What does unconditional election mean?

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Unconditional election or predestination teaches that before the world was created, God predestined some people to be saved (the elect) and the rest to be lost. In the doctrine of unconditional election, human choice has no role to play in a person’s salvation.

Proponents of the unconditional election theology use the following passage by Paul to support their view: “Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren, moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these he also glorified” (Romans 8:29.30).

But in order to understand the above passage we should compare it with other passages in the Bible. It is true that the Bible teaches that God knows all things, past present and future, “All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). But future events do not happen because God “foreknew” them; rather they are known by God because they will take place. Just because God knows something will happen does not mean He wills it to happen.

Did God elect that only some would be saved? Paul writes that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). If only some are predestined to be saved, why would Jesus offer salvation to all? Christ said, “whoever desire, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). And God declares, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11). He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

The Contemporary English Version translated Romans 8:29 that God “has always known who his chosen ones would be. He had decided to let them become like his own Son, so that his Son would be the first of many children.” While everyone is called to salvation not everyone responds. But to those who choose to come to Christ, these are transformed into His image.

God has an all-knowing nature. He knows whether a person is going to be saved or lost, but this knowledge does not take away the person’s free choice. Joshua told the Israelites to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). The story of the fall of humanity shows the high regard that God gave to Adam and Eve when He let them choose whether to obey or disobey Him. Freedom of choice had a very high cost on the Godhead-the death of Jesus Christ on the cross to save humanity (John 3:16).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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