The Doctrine Of Divine Election Reconsidered: Election To Service, Not To Everlasting Life -- By: Robert N. Wilkin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 25:49 (Autumn 2012)
Article: The Doctrine Of Divine Election Reconsidered: Election To Service, Not To Everlasting Life
Author: Robert N. Wilkin

The Doctrine Of Divine Election Reconsidered:
Election To Service, Not To Everlasting Life

Robert N. Wilkin

Executive Director
Grace Evangelical Society
Corinth, TX

I. Introduction

Because of the strong influence of Calvinism in Evangelicalism today, the doctrine of election has been widely understood to concern one’s eternal destiny. Those whom God elected will spend eternity with the Lord. Those whom God did not elect will spend eternity in the lake of fire.

While some find this doctrine to be disturbing, since humans seemingly have nothing at all to do with where they will spend eternity, others find this doctrine liberating. After all, many feel that if their eternal destiny has been predetermined by God and they can do nothing to change that, then they can relax and rest in whatever God decided.

There have always been people who questioned the Calvinist understanding of election on philosophical grounds. How could God be good if He created beings with no opportunity to escape an eternity of eternal torment? Indeed, if we believe that only a small percentage of humanity will avoid eternal condemnation, as Calvinism teaches, then the goodness and fairness of God is even more in question. But this is a philosophical or theological approach, not a Biblical one.

If the Scriptures teach that God elected some to everlasting life and either bypassed most or elected them to eternal torment, then we should embrace that as true even if we neither like it nor understand it. What God says is true. We don’t make it true by liking or understanding it.

In this article we will consider the Biblical doctrine of election. My thesis is that election is not about eternal destiny, but about service and eternal reward. God has chosen a nation, a city, a Person, and many individuals to serve and glorify Him both now and in the life to come.

II. The Calvinist View

The U in TULIP stands for unconditional election. What the Calvinist means by this is that God chose to save a small portion of humanity. The rest he did not choose to save.

In the updated and expanded edition of The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, and Documented, Steele, Thomas, and Quinn define unconditional election as follows:

The doctrine of election declares that God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam’s race to be the objects of His undeserved favor. These, and these only, He purposed to save…His eternal choice of particular sinners for salvation was not based upon any forese...

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