Predestination (Election)

John Calvin (1509-1564) is best known for his “Institutes of the Christian Religion” in which he advocated a church state, imprisonment of heretics, infant baptism, and that the lost were created to go to hell. Not all Calvinists believe all these tenets. Many don’t even know he advocated them. He postulated what has become known as “Calvinism,” the doctrine of predestination. The central thesis of his teaching is that God has elected certain individuals who will be saved and go to heaven and predetermined certain ones not selected by Him shall go to hell. Limited space does not allow for fuller explanation of the pro-election concept.  

Conversely, Scripture reminds us of our “election of God.” (I Thes. 1: 4 – 8)

Election is elsewhere translated “chosen.” (Ephesians 1: 4 – 5) These two English words are synonyms of the same Greek word “exelexato,” meaning picked out for Himself.

We, with our free will, may freely respond positively to God’s love offering to us, or reject His love. However, if God had not chosen the “whosoever” referenced in John 3: 16 we could never have chosen Him. God did not choose us because we are good, but because He is good. He did not choose us because we are good, but so that through us He could do good.

People are not lost because they are not chosen by God, but because they have willfully chosen to reject Jesus. They have chosen not to choose His will.

God has taken the initiative in His sovereign will to make salvation available to “whosoever will” in faith responds positively to Jesus. Apart from His initiative no one could be saved. This does not mean fatalism. It does not mean God has chosen to save as few as possible, but as many as possible. It does not indicate God chose to save some and reject others. It must be understood in light of “whosoever will.” (Romans 10: 13)

A review of the meaning of the associated word, predestined which translates the Greek word “proorisas,” helps explain election. It was used as a surveyor’s term which meant “to horizon off beforehand,” or to “mark off a boundary in advance.” Thus, God the Father marked off the boundary before the dawning of creation. He predetermined that those who of their own free will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ would be in the boundary and share His destiny. The Father determined this boundary would be the Son. All in the boundary, that is in Jesus, are the elect.

The Father in His sovereign will decreed “in Jesus” to be that standard. Individuals in their free will decide whether or not to be “in Jesus.”