The Doctrine of Divine Election
Elder Timothy Binion
Take your Bibles and turn to the 9th chapter of Romans. These are the same passages I read when I preached the message “All Eyes on Israel”. I’m going to read some additional Scriptures that I skipped when I read from this lesson text before and speak to you just a little while on “The Doctrine of Divine Election”.
It’s been about 20 years since I’ve preached on a Sunday morning on the subject of divine election. There is a reason why I need to address this subject. I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, but we have some very intelligent young men that God has raised up among us; God has laid His hand upon them and called them to preach. Many of these young men are being highly influenced by a group called the Reformed Baptist Movement who are Calvinistic in nature. Many of our young preachers are attending a lot of their conferences and being swayed by a very scholarly, philosophical, theological approach to this subject.
Many of these Reformed Baptists are like us when it comes to experimental knowledge. They are in opposition to easy believism and decisional regeneration, but are using a doctrine of Calvinism or predestination election to combat it and to maintain a doctrine of experimental knowledge of salvation like we believe and teach.
One of the big problems to approaching election is a lot of people get confused and they get predestination confused with election or they get foreknowledge and predestination comingled with the doctrine of election. Those of you who attend Wednesday night Bible Study and have sat under my teaching for the last 15 years are somewhat familiar with my teaching on this subject because I’ve addressed it on numerous occasions. I was a little concerned about some of the young men who are listening on satellite radio to (John) Piper and these other Reformed Baptist groups. Aaron listens to them quite a bit. I said, “Aaron, you need to be careful; these guys are Calvinist. Like John MacArthur, they are Calvinistic and you need to be careful.” He said, “Dad don’t worry. I’ve sat under your teaching on Wednesday nights and I know that “all” means all, “whosoever will” means whosoever will, and that Jesus died for the world, not just the elect world. He died as the Bible says “for the world.” He said, “Don’t worry about me. You’ve hammered it on Wednesday nights in my head and mind.” I think it’s important that I try to establish this. You may say, “why is this important?”
Throughout my ministry I know whole churches that have gone over to Sovereign Grace Calvinistic positions. One of the churches in Indiana, Liberty, where Brother Carter was instrumental in being part of its founding, and some of the others, drifted from Missionary Baptist beliefs and adopted this philosophy or doctrine. I don’t like seeing Missionary Baptist churches going over to heresy. Do you? So we need to be firmly established in these truths.
As we read through the 9th chapter, one of the reasons people get so confused about the doctrine of election is because some of this doctrine is interwoven or couched in the doctrine with respect to God choosing spiritual Israel. In the 9th, 10th, and 11th chapter of Romans, Paul establishes this one fact or solitary thesis that God has the sovereign right to choose a Gentile as a Jew. If you don’t get ahold of that you will lose sight of the truth concerning election. In other words, there is an election “nationally”. There is an election “prophetically” that is spoken of in these passages. So let’s begin.
Chapter 9 vs. 1 says, “ I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.
In other words, he’s saying all of these things are being accomplished: “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, but In Isaac shall your seed be called.” He continues with this thought that you are not of Israel because you are of the seed of Abraham. He said “in Isaac shall your seed be called”. How many children did Abraham have? Do you realize as we go through these passages he begins to talk about God choosing Isaac over Ishmael. He chose Isaac to represent His people and He rejected Ishmael. So we have a choosing and a rejecting. Let’s read on in verse 9, “For this is the word of promise, at this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this but when Rebecca…” He said not only was there a division in the seed of Abraham, Ishmael on one side and Isaac on the other, but there is another one. “Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand…” He’s saying the doctrine of election is established in Israel in the choosing of Isaac over Ishmael and also established in the choosing of Jacob over Esau. Both Ishmael and Esau were of the seed of Abraham, but they were rejected. Now stay with it. He’s talking about the doctrine of election. The word election in Greek is “eklogay” which simply means the act of choosing. That particular Greek form is found seven times in the Bible and four of the times it’s found in these chapters (Romans 9, 10, 11). We’re going to see that the doctrine of election is established, first of all, in these three chapters, in God choosing an Israel; not choosing an individual, but God choosing Israel. He chose Israel in Isaac and He chose Israel in Jacob. He rejected Israel in Ishmael and He rejected Israel in Esau – that the doctrine of election might be established.
As we unfold this doctrine of election and we read on down through the next chapters, the unfolding of the doctrine of election being established in those two situations, God’s sovereign choice to choose them, though both of them were seeds of Abraham. He’s going to establish the doctrine of God choosing the Gentiles as His righteous seed in Abraham, that the Gentiles would become the people of God. Okay, now all of this was in prophecy, let’s read on. This is where people get messed up. When they start reading these passages about the doctrine of election, their position is that God predestines or chooses certain ones to go to heaven and certain ones to go to hell.
There is this big, sophisticated terminology that is used by these scholars and they have these fancy words that they use with respect to whether God did it before the creation of the world (supralapsarianism), or after the creation of the world (sublapsarianism), or after the fall (lapsarianism), before the election (infralapsarian), or if the gift of Christ was to all before the election of some (amyraldianism or sublapsarianism). Listen, I do not believe that God predestined certain ones to go to heaven and certain ones to go to hell. As we continue to read, we are going to find in the Bible that God did predestine before the foundation of the world. According to Ephesians Chapter 1, everyone who is in Jesus will go to heaven and everyone out of Jesus will go to hell. Ephesians 1:4 reads “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” That’s what He decreed before the foundation of the world. That’s why Jesus stood as a Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. God had predestined that every person found in Jesus would not only go to heaven but they would be to the praise of His glory. See?
I don’t know why anybody would want to be a Calvinist. John Calvin was not a Baptist. He was a Presbyterian. This whole Calvinism vs. Arminianism is not a Baptist argument. It’s a Presbyterian argument. Now there are five [points of Calvinism] and I will give these to you just so you will know. John Calvin wrote a book, The Institutes, back in the 15th century. It was a classic, scholarly writing. It has great notoriety. Calvinism [uses] five main headings called the Tulip: T (total depravity), U (unconditional election), L (limited atonement), I (irresistible grace), P (perseverance of the saints).
Unconditional election means a person is elected no matter what, without repenting or believing – just saved out of the blue. According to limited atonement, the atonement Jesus set forth on Calvary’s cross, the blood He shed there was only for certain people, not for everybody. It wasn’t for everybody. I believe Jesus tasted death for every man. Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” There are several camps and you have to be very careful about these camps. Baptists have been confused about this through the years.
Most of the English Baptists are Calvinistic. They believe in a limited atonement. [J. M.] Pendleton put it best. He said they teach that the atonement was man-ward and not God-ward. He said, “All theories which teach that the aspects of Christ’s atonement are man-ward and not God-ward virtually deny the justice and holiness of God.”
Christ “dying for all” places man in a savable state. He went on to say, “All men in consequence of the atonement, occupy a position where saving influences can reach them. There is no natural impossibility in the way of their salvation. If it be asked why all men are not saved, I reply, ‘the answer is not to be sought in the atonement, but in the culpable unwillingness of sinners to be saved.’ Here the question is to be left, and here it ought always to have been left.” I’m in the J.M Pendleton, [E.Y.] Mullins camp, and I guess when it comes to election, the Adrian Rogers of the modern day camp, in this respect. Not the Charles Spurgeon, John Gill, or John MacArthur camp. There are all of these camps that people find themselves in.
Let me give you a little history lesson. Actually, the English Baptists divided over it and took on names to represent atonement. Some believed in general atonement (called General Baptists), some in particular atonement (called Particular Baptists). After they came to America and after the establishment of the Philadelphia association, they began to unite. Eventually they were called United Baptists and this whole anti-missionary spirit began. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like it; it creates an anti-missionary spirit within the churches. Then, they took on the name in America (in the New England area, Kentucky, and Tennessee) United Baptists. When the anti-missionary controversy arose, those who had the missionary spirit were called Missionary United Baptists. That’s how we became Missionary Baptists. We dropped the United. We are the group that believes in general atonement, in spreading the gospel to the known world because all men can be saved. That’s why we are called Victory Missionary Baptist Church. We believe Jesus died for all men and the atonement was God-ward. The atonement is God-ward to save every man who repents and believes. So, we have total depravity.
U is for unconditional election -we don’t believe in unconditional election. We believe you must repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ before God will ever choose you to salvation. We don’t believe the atonement was limited.
I represents irresistible grace. The Calvinists actually believe if you are one of the elect you’re going to be saved no matter what. You cannot resist the Holy Spirit. But on the Day of Pentecost Peter said, “Why do you always resist the Holy Ghost?” Why did Jesus say, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34). I believe the Holy Ghost can deal with your heart and you can reject that and go to hell. I believe that and I have scripture to back it up.
The last acronym letter, the letter P stands for the perseverance of the saints. We believe in that. There was a guy, Michael Surtiaonus, who opposed John Calvin, went to Calvin’s church and opposed Him. Calvin had him beheaded. Google it and you’ll find it. I don’t want to follow a murderer, John Calvin, or an Arminian man. I want to follow Jesus. I want the truth. We need to follow the teaching of God’s Word and not the teachings of men. Neither one of these guys were Baptists.
I do believe in a doctrine of election. Here (Romans chapter 9) Paul made it real clear about the doctrine of election and how it is interwoven into prophetical teaching in respects to Israel and the selection of the Gentiles. Let me read on. When he says in vs. 12, “It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated.” That’s found in the Old Testament. Actually, it is in Malachi Chapter 1 vs. 2-3, “I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob. And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” Esau became a nation. Esau became the Edomites. Esau became his own nation. Malachi is having reference to loving Israel which is in Jacob but hating the Edomites which were of Esau. He goes on to talk about the Edomites and the things pertaining to them and about their eventual destruction. God loved Israel but rejected the Edomites. As we read on, what we are going to find is that this whole doctrine of election is that Israel would be a vehicle to usher in Jesus Christ and also a vehicle to open up the gospel to the whole world. The election wouldn’t just be prophetical and national but personal and individual. If you think about it just for a moment what we are discussing is when and how God chooses us or when and how we are saved. How are we saved? We are saved by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are saved when we repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and experience regeneration. There are 10 reasons why I am not a Calvinist.
10. It’s not Bible doctrine; it’s the doctrine of John Calvin.
9. It hampers a missionary spirit that needs to be in the church and hinders the completion and accomplishment of the great commission to go to the whole world.
8. It is a playground for Satan. The easy believism people say if you walk the aisle you must be the elect. The hard shell people go to another extreme and say if you’re walking down the road and you instantly get saved, you must be the elect. The Reformed are saying only those who have an experience of grace are saved. This thing has been the playground of Satan for years. It’s kept people from evangelizing, witnessing, and mission work. It’s promoted fundamentalism and easy believism as well as having tried to combat it. It’s a barrage of contradictions.
7. The Calvinists have regeneration before repentance. That’s backwards. They say you must be regenerated before you repent. No, you repent and are regenerated. The New Hampshire articles of faith have a hint of Calvinism in them. It kind of flip flops back and forth. It’s kind of appeasing to both sides. You are not regenerated until you repent and believe. You are not regenerated first.
- Calvinism violates context. People use this 9th chapter for individual election when it’s talking about national election. It is wrong to take something out of its context. Look at the 11th chapter. The 10th chapter is known as the Roman Road. All the prophets taught whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. There is no difference in Jew or Gentiles. In the 11th chapter, did you realize that every prophetical reference is with respect to the remnant of Israelites teaching the Gentiles? Paul said I am that man. When you look into his calling, he’s a chosen vessel unto the Lord. Chosen out of the remnant of Israel to teach the Gentiles. Romans 11:1, “I say then: Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. (All of these promises are being kept by this Israelite.) For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” Here’s the point. When he’s talking about election in chapter 9, 10, and 11, he’s talking about a great divide, just like Ishmael and Isaiah. There is another division between Natural and Spiritual Israel. They are not all Israel which are of Israel. Israel is still here. The Christian Jew is a true Israelite. There is also a national Israelite rejected and refused, just like a spiritual one. If you don’t lay chapters 9, 10, and 11 in context you will miss the point. “Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Ba’al. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Vs. 28, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.” The context is of Israel not an individual. That’s really important. One thing is for sure, throughout teaching of scripture the numerous passages that Jesus died for all keeps the doctrine of election on dead center. If you embrace Jesus died for all you will get a proper understanding of this doctrine. Let me read something for you. A lot of people get hung up in the sovereignty of God. God chooses who will be saved. Look at Romans 9:15, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” God is ultimately the one who chooses. You don’t choose or accept the Lord yourself. It has to be both. Mullins, in his book, says, “The sovereign arbitrary will of God revealed in Scripture is not abstract! The proper representation of God’s Sovereignty is manifestation of God’s Love for the human race.” God from the beginning purposed not a national but racial salvation. He had in view not one family or nation but the whole of mankind. He did choose a family and He chose a nation but these choices were a means toward a greater end. If you ever walk away from God’s love to the human race and accept Sovereign Grace that sends people to hell… I have a problem with that.
5. The Calvinists have the direction of the atonement backwards. Christ’s atonement was God-ward and not man-ward as I’ve already mentioned.
- One of the reasons I reject Calvinism is that it comingles individual election and prophetical election. It comingles national election with personal election. You shouldn’t do that because the scriptures don’t.
3. It fails to harmonize the will of man and the sovereignty of God. Mullins had it right. You can’t approach His sovereignty without realizing that God loves everybody.
2. Christ died for everybody.
1. Because Calvinists, if they hold to their doctrine that some are predestined to heaven and others to hell, believe then, babies who die in infancy (they don’t believe in an age of accountability) are also predestined for heaven or hell. This is fatalism and divine child abuse. I have a problem with my loving God sending babies to hell. Let me tell you what kind of God would send babies to hell, an idol God. Listen – babies, infants, children before they can understand the law of God and sin, are under the blood of Jesus. But every Calvinist who is a true Calvinist must hold to their sovereign predestination teaching, where it doesn’t matter if they are children or of an old age, people are chosen before birth for heaven or hell. I’m just not a baby burner and neither is the God I serve!
God, from the beginning, purposed not a national salvation, but in prophecy He purposed a general salvation. One available to the whole world. He had in view not just one family or nation going to heaven. He said, “Abraham, in you all nations of the world can be saved.” He didn’t choose just a nation, but he chose a means. He chose a nation for a greater means to get the gospel to all the world. Abraham’s promise must be understood in God’s global mission to the whole world. They can be saved. Israel was a means to that end. The Book of Revelation, in many places, gives visions of great multitudes from every nation and kindred and tribe and tongue redeemed unto God through the Blood of the Lamb. In Gen 12:2-3 Abraham’s promise must be understood in the context of God’s world-wide purpose of grace (all families of the earth can be saved). Throughout the O.T. clear statements are made concerning God’s purpose to bestow favor upon the world at large through Israel. Israel became an exclusive people for a world-wide end. If you ever lose sight of that you will hold to a wrong view of Israel proper. God had an all-inclusive plan through the exclusive choice of Israel.
Is. 49:6, “ And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”
Is. 60:2, “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.”
Is. 60:3, “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”
Isaiah insisted that the remnant of Israel would teach the nations. Paul was that chosen vessel. The majority of the Book of Acts records the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles. Paul would, this was a great mystery, declare that the universality of the gospel was the secret of the ages now made known through Christ. Eph 3:4-13. God’s electing grace has never been a narrowing but always a widening principle, expanding not restricting. We can invite all the world to come to Jesus because He died for all. In John 12:47 Jesus says, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” Acts 17:30 reads, “and the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” The later prophets interpreted Israel’s mission as a mission to mankind. See, God’s electing grace, 9th chapter of Romans, is opening up not narrowing. God is no respecter of persons: this means an equal arrangement for the salvation of all men with no special standing of grace for some. The only way this could be true is for Christ to have died for all. Well, that’s prophetical election. The apostles, through their understanding of Old Testament prophecy, often referred to prophetical election. This was not only prophetical but promissory in nature. God chose or elected to save people and make them his people, who were not the people of God, like the Gentiles for instance. As in Romans 9-11, Paul’s thesis is that God has the sovereign right to make a Gentile a spiritual Jew and “all Israel will be saved.” And Peter declares that according to prophecy, God chose or elected to save and reclaim scattered Israel (the lost 10 tribes who were totally cut off as his people) and remake them the people of God.
Personal or individual election is in time and must occur at some time in your life or you will not be saved. The Bible says many are called but few are chosen. I Peter 1:2, PERSONAL OR INDIVIDUAL ELECTION IS IN TIME. Do you realize that when you get saved it is in harmony with what God already knows? He doesn’t elect or choose you because he already knew it.It must occur in a time of your life when you are chosen, when you become one of the elect and you know you are saved, or you are not one of the elect. Election is done in time. When you experience the new birth you are chosen a child of God. If you haven’t experienced salvation where you have a time and place you are not one of the elect.
I Pet. 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
When did the Holy Spirit come into your heart and life? I was elected May 15th 1972. I was 10 years old. There was a change in me. That’s when God chose me in harmony with what He already knew, but His foreknowledge notwithstanding. On an altar in Indiana is when I was chosen through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. When was the blood of Jesus Christ applied to your heart? Did you know when you had a believing application of the blood of Jesus? That’s when you were chosen. When you had a change from disobedience to obedience. When the Holy Spirit came into my life, when the believing application of Jesus’ blood came into my life, it changed me.
The Holy Spirit convinced me I was doomed to hell. If I was elected and predestined it would have been a lie for the Holy Spirit to come to me and tell me I was on my way to hell. The Spirit showed me my ruined condition before a holy God, He showed me my sins; I was on my way to hell. I looked to Christ, ruined in my sins. It changed me. That’s how I was elected; that’s how the 10 tribes were re-elected. They were no longer the people of God but could be if they were elected in time by being saved. I Peter 2:10, “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” I wish I had time to go through more scripture regarding this but I think two witnesses will be enough.
II Thessalonians 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and the belief of the truth.” Until you believe in the truth of the gospel you are not elected. Those who did put faith in Jesus Christ and experienced the spiritual witness did become one of the elect.
Yes, I believe in the doctrine of election and I am one of the elect. Not only prophetical but personal. I have a personal election. I fall in line with the predestination aspect of this. I am in Jesus. All of these blessings were predestined from the foundation of the world. All of the blessings of God chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. My friend, if you are outside of Christ, you need to know in your own heart and life. Like Titus 3:5, the setting apart. When I got saved it set me apart. I was no longer a worldling, I was going to heaven. I was no longer doomed for hell. If you’ve never had an in time choosing you are not a child of God until you get one. I have one and you need one, too. Is there someone here today outside of Christ? Only those in Christ are on their way to heaven. How is it with your soul?