Election and The Cross

I have been tossing over a question in my mind about election and the cross. I will try my best to explain in brief what I seem to observe in my reading of the bible, and my main question is if this is correct.

When I study books of the bible, the hardest scripture I have come to read is in Romans. Romans 9 regarding God’s sovereign choice, and he uses the example of Pharaoh. Please see Romans 9:6-33 as I won’t paste it for sake of brevity.

When I take this passage and complement it with other aspects of the bible, it seems that election is not as much a point of predestination or predetermined damnation or salvation, but rather, was not election as it can be found as a whole, the example of God’s sovereign choice to bring about the Messiah through a certain lineage, for a certain time, in a certain place so that by his election he would open the door to all men through the cross?

The place I come to in my observation is this then, that Israel was a chosen nation before the cross, and as God’s chosen people, those who were not of his chosen nation were utilized by his sovereign choice to reveal his Glory to the earth and to his people, (e.g. Pharaoh and his hardening, and when God says in Romans 9:17 “for this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”). If this is the case, and through the old testament we see his sovereignty in many situations, calling Abraham, the exodus, david chosen as king, etc, was not his sovereignty and election the conduit for his final redemption through the cross. Because if that is the case, then that means even more importance to share with the world the divine sovereignty and love of God, that he made a way for all men to come to him. This also means that being part of the elect in the classical sense is not what the bible means, but rather, the “elect” of God is open to all because of the cross. I do not find biblical evidence for the belief that God has predestined men to heaven or hell, because in light of the cross, predestination seems to be that God has predestined his plan for salvation, and allows man the limited will to choose. In short, God’s kindness is meant to lead to repentance, but how can man know about this kindness unless they are told, for if God is calling out to all people through his followers, then that means that God is opening the door to all, that he has “elected” that the door be opened to all humanity to come to him.

Is this an accurate understanding of the concept of God’s divine purpose and election? Because it seems to be the most plausible to me when I take stock of only what I read in the bible. Is this on the right track? Thank you for any type of response that can help bring understanding.

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Let me see if I can condense your question down into a simple statement. Are you asking if the biblical meaning of election has primarily to do with God choosing Israel to be the nation through whom the Messiah would come?

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I think it’s more, based on what I read, it seems that election is God’s choosing of Israel, his will working it’s way through Israel’s history in order to bring about Christ, where ultimately he might open the door of salvation to all who would come to him. I think my question is, would this be an accurate understanding of his election? That the purpose of his election was ultimately to provide a means of salvation for all through the Christ and the cross

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Well, yes - that sounds right. He definitely chose Abraham over Job to bring the Messiah through. He chose Isaac over Ishmael…Jacob over Esau…the tribe of Judah, eventually David, etc. But all within the context of the Chosen People, Israel, at large. And now, people from all nations who will come to Israel’s Messiah can be grafted into the Chosen people (the elect) as well. We all become “naturalized citizens”, so to speak, of the Israel of God - Galatians 6:16.

But I think there is another element of what it means to be a part of the Chosen People. What exactly is it that we’re chosen for? Well, we’re chosen to enter into a glorious inheritance - Ephesians 1:10-14!

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@jonathancutley Really like what @jlyons said - all who come to Christ are chosen in Him! William Lane Craig has an article on this topic that I think provides a nice summary (linked below).

Paul’s burden, then, in Romans 9 is not to narrow the scope of God’s election but to broaden it. He wants to take in all who have faith in Christ Jesus regardless of their ethnicity. Election, then, is first and foremost a corporate notion: God has chosen for Himself a people, a corporate entity, and it is up to us by our response of faith whether or not we choose to be members of that corporate group destined to salvation.

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I think this helps a lot, I appreciate you both @SeanO and @jlyons and for your responses. It’s been a burning question as to whether my observations were grounded and I thought this forum would be a great place to gain insight from others about it. I really appreciate the input and the link! I think it helped me understand things a little better and the article put to words my thoughts better than I could. Thank you so much!

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@jonathancutley Glad you found the article helpful :slight_smile: I also very much appreciate the way William Lane Craig explained corporate election. Romans 9 is a passage that I struggled with as well and I was so encouraged when I finally understood what it meant in context. Christ be with you!

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Jonathan,

I understand your struggle. I have seen many struggle with predestination including family members, church members, Presbyterians, and other reformed believers, not to mention Arminians.

When you say “I do not find biblical evidence for the belief that God has predestined men to heaven or hell” I wondered if you have ever read The Westminster Confession of Faith. The Confession summarizes what the Bible teaches. Chapter III Of God’s Eternal Decree might be both enlightening, and, quite offensive, to some. You can easily find the Confession on the internet. Try to find one with the Scriptural proofs for each section of the Confession. In my opinion, next to the Bible, the Confession is the greatest religious document ever produced.

The Church of England’s 39 Articles addresses Predestination in Article 17.

The Belgic Confession addresses Election in Article 17.

The 1689 Baptist Confession addresses predestination in Chapter 3 Of God’s Decree. You can find this with scripture proofs as well.

Now these confessions could be wrong in their interpretation of Scripture. But they could be right as well.

Now let’s make it personal. I have heard some people worry that they are not of the elect. The better question is “Do you love Jesus?” If you do you are one of the elect. Then we worry about others, in particular family members, then close friends, then acquaintances, then others because maybe they are not one of the elect. First of all, we shouldn’t worry. Philipians 4:6.

So what should we do? Share the Gospel. Mark 16:15. That’s it. That is our charge. We are not in charge of salvation. God is. And He will do right. He always does.