(Refutation of Five Point Calvinism)
From the Book, Subjects of Sovereignty by Andrew Telford
Pastor, Berachah Church, 1608 W. Allegheny Ave., Philadelphia, PA.
(posted with permission)
It is dangerous for God to give high truth to highly educated people. There is a danger that in the furtherance of that truth it becomes mixed with an alloy of human wisdom. It pleased God on that first Christmas morning to give high truth to humble men, even shepherds in the fields.
These truths of Sovereignty are usually dealt with in the classroom of colleges and seminaries only. In these places they are subjects of theology. They are not dealt with in such a way that the average man or woman in the “work-a-day world” can understand them with any measure of intelligence, or even personal blessing for their own soul.
I am not presenting these subjects for students in the theological workshop, but for the average Christian who sits in the church pew to hear the word of God presented with a spiritual application for the heart and soul. I trust that the reading and the study of these subjects as set forth in this volume will somehow help the person who has an open mind to understand more clearly the Bible. I have endeavored to present in the most simple way these blessed truths, so that the common people will hear and understand.
The average Christian has been led to believe that these subjects are beyond his mental comprehension and spiritual understanding. Surely, if they are Bible subjects, the Spirit of God will help the humblest believer to understand something of their spiritual meaning and also to derive something of practical help for daily living from them.
After having spoken on these subjects to my own congregation in Berachah Church, Philadelphia, Penna., and having referred to them at different times in Bible Conference addresses, I have been asked by a number of Christians to present these four subjects in book form for the benefit of the Christian public.
In the presentation of them, I make no attempt to pose as either a scholar or an author, but am trying as a servant of Christ to present some subjects that have been much misunderstood by so many. I am deeply indebted to Dr. Clifton L. Fowler, who was the founder of the Denver Bible Institute, Denver, Colorado, for help in these studies. I trust as this book goes forward it will bring joy and peace to the hearts of God’s people, and the renewed assurance that “He doeth ALL things well.”
When one begins to seek to present the subject of Election, you feel as though you were “rushing in where angels fear to tread.” Please remember, we can only go as far as that which the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us through his Word. The Bible is not a revelation of what God knows, but what God wants us to know. We will turn to the Bible and let us read from Romans 9:6-24.
6. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel :
7. Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
9. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
10. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac ;
11. (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 😉
12. It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
14. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
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.
16. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will ?
20. Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that repliest against God ? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ?
21. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction :
23. And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24. Even us, whom he hath called, not-of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Let us remind ourselves of the simple definitions of the two subjects that we have been dealing with: Adoption-is a divine act of God whereby God sets a goal for the believer. Ephesians 1: 5. Predestination-is a divine act of God whereby God makes that goal, (that is Adoption) certain for the believer. Ephesians 1: 5
This is one of the greatly misunderstood subjects of the Word of God, and around the doctrine and subject of Election, Satan has thrown up a mirage of doubt and suspicion, and on the other hand a pile of arrogance and pride. It is most difficult to make clear that which has so long been complex in the minds of the Christian public. Surely God has made it clear in His Word. May we find the illumination of the Spirit of God adequate to make clear to us, that which God has written in His Word.
First notice the Scriptural expression in the Bible, the word “elect” or “Election.” The Bible speaks about the elect of God, and God’s elect. Let us remind ourselves that when we read the phrase “God’s elect,” it is not a mere statement of a fact or even of a purpose, but like the Scriptural expression “first born,” it is a title of dignity and that title was only applied to those who were believers. The pre-eminent thought in Election is rank and privilege, not deliverance from damnation or eternal torment. So that you can have these things down in order, let us look at five or six phases of truth concerning Election.
I. The Proposition of Election
It is a Bible word and therefore demands a measure of interest and consideration from all the people of God. It is one of the doctrines of the Bible. Bible Colleges and Seminaries deal with the doctrine of Election because it is a doctrine found in the Bible. We should know more about it. I feel that we should know what the Bible says about it even though we are not going into any exhaustive study of the subject in this message. We must evade establishing our convictions on mere human opinions, while we have before us the possibility of knowing what the Bible says about it.
I was attending a Bible Conference sometime ago, and a number of preachers were seated around the dinner table. There was a discussion on some Bible subjects. At the table, a splendid young man who was a graduate of one Bible College and two seminaries, was asked by one of the preachers regarding the subject of Predestination. The young man began to expound the subject of Predestination in response to the minister’s request. Although his reply was lengthy, it was by no means clear, as he did not understand the difference between Predestination, Election, and Foreknowledge. Also, he did not have clearly in his mind the teaching of the Word of God on the subject of Adoption. He used these terms concerning the sovereignty of Christ, interchangeably. This young man did not know the difference between these subjects. May we as Christians know something about these differences. Please notice the definition of Election.
Definition of Election
Election is a divine act of God, whereby God, for reasons known only to himself, in the blessing of mankind, sets to one side all firsts, and chooses all seconds.
11.(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 😉
Now we will turn from the proposition of the subject of Election to the problem of Election. Please remember that the subject of Election has its difficulties. This is why there is so much ignorance and misunderstanding of the subject.
II. Problem of Election
Election is one of the unique subjects referred to by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9. This chapter does not teach in its completeness, the subject of Election, it is only referred to in this chapter in verse 11. Election is not God choosing or electing some to be saved and some to be lost. To say that God chooses some to be saved and some to be lost is nothing more or less than hearsay, and is charging God with doing something that he can not do, because he has provided salvation for every man. To say that God has chosen or elected some to be lost, would limit the atonement of Jesus Christ. That is one of the duties of the Devil to try to limit the work of Christ on the cross. It labels God as a respecter of persons, and that leads one to believe that the Holy Spirit only deals with certain people, that is those who are chosen or elected to be saved; and that the Spirit of God never deals with others. If God chose people for heaven or elected them to be saved, and others were chosen for hell or were elected to be lost, then Christ’s death was not for all mankind.
Certain ones tell us that God chooses some to eternal life and some to eternal damnation. Does Romans 9:11 teach this? By no manner of means does this verse bear this out that God has elected some to heaven and some to hell. On the contrary, this verse tells us about the purpose of God according to Election. Now notice Romans 9:12.
12. It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
Now it is normal to expect that such words spoken for so definite a purpose would contain some hint or indication of the purpose of God according to Election? It is, “The elder shall serve the younger.” The first born serves younger. The greater shall serve the lesser. God set to one side the elder or the first and chose the second, or the younger through whom the blessing would come. Now, I want you to notice the portions that are misapplied and misunderstood about the subject of Election.
III. The Portions Misapplied
A. Does Romans 9 :15-18 teach some are elected to salvation and some do damnation?
Those who believe that God has elected some to salvation and some to damnation, would say that if there were two brothers in a family, one a believer and the other unbeliever; that God had mercy and compassion on the one who was saved, but that He did not show any mercy or compassion on the one who was unsaved, should he die in that state. God’s actions are not based alone on his Foreknowledge but are based in the back ground of his attribute of love. If you will notice in Romans 9: 18 it says in that verse, “therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy.”
Therefore, they would say that if the unconverted brother would die in his sin, God did not have mercy on him. That is a false view of the teaching of this verse. All the truth concerning the attitude of God toward unsaved man is not to be found in one verse. Romans 9: 18 is not the whole of the Bible, neither does it teach all about the mercy of God toward the children of men. What does this verse teach? Is there any hint as to whom God will have mercy upon? If you turn to Romans 11:32 there will be some light on the truths concerning God and those who are the objects of His mercy. Romans 11: 32 tells us:
32. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Now how many are the objects and recipients of God’s mercy? The text clearly tells us that he has mercy upon all. God does not only have mercy on a few but His mercy is expanded until it reaches all men. God has mercy upon all men and His mercy upon all is according to Romans 11:32. Whom does he harden? Romans 9:17.
17. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Those who purposely harden themselves against God. God had mercy upon Pharaoh and that mercy was extended to Pharaoh even while hardening his heart. God’s mercy is upon all. Do not limit it to a few.
B. Does Romans 9: 22, 23 teach that God has elected some for salvation and some for condemnation ?
Let us turn to that portion found in Romans 9: 22, 23.
22. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23. And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Now notice verse 22 speaks about vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. It is error to teach that these words refer to limited atonement by saying that God has fitted some people for destruction. Away with such trash ! God never fitted any man for destruction. God never fitted any one to be destroyed. It is the Devil who has fitted them for destruction. God endured with much long suffering the vessels who yielded themselves to the Devil. Satan made them vessels of wrath and prepared them for hell.
C. Notice Acts 13: 48.
48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Now, does this verse teach that God has ordained some folks to believe and some not to believe ? Does this verse teach that some are ordained to be saved and some are ordained to be lost ? Notice the context. It teaches that Barnabas and Paul had been preaching the gospel to the Jews. The Jews refused to respond to their ministry. These two servants of the Lord turned from ministering to the Jews for the time being and turned their faces toward the Gentiles. Now the context of this passage shows us that God is turning the ministry of these men from the Jews toward the Gentiles. This was in God’s plan. He wanted the Gentiles to hear the gospel. This text does not teach that God had planned to save just a few of these Gentiles on that occasion. Offering salvation to all Gentiles, some of the Gentiles believed that day what the Jews had rejected.
I believe that it is Dr. Gaebelein in his book on Acts, says, “The Gentiles who were disposed to eternal life believed.” I believe that this is the thought of the passage in the light of the context. The Jews were turning from the Lord and rejecting the truth, so the Lord turns with the offer to the Gentiles. Those Gentiles who were willing to receive salvation, and whose minds were open to the truth, were ready to believe. It is true God had planned to turn to the Gentiles, but not to just a few individuals, as are represented here. This group happened to be a few of the Gentiles who were present, and believed and were saved.
In Romans 9: 13 we read:
13. As it is written. Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
God did not say this before they were born. This statement was recorded in the last book the Old Testament. Malachi 1: 2, 3. Notice the phrase there in Romans 9:13, “As it is written”. It is recorded or written back in the book of Malachi. What have we there recorded? God’s hatred toward Esau and his descendants. Why did God hate Esau and his descendants? It was because of their continued wickedness and idolatry. This does not refer to individual men (Jacob and Esau), but to the nations which sprang of their loins.
Since Esau and his descendants stand for flesh, God hates the whole nation of Edom. Israel stands for the spiritual. God loves the whole nation for what they represent. Now, as to the salvation of any Edomite or Israelite, the pathway was the same. It was by believing.
IV. The People Who Are Elected
Nowhere in the Bible is Election connected with the salvation or the damnation of a human soul. Who are the elect ? They are the saved people. His favored ones. Israel in the Old Testament is God’s elect. Isaiah 46:3, 4.
3. And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
4. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
The Church which is his body, in the New Testament. Romans 8:33.
33. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
In the Tribulation they are Jews or the 144,000. Matthew 24:22-24.
22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
23. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
This rank, this favor, this privilege. is shown to those people not before they are saved, but after. The word Election occurs 27 times in the Bible, and is used in connection with God’s people. A few times it is used relative to the Lord Jesus Christ.
V. The Purpose of Election
The purpose of Election is the setting to one side of all that pertains to the flesh, (everything that has to do with carnality) and establishing everything that has to do with the spiritual. The most important phase of Election pertains to service. Romans 9:11, 12. “The elder shall serve”. Election has nothing to do with a man’s salvation, neither has it anything to do with his condemnation. The purpose of Election then, is that the first shall become subservient and serve the second. It has to do with Service. It is God’s elect who serve Him.
VI. The Principles of Election
For the principles of Election, let us turn to some illustrations that are set forth in the Word of God. Notice Hebrews 10:9,
9. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
Now we are all familiar with this portion of the Word of God. The closing phrase in verse 9, “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second”. Election is a divine act of God whereby God sets to one side all firsts and chooses all seconds. You notice that this is what God is doing according to the teaching of this verse. There were many offerings and sacrifices in the Old Testament, and they were called the “First”, because they were in the Jewish economy. God set them to one side at the beginning of the dispensation that we now live in, which is the dispensation of the body of Christ. It was the will of God to set the first to one side and choose for the blessing of mankind, the sacrifice and offering of Christ. Now, let us turn to another illustration of the principle of Election. Notice what it says in Hebrews 8:6-7,
6. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
In verse 7 you read,
7. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
You also notice in Hebrews 8:13,
13. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
We find these verses teaching that God has set to one side the first covenant and has established a second one, which he made between himself and his son. Election is a divine act of God, whereby God, for reasons known only to Himself, in the blessing of mankind, sets to one side all firsts and chooses all seconds. He sets to one side the first covenant in the Old Testament economy and chooses the second. Now, notice the principle, being worked out in our own bodies. I Corinthians 15 :38
38, But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him. and to every seed his own body.
Notice verse 38, “God giveth it a body- to-every seed his own body”.
42. So also in the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.
44. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual ‘body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
So it is written, in verse 45,
45. The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
47. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from Heaven.
Election is a divine act of God whereby God, for reasons known only to Himself in the blessing of mankind, sets to one side all firsts. and chooses all seconds. We also have a clear illustration of the principles of Election in 2Peter 3:10-13. Keep in mind our definition of Election that God is setting to one side all firsts, and is choosing all seconds. We see him here not only setting to one side but, completely destroying the first earth as the abode for eternal blessings. If he declares. in verses 10-12,
10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise. and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein – shall be burned up.
11. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.
12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Then in verse 13, we notice the first promise and establishment of the new heavens and the new earth. That is just another one of the evidences of the principles of Election, The outstanding picture of the principles of Election is seen in Genesis 48 :8-20. Notice carefully that Israel blessed Joseph’s two boys, Ephraim was the younger and Manasseh was the elder. In order for the father to put his right hand on Ephraim who was the younger. he had to cross his hands or arms, thereby making a cross. Here is a picture of how we obtain the favors of God’s elective principles. It is by the cross. The old man typical of the old life, (Adam’s race) is set aside and the new life in Christ is established as he lays his right hand upon the younger. Because of the cross, we are favored of God. In order to be one of God’s elect you must come by the way of the cross.