Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

The Despair of Unconditional Election

I know that my Calvinist brethren see the doctrine of unconditional election as a beautiful doctrine.  Some of them believe that we Arminians oppose the doctrine because we either A) believe in good works to save us (or at least we add to the work of Christ) or B) want some credit for our salvation instead of the glory being upon God.

In reality, I oppose the doctrine of unconditional election because I see it as repugnant to the grace of God that He has offered us freely in His Son.  I believe the doctrine does not measure up to the character of God as He has revealed in the BIble, mainly that He is loving, compassionate, merciful, and good.  When you compare the call of God for all to come and be saved (John 3:14-18; Acts 2:38-39; 1 Timothy 2:4) with the doctrine of unconditional election, one is left doubting the love of God since His love is only for the elect and the “good” He does for the non-elect (whom He reprobated) is not very loving and good at all.  In the words of Roger Olson, “It is the character of God that Calvinism presents that we Arminians have a problem with.”

The doctrine of unconditional election leads to despair.  How so?  Because one can never truly know that one is part of the elect.  It is possible that if you are saved right now (or at least think you are), it is possible that you are a false convert.  You do not have saving faith and are not part of the elect.  Your sins show that you are not part of the elect.  Your doubts show that you know that you are not part of the elect.  You, my friend, are a false convert and are not saved.  You will prove this in time (1 John 2:19).

The despair is then that God does not accept you in Christ.  You believe in Christ.  You seek to honor Christ.  But the reality is that God did not choose you before time begin and thus you are not part of the elect.  You think you are now but you are not.  You will “fall away” and prove you were never saved to begin with.

This is known in church history as the assurance controversy.  The controversy, ironically, only appears among Calvinists.  Arminians have assurance because we teach that if you abide in Christ through faith and remain true to Him in faith (John 15:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23), one need not fear.  If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation against you (Romans 8:1).  All can come and have this salvation and this assurance before God (John 3:14-18; 5:24; 8:51; Acts 14:22-23; Romans 8:38-39; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 2:24-25).  Our assurance is based on continued faith in the Lord Jesus and not on our works nor our righteousness (1 Peter 1:5).

2 Peter 1:10-11 reminds us:

10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How do we affirm the calling of God upon our lives?  How do we know we are part of the elect?  Because of Jesus.  Jesus is the focus of our election.  We are elect because of Him (Ephesians 1:4-5).  We are not elect because of our goodness or our power but because of the work of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Through faith in Jesus we are forgiven of our sins and become children of the living God (Acts 13:38-39; Colossians 1:13-14).  We are justified by grace through faith (Romans 5:1) and we are kept by grace through faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).

The cure then for doubt is to look to Jesus and what He has done (Hebrews 12:1-2).  The cure for sinning is to look to Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:13).  The cure for cleansing from our sins is the precious blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).  The cure for salvation is to always look to Jesus alone to save us and keep us (Ephesians 3:17).

Paul the Apostle reminds us with strong words in Romans 11:20-22:

20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

Our salvation is dependent on faith in Jesus.  Our election, standing before God, righteousness, etc. all depends on Jesus.  Jesus alone is the one that we look to for salvation and for Him to keep us saved.  May He be the one that we adore, praise, worship, hunger for, and are zealous for (Revelation 17:14).  In this way, our election stands secure for God will choose us in His Son (1 Timothy 4:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/10/2013 at 10:12 AM

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