Why I Am a Calvinist: Election
This is part 3 of a series.
Part 1 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Introduction
Part 2 :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Depravity

Once the Biblical Doctrine of Depravity is established, a Doctrine of Election that is conditioned on man’s cooperation with God becomes impossible to defend. When we see that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” it simply cannot follow that God has chosen to save anyone based upon some foreseen choice they will make in his favor. If God has, in fact, looked forward in time to see what we, of our own free choice, will do, he most certainly has seen nothing but mass rejection and rebellion. Then, predestining us according to what he saw that we would do, he has predestined every living soul to Hell. So it is a fool who takes comfort in the grace of God if that grace is conditioned on a sinner’s free choice. What, then, is election conditioned upon?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. —Ephesians 1:3–6

God has chosen whom he will adopt “according to the good pleasure of his will,” and for no other reason. Why does he chose whom he chooses and not someone else? Why did he choose me? Turn to Romans 9. This is the chapter in which Paul, hearing the objections of all Arminians throughout history, replies, “And you are . . . ?” He explains that it is really no one’s business why the Potter has made “one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour.” He has every right to do so. And the claim that election is conditioned on anything in the individual is thoroughly debunked:

And not only this; but when 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, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. —Romans 9:10–13

This passage causes us a great deal of consternation. “Esau have I hated.” The idea that God hated Esau, especially after emphasizing the point that Esau had as yet done nothing good or evil, just doesn’t seem right. Our natural reaction is to rebel against the truth of this passage and insist that it can’t really mean what it plainly says. It is just too offensive to our sense of justice. This is the kind of presupposition I was talking about in the introduction to this series that must be done away with in order to understand how God works. We have got to stop trying to make God conform to our sense of right and wrong. Justice is not a system of ethics to which God must conform. Justice is defined by what God does. If God wanted to choose his elect according to the color of their skin or by shoe size, it would be his right to do so. Instead, he has chosen not to explain himself. He has simply told us, “I am the potter. I use the vessels I have made as I see fit, and I’m not interested in your opinions about it.”

There is absolutely nothing shocking about the statement “Esau have I hated.” Esau is one of those described in my last post on depravity; so are you and so am I. Seeing how we, in our natural state, hate God and want no part of him, it is perfectly reasonable that he would hate us in return. Nothing could be more just. What should amaze us to no end is the statement “Jacob have I loved.” Jacob was also among the depraved, just as much an enemy of God as Esau, and just as much an enemy of God as we are. Why would God choose him? “. . . that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” Simply to show that God chooses and calls whom he will without regard for anything they do. God does not choose, as some claim, based on foreknowledge of future acts. He chooses whom he will — period.

And that’s where I will leave it. There is so much more that could be said about election, but I did say these would be short posts, and I am trying to keep it simple.

Next :: Why I Am a Calvinist: Atonement


1. 08·03·10··10:08

Short and sweet post.

I have a good friend, a Bible prof, who sees Romans 9 as a corporate explanayion of God choosing.
Jacob represents Israel, and Esau Gentiles. Paul is merely showing us that God elects different ethnic gruops in His plan of gathering a people to Himself.
Have you ever run into this?

I reject it, and yet my friend seems to think his interpretation is so much more clear and simple.

Thanks for sharing your heart. It's spot on with my own.

2. 08·03·10··12:07


Yes, I've heard that. It doesn't explain Ephesians 1 or other passages on election, though, does it?

3. 08·03·10··12:50
Mike Leake

It's so funny that at the same time you are doing a series on Why you are a Calvinist, I am doing one on Why I am NOT a Calvinist. It's not what you might think. Doctrinally speaking I would consider myself a Calvinist. My point is that, even though I believe these things doctrinally, often my life doesn't reflect my belief. I have enjoyed your series, I will probably link to them, when I begin a follow up series on Why I Am a Calvinist. Feel free to check out my current series. You can read the first part (with links to other parts) here.

4. 08·03·10··14:00
David Jordan

Amen, bro. I'm enjoying this series of posts. I work with an office full of AG and COG folks that can't seem to grasp total depravity and actually scoff at it. I can't believe their eyes are blinded to this biblical truth.

Keep it up!

5. 08·03·10··16:46

"It doesn't explain Ephesians 1 or other passages on election, though, does it?"


"Esau is one of those described in my last post on depravity; so are you and so am I. Seeing how we, in our natural state, hate God and want no part of him, it is perfectly reasonable that he would hate us in return."

When the Word cuts the heart with this truth, as it did Job (Job 42:5-6), Peter (Luke 5:8), and Isaiah (Isa. 6:5), then that same heart will see God's sovereignty in a brighter light, and the peace, that up to now was half-hearted, will become more full.

6. 08·03·12··12:36
Michael Yates

Once again, well said. When you consider total depravity, this only seems to make sense. I've never heard it explained quite this way though. We think that God is evil by choosing some to not be saved, but that is not the case. If we were indeed left to free will, none of us would choose God, thus he has chosen us.


7. 08·03·15··07:19
J.D. Heinrich

As far as getting an uderstanding of who we are in regard to who God is, I like the way the book of Job puts it towards the end. Stand up like a man so that I(God) can drill you with some questions you have absolutely no answers for.
By the way I found your blog by way of Daniel.
JD Heinrich

8. 08·03·20··14:47

This God selects some and to hell with the rest is too clean. Somehow God does a work in the sinners heart to allow them to make the choice!

9. 08·03·20··16:07

Perhaps you could name something that you have chosen to believe, as well as something you now believe that you could choose not to believe.

10. 08·03·23··19:33

How would you feel if God did not choose you?

11. 08·03·23··22:23

I don't suppose I would feel anything at all. If I didn't believe the Gospel, why would election concern me?

Your question implies that there are some who would like to believe, who want to follow Christ, but can't because they weren't chosen. There are no such people. There are none asking who do not receive, seeking who do not find, or knocking to whom the door is not opened.

12. 08·03·31··21:59

This is my first time reading your blog. It is very interesting. I do not understand the need to witness if your theology is accurate.

13. 08·04·01··13:06

The short answer is, because God uses means to accomplish his ends.

We witness because God has not only ordained the end, but the means also. He has chosen whom he will save, and he has given to them the duty of spreading the Gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Romans 10 says:

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

God has guaranteed the salvation of all the elect, but he does not save without faith. There can be no faith in what is not known, so Christ has sent preachers and teachers, and all believers, to preach the Gospel. These are the means God uses to bring his people to faith in him.

14. 08·04·01··17:18

Regarding those who have never heard, the Bible states that they are accountable as well. How does predestination affect those individuals?

15. 08·04·02··08:31

Among those who have not heard, all those who are predestined to eternal life will hear. They must hear, or else they cannot be saved (see Romans 10 in my comment #13, above). God will send a preacher, they will hear the Gospel, and they will believe.

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