Tuesday, June 24, 2014


One of the sovereign works of God is that of election. That is to say that God in eternity past chose some people for salvation. And this is not based on any goodness of the individual but on the grace and mercy of God. Paul Enns gives an excellent definition of election when he says:
What is election? Election may be defined as “that eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of men to be the recipients of special grace and of eternal salvation.” One of the principal passages concerning election is Ephesians 1:4 in the statement “He chose us.” The verb chose is the Greek eklego, which means “to call out” from among the people. The word means that God selected some individuals from out of the masses. Moreover, the word is always used in the middle voice meaning God chose for Himself. This describes the purpose of the choosing—God chose believers to be in fellowship with Him and to reflect His grace through their living a redeemed life.  

The question concerning election is not whether one understands it but whether the Bible teaches it. If indeed the Bible teaches election (or any other doctrine), then one is obligated to believe it. The doctrine of election includes a number of areas: Israel is elect (Deut. 7:6); angels are elect (1 Tim. 5:21); the Levitical priests were elect (Deut. 18:5); Jeremiah the prophet was elect (Jer. 1:5); and believers are elect (Eph. 1:4).
It is imperative before we move on to answer the question why does God elect, why does he chose some? The Bible gives several answers to this important question. The first is that it for His own good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5), Paul explains that the reason God predestines us was… “according to the good pleasure of his will”. The second reason we see from the Bible as to why God elects is so as to display his glory (Isaiah 43:7) 
The other reason as to why God elects is His foreknowledge Romans 8:29 says:  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestine to be conformed to the image of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
What is the point of all this you ask? God does what He pleases, when he pleases, how he pleases and to whom he pleases. He has the right and power to do what he pleases for his own glory! Hence God chose to elect some to salvation. He planned salvation Therefore when the second member of the God- Jesus Christ came on earth to die for sinners and pay the penalty of sin. He came to carry out the work of salvation.
The work of salvation that God the father had planned. That is that those whom he chose (election) should come to salvation.  This is what Christ is talking about in His priestly prayer in John 17. Several times in the chapter he says God has given him a group of people and has done all the work i.e. given them eternal life (v3), taught them the truth (v 6) etc. The logical flow is obvious God the father chose some for salvation and planned the work of salvation. God the son came to die for those whom the father chose and carried out the work of salvation. John Piper summarizes this point quit well in his book Does God desire all men to be saved when he says:
Christ's atonement is not performed in abstraction, but is performed in accordance with the purpose of the Father and is performed in relation to specific people whom God has purposed to be saved.  Like Paul, each Christian is brought to the amazing realization that the Son of God... loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)  It is by saving particular sinners that God saves the world. By sovereign grace, the Lord makes Himself our God and we come to know Him personally, intimately, particularly.
This then leads us to the third person of the Godhead and His role in the plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit through the word of God convicts and regenerates the elect to salvation. He is the one who draws men and seals them and God gives him as a seal or pledge of our salvation. William Evans makes this same point when he says:
The Holy Spirit is the one who seals the work of salvation and completes the work of salvation in the elect. The Holy Spirit seals, attests, and confirms the work of grace in the soul by producing the fruits of righteousness therein. It is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus who gives us freedom from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). He is called the Holy Spirit, not only because He is absolutely holy Himself, but also because he produces that quality of soul-character in the believer. The Spirit is the executive of the God-head for this very purpose. It is the Spirit's work to war against the lusts of the flesh and enable us to bring forth fruit unto holiness (Gal. 5:17-22).
We have established that God is sovereign and in his sovereign wisdom he elects some people to salvation for his own good pleasure and for his own glory. We have further established that salvation is the work of the triune God. The father planned, the son carries out and accomplishes the plan of salvation and the Holy Spirit seals and implements the plan of salvation. David and Paul Gibson writing in the great work “From He came and sought her” explain that:
The doctrine of definite atonement states that, in the death of Jesus Christ, the triune God intended to achieve the redemption of every person given to the Son by the Father in eternity past, and to apply the accomplishments of his sacrifice to each of them by the Spirit. The death of Christ was intended to win the salvation of God’s people alone.

Friday, June 13, 2014


I recently had to write a research paper on the extent of the atonement for my class. So i thought i should edit it and share it here in parts. So this is the first part.
When discussing the extent of the atonement where you begin from is of great essence. It is therefore very important that you deal with the atonement in the entire scope of the scriptures and the entire framework of the doctrines it espouses. No single doctrine should be viewed and treated in isolation. When discussing the atonement we cannot afford not to begin from the author of salvation.

It is for this reason that a discussion of Theology Proper is inevitable before you actually get to the atonement. This is so because understanding the nature and character of God will explain the nature of salvation, that He is able to work out and how he does it. For instance it is important to know that he is a loving, gracious, merciful, holy, righteous God etc.

One attribute I want to focus on is that of the sovereignty of God. Salvation is an act of a sovereign God and that has colossal implications on the entire work of salvation including the atonement and its extent. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign. He is in total control of all that happens in the entire universe and ordains everything that comes to pass. The best passage that explains the sovereignty of God is Daniel 4: 34- 35 where we find the words of Nebuchadnezzar who confesses by saying:

“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven  and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

The doctrine of the sovereignty of God is about the kingship of God. Nebuchadnezzar said, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34).  It is about the reign of God, hence sovereignty of God (1 Timothy 6:15).  Just as a king rules his subjects, so also God is in total control of the whole universe forever.  He planned its details (divine decree) and he carries out those plans (divine providence).

You have not truly acknowledged divine sovereignty until you contrast it with human sovereignty.  Nebuchadnezzar said, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing” (Daniel 4:35).  This is what Job had to learn the hard way (Job 38).  This is what the Israelites needed to know for their comfort while in captivity (Isaiah 40:1-31).  God’s rule includes control over even human affairs.  We are as clay in the hands of a potter.  God’s sovereignty leaves us in the dust.  It is totally incomparable to any other authority!

The sovereignty of God, when properly understood, must include the concept of total or absolute power.  Nebuchadnezzar said, “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth”.  It includes the fact that God had no advisor in his planning, needs no helper in carrying out his plans, and makes no external considerations in the final fulfillment of those plans (Romans 11:33-36).  Hence, all things are to God’s glory alone.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect to accept about the sovereignty of God is that it is totally irresistible.  Nebuchadnezzar said, “No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35).  This is a constant theme in Scripture (Job 23:13-17, Isaiah 14:24-27).  This is true religion as was portrayed by old Eli (1 Samuel 3:18) and learnt by Job (Job 42:2).  When people think they have successfully opposed God’s revealed will, all they have done is fulfill his secret will (Acts 4:28).
A.W. Pink rightly summarizes the sovereignty of God in his classical book the Attributes of God when he says:
He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isa. 46:10); "He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand" (Dan. 4:35). Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things "after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11).

God as supreme king does what he pleases, how he pleases, where he pleases and when he pleases. He has planned salvation, worked out the means of salvation and determined the methods of salvation and equally determines the recipients of salvation.