Election Keeps No One Out Of Heaven

The doctrine of election really troubled me when I first began to wrestle with it.

It seemed unfair. ?It seemed like those who weren?t chosen were doomed from the start. ?That they never really had a chance.? This illustration changed my whole view of the doctrine.

?After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of sovereign grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, ?This is the most awful thing I ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect? I answered her in this vein: ?You misunderstand the situation. You?re visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, ?Yes, you may come, but not you, and you, but you, etc.? The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction toward hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams. That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn?t it? If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish.? –Mark Webb

Election keeps no one out of heaven, but guarantees that those God has chosen will be there.? Election is meant to be a comfort and encouragement to believers.? Never are unbelievers encouraged to try do discover if they are elect.? The message for unbelievers is you are all are invited.? Come one, come all.? Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!

If you know Jesus, praise him for rescuing you from your headlong rush toward hell.? If you don’t know him, turn to him today.? He awaits you with open arms.

photo by Austin Yoder

Comments

  1. Josh says

    I believe there is some truth to this example. However, I believe the nuance that is unaccounted for in this illustration is the fact that God has created man. I'm not saying that God created sin, however God did create Man, his ability to reason and decide, and justice itself. In other words, the predicament that set the man running in the first place was God's creation and thus responsibility. As Jesus's death on the cross showed us, God takes the issue of justice (payment for crimes) seriously. Since God did create us the way we are, would it not stand to reason then that it would be God who would then be responsible and not us, therefore unjust to not permit people to enter heaven? (keep reading that question is rhetorical)

    Obviously that premise is not true because it is clear that God is just and that God is good. Therefore, I submit that in order for God to be just in this (not permitting certain people to enter, or as you say choosing certain people), man has to be responsible for his decision to a certain extent. Therefore, man must be responsible for his own running from God. So, while God certainly has the power to create a system of election, this doesn't fit nicely within the system of justice and repayment for sins; the responsibility that God has set up. My conclusion is not one of the opposite that man is in complete control of his destiny, or that God created the world and then set it into motion. But rather, as Charles Spurgeon preached, there is a combination of God's providence without undermining our Freedom to choose God or not, which ultimately makes us responsible for our sins and not God. In other words, God is only electing us because he permitted us to make a choice of whether or not to run from him in the first place (not that we can take a step toward righteousness without him).

    In conclusion, I am open to being wrong on this issue (indeed it seems foolish to challenge someone who's job it is to study scripture) but at this moment I can't say that I agree with this illustration as accurate.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Hey Josh, feel free to challenge me. Thanks for your comments. I can't go into a long explanation, but I believe that God is just, yet not unjust to elect whom to save. And I agree with Spurgeon's illustration – God's sovereignty and man's responsible will are both in Scripture like parallel railroad tracks and they don't seem to meet, but they're both there. I can't explain it to you, but both election and man's willing uncoerced choices are in Scripture.

      If you'd like to study the topic further, I'd recommend Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, Chosen by God by RC Sproul, and Spurgeon vs the Hyper-Calvinists by Iain H. Murray

      Thanks for commenting and wrestling with the issue!

      • Josh says

        Thanks Mark for weeding through my long and twisted logic that at times I'm not even sure I understand. I have read some RC Sproul and he did show me that this subject goes far deeper than I originally thought. However, the book that I read by RC Sproul (well I only read a few chapters to be fair) talked about how the debate started between theologians centuries ago. Reading that, I kind of felt didn't get to the core of this issue, of whether or not election is true, not what others thought about it.

        But anyways, I know there is much more that I do not know about this subject and I have told this to many, that you have helped shape many of the beliefs I have today. For that I will always be extremely grateful. However, another thing you taught us was to try everything accordingly to the Bible. In other words, test everything for its foundation in the Bible. In that light, I have issues with accepting that Adam has served as a representative for us all in the sense that we are all responsible for his sin. I see him more as someone who unleashed a foreign disease on a previously insulated population, rather than the direct cause for whether or not someone decides to inoculate themselves from said disease (the disease being an analogy for sin).

        At this point in my own theology, I don't see the Bible supporting definite Calvinism, nor Armenianism. But as you agreed, is rather two parallel train tracks. I thank you for your understanding and I know that I haven't convinced you with my poor attempt at a luther theses masked as a blog post. I hope to speak with you more about this subject in the future. I know you are a treasure trove of things I haven't considered yet.

    • Kelly says

      Wow! The arrogance of a Calvinist never ceases to amaze me! Always a non Biblical analogy and always a Bible verse taken out of context, or a verse that will change the meaning of other verse in order to fit a pious and biased argument!

      The Bible never states that Jesus died on the cross only for some death row inmates. But rather He died so that ALL may be saved! God is Sovereign! God is sovereign to harden a mans heart, God is also sovereign to create man with the will to begin with!! By the way, if the Pharoah was naturally deprived, and God calls people, then why did God need to harden Pharoahs heart? Frankly the Pharoah analogy always thrown out by a Calvinist has always been preposterous and not anything to do with salvation!!!

      God is NO RESPECTOR OF PERSONS!!! The only reason why God saves you is because his Son dying on the cross only allows you to beg for his mercy!!

      Catholics do not need the Pope. Calvinists do not need J. Calvin. Read your Bible people! I bet most people go to churches now days where the pastor is preaching from some sort feel good book instead of Gods word!

      If I have offended you, then pray to your Lord and Savior, Jesus for mercy! You should be ashamed instead of offended! Remember the words in Revelation; He who adds to this book, him will I add to the lake of fire! He who takes away from this book, his name will I take out of the lambs book of life! To be safe, I would apply that to the entire Bible!

      See you in Heaven!

  2. Angie says

    Even in this illustration, election shows favor of some over others. How can you tell people that God loves them, but he did not reach out to them to stop them from hell when he obviously has the ability to do so? No matter how you try to spin election, it's core belief is that it's not our choice. If God did not give us choice, then what is the purpose in our existence? How can we bring glory to God if we have nothing to do with it? Not trying to condemn, just honestly looking for an answer.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Thanks Angie, I appreciate your comments. I understand the struggle with the doctrine because I wrestled with it. First of all, election and chose and predestined are all in the Bible so they have to mean something. Also, the Bible says that God is completely just. And he definitely offers salvation to all who will turn to him. However, men and women are so completely depraved in their fallen state, they will only freely choose sin and will never freely choose God unless God does something to them. So God must make us willing to believe.

      This is a tough issue – please see my comments to Josh (above) for a bit more on it. I'd recommend the resources I mentioned to him.

      I know this wasn't in any way exhaustive. Thanks for reading the blog and for responding to the post. I really do appreciate your honest thoughts.

      • jennypinter says

        Please help me – for I am clueless – where is the concrete scripture in the Bible that suggests that we are completely and utterly depraved and 100% inclined to sin? I know that Jesus taught us that no man is righteous, we all are sinners, and that temptation is extremely difficult for us to overcome in our human state. But where does it say that our core is completely hopeless and wretched? For if God created us in His image (which I believe not only to be the body, but mind and soul as well), and programed us to be inclined to perpetually sin and disappoint Him, what does that ultimately say about His image? We are from God, so we are in some way good. We have to be.

        Here's how I always viewed the free will vs. predestination thing: I agree with an element of predestination, I just believe that it can and does work in conjunction with free will. Why can't they coexist? It seems so simple (in my mind): God gave us free will, but knows exactly which decisions we will make so He interjects here and there to manifest His ultimate plan and glorify Him. He does not control every single detail. He COULD do that. But He loves us so that He gave us FREEDOM to make our own decisions and control our actions. If He controlled every single detail, how would that glorify Him? If there is no decision-making freedom for us to commit ourselves to Him, how does that glorify Him? He made us free to accept His grace or not, and in my view, that goes for the whole world.

        We are forever indebted to God for giving us life and the world we live in. He is always giving because He loves us, like a father loves his child, but infinitely more. He forgives us when we screw up – which is often. Everything in existence originates with Him, so we must be grateful and honor His glory. But that's where it stops. Not because we innately possess any control whatsoever, but because God gave us the gift of free will, allowing us a certain extent of autonomy.

        Election, then, in my opinion, is simply a foresight on God's part. He knows who will follow and serve Him. And He does everything in HIS control to bring all of us into the fold.

        I know many Calvinists despise her, but I think Rachel Held Evans sums it up nicely on the concept of Total Depravity:

        "We do not grasp the full weight of our sin by claiming we are inherently worthlessness to God, but by acknowledging that we are infinitely valuable to him. For if we are worthless to God, our sins against him are inconsequential; if we are but pesky insects or venomous serpents, our rebellion would not grieve him.

        To enter penance with the assumption that God loves his creation changes everything. It is the difference between realizing you have offended a vengeful deity and realizing you have grieved a loving Father. "
        http://rachelheldevans.com/lent-calvin

        I'm sorry if I'm jumping everywhere, but total depravity is something I'm really trying to understand right now.

        • Paul Armesin says

          I’m not an expert here, still learning but I’d like to share how I understood this.
          I hope this will help you understand better. :-)
          Jeremiah 17:9 says that the human heart is decietful and DESPERATELY WICKED.
          I Corinthians 2:14 – the natural man (unbeliever) CANNOT accept or know God because he is spiritually discerned. Even if we try very hard, we cannot.
          Ephesians 2:1-7 – we were DEAD in our sins, spiritually. A dead person CANNOT just make that desicion and follow Christ. God in His mercy, have made us alive.
          In John 6:44, Jesus said that NO ONE can come to Him unless the Father draws him.
          John 1 :12 is a very familiar verse: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” and we know that…
          If you continue to verse 13 it says: “who were born, NOT of blood, nor of the WILL of the flesh, nor of the WILL OF MAN, but of God.” Not by human will because it is impossible for us to recieve Him unless the Father draws us.
          Romans 9:16 says – “So then it is NOT of him who WILLS, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (I suggest you read the whole chapter 9, this answerd a lot of my questions)

          I believe we have free will in the sense that we can choose what to eat, or what color of t-shirt to wear, or what music to listen to, etc. But when it comes to choosing God and being saved, in our own (effort, good works, religiousity) we cannot. The Bible says we just can’t (Romans 3:23, Eph 2:8-9). It is God’s sovereign will and work, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. :-)

  3. Joe says

    "God created us the way we are" – God crated us "good" according to Genisis, Adam & Eve rebelled from God and we are all now tainted with that sin from the 1st man.
    We were dead in our sins – dead men do not make choices. Dead men do not bring themselves to life. If it is our choice then we have something to boast about. 'I made a good choice, you made a bad choice.'
    We bring glory to God exactly b/c we have nothing to do with it. He is glorified by the fact that he alone is the justifier, He alone is the reason we have crossed over from death unto life. If we had anything to do with it, if we made the choice to be saved, then we would share some of that glory. Thats blasphemy. We do not touch God's glory, though we are so prone to try.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      You are so right, Joe. I think that when we realize we aren't just "sick" in our sins, but "dead" as it says in Eph 2, then we can know that we wouldn't choose God unless he acted upon us first. Thanks for adding your comments!

  4. Linda says

    Angie, maybe the answer to your question is that God reaches out to stop those He already knows (by His foreknowledge) will trust in Him. If He reaches out and stops everybody, then you have universal salvation. He knows those who will choose to trust in Christ as Savior and reaches out to redirect them. He knows the others will not turn to Him, so He allows them to continue on their own way. Does that make sense?

    • Oliver says

      Hi Linda,
      Not being argumentative, but I'm not sure that works. If God, at some point in time, learns who WILL trust him, a few problems seem to arise. 1. God doesn't ever learn bc He's all knowing. Therefore, if he never learns but just knows from eternity past, he more than foreknew, He predestined. 2. According to Romans 3:10-12, none of us would choose him apart from his prior influence. And 3. If I did chose Him without His prior work in me, that makes me smarter or somehow superior than my unbelieving neighbors, which in effect gives glory to men, and not to God alone.
      I hope that makes sense. I have recently held that same view you shared and learned these things. Now I just refer to Romans 9:19-20 and figure that God doesn't even want us to try to get Him off the hook when it comes to election. It's just, and only unfair to the beneficiaries.

  5. Dan says

    Maybe God's way of justice, love and mercy is so vast and huge that trying to figure out for ourselves is impossible. Maybe we need to pursue telling every single human being about Jesus and leave the rest up to God!

  6. says

    I love this!! I think I'm with Dan on this one – I've never worried my head too much about election because I know that God's plan is perfect and I should share the Gospel with everyone I can. That said, I still wholeheartedly believe in election.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      You guys are right – we can never understand the mind of our infinite God. I believe in election and what I do understand of it is a real comfort to me, yet I want to share the gospel with as many as I can, as Dan said.

  7. says

    We are born on death row, justly condemned for capital crimes. The governor graciously pardons (and even adopts into his family) some of the convicts, sending his innocent Son to the electric chair in their place.

    Those he doesn't pardon receive the just penalty for their crimes. In them, he displays the glory of his justice — even as he also displays his love and goodness by continuing to feed and care for them and give them good things, though they deserve death.

    Those he pardons and adopts reflect his glory and grace in living transformed lives and being conformed to the image of his Son.

    The mystery is not that more are not saved; the mystery is that any are saved at all, and at the cost of the innocent Son's life.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Excellent comments Jeff! RC Sproul (I believe) said if 10 have sinned against God and deserve eternal hell, and God has mercy on 5 and sends the other 5 to hell, then 5 received mercy, and 5 received justice, but no one received injustice. Thanks for adding your comments.

  8. says

    Like Jeff said "Those he doesn't pardon receive the just penalty for their crimes. In them, he displays the glory of his justice — even as he also displays his love and goodness by continuing to feed and care for them and give them good things, though they deserve death. " I think people today in general don't think of God getting glory in exhibiting his justice. (Romans 9:22-24)

  9. Oliver says

    Angie, I have had similar questions. Here are the verses that have helped me the most.

    Romans 9:19-20 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?

    Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  10. says

    I have had many conversations with other believers who hold fast to the election doctrine. While, I am open to it…no one has ever been able to answer this questions for me.

    If I, as a non-election belief holder, and you, an election-belief holder, were to share the gospel with a non-believer, wouldn't it still sound the same????

    I guess what I mean is, on the matter of evangelism and discipleship, does it even matter?

  11. says

    The best comments here are the ones that quote scripture, rather than pure opinion. I have many thoughts myself, but God can say it better himself, because He did. How about Revelation 13:8, Ephesians 1:4, 2 Tim 2:25, John 10:26 (and the whole chapter), Romans chapter 9. These doctrines are not for arguing about, but for dying with. Glorify God by submitting to what the Bible says, not be forming an opinion and defending it wholly.

  12. crnth13 says

    This is a very tough subject. I see both God’s choosing and man’s free will in the Bible when it comes to salvation. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe.” So, if you hear the Gospel, you have the power of God to save you. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men…” (Titus 2:11) “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15-16) When you have heard the Gospel through the Word (faith comes by hearing), you have a choice to believe or not to believe (b/c God has given you the power), and it is only by God’s grace (which has appeared to all men). God can do what God does b/c he is God. I would not attribute salvation to man, because I know our works are as filthy rags, but I do believe it is by God’s grace that we are drawn to Him, to even believe in the first place. “No one comes to me unless the Father draws him.” ~Jesus. Either way, whether by free will or by God’s choosing, you get to the same conclusion – not all are saved. I do not believe God forces us to be his children, but He sure knows how to persuade us very strongly. Love does not insist on it’s own way.

  13. Chris Denlinger says

    I’ll be honest, I don’t really like that fact that the doctrine of election is credited to John Calvin or the term “Calvinists” for the simple fact as I read and understand Scripture, it seems pretty clear to me that the doctrine of election was around long before John Calvin was.

    I was raised in a very conservative church where I almost never heard teaching on the doctrine of election or the doctrines of grace. I grew up with heavy teaching of works righteousness. It wasn’t until I started attending my current church where I heard any solid teaching on election or predestination and it wasn’t until we started walking through the Book of Romans as a men’s study, that took the better part of a year and a half, that the truth of election and predestination and the sovereignty of God began to become clear to me (let’s face it, you can’t read through Romans 9-11 without it raising some serious questions on the issue). As God opened my heart and mind to these truths, I was amazed at where else the doctrine of election seemed to just jump of the pages of all of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. Passages like Matthew 11:27 became so clear in light the doctrine of election.

    As I embraced this, one thing that God revealed to me in His Word was this fact, there isn’t a man (or woman) of God in all of Scripture, Old or New Testament, that wasn’t first called by God. In fact, many of them wanted nothing to do with God’s plan for their lives and yet in the end, they did! Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah, the apostle Paul… I can’t think of any New Testament individual whose life points to the truth of election more than that of Paul!

    I pray that this may be of some benefit to someone…

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