The second point of the TULIP acronym is the idea of God’s sovereign choosing of those who shall be made heirs. Unconditional Election is another despised doctrine by the opposition to Calvinism because, like Total Depravity, it demonstrates man’s inability and therefore lack of control over his fate. Again, there are many books and articles that will give you a better and clearer take on this particular point, but because I have a blog in which to write about various things I have chosen to do so on the five points.
“The LORD has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4
With the Scripture verses that support the concepts of Total Depravity we are able to summarize what we would call a doctrine of man in regards to the affects and seriousness of sin. With Unconditional Election we are not only able to add to this doctrine of man, but also begin to summarize a doctrine of God in regards to His Sovereignty. The focus to understanding this second point will be therefore be on determining God’s will regarding salvation of men.
We understand that only God can regenerate the heart of the spiritually dead. From this standpoint, the Reformed notion of election unto salvation is that it is in no way influenced or made possible by what man does or will do, and in fact been predetermined by God before creation. The Westminster Confession puts it like this – “…according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto;”
In order to begin to grasp this idea of election we must trust that God’s sovereignty extends to all events and that His will is greater than the will of man. Also, we must consider that election includes both the means and the ends unto salvation. B.B. Warfield said – “nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering, or without its peculiar fitness for its place in the working out of His purposes” He believed that what God had determined in eternity, all that has and will come to pass do so by means in which God has also provided, including the salvation of men. We can conclude that the ordering and providential interaction of events and the means to facilitate bringing one to Christ had been determined entirely by God. As the psalmist understands – “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)
The idea of Adoption, as I recently posted, is given to us in Scripture to clearly represent how God chooses His children and bring them into His family by way of His son Jesus. If one understands that we are born children of wrath, as Paul explains in Ephesians 2, we know that we do not seek Him but it is He that seeks us. It is God that chooses whom to adopt, much like human parents choose whom they would adopt, it is not the child that chooses its parents. It is a specific effective calling by God for a definite and permanent adoption. John Calvin said it like this – “He adopts not all promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what he refuses to others.” (Institutes Book 3, Ch 21, Section 1)
We must permit God to be God and give that He must and does rule over that which He has created. It would be dishonoring to God and to His power to suppose that He is struggling along with the human race to do His best to accomplish His purposes when man’s will thwarts Him at every turn. The pride and presumption of mankind in his ignorance of ability and depravity to exclude God in the determination of salvation in order to exalt himself is a true demonstration of how far we’ve fallen. It is only by His mercy through His grace alone that any of us is able to escape what we justly deserve.
God must be the determining factor in regards to those who will be heirs. When we consider man’s condition without God’s election not one individual would be saved. “no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned away…” (Romans 3:11-12) This elective decree is made effective by the efficient work of the Holy Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases. The righteous Judge will do what is right by His standards in extending His saving grace to the undeserving multitude. God says “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15)