GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 588 • December 2, 2020
HOW CAN YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S CHOSEN ELECT?
Part One of Two
What part, if any, does a person have in his own election and salvation? The religious world struggles to answer the question. Not every religion has a clear doctrine about salvation and what part of the person, if any, is saved and preserved for life and existence after death of the body. We will not concern ourselves in this essay with all religions, even the major ones that can be called “world religions.”
Our focus will be only on biblical doctrine and faith, not what “our church” teaches or even what current “Christianity” teaches, but what the Bible teaches when properly understood. That means we must seek to find our answers only from the Bible, not from past or present theology which has caused fragmentation into a plethora of divisions, denomination, sects, cults, and factions which are often Christian only in claims and concepts not actually supported by the New Testament of the Bible. Many of these nominal Christians also struggle to answer questions about election, salvation, security, and eternal destiny.
Is it all determined according to the sovereign will and arbitrary choice of God, even without your will and choice? How can we know if we are chosen and elect or not? Can we have any evidence or assurance that we are saved – from what and for what – and will go to heaven? How should we respond to God if have no evidence, no assurance, and no real hope of salvation, if we are convinced we are lost and not saved, even if we desperately want to be? It is a problem that troubles all thoughtful and serious persons, those who know the present life is not all we have and that what comes after this life is more important than this life.
Of course it will be necessary to mention, explain, and refute a number of false doctrines that are accepted by naive and unquestioning believers who simply trust their leaders not to lie or mislead them. But that kind of blind closed-minded belief is not required or even recommended by God – it cannot be called faith in God, but can only be called faith in men, faith in a church, or faith in what we’ve been taught by people we trust, people we have been taught to trust, people we are compelled to trust and obey under threat of excommunication from them and from the god or gods and the fallible doctrine and dogma to which they commit us. Never mind that they may be and probably are sincere and honest in their beliefs – they present to you only what they have been taught. Sometimes that is safe: Paul the apostle recommended that preachers such as Timothy and those taught by him follow carefully what the apostle and passed on to them and certified as being given to him from Christ (see 2 Timothy 2:1-2, Galatians 1:11-12). If one delivers faithfully a message he has been given and asked to deliver, but the message itself is wrong the faithfulness of the messenger will not correct it. Jesus said, as you have no doubt heard many times, “If the blind lead the blind, will not both fall into the ditch?” (Matthew 15:14, Luke 6:39). He uses a physical condition and consequences to make an application that is not easily misunderstood. Blindness in this parable is not a matter of the eyes, it is a matter of the mind and understanding. If one preaches as truth something that is not true, even if he sincerely believes it is true and delivers it flawlessly and faithfully according to his belief, the consequence will be the same as if he deliberately lied about it. It is not sincerity that makes one free. It is truth that makes one free (free from error and free from the consequences of error (John 8:31-32).
One of the most dangerous and damnable errors fed to multitudes seeking and willing to believe simple solutions is this: “There are numerous ideas of precisely what election means and how God makes His choice, but the fact that believers are elect is indisputable” (this is the answer given to this question on www.gotquestions.org/one-of-the-elect.html. In other words, “If you believe, if you are a believer, that is evidence you are saved and the promise is applied to you.” Here’s how they arrive at that answer (I am simplifying and summarizing a rather convoluted doctrine from Calvinistic theology): According to Calvinism every person is born depraved and unable to know, desire, believe or do anything good, anything that has to do with salvation and election. No one can receive Jesus as Savior unless God draws him or her (John 6:44). God calls/draws those only those whom He has predestined/elected (Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:4-5 and 11). Saving faith is not possible without divine election. Therefore, having saving faith is evidence of election. God by irresistible grace draws sinners to Himself, causing them to believe, thus assuring them they are or will be saved if they accept by faith what He is offering to them in Christ. Ergo, one who is a believer is indisputably elect. Is the doctrine correct? It is not; it is indisputably wrong. The fact is: the elect are believers. But not all believers – even believers in God, in Christ, in the Holy Spirit, in the gospel, in the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and current position of Jesus at the right hand of power and authority of God in heaven – are saved, accepted, and elected for heaven. The devil and his demons, spirit beings who have first hand information and evidence we humans do not have are declared to be terrified and trembling believers (James 2:19), but they are certainly not saved, not elected to heaven.
I have met some who claim to know and believe God but love something or someone in the world that they are not willing to give up or be separated from, so they do not obey the Lord and His Christ. They say they “do not believe the God of love would consign them to perdition for their weakness – or for their love” of forbidden fruits, and so they pray He will be merciful and gracious, that He will set aside His holiness and righteousness and justice and allow them to escape the consequences of their failures and remain in His blessings. Some even say God has it all worked out to save them – they believe their feelings prove they are elect – no matter what they do or fail to do, so there is no need for them to change anything. Might we suggest that feelings and selective beliefs (which must imply some unbeliefs and disbeliefs) are a very shaky, unstable, and unsuitable foundation upon which to build a life and a destiny?
There is a subtle truth built into the Calvinistic philosophy that utterly destroys the argument that “if you are a believer you are undisputably one of the elect.” Here it is. Simply put, the Calvinistic doctrine of election is: God chooses/determines/elects and predestines those who are to be saved. One is then easily convinced, by the fact that he is a believer, that he is one of God’s elect and will cease to be concerned about his future. But here’s something that upsets the supposed equation: If everything is by God’s choice and action, if it is God’s choice that saves, then whether one believes or not is irrelevant; belief, unbelief, or disbelief proves nothing. How can the Calvinist reply to this?
A rebuttal is essential, otherwise the whole doctrine – from “the fall” of Adam and Eve to an inherited sin nature for all their descendants which must include total disability to know, choose, or do anything good and righteous and godly which makes it incumbent on God to choose who and which, if any, of the offspring of His creation will be restored to His image and saved from destruction. His bestowal of grace, His imputation of righteousness and His imposition of conversion to any person must then be irresistible, that His word of command will not return to Him void or empty (Isaiah 55:11) but will be executed perfectly so that the result will be exactly and precisely in accordance with His sovereign will. Can this claim of irresistible grace, election, salvation, and preservation be supported by God’s own words in scripture?
This discussion continues in the next segment of the essay, being released concurrently with the present remarks. Please continue reading while it is fresh in your mind. <>