Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "Soteriology"
Return to Syllabus
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
(with FOREKNOWLEDGE and PREDESTINATION)
- Election of God (or the choices of God) are used in
relation to the following groups and individuals
- In relation to the whole nation of Israel
1 Ki. 3:8; Ps. 33:12; Isa. 14:1; Mk. 13:20; Rom. 11:5,7,28
- In relation to certain ones from among the Israelites
1 Sam. 10:24; Num. 17:5; Ps. 68:70; Mt. 24:31
- In relation to all Christians
Jn. 13:18; Rom. 8:33; 1 Cor. 1:27-28
- In relation to certain ones from among Christians
Lk. 6:13; Jn. 15:16,19; Acts 9:15
- In relation to the Lord Jesus Christ
Lk. 23:35; 1 Pet. 2:4,6; Isa. 42:1; Mt. 12:18
- Explanatory remarks
We see that election is taught in the Scriptures.
God has not been pleased to disclose His motives in election. We believe,
however, that God acts in election upon good and righteous grounds.
Election is declared to be according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet. 1:2),
but Scripture nowhere declares what it is in the Divine foreknowledge which
determines the Divine choice.
It is certain, however, that the election is not determined by the Divine
foreknowledge of any merit in the chosen one, for election is expressly
declared to be of grace (Rom. 9:11; 11:5-6).
It is not Biblical to say that God's election is determined by the
foreknowledge of the obedience of faith exercised by the one chosen. The
purpose and result of God's election is to bring the one elected "unto
obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:2). Peter uses
the word "obedience" as a synonym for faith (1 Pet. 1:22; 4:17; Acts 5:32).
The relation of God's foreknowledge to His electing grace is, therefore, an
Here it is both reverent and wise to respect the Divine silences and to
restrain the mind within that which is revealed. It is unwise to form any
iron-clad theory, however logical, that requires one to overemphasize or soft
pedal passages on one side of the debatable question or the other.
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are
revealed belong unto us" (Dt. 29:29). It is not likely at this late date that
any of us will be able to categorically settle questions which have raged for
- Intimately associated with election are three other
important words of Scripture
- Predestinate = "to mark off beforehand"
This expression occurs six times in the New Testament.
- Acts 4:28 - affirms that the crucifixion of the Lord
Jesus Christ was marked off beforehand in the counsel of God.
- Romans 8:29 - teaches that whom God did foreknow He did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.
- Romans 8:30 - states that whom God did predestinate,
them He also called, justified, glorified.
- 1 Corinthians 2:7 - the mystery which God predestinated
unto our glory, the mystery of the fullness of wisdom embodied in the Lord
- Ephesians 1:5 - God has predestinated us unto the
adoption of children (better, "the placing of sons"). To whom does the
word "us" of Ephesians 1:5 refer? Compare Ephesians 1:22-23. It refers to
the predestinating of the CHURCH. This was a sovereign act of God.
How do I become identified with this group (the Church) which is
predestinated? (Cp. Rom. 8:30, "justified"; cp. Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Mt.
16:16-18;Jn. 1:12; 3:16)
- Ephesians 1:11-12 - "God has predestinated unto the
praise of His glory."
Note: These occurrences of the word "predestinate" have to do with
Definition: In all the passages there is but one consistent meaning, so
that predestination may be defined as that active exercise of the will of
God by which certain results are brought to pass so that not one of those
who were chosen according to His foreknowledge will fail to be among the
company of those who are eventually "glorified, " i.e., "conformed to the
image of His Son. "
- Purpose = "to aim, resolve, or plan"
This word is used three times in the New Testament.
- Romans 1:13 - Paul's purpose to go to Rome.
- Romans 3:25 - God hath set forth the Lord Jesus Christ
as the propitiation for the sins of the world.
- Ephesians 1:9 - God's purpose to gather together in one
all things in Christ.
Definition: The English word "purpose" correctly indicates the meaning; it
signifies an internal decision or determination of the mind to make, and
accomplish, a plan.
- Foreknowledge = "to have knowledge of beforehand"
- The passages involved are
- Acts 26:5
- Romans 8:29
- Romans 11:2
- 1 Peter 1:20 (ASV)
- 2 Peter 3:17
- Acts 2:23
- 1 Peter 1:2
- Distinctions (taken from Chafer's Systematic Theology,
Vol. 7, p. 158)
- Prescience - the knowledge of future events
Prescience may depend upon the will of the creatures for its immediate
execution, or for its expectation, but foreknowledge in God is that
which He Himself purposes to bring to pass.
- Omniscience - embraces all things, past, present, and
future, while foreknowledge anticipates only the future events. c.
Foreknowledge - should be distinguished from His knowledge of events
which are merely possible. It is in the range of Divine understanding to
foresee what would happen under certain circumstances, but in His
providence never does occur (Mt. 11:21).
- The Scriptural illustration of foreknowledge - Psalm
- The blessing of God's foreknowledge - Job 42:2; Romans
God's foreknowledge brings joy and gladness to the believing heart, for we
know that: God knows perfectly the road ahead, though often we do not know
Definition: The words proginosko or prognosis assert God's foreknowledge
concerning the matters spoken of in the passages.
In order, the Divine procedure would seem to be:
- Predestination, or the active bringing to pass of
that which was foreknown, purposed, and chosen
In all the Christian centuries men have endeavored to account
philosophically for the apparent paradox of God's sovereign election and
man's free will, but none have ever succeeded.
Both are wholly true, but the connecting and reconciling truth has not
William Jay (quoted by Scofield in the third volume of his Bible
correspondence course): "Two grand truths have always seemed to me to
pervade the whole Bible, and not confined to a few phrases, namely, that
if we are saved, it is entirely of God's grace, and if we are lost, it
will be entirely from ourselves."
- Final definitions of election
The New Testament doctrine of election may be defined as:
- The sovereign act of God in. grace whereby certain
persons are chosen from among mankind for Himself.
Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Tit. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2:9
Note: The believer's election is never apart from Christ, but "in Christ"
and antedates the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 16:13).
- The sovereign act of God whereby certain of such elect
persons are designated for distinctive services for Him. Lk. 6:13; Jn.
15:16; Acts 9:15; 1 Cor. 1:27
Return to Syllabus
200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
Notes" Study materials on this website are made available
here free, through the generosity of Cairn University,
and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing
that no charge is made for them. No further distribution or use
of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright
Law without the express permission of Cairn University.