tendency, and shall be completed in heaven: far different from the external privileges of the Jews, and the earthly blessings they expected from the Messiah.

1:4 As he hath chosen us – Both Jews and gentiles, whom he foreknew as believing in Christ, 1 Peter 1:2.

1:5 Having predestinated us to the adoption of sons – Having foreordained that all who afterwards believed should enjoy the dignity of being sons of God, and joint – heirs with Christ. According to the good pleasure of his will – According to his free, fixed, unalterable purpose to confer this blessing on all those who should believe in Christ, and those only.

1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace – His glorious, free love without any desert on our part.

1:7 By whom we – Who believe. Have – From the moment we believe.Redemption – From the guilt and power of sin.Through his blood – Through what he hath done and suffered for us.According to the riches of his grace – According to the abundant overflowings of his free mercy and favour.

1:8 In all wisdom – Manifested by God in the whole scheme of our salvation. And prudence – Which be hath wrought in us, that we may know and do all his acceptable and perfect will.

1:9 Having made known to us – By his word and by his Spirit.The mystery of his will – The gracious scheme of salvation by faith, which depends on his own sovereign will alone. This was but darkly discovered under the law; is now totally hid from unbelievers; and has heights and depths which surpass all the knowledge even of true believers.

1:10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times – In this last administration of God’s fullest grace, which took place when the time appointed was fully come. He might gather together into one in Christ – Might recapitulate, re – unite, and place in order again under Christ, their common Head. All things which are in heaven, and on earth – All angels and men, whether living or dead, in the Lord.

1:11 Through whom we – Jews. Also have obtained an inheritance – The glorious inheritance of the heavenly Canaan, to which, when believers, we were predestinated according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will – The unalterable decree, “He that believeth shall be delivered;” which will is not an arbitrary will, but flowing from the rectitude of his nature, else, what security would there be that it would be his will to keep his word even with the elect?

1:12 That we – Jews. Who first believed – Before the gentiles.So did some of them in every place. Here is another branch of the true gospel predestination: he that believes is not only elected to salvation, (if he endures to the end,) but is fore – appointed of God to walk inholiness, to the praise of his glory.

1:13 In whom ye – Gentiles. Likewise believed, after ye had heard the gospel – Which God made the means of your salvation; in whom after ye had believed – Probably some time after their first believing.Ye were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise – Holy both in his nature and in his operations, and promised to all the children of God.The sealing seems to imply,
A full impression of the image of God on their souls.
A full assurance of receiving all the promises, whether relating to time or eternity.

1:14 Who, thus sealing us, is an earnest – Both a pledge and a foretaste of our inheritance. Till the redemption of the purchased possession – Till the church, which he has purchased with his own blood, shall be fully delivered from all sin and sorrow, and advanced to everlasting glory. To the praise of his glory – Of his glorious wisdom, power, and mercy.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 

2:13  God hath from the beginning – Of your hearing the gospel. Chosen you to salvation – Taken you out of the world, and placed you in the way to glory.

2:14 To which – Faith and holiness. He hath called you by our gospel – That which we preached, accompanied with the power of his Spirit.

1 Peter 1:2

According to the foreknowledge of God – Speaking after the manner of men. Strictly speaking, there is no foreknowledge, no more than afterknowledge, with God: but all things are known to him as present from eternity to eternity. This is therefore no other than an instance of the divine condescension to our low capacities. Elect – By the free love and almighty power of God taken out of, separated from, the world.Election, in the scripture sense, is God’s doing anything that our merit or power have no part in.

The true predestination, or fore – appointment of God is,  He that believeth shall be saved from the guilt and power of sin.  He that endureth to the end shall be saved eternally.  They who receive the precious gift of faith, thereby become the sonsof God; and, being sons, they shall receive the Spirit of holiness to walk as Christ also walked.Throughout every part of this appointment of God, promise and duty go hand in hand. All is free gift; and yet such is the gift, that the final issue depends on our future obedience to the heavenly call. But other predestination than this, either to life or death eternal, the scripture knows not of.

Moreover, it is.  Cruel respect of persons; an unjust regard of one, and an unjustdisregard of another. It is mere creature partiality, and not infinite justice.  It is not plain scripture doctrine, if true; but rather, inconsistentwith the express written word, that speaks of God’s universal offers of grace; his invitations, promises, threatenings, being all general.  We are bid to choose life, and reprehended for not doing it.
It is inconsistent with a state of probation in those that must besaved or must be lost.
It is of fatal consequence; all men being ready, on very slightgrounds, to fancy themselves of the elect number. But the doctrine of predestination is entirely changed from what it formerly was.

Now it implies neither faith, peace, nor purity. It is something that will do without them all. Faith is no longer, according to the modern predestinarian scheme, a divine “evidence of things not seen,” wrought in the soul by the immediate power of the Holy Ghost; not an evidence at all; but a mere notion. Neither is faith made any longer a means of holiness; but something that will do without it. Christ is no more a Saviour from sin; but a defence, a countenancer of it. He is no more a fountain of spiritual life in the soul of believers, but leaves his elect inwardly dry, and outwardly unfruitful; and is made little more than a refuge from the image of the heavenly; even from righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Through sanctification of the Spirit – Through the renewing and purifying influences of his Spirit on their souls.

Revelation 13:8  And all that dwell upon the earth will worship him – All will be carried away by the torrent, but the little flock of true believers. The name of these only is written in the Lamb’s book of life. And if any even of these “make shipwreck of the faith,” he will blot them “out of his book;” although they were written therein from (that is, before) the foundation of the world, Revelation 17:8.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/03/2011 at 1:05 PM

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  1. John Wesley was a great evangelist. His Friend George Whitfield was as well. Though brothers in Christ, they vehemently disagreed. You may have seen Whitfield's response to Wesley. Anyway here it is.


    01/04/2011 at 6:50 PM

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