Predestination and Lordship
61. What does the Bible
say about predestination or election?
a. Predestination (abbreviated
T.U.L.I.P.): 5 Points of Calvinism (proposed by John Calvin, 1509-1564)
(1) Total depravity (Jn
6:44; Ro 3:11-12; 7:18; 2Co 4:3-4; Eph 2:1-3): The whole human
race is lost in sin, and each individual is totally corrupted in intellect,
will, and emotions by sin. Man is unable to respond to Godís offer of salvation
because he is spiritually dead.
(2) Unconditional election
(Eph 1:11; 2:8-10; Ro 8:29; 2Ti 1:9): God elected or predestined
certain individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world. His
choice rested solely in His own sovereign will. It was unconditional because
it was not based on any foreseen response or obedience from the elect.
On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom
(3) Limited atonement: Christís
redeeming work was intended to save the elect only. The effect of atonement
was limited only to the redemption of the elect.
(4) Irresistible grace (Ro 8:29-30):
In addition to the outward general call to salvation, which is made to
everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special
inward call. This internal call cannot be resisted or rejected; it always
results in conversion.
(5) Perseverance of the saints
(Jn 6:39; 10:28-29; Heb 4:14; 1Pe 1:3-5): All who are chosen
by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Holy Spirit are eternally
saved ("once saved Ė always saved"). Because Godís election must never
fail, the elect is kept in faith by the power of God and thus will always
persevere to the end. The elect will never lose salvation.
b. Objections to predestination and
arguments in response:
(1) Man is not really free because
it makes no difference what a person does.
(2) There is no incentive to preach
Objection: Predestination destroys
human freedom. If there is no possibility that man will choose differently
than what God predestined, then man is not free. Response: Even
though the outcome is known, the person who chooses still has freedom.
It is only that the result of his free choice is already known.
(3) God is insincere when inviting
all men to salvation.
Objection: The elect will be
saved even if no one preaches the gospel. Response: Salvation is
still based on the gospel. It may be Godís plan that you are the one who
preaches the gospel and leads the elect to salvation.
(4) God is not fair in saving
some and condemning others simply by His choice.
Objection: Since God predestined
that some who got the invitation to salvation will never be saved, His
invitation is not sincere. Response: Godís invitation is sincere
as anyone who accepts the gospel will in fact be saved even though some
c. Opposite viewpoint: Arminianism
(proposed by Jacobus Arminius, 1560-1609)
Objection: Those who will be
condemened are not responsible since it is God who did not save them. Response:
Everyone is personally responsible for his sins and his punishment. God
is not the cause of the sins of the non-believers and their rejection.
God is totally fair if He saves no one. The election is Godís active
will of grace. The reprobation (letting sinners be condemned to hell) is
Godís permissive will, meaning that the sinners condemn themselves
to hell and God simply allows it.
(1) Human free will: Although
human nature was seriously affected by the Fall, man has not been left
in a state of total spiritual helplessness. Each sinner possesses a free
will. All people are able to choose to believe and be saved. Some believe
that God has given all people "prevenient grace" to counteract sin so that
everyone is able to respond to the gospel.
(2) Conditional election:
Godís choice of electing certain individuals to salvation before the foundation
of the world was based on His foreknowledge that they would respond to
His call. The elect are those whom He knew would freely believe the gospel
(Ro 8:29; 1Pe 1:1-2). Election therefore was determined by
or conditioned on what a person would do.
(3) General atonement: Christ
died for everyone. The effect of atonement is sufficient for the redemption
of all humanity (universal) (Jn 1:29; 3:16; Ro 11:32; 2Co 5:14-15; 1Ti
2:6; Heb 2:9; 1Jn 2:2), although only believers are saved. God desires
all persons to be saved (Eze 33:11; Ac 17:30-31; 1Ti 2:3-4; 2Pe 3:9).
God is totally sincere when he issues a universal invitation for all to
come to Christ (Isa 55:1; Mt 11:28).
(4) Resistable grace: The Spirit
calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation.
But as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spiritís call.
(5) Falling from grace possible
(1Jn 5:16): Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their
salvation by later deliberately refuting their faith. (Some even believe
that salvation can be lost if a believer does not keep up his faith. Arminians
are not consistent on this point.)
d. Based on Arminianism, how can we
explain Bible verses on election?
e. In the Synod of Dort of the
Reformed Church in 1619, Calvinists won the argument and Arminianism was
condemned. Today, the majority of theologians uphold the predestination
position while a smaller number (such as the Methodist Church) uphold Arminianism.
However, it should be noted that this doctrine is a non-essential one and
theologians from both camps hold orthodox beliefs.
In Jesusí parable of the wedding banquet,
the "chosen" (Mt 22:14) is a select and privileged group of people
who had freely responded and had made the right decision to come to the
kingís banquet. The chosen are so named as a result of their decision,
not before it. The king had not predetermined the decisions of those who
turned down the invitation or of those who accepted it.
God had decreed even before the creation
of the world that he would establish a chosen community of faith
comprised of all nations. All biblical statements about predestination
make reference to predestination as a collective reality. [e.g., try substitute
"the elect" by "the community of the elect" while reading the Bible verses.]
God had also decided that any person with faith would enter eternal life
but He has not chosen the individuals who will be part of it. God makes
salvation available; it is up to individual people to accept it or to reject
Is it true that "once saved -- always saved"?
a. The Bible teaches the assurance
of salvation (Jn 10:28-29; Ro 11:29; Php 1:6; 2Ti 1:12). Thus, in
principle, "once saved Ė always saved" is a valid statement.
b. However, some church members
may only be nominal Christians (in name only) who never had conversion
and regeneration (Mt 13:6). A truly saved person will not continue persistently
in a life of sin (Gal 5:21) and should show fruits of sanctification (Mt
7:17-18; Mt 24:13; Heb 3:6,14).
c. While no one else, not even Satan,
can take away oneís faith, salvation may possibly be lost if a believer
deliberately refute his own faith (Heb 6:4-6).
a. The question is whether salvation
includes a compulsory requirement of repentance who would result in the
subsequent submission to the Lordship of Jesus.
Is accepting the Lordship of Jesus part of the requirement of salvation?
b. The recent debate began with
two books holding opposite views by two evangelical theologians:
c. Some called the first viewpoint
"Lordship salvation". However, this is not a new doctrine on salvation
as the Bible teaches that salvation comes with faith AND repentance.
The Gospel According to Jesus
(1988) by John MacArthur holds that salvation includes repentance, a submissive
worshipful heart, and acceptance of the Lordship of Jesus in oneís life;
thus resulting in a life of obedience and godly works.
Absolutely Free (1989) by Zane
Hodges holds that salvation is by faith alone, not requiring repentance
and submission, so that obedience and godly works are preferable but not