"Chosen before the foundation of the world" and "whosoever will" are BOTH true!

This is a mystery far too grand and glorious for the puny human mind. However we humans, and even we who proclaim Christ are often much too enamored with our own wisdom and forget it is God who stated through the Apostle (1 Cor 3:19) that the wisdom of this world, is utter foolishness to God! The demands of human logic seem to overpower the plain fact that both are equally emphasized in Scripture! The result of our ‘foolishness’ is sometimes a ‘brother against brother’ conflict that makes the Civil War in that regard seem rather pale. At heart, this is not about doctrines attributed to men (John Calvin and Jacob Arminius), but rather it is about God, whose ways are not our ways and whose ways are sometimes beyond human comprehension.

One of the chief claims made concerning the doctrines of sovereign grace is that they render evangelism unnecessary. If God has chosen before the foundation of the world those He would bring to salvation, evangelism is not only unnecessary, but it is a waste of time! J. I. Packer, in his 1961 book, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, provides some valuable insight concerning the relationship between the two. What follows in this post is excerpted from that gook and concerns what belief in God’s sovereign grace does not affect in matters of evangelism.

The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the necessity of evangelism. Whatever we may believe about election, the fact remains that evangelism is necessary, because no man can be saved without the gospel. . . . They must be told of Christ before they can trust Him, and they must trust Him before they can be saved by Him. Salvation depends on faith, and faith on knowing the gospel. God’s way of saving sinners is to bring them to faith through bringing them into contact with the gospel. In God’s ordering of things, therefore, evangelism is a necessity if anyone is to be saved at all. . . .

The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the urgency of evangelism. . . . The world is full of people who are unaware that they stand under the wrath of God: is it not similarly a matter of urgency that we should go to them, and try to arouse them, and show them the way of escape? . . . The non-elect in this world are faceless men as far as we are concerned. We know that they exist, but we do not and cannot know who they are, and it is as futile as it is impious for us to try and guess. . . . Our calling as Christians is not to love God’s elect, and them only, but to love our neighbour, irrespective of whether he is elect or not.

The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the genuineness of the gospel invitations, or the truth of the gospel promises. . . . The fact remains that God in the gospel really does offer Christ and promise justification and life to ‘whosoever will’. ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ As God commands all men everywhere to repent, so God invites all men everywhere to come to Christ and find mercy. . . .

The fact that the gospel invitation is free and unlimited—‘sinners Jesus will receive’—‘come and welcome to Jesus Christ’—is the glory of the gospel as a revelation of divine grace. . . . Some fear that a doctrine of eternal election and reprobation involves the possibility that Christ will not receive some of those who desire to receive Him, because they are not elect. The ‘comfortable words’ of the gospel promises, however, absolutely exclude this possibility. As our Lord elsewhere affirmed, in emphatic and categorical terms: ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’ . . .

The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the responsibility of the sinner for his reaction to the gospel. . . . A man who rejects Christ thereby becomes the cause of his own condemnation. . . . The unbeliever was really offered life in the gospel, and could have had it if he would; he, and no-one but he, is responsible for the fact that he rejected it, and must now endure the consequences of rejecting it. . . . The Bible never says that sinners miss heaven because they are not elect, but because they “neglect the great salvation”, and because they will not repent and believe.


I pray that this short excerpt from a wonderful book has been useful to you, and I encourage you to add it to your library if it is not already there.

5 responses to “"Chosen before the foundation of the world" and "whosoever will" are BOTH true!

  1. “Some fear that a doctrine of eternal election and reprobation involves the possibility that Christ will not receive some of those who desire to receive Him, because they are not elect.”

    I’ve been there. It’s a really effective tool used to cause doubt. During those times when I feel that way, I have to go back to the…so that you may KNOW statements in the Bible. I have to be reminded that the REASON I BELIEVE is BECAUSE I AM ELECT. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t believe…


    • Very true, but that only means they do not understand election and predestination. I received a statement yesterday at an online forum that basically the real, humble, gentle Christians know they are saved ‘by grace, NOT predestination’. I almost fell out of my chair. This man’s refusal to investigate anything was indicative for a ‘mind rusted shut’. My crime at these forums was posting an article, very well written and substantiated, that went to Calvinism not destroying evangelism.


  2. Yeah. It’s definitely a topic that ruffles feathers. What I can’t understand though, is why is it ok if God creates some men knowing they won’t choose to accept Him and will go to hell, but He chooses to make them anyway even though He knows they are doomed to destruction BUT it’s not ok that everyone is going to hell except He rescue them all by Himself through His grace?

    It just seems that in order to be consistant in the first view, that God would be most gracious if He didn’t create those He knew could possibly accept Him but wouldn’t. He would only create the ones that would choose Him. That way, everyone He made, He did so because He knew they were going to heaven…

    I hope I am making sense here. This is just one of the big flaws I see with free will salvation being used to try to soften God’s sovereignty…even as it applies to eternal damnation.

    As far as humble…that statement contradicts itself really really bad. How can you say you are humble when you believe you are the reason Jesus saved you…You chose Him. See how good you are? Those other people, well, their not as good because they decided not to choose Him. How is that humble when compared to seeing that you are a wretch and you would have never have come to Him without Him changing your heart and giving you the faith to believe?


  3. I guess that since both are true, we need to accept them both and move on. I see GREAT grace in not only choosing His remnant, but also in bringing every one contained therein, willingly to the Cross of Christ by His power.


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