Chosen to Salvation

by James Smith, 1859

"But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth." 2 Thessalonians 2:13

That God has chosen his people in Christ, is plainly asserted in his holy Word. That he chose them to salvation, is as clearly testified. It is not therefore for us to cavil at this doctrine — but believe it, improve it, and draw comfort and encouragement from it. All have sinned. Every sinner deserves to be punished with everlasting destruction. To prevent this, God chose some of the human race to be his own people. His choice of them, was an act of grace. He fixed salvation as the end — and chose them to that. He fixed on holiness as the medium — and chose them to that. He fixed on the sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, as the means of salvation — and therefore he chose them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. Election therefore is the act of God, making choice of his people, and giving them to his Son, to be preserved in him, and saved by him.

Election is the fruit of divine love, and flows from the most free, sovereign, and eternal love of God. Election is eternal — the people were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Election was to the means as well as to the end, we are not only chosen to be saved — but chosen to believe, to be sanctified by the Spirit — and so saved. When we believe the gospel, and experience the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit within us — then we have proof and evidence, that God has chosen us to salvation.

For the election of the Thessalonians, Paul felt himself bound to give thanks unto God. And for the election of God’s people in general, and for our own election in particular, we ought to feel ourselves under the deepest obligation, to praise and bless the Lord. We are bound to bless God for every mercy — because we are totally undeserving of the least. But we are especially bound to bless him for spiritual mercies, and particularly for this of our election to salvation; because without it, there could be no salvation. For if God had not chosen us — we would never have chosen him. If he had not chosen to save us, and to make us willing to be saved by his grace — we never would have been saved.

And then, it is such a marvelous expression of his love. To choose us out from others. To choose us before time. To choose us in Christ, and to choose us to be the care, charge, and social companions of Christ. O wondrous love! O amazing grace!

More, it is such a merciful exercise of his sovereignty. Angels fell — and were all allowed to perish. Man fell — and some of the fallen race were chosen to salvation before they fell. If left to themselves — all must have perished. But sovereignty interfered, and many of the fallen human race are saved.

Besides this, election is a source of blessing to all, of injury to none. None are the worse for God choosing his people in Christ — but all are the better. For the elect’s sake, the days of earth’s tribulation are shortened. For the elect’s sake, innumerable mercies are showered down, and innumerable privileges are conferred on this poor fallen world.

Election does not prevent the salvation of one — but it secures the salvation of millions. It lays no stumbling block in the path, it puts no difficulty in the way of any. The fountain of salvation is open, and whoever will may come — come and obtain a full and free salvation. The door of mercy is open, and whoever will may enter in and be saved. But no one will come to Christ that they may have life. Therefore God in the exercise of his adorable sovereignty, determined to dispose his elect — to make them willing in the day of his power — so that they may believe and be saved.

But for election — all would be lost! Through election — countless myriads are saved! No man is lost, because he is not elected — but simply because of his sins, and inveterate enmity to God. But many are saved, who otherwise would have been lost — because they are chosen to salvation.

If any one disposed to cavil reads these lines, to him I say — you may be saved if you will — but if you will not, do not find fault with God, because he chooses to save myriads of others, and just leaves you to your liberty, and allows you to do as you like. He never decreed to damn you as a creature — but only threatened to damn you as a sinner; nor yet to damn you as a sinner, except you refused to repent, rejected the Savior, and chose death in the error of your way. Would you have God force you, treat you as if you were a horse or a mule? If he offers to save you, and you refuse to be saved — if he opens the way of escape, and you refuse to walk in it — if he allows you to use your own will, pursue your own course, and have your own choice; while he warns, invites, and threatens you — then on what ground, on what principle, can you find fault?

Do you say, "Others are saved." True — but you do not want to be. Do you say, "God wrought for others." True, and he offered to do so for you. But you preferred sin, preferred being the servant of Satan, preferred having your own way — and now at least you ought quietly and patiently to suffer the due desert of your deeds, the result of your own deliberate choice.

Believer, the doctrine of election should be preached by us; should be believed by you; and should be loved by all. It should engage our minds, win our affections, and draw out our gratitude to God. We should not cavil at it — but praise God for it, realizing that we are under obligation to do so.

We should trace our election through faith and holiness, for only those who believe in Jesus, are devoted to God, and are actively employed in the performance of good works — have any evidences of election. For God chose his people to save them from sin — not in sin; to make them holy on earth — in order to make them eternally happy in Heaven. If therefore people are unholy and unbelieving, there is no proof of their election, however confidently they may talk.

Paul knew that the Thessalonians were elected of God — but it was because the gospel came home to their hearts with power, and they turned from their idols, to serve the living God; and in the exercise of a working faith, laboring love, and a patient hope, he found them waiting for God’s Son from Heaven.

If the gospel thus comes home to us, turning us from sin — to holiness, from self — to Christ, from the world — to God; if in us appears the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ — if we become imitators of the Lord Jesus Christ — if our faith grows exceedingly, and if our love to all the saints abounds — then, then there is no doubt but that we are the beloved of the Lord, and that he has from the beginning chosen us to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you — because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 1:3-6

Eternal Security

imageI don’t really like the phrase “eternal security” or its popular counterpart “once saved always saved” because both tend to come with a huge amount of unscriptural theological baggage. For many people, “eternal security” means that if a person makes some sort of profession of faith and then lives a lifestyle totally at odds with that profession, even renouncing Christianity altogether, they are still “saved” because “once saved, always saved.” I don’t believe that to be a scriptural concept in any way at all.

While it is true that a genuinely regenerated Christian can be secure in their salvation for all eternity, this is not because of a one time profession of faith so much as the possession of faith. All those who possess true faith will of course profess it, but a mere claim to faith is not enough. As James chapter 2 makes clear, faith without works is dead and a dead faith never saves anyone.

The Bible makes it clear that there is a false faith that is in no way the genuine article. Faith of the real kind will produce fruit – evidence of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence in the person’s life. That is why we are told to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). Rather than simply being told to recall a time in our past when we made a profession we are exhorted instead to examine ourselves to see if there is present day evidence that we are truly His. As J. C. Ryle once remarked, “A tree will always be known by its fruit, and a true Christian will always be discovered by their habits, tastes and affections.”

While I certainly do believe in the eternal security of the believer, I tend to avoid the two phrases mentioned above, preferring the theological term “perseverance of the saints” or even better “the preservation of the saints.” Those who are justified will be glorified (Romans 8:30). True believers will continue in the faith because their faith is a supernatural gift from God and by its very nature, is something that endures. The Apostle John recognized this when he wrote: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19). The true saint perseveres because God preserves him! The One who started the work will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

Yet there is a big picture concept that we need to see involving the work of the Trinity in salvation. From the archives at, in an article entitled “Eternal Security: Based on the Tri-Unity of God” Dr. James White writes:


I remember passing notes with a friend of mine in high school. We were debating that age old doctrine of eternal security. He didn’t believe in it, and I did. A few months ago, while cleaning out one of those old drawers that you haven’t opened in about ten years, I found one of those notes. I had to chuckle some as I read it. From a hopefully more mature position I could see that my friend was not realty talking about eternal security – he was pushing works-salvation. And I could also see that I was doing little more than quoting a verse here and a verse there – I never got into the basis for the belief. Maybe that’s why we never got anywhere in the discussion? And, probably, that’s why so many Christians today who engage in the same debate feel that they, too, never get anywhere.During the summer I translated the Gospel of John. While translating the sixth chapter of that wonderful book, I ran across Jesus’ clear presentation of the doctrines of election and eternal security in verses 37 through 46. My Greek professor has many times said that the best commentary on the New- Testament is the New-Testament in Greek – and he is right. One of the reasons is that you see things that you would not otherwise notice when reading an English translation. From this work of translation, I came to set how the eternal security of the believer is based upon the very nature of God. In John chapter six, this is represented by the functions of the Father and the Son in salvation. And in Ephesians 1:13-14, the Holy Spirit’s role is presented. We will look at both of these passages to see how our salvation is based upon the Tri-Une nature of God.

Secure in the Father and the Son

Jesus said, “Everyone whom the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and the one coming to Me I will never cast out; because I have come from heaven not in order to do My will but the will of Him who sent Me; and this is the will of the one who sent Me: that of all which He has given Me from Him, I lose nothing but raise it up at the last day.” (John 6:37-39). Jesus presents the complete sovereignty of God in salvation. All that the Father gives to Jesus – everyone – will come to Him. The operative factor in answering the question of why some come and others, presented with the same opportunity, do not, is simply the nature of the Father’s choice. The Father “gives” persons to the Son – a gift of love, to be sure. When the Father gives to the Son a person, that person will come to Christ (as the one avenue to the Father). There is no question that if a person is so given to Christ (or, to use the terminology of verse 44, is so “drawn” by the Father) that he/she will come to Christ. This is the “Godward” side of salvation – absolute certainty and security. Yet, He says that they will “come to Me” which speaks of the human response – not that the human can change the decision of God – but that the response is there all the same. Man is not pictured simply as a “thing” that is bounced around like a ball, but rather a vastly important person who comes to Christ for salvation, all as the result of the gracious working of God in his/her life.

Jesus continues by stating that when one is so given to Him by the Father, and comes to Him, that one is secure in their relationship with Him – He will never cast them out. The aorist subjunctive of strong denial makes it clear that rejection of one who seeks refuge in Christ is a complete and total impossibility. What words to a sinners heart! Those who come to Christ will find Him a loving Lord who will never cast out those who trust in Him!

Why will the Lord never cast out those who come to Him? Verse 38 continues the thought with the explanation – the Son has come to do the will of the Father. And what is the will of the Father? That “of all which He has given Me from Him I lose nothing hut raise it up at the last day.” Can we doubt that Christ will do what He promises? Will the Lord Jesus ever fail to do the Father’s will? Here is eternal security beyond dispute. But note that again all is pre-eminently balanced – the security of the person is based on two things – the will of the Father that none he lost, and secondly, the fact that those who are not lost are those who are given to the Son by the Father Himself. So, in reality, there is security in the Father (He gives us to Christ) and security in the Son (He always does the Father’s will).

The realization of the co-operation and interaction of the Father and the Son in the salvation of each individual Christian is an awesome thing! It is self-evident why so many soteriological systems cannot deal with eternal security – it is based on the understanding that salvation is completely the work of God! Man is the object of salvation, the object of God’s sovereign grace. The gospel is the message of grace, and grace is something given totally on the basis of God’s desire to give it. Such is terribly damaging to man’s “self-esteem” and to any concept of our being able to save ourselves or even to “help God along” in our being made righteous. We must realize that we come to God wholly unworthy of His love and grace, totally incapable of effecting even the beginning of His work in our hearts.

Once we rest ourselves in God’s provision of salvation, however, we see that our position in Him is one that is based upon the sovereign act of the Father in giving us to the Son, and in the eternal obedience of the Son to the Father in effecting our salvation! Can we possibly picture a more secure situation than this? I think not! But wait, there is more…

Sealed by the Spirit

Paul wrote, “…by whom also, having believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the down-payment of our inheritance, unto the redemption of His possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14). In this signal passage that is found, rather significantly I think, on the heels of some of the loftiest teaching on the eternal predestination of God in verses 3 through 12, we find the fact that the Holy Spirit is described in two important ways relevant to our eternal security. First, we are said to he “sealed” by the Holy Spirit of promise. This term was used in secular documents to refer to the act of placing a seal upon one’s possessions to mark them as one’s own. In this case, the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is God’s way of sealing that person as His own. The believer is shown to he God’s “own property” – His possession.

Paralleled with this is the phrase “who is the down-payment of our inheritance..” Both phrases speak of the same fact. Here the Spirit is described by the Greek term arrabon – a term used in secular documents to refer to guarantee money. The giving of an arrabon contracted the giver to finish the process of payment. In our context, this would refer to the fact that the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is the guarantee on the part of God the Father of completing the work which He has begun in that life (Philippians 1:6). Both phrases are then tied together by the paralleling of “promise” and “inheritance.” These terms are used by Paul of the completion of God’s work of salvation in our lives in the end time.

Hence, we see that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is God’s way of “this person is mine – I have begun of salvation in his/her life, and by placing My Spirit in this life. I am telling all that this person belongs to Me, and I will finish the work I have begun!”

We learn from other discussions of the role of the Spirit in the believer’s life [e.g., Romans 8] that the Spirit empowers and sanctifies the believer as well. So it is clear that each of the Divine Persons is vitally involved in the work of salvation. The Father sovereignly and unilaterally chooses us for salvation. He gives us to the Son, who, in obedience to the Father’s will, saves those who are joined to Him by the Father, and raises us up to eternal life. The Spirit of God is placed in our lives to empower and seal us as God’s own possession. Salvation, then, is of God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Since salvation is of God, and is God’s work, its eternal character is simply the reflection of the nature of its author – God Himself. Each of the three Persons is intimately involved in bringing about the salvation of the elect, and that salvation is eternal and secure.

Posted by John Samson on June 2, 2012 11:22 AM

In My Fallen State

Truth For Life Devotional, 31 Oct 2012

It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.

Hosea 13:5

Yes, Lord, You did indeed know me in my fallen state, and You did even then choose me for Yourself. When I was loathsome and self-abhorred, You received me as Your child, and You satisfied my longings. Blessed forever be Your name for this free, rich, abounding mercy. Since then, my inward experience has often been a wilderness; but You have kept me still as Your beloved and poured streams of love and grace into me to gladden me and make me fruitful. When my outward circumstances have been at the worst, and I have wandered in a land of drought, Your sweet presence has comforted me. Men have ignored me, and I have been scorned; but You have known my soul in adversities, for no affliction dims the luster of Your love. Most gracious Lord, I magnify You for all Your faithfulness to me in trying circumstances, and I deplore the fact that I have at times forgotten You and been proud of heart when I have owed everything to Your gentleness and love. Have mercy upon Your servant in this matter!

My soul, if Jesus acknowledged you in your lowly condition, be sure that you own both Himself and His cause now that you are in prosperity. Do not be puffed up by worldly successes, and do not be ashamed of the truth or of the poor church with which you have been associated. Follow Jesus into the wilderness: Bear the cross with Him when the persecution heats up. He owned you, O my soul, in your poverty and shame – never be so treacherous as to be ashamed of Him. Let me know more shame at the thought of being ashamed of my best Beloved! Jesus, my soul cleaves to You.

I’ll turn to Thee in days of light,
As well as nights of care,
Thou brightest amid all that’s bright!
Thou fairest of the fair!

"Chosen to Salvation"–A.W. Pink

“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren
beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to
salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”

2 Thessalonians 2:13

There are three things here which deserve special attention.

First, the fact that we are expressly told that God’s elect are “chosen to salvation”: Language could not be more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external privileges or rank in service! It is to “salvation” itself that God has chosen us.

Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” It is not true that because God has chosen a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he believes or not: nowhere do the Scriptures so represent it. The same God who “chose unto salvation”, decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the spirit and belief of the truth.

Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the apostle express this – “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you. brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation”, etc.

Instead of shrinking back in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word, discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords, save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself.


Our Only Hope of Success in Evangelism

J.I. Packer, in his excellent treatise Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, states:

“The sovereignty of God in grace gives us our only hope of success in evangelism.”

““Some fear that belief in the sovereign grace of God leads to the conclusion that evangelism is pointless, since God will save His elect anyway, whether they hear the gospel or not. This . . . is a false conclusion based on a false assumption. . . . So far from making evangelism pointless, the sovereignty of God in grace is the one thing that prevents evangelism from being pointless. For it creates the possibility–indeed, the certainty–that evangelism will be fruitful. Apart from it, there is not even a possibility of evangelism being fruitful. Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most futile and useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel.”

The effects of such confidence in the sovereign grace of God should, according to Packer, produce three things:

1. It should make us bold.

“You are not on a fool’s errand. You are not wasting either your time or theirs. You have no reason to be ashamed of your message, or half-hearted and apologetic in delivering it. You have every reason to be bold, and free, and natural, and hopeful of success. For God can give His truth and effectiveness that you and I cannot give it. God can make His truth triumphant to the conversion of the most seemingly hardened unbeliever. You and I will never write off anyone as hopeless and beyond the reach of God if we believe in the sovereignty of His grace.”

2. It should make us patient.

“It should keep us from being daunted when we find that our evangelistic endeavors meet with no immediate response. God saves in His own time, and we ought not to suppose that He is in such a hurry as we are. . . . We are tempted to be in a great hurry with those whom we would win to Christ, and then, when we see no immediate response in them, to become impatient and downcast, and then to lose interest in them, and feel that it is useless to spend more time on them; and so we abandon our efforts forthwith, and let them drop out of our ken. But this is utterly wrong. It is a failure both of love for man and faith in God.”

3. It should make us prayerful.

“Prayer . . . is a confessing of impotence and need, and acknowledging of helplessness and dependence, and an invoking of the mighty power of God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. In evangelism, we are impotent; we depend wholly upon God to make our witness effective; only because He is able to give men new hearts can we hope that through our preaching of the gospel sinners will be born again. These facts ought to drive us to prayer. The knowledge, then, that God is sovereign in grace, and that we are impotent to win souls, should make us pray, and keep us praying. What should be the burden of our prayers? We should pray for those whom we seek to win, that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts; and we should pray for ourselves in our own witness, and for all who preach the gospel, that the power and authority of the Holy Spirit may rest upon them.”

A Darkness to Be ‘Felt’

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.” (Exodus 10:21-23 ESV)

Can you even imagine a darkness so dark you could feel it? Such was the darkness of the ninth plague God brought upon the land of Egypt when His children were in living in cruel bondage – a darkness so dark it could be ‘felt’. The closest I ever came to that was deep in Carlsbad Caverns when they intentionally turned out the lights for a few seconds. I really couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

In our passage, the Egyptians could not see each other, and they didn’t even venture outside the houses for three days! The children of Israel however had light where they lived. Reading that, I could not help but think about all those who live apart from Christ the Deliverer, in the darkness of sin, and those who have come to trust in Christ as Savior and have moved out of that darkness and into the light.

There’s a difference though, between the darkness the Egyptians experienced and the darkness that surrounds lost humanity. While the Egyptians knew they were in darkness and could literally ‘feel’ it, the lost and dying around us think they can see! And while physically they can, spiritually they are dead and lying in a foot-thick coffin six feet underground – so dark is their darkness. Can that spiritual darkness be lifted?

In our Exodus account the darkness could only be lifted by God, and God did lift it after three days. What about those trapped in the darkness of their sin? How can that darkness be lifted?

First of all, the Gospel of John identifies the light source that can conquer the darkness:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5 ESV)

Further, John identifies that light source as Jesus:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14-17 ESV)

Matthew’s gospel also identifies Jesus Christ as the great light shining in the darkness, repeating a prophesy of Isaiah:

"Now when he (Jesus) heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

‘. . .the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.’” (Matthew 4:12-14; 16 [Isaiah 9:2])

The remaining question is ‘How does the light overcome the darkness of sin?’ Here again, as with the Egyptian, it takes a work of God to lift the darkness and bring light to the human heart.

The Apostle Paul, in a letter to the Ephesian church, describes how someone living in darkness receives light:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.“(Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)

When God brings life to the dead sinner, something marvelous happens – he begins to ‘feel’ the darkness of sin and his soul cries out for mercy! Nothing in this world seems more important than having the darkness lifted!

The message of the gospel is then applied to the heart crying for mercy. It might happen by way of picking up a Bible and reading, or by entering a church and hearing it, or in conversation with a friend or family member who has already discovered the light, to name just a few of the ways God has of bringing the beautiful message of the gospel to the sin burdened soul:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV)

Dear reader, are you living today in the light of Christ? Have you ‘felt’ the darkness and had it lifted from your soul? If you have, I rejoice with you! If you have not, I pray that God might begin a work no man can thwart, and that you would indeed ‘feel’ the darkness and flee to the Cross!

Thoughts Concerning the Foreknowledge of God

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.“ – Romans 8:28-30

There is a group of people ‘foreknown’ by God the Father, chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 2), who will be brought by God’s grace and power justification (salvation) and on to glorification. Jesus, God the Son knows these as the ones ‘given’ by the Father to the Son who will come to the Son whom will never be lost.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” – John 6:37

Jesus also knows them as His sheep, those ones who know His voice, will follow Him and are given eternal life, never to perish.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27-28

There is also a group of people who appear at the judgment claiming to have done much in Jesus’ name to whom He says:

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matt 7:22-23

The debate concerning predestination and election many times comes down to the ‘foreknowledge’ of God. Election and predestination cannot intelligently be denied. Some say that it means that God knew the decisions men would make concerning Christ and those whom He ‘foreknew’ would choose Christ became the elect remnant. I believed that for years. Is it true? Let’s take a look at the ‘foreknowledge’ or God.

The word ‘know’ in the Greek is:



1) to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel

1a) to become known

2) to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of

2a) to understand

2b) to know

3) Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman

4) to become acquainted with, to know

Note the strength and intimate nature of the ‘knowing’. Also note that it concerns knowing to the extent of having an intimate relationship with the one ‘known’. To ‘foreknow’ is the same sort of ‘knowing’, only beforehand.



1) to have knowledge before hand

2) to foreknow

2a) of those whom God elected to salvation

3) to predestinate

This foreknowledge of people whom God will bring to salvation, justification, sanctification and glorification is the same foreknowledge we find pertaining to Christ and the crucifixion.

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know–this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” – Acts 2:22-23

Although men crucified Christ, it was an event in history predetermined (predestined) by to occur. Why? the entire human race had been plunged into sin by the Sin of the first Adam and someone had to die; blood had to be shed to redeem those whom God ‘foreknew, called, predestined, justified and glorified’ (Rom 8:28-30).

Certainly God, in His omniscience, knows the future decisions of men; however His predetermination to have a remnant people, before the foundation of the world, was based solely on His choosing, ‘according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace’. – (Eph 1:5-6)

Food for thought. . .


The ‘Judge Not’ Bomb

The passage that that becomes a bomb:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” – Matthew 7:1

How many times have you heard that? As Christians, if we have never heard it, we might not have spoken much concerning the issue of sin. The ‘bomb’ is dropped by non-believers, as well as believers, when the topic of sin or some particular sin enters the discussion.

The logic behind the usage of the ‘judge not’ bomb seems to be this:

  • The Bible says don’t judge.
  • If we talk about sin, we are judging others.
  • Therefore, don’t talk about sin

The Problem:

Those who are skilled in dropping this bomb are mostly non-Christians whom we are trying to reach with the message of the gospel, but they are also Christians purporting to spread that same message. I know some of those Christians and I also remember when I was one of them.

Don’t get me wrong here, there is certainly something important in the admonition concerning not judging other people. We all have ‘eyesight’ problems, as the context of our passage in Matthew 7 reminds us:

“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:4-5

So now we’re not only judging others when we talk about sin, we are also hypocrites because we have not yet reached a state of sinlessness! That sounds like a bit of a double whammy, doesn’t it? We’d be far better off leading folks to Jesus by telling them all about the abundant life he promises, and all the great things he wants to do for us in terms of solving all of problems we face from day to day, wouldn’t we?

Well, all that sounds good, but it’s only valid if the ‘stuff of life’ was the reason Jesus came and died nailed to on a wooden cross a couple thousand years ago. That’s where we might have a little problem. If we peer into the New Testament we are told that Jesus came to die because of sin (our sins), beginning with the announcement from an angel to Joseph through the last chapter of Revelation.

What’s really going on?

To try and find out, let’s begin with our original logic model:

  • The Bible says don’t judge. (major premise)
  • If we talk about sin, we are judging others. (minor premise)
  • Therefore, don’t talk about sin (conclusion)

If we can break the logic chain, find a fallacy in it, we might be able set the matter straight. I submit that if our major and minor premises are valid, our conclusion might be equally valid. But are they?

Our major premise seems valid, since it a direct quote from a passage of scripture. Even though there is a bit more to it than simply not judging, there is some truth there. Our minor premise certainly sounds valid, but is it really? Well it might be, depending on the circumstances in which the topic of sin is being discussed. Let me explain.

It’s certainly possible that the person who brings up the subject of sin, in general or with a specific sin in mind, does so with a ‘judgmental’ attitude, however it is equally possible that the topic was brought up for other reasons. The sinfulness of a particular activity or behavior might be the topic of discussion, or the issue of sin might have been brought up as the central issue that the message of the gospel addresses. Either way, the ‘don’t judge’ bomb is dropped because someone is being judged, according to our minor premise.

And that’s the fallacy in our logic model – our minor premise – that if we talk about sin at all, we are ‘de facto’ judging others. Let me explain what I think is going on.

When the topic of sin is approached, every single time, either in general terms or with specific sin(s) in mind, someone’s going to feel guilty. Feelings of guilt do come from having been judged, and the easiest target for complaint is against the messenger. On the other hand, when we lovingly make it clear that we are sharing God’s opinion (and can back it up scripturally), it is God who judges, and not the one passing on His opinion.

So where are we at?

Let me break it down.

God has decreed that the preaching of the gospel is the most significant means by which lost sinners are saved. (Rom 10:14)

It’s our duty (and great privilege) to share that gospel.

The gospel message, in order to qualify as ‘good news’ must include the ‘bad news’ concerning sin.

Talking about sin can and will drive away listeners who need the ‘good news’ before you have a chance to tell it. Bummer.

What do we do?

Remember a woman named Lydia:

“And on the Sabbath day we (Paul and company) went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” – Acts 16:13-14

Bear in mind that you will offend some people with the ‘bad news’ and that they will drop the ‘don’t judge’ bomb. Until God opens hearts to really ‘hear’ and realize that they are guilty and it is God who is judging, they just won’t get it. Keep your spiritual Kevlar on.

By that I mean apply liberal amounts of ‘BDA’ prayer (Before, During & After) to your evangelistic endeavors. It goes without saying that such applications will give you great courage and boldness to proclaim the ‘bad news’ with the ‘good news’, add to the harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God, and bring great glory to our Savior.

Delivering the complete gospel message boldly and with utmost love will keep you (or someone else) from having perform another form of ‘BDA’ (Battle Damage Assessment) because you fell for the ‘invalid premise’ and left the critical issue out of the message. It’s a pretty tough job persuading those who think they are saved, that they might be deceived.

The message of the Cross is first and foremost about the problem of sin, and has been since the Fall of man in the Garden. Be like the Apostle Paul:

  • “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:15-15
  • “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

May God bless open hearts to ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to ‘pay attention’ to that precious message!

“Hearts are won to Jesus by the silent conviction which irresistibly subdues the conscience to a sense of guilt, and by the love which is displayed in the Redeemer’s becoming the great substitutionary sacrifice for us, that our sins might be removed. . .” – C. H. Spurgeon


How Wonderful Is the Love of God!

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if “. . .while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. . . – Rom 5:10

The following is an excerpt from the final section of a Jonathan Edwards work called “Men Naturally are God’s Enemies” which presents a Biblical view of the natural man in his fallen state. After stating his case, Edwards presents the following as "Practical Improvement".

"How wonderful is the love that is manifested in giving Christ to die for us. For this is love to enemies. “While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” How wonderful was the love of God the Father, in giving such a gift to those who not only could not be profitable to him, but were his enemies, and to so great a degree! They had great enmity against him; yet so did he love them, that he gave his own Son to lay down his life, in order to save their lives. Though they had enmity that sought to pull God down from his throne; yet he so loved them, that he sent down Christ from heaven, from his throne there, to be in the form of a servant; and instead of a throne of glory, gave him to be nailed to the cross, and to be laid in the grave, that so we might be brought to a throne of glory."

"How wonderful was the love of Christ, in thus exercising dying love towards his enemies! He loved those that hated him, with hatred that sought to take away his life, so as voluntarily to lay down his life, that they might have life through him. “Herein is love; not that we loved him, but that he loved us, and laid down his life for us.”

"If we are all naturally God’s enemies, hence we may learn what a spirit it becomes us as Christians to possess towards our enemies. Though we are enemies to God, yet we hope that God has loved us, that Christ has died for us, that God has forgiven or will forgive us; and will do us good, and bestow infinite mercies and blessings upon us, so as to make us happy . All this mercy we hope has been, or will be, exercised towards us forever."


“Men Naturally are God’s Enemies” can be read in its entirety here, or at:

The Knock!

(the following is by Spurgeon)

“With unfailing love I have I drawn you to myself.” – Jeremiah 31:3

The Master came one night to the door, and knocked with the iron hand of the law; the door shook and trembled upon its hinges. But the man piled every piece of furniture which he could find against the door, for he said, “I will not admit that man.”

The Master turned away, but by-and-by He came back, and with His own soft hand, using most that part where the nail had penetrated, He knocked again — oh, so softly and tenderly. This time the door did not shake, but, strange to say, it opened, and there upon his knees the once unwilling host was found rejoicing to receive his guest!

“Come in, come in; you have so knocked that my affections are moved for you. I could not think of your pierced hand leaving its blood mark on my door. I yield, I yield, Your love has won my heart.”

So in every case, the love of Christ wins the day. What Moses with the tablets of stone could never do, Christ does with His pierced hand!

Such is the doctrine of effectual calling. Do I understand it experimentally?

“With unfailing love I have I drawn you to myself.” -J eremiah 31:3