Contend Earnestly: Ordo Salutis - Election

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ordo Salutis - Election

Our first look at the ordo salutis is the doctrine of election, the doctrine of being chosen by God. This doctrine is one that I have not always subscribed to. It is one that I was never even taught until about 8 years ago. It was one that I would have probably laughed at before then and scoffed at. I always thought that I was in control of my destiny, that I was the one who in control of my actions that I was the one who chose the paths on which to walk. So, naturally when it came to salvation I thought it was I who chose God and at times I thought how lucky He was to have me on His team. This doctrine has been debated all the way back to Augustine and Jerome against a man named Pelagius, it was the doctrine that is said to be the foundation of the reformation against the Catholic church in the 16th Century, it is what defined the Protestant movement and again is what was attacked by a man named James Arminius and what has been defended by men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur. This doctrine is one where we must lean completely on Scripture as our entire conscience fights against it. Even our society would tell us it isn’t true, and they do this every time they tell us that “You can do anything you set your mind to” or “you choose your destiny.” So, this doctrine is one where we need to put away your old inclinations and just hear Scripture, listen to what it says plainly for this was Paul’s prayer at the beginning of Colossians:

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Colossians 1:9,10

We are going to study what it means to be chosen of God and look at some key words to describe what this means:
1. Importance of the words: Foreknew, foreknowledge, foreknown, foreordain
2. Importance of the word: Predestine
3. Importance of the words: chosen or elect

Importance of the word foreknew, foreknowledge, foreknown, foreordain

The first word that comes with much debate and is at the real root of this debate is the word foreknown. Some say that this word means that God foreknew whether man would choose Him or not and based on those actions of belief, God elected those to salvation. So God looked through the portal of time and saw those who would choose Him and then He elected them or chose them unto salvation. The other view, the one that I hold to, is that God’s foreknowledge is much more intimate, much more thorough than just someone’s actions but that God foreknew you in a way to where He foreknew you as a person not just merely your actions. Let’s look at the first part of our text to understand this
, Romans 8:28-30.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

So, the question here is what did God foreknow in this passage? Does it say anything about God foreknowing anything about actions? Now, understand we do know that God knows everything, but what does God foreknow in this passage? It points to Him foreknowing the person, not their actions. There are three times that God’s foreknowledge is mentioned in verb form, here in Romans 8:29, also in 1 Peter 1:20 and also in Romans 11:2, so let’s look at these as well to get a well informed prospective.

God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
Romans 11:2

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:17-21

So, the three times that God’s foreknowledge is mentioned in the verb tense we have that God foreknew what? The person or persons, but now what does the word actually mean. For this, we need to break the word down. The word in the Greek means to “know beforehand, or to predestine” but what about this word “know?” Is it just merely having knowledge about something or someone or is there something more here.

The word “know” or “knew” is a very intimate word to the both the Hebrews and Greeks. The word actually is used to describe that Adam and Eve knew each other and then their son Cain was born in Genesis 4:1. If the word merely meant to know about someone, then we have a true miracle of birth in Genesis 4:1 instead of the obvious reality that to “know” for the Hebrews was a very intimate term between two persons.

We also see this intimate relationship in
John 10:14

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,
even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.
John 10:14-17

So does God just merely “know” of Christ? Or is this an intimate relationship between the two?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

This knowledge or to know is also shown in Matthew 7:22,23; 1 Corinthians 8:3, 2 Timothy 2:19; Exodus 2:25; Galatians 4:9


risen_soul said...

Rock on!

Go get'm Seth!

Anonymous said...

A very good treatment. Well done.

David McCrory
The Reformed Puritan

Unknown said...

I liked your explanation of foreknew in this article. Good stuff. You might be interested in a series I have been working over at my blog Jordan's View, comparing Reformed against Arminian theology. The latest posts in the series are dealing with the doctrine of election.



Anonymous said...

People would have to throw out total depravity in order to adhere to the doctrine of "God looking through the portal of time to see who chooses Him so He can choose them"! As depraved, God-hating rebels before salvation, no one can choose God in order for Him to look through time to choose them. You're right! God chose us from the foundations of the world not because of anything we did (everything unbelievers do is depraved in the sight of God). He made His choices of people He would elect according to His own reasons(of which we are not told).

Related Posts with Thumbnails