What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin (Romans 3:9, NKJV).
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul established that all people, whether Gentiles or Jews, are sinners (Rom. 3:10-20, 23; 6:23). The extent of sin is universal (“There is none righteous, no, not one;…they have all turned aside,” Rom. 3:10, 12). Thus, all are “under sin” – guilty captives unable to free ourselves from its bondage and death (Gal. 3:22; Rom. 7:24). Sin’s death passes to everyone who sins, not because Adam sinned (Rom. 5:12; Ezek. 18:20). Humanity’s sin (disobedience) against God magnifies His mercy, “that He might have mercy on all” (Rom. 11:32). These simple truths expose the lies of Calvinism. (1) Total heredity depravity is not inherited. Personal sin separates each one from God (Isa. 59:1-3; Ezek. 18:20-24). (2) Unconditional election is a farce since God’s mercy is offered to every sinner in Christ (Rom. 5:15). His invitation to be saved is universal, but unconditional election makes God a tyrant (Matt. 11:28; Mark 16:15-16). (3) Limited atonement neglects that Jesus died “for everyone,” not just the elect (Heb. 2:9). (4) Irresistible grace rests on the false premise we are too corrupt to respond to God’s call to mercy without enabling grace from God to jumpstart faith. Yet, the “gospel of the grace of God” is preached to sinners who choose to resist or repent (Acts 2:36-41; 7:51; 13:44-46). (5) Perseverance of the saints is the baseless expectation that once God saves a sinner, that person cannot fall into sin’s condemnation. Sadly, many rely on the false hope of this false doctrine (Gal. 5:4; Heb. 3:6-19; 6;4-6; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). The gospel of Christ calls sinners to salvation through obedient faith (Rom. 1:16-17; 6:17-18). The doctrines of men leave sinners “under sin,” still needing salvation.
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!
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, NKJV)
Paul was thankful to God for his brethren because they are participants in God’s election in Christ (verse 13). This was not a predetermining of each soul being either saved or lost, but of God’s choice to save sinners in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-4, 11:12). God uses the gospel to call sinners to redemption’s glory. Jesus said the Father draws sinners to Himself by teaching them His will, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44, 45). God does not call people through personal revelations, visions and experiences. He calls sinners “by our gospel” (that is, the gospel preached by the apostles, Mark 16:15). God’s call to salvation is for everyone and the same to everyone. There is only “one faith,” the gospel preached by Christ’s apostles (Galatians 1:11, 23; Acts 24:24). Notice the linkage between the gospel and salvation. The gospel that calls us to salvation produces faith so that we may be made holy (sanctified) and obtain the glory of Christ. To suggest we can be saved with the gospel nullifies the “sanctification of the Spirit,” the “belief in the truth,” obtaining the glory of Christ.
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).
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, (Titus 1:1, NKJV)
A cohesion existed between Paul and the Christians (God’s elect) to whom he wrote – a cohesion that continues to exist between the apostles and Christians. Paul was a slave of God; his will was entirely given over to the will of his Owner. Likewise, Christians are slaves of God and of righteousness (1 Pet. 2:16; Rom. 6:16-17). Our will is to conform to the will of our Owner (Gal. 2:20). Paul was also an apostle, chosen by Christ and sent as a chosen vessel to bear witness of Christ to the nations (Acts 22:14-15; 26:16-18). “The faith of God’s elect” is produced by the apostolic preaching of God’s word (Rom. 10:14-17). Without the gospel they preached, we cannot be saved (Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:15-17). The gospel truth can be known (“acknowledgement” is from epignosis, meaning “recognition, discernment, knowledge”), which produces godliness in those who will receive it. Our faith cannot exist independent of the apostolic teaching. It is that very teaching that informs us of our owners will and therefore, of our duty to Him as his bondservants. Let us listen to God’s word, discern His truth and live godly.