Monday, July 03, 2006

4. The Biblical Doctrine of Election is Unchangeable

Since election is the work of God we would expect it to be both everlasting and unchangeable. Ecc 3:14 "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him." Who will change it? Neither man nor angel can change this decree, how can they defeat the will of God "who doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say unto him what doest thou?" Dan 4:35. Is. 14.27. "The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?" God will not Himself change this decree, since with the Lord "there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17) "I am the Lord, I change not." Mal 3:6. Is. 46.10. "my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." The Lord's wisdom and omnipotence cause His counsel to stand. This is why Scripture speaks (Heb. 6:17) of the "immutability of His counsel". "The foundation of God standeth sure" (2 Tim. 2:19). Nothing of all that there is in the universe or things future which the apostle Paul lists at the end of Romans chapter 8 "shall separate us from the love of God in Christ" "nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Rom. 8:35 - 39).

The eternal character of election shows it to be unchangeable. The golden chain of redemption of which we read in Romans 8:29, 30 stretches from before time to when time shall be no longer. "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son...Moreover whom He predestinated, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified and whom He justified, them He also glorified." The Apostle Paul puts these things in the past tense because with God the thing decreed is so certain to be fulfilled that it has been accomplished already in principle from all eternity. "These five golden links," says BB Warfield, "are welded together in one unbreakable chain... It is 'election,' ...that does all this" (Pamphlet, Election, p.10). Because of the unbreakability of election the believer will never be safer than he is now, for he is already as safe as he can be. "This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing." Since election is unchangeable, the believer can have assurance of election from various definite marks. If it was not so, Peter could not counsel believers, "to make their calling and election sure," 2 Pet. 1.9,10. It can be known even to others for Paul says 1 Thess. 1.4. "knowing brethren beloved your Election of God."

Thus far we have spoken of election as an eternal act of God concerning specific individuals, centred upon Christ and unchangeable. But there is very little controversy with mainstream Arminian teaching thus far. Many would agree substantially with these points. It is however when we come to identify the basis or original cause of election that we come to the real heart of election and the eye of the storm. It is at this point when it becomes clear whether our doctrine of election is ultimately man-centred or God-centred, whether it is according to Scripture or carnal preference. The Dutch Arminians or Remonstrants spoke of election as God's unchangeable purpose, but they made that purpose conditional on man which means that it isn't properly unchangeable after all. Yet election is unchangeable precisely because it is not dependent or conditional upon anything outwith of God Himself.