2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. (1 Thessalonians 1:2–4, NKJV)
Paul, Silas, and Timothy expressed thanks to God for the Thessalonian saints. Their memory and knowledge of the brethren generated thanksgiving. As they remembered the saint’s faithful lives, they perceived their election (selection) by God. They were God’s chosen ones. This is not the Calvinist perversion that says God unalterably decreed damnation or life before times immemorial (The Westminster Confession of Faith, III, 3-4). God’s elect is those who are saved by the gospel plan of redemption (2 Thess. 2:13-14). God chose the plan of redemption; those who choose to follow His plan are His elect (Eph. 1:3-4). The Thessalonians showed their election by their 1) Work of faith. Their faith was alive due to their obedience (Jas. 2:17-20). If God’s election is unconditional, why would their faith affect their election? 2) Labor of love. Love is responsive, not dormant (Jas. 2:14-17; 1 Jno. 3:16-18). Love’s activity demonstrates one belongs to God; something unconditional election ultimately denies. 3) Patience of hope. Enduring faithfulness is a mark of God’s people. Yet, why endure if God’s election has been “unchangeably designed” from eternity? Unconditional election is a false doctrine that denies free will and gives false hope by perpetuating false faith. Beware!
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36, ESV)
Yesterday we learned from this verse that whosoever believes in the Son “has eternal life” precisely because one obeys the Son. One who “does not obey the Son” is under God’s wrath instead of life. There is one more thing worth our consideration here. Many who believe one is saved “by faith alone” also believe in the impossibility of apostasy (“once saved, always saved”). However, if it is true that once the believer has eternal life he will always have life and never lose it – even if he becomes disobedient – then it necessarily follows the disobedient unbeliever can never escape the wrath of God that “remains on him.” To believe “once saved, always saved,” one must (according to this view of John 3:36) also believe “once lost, always lost.” (We are aware Calvinistic theology accepts these conclusions.) However, the gospel does not. It is for all (Mk. 16:15). God desires the salvation of every sinner (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Freewill enables us to choose to hear, believe, and obey the gospel to be saved (Acts 2:21-22, 37-41; 17:30). It also allows us to choose to sin and fall from grace (Gal. 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). Security in Christ is sure when we obey in faith: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3–5, NKJV)
Did Judas have a choice? Or, did God predetermine his betrayal because of His sovereign election and man’s corrupt nature? Being born totally corrupt (as Calvinists tell us), did Judas sin out of necessity? God indeed is sovereign (Psalm 66). But no, we are not born corrupted by original sin (Ezekiel 18:20; Matthew 18:3; Romans 7:9). God created man and woman with freewill, and it was not taken from humanity after Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6; Romans 5:12). Judas chose to be a thief and a betrayer (John 12:6). He chose not to believe in Jesus, and he chose to let the devil into his heart (John 6:69-71; 13:2, 27). Yes, Judas had a choice – God’s foreknowledge did not eliminate Judas’ freewill. When we sin it is because we yield to temptation (Jas. 1:13-16). We do not sin because we must sin (due to a corrupt nature). Sin is committed, not inherited (Romans 5:12). God has chosen to save us (sinners) in Christ (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:4-7). We must choose to come to Christ (Matthew 11:28). God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill are not hostile to each other. Do not choose sin. Choose to honor God’s sovereignty by believing and obeying the gospel of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
Peter describes Christians in vivid contrast to those who, “being disobedient to the word,” stumble upon Christ and His gospel (1 Peter 2:8). These descriptions drive to the heart of who we are as disciples of Christ. First, we are a “chosen generation” (“elect race,” ASV). Just as God chose Jesus Christ to be the “chief cornerstone” in Zion, a generation has been chosen to precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 2:4, 6). With foreknowledge, God elected this generation of “living stones” that compose God’s “spiritual house” (1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:5). Calvinist (Reformed) theology says God unconditionally chose (elected) the individuals who are saved. Millions have adopted and adapted this false teaching. Scripture says God “chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world,” not that God unconditionally chose each individual (Ephesians 1:4). God desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Those who meet His conditions are “accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). These are saved in Christ and are a chosen race of people, “who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13; 3:1-5). All who believe in Jesus Christ have the power to become a child of God, and thus be among this chosen generation (John 1:12).