Calling and Election (Rom.8:33)


The doctrine of calling and election has been surrounded with many traditional theories and mysteries down through the centuries, but there is no excuse for this, as the term simply means chosen. Any person or group of persons selected or chosen of God for any particular purpose is the elect of God. Christ is called God’s elect (Isa. 42:11 Pet. 2:6). A particular woman in a local church is called an “elect lady” (2 John 113). Israel as a nation is spoken of as the elect of God (Isa.45:465:922Matt. 24:22-31Mark 13:20-271 Pet. 1:2; Rom.11:728). The church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, is called the elect of God (Rom.8:33Col. 3:121 Thess. 1:4Titus 1:1). Angels are also called the elect of God (1 Thess. 5:21). Anyone called to be saved and chosen for any particular mission is elected of God for that work (Acts 15:7John 6:7013:1815:16Acts 1:29:15). Every person saved is the elect or chosen of God to salvation (John 15:192 Thess. 2:13James 2:5Rev. 17:14).


Final Election to Salvation Man’s Responsibility


  1. We can say with all assurance that any and election of God is based upon the free moral agency of those called and chosen. God offers the same mercies and blessings to all alike but all do not accept these benefits alike, therefore, there naturally are different consequences, as we shall see in the section eternal security.


  1. The Bible is very clear that man looks on the outward appearances and God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7; Isa.55:8, 9). It says that God’s ways are always righteous (Ps. 145:17). He is no respecter of persons (Rom.2:11James 2:9). His will is for all to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4, 52 Pet. 3:9). God’s will and ways are made plain in His word and all who conform to them are loved on an equal basis according to the degree of obedience. This is how God will be able to judge all men according to his ways (Jer.17:10;Ezek. 18:3033:20Hosea 12:2Prov. 24:12Matt. 16:272 Tim. 4:42 Cor. 10:9, 101 Cor. 3:11-15;Rev. 20:11-15). God repeatedly declares that He demands wholehearted service from every man (Deut. 11:13Josh. 22:51 Sam. 12:2024Matt. 22:37). God constantly searches the hearts of men and deals with them in order to bring them to righteousness (Psalms 139:23Jer. 11:2017:9, 1020:12Heb. 4:12Job 33:14-30). Therefore, God does not choose some to be saved and others to be lost and He is not responsible for those who will be lost.


  1. There are no direct statements of God choosing to save certain individuals contrary to their own will as some teach from the following scriptures:


(1) “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The ones who rejected the gospel on this occasion were the Jews, God’s own elect who were first offered the gospel, thus proving that after men are chosen to be saved they can reject truth and be lost (Acts 13:45-49). That the Jews were the elect of God and were first chosen to carry the gospel is one of the most clearly stated facts in Scripture (Rom.1:163:1-69:4, 5Matt. 10:515:21-2821:33-46John 1:11). Israel rejected the gospel and even killed their own Messiah. They murdered the saints and hardened themselves against God until it was no wonder Paul waxed bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should FIRST have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). Paul continued by saying that God had called him to bring the light of the gospel to the Gentiles and unto the ends of the Earth, showing that it is God’s purpose to save all that believe in all nations (Acts 10:34, 35). When the Gentiles heard this, many of them were glad and believed the gospel and glorified the word of the Lord. This is why they were ordained to eternal life.


The Greek word for ordained is tasso, meaning to appoint, to arrange, to assign a place. It is translated ordain (Acts 13:48; Rom.13:1), set (Luke 7:8), appoint (Acts 22:1028:23Matt. 28:16), determine (Acts 15:2), and addict (1 Cor. 16:15). Not one statement in all these passages teaches that God or man’s will is arbitrary in any plan for others who overt appointed. God has ordained that all who believe will receive eternal life. He has ordained that there be human governments but He does not force men to have them or He does not directly impose His will in every detail of human governments (Rom.13:1-8). The centurion who was set over 100 men did not have to accept the position (Luke 7:8). When Jesus appointed or ordained a place where He would meet the disciples He did not force one of them to meet the appointment (Matt. 28:16). When God told Paul of certain things that were appointed for him to do in Damascus there was no force used to make Paul do as God desired (Acts 22:10). In Acts 9:6 it is clear that Paul asked God what to do and the Lord told him that he would be told what to do when he got to Damascus. When the Jews appointed a day to hear Paul in Acts 28:23 there was no power to force either of the parties to keep the appointment. Thus, in no Scripture where Lasso is used are we led to believe that any person referred to was forced to do anything contrary to his will.


To teach according to Acts 13:48 that God ordained some to be saved and some to be lost, disregarding all other Scriptures to the contrary, does not show honesty with truth. This verse means those that set themselves to believe the gospel to get eternal life believed and glorified the word of the Lord.


(2) Another passage in the Bible used to prove that God elects some to be saved on the basis of His own choice alone regardless of the wills of the free moral agents is Rom.9:1-24, but this Scripture does not confirm such theory. Any Bible statement must be understood in connection with the subject of the passage. In this Scripture Paul is showing how the Jews who were chosen of God to evangelize the world and to whom God gave the promises, that they were failing God in spite of their election, and that they would be cut off because of their rebellion (Rom.11). God gives an example of Jacob’s being chosen in preference to Esau, but a study of the history of these boys shows why God made the choice. It was not simply because of His will only, or because He was a respecter of persons, but it was because of the nature, traits, and disposition of the boys. Esau was devoid of spiritual things and he freely chose to be this way (Heb. 12:16). Jacob was a man who loved God and had a disposition to choose spiritual things. God saw the difference in the make-up of the two boys before they were born and made His choice on these grounds. God can see and know the types of people from the very beginning. Before Ishmael was born God predicted that he would be a wild man and that his hand would be against all other men (Gen. 16:11-12).


If God could see the different kind of persons that both Jacob and Esau were going to be, then He had plenty of grounds for His choice of Jacob over Esau. When God said He loved Jacob and hated Esau He simply meant that He preferred Jacob to Esau. To hate is a Hebrew and Greek idiom meaning preference. This is what Jesus meant in Luke 14:26 when He said that unless a man “hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” This simply means that one must prefer Christ to his relatives and his own life and put God first. So it was in the case of Jacob and Esau (Mal. 1:2, 3; Rom.9:10-13). God preferred Jacob to Esau and this preference was naturally based upon what God could see in them. With God, He can see the innermost traits of each person and He also naturally prefers the ones who desire spiritual things and who choose to do His will. Whether they do His will or not, that is another question. All can do His will if they choose to do so because the means of grace are for all alike (John 3:16-20Rev. 22:17).


God chose Pharaoh and caused him to become the king of Egypt at the time that He needed someone to resist His will so that He could make His power known. God could not have used a man to resist Him if he had been the type who would submit to His will. In this and in all other cases where God has used men to bless others, or made them objects of His wrath, His choice has been made in each case upon the basis of the submission or rebellion of the persons involved. No man is forced to resist the will of God, but those who do resist receive damnation and this is what Paul teaches in Rom.9. This is why there is no unrighteousness with God. He gives all men the free choice of their actions to submit to His will or rebel against it, and the final responsibility is upon them, not upon God. God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He has promised to have mercy upon all who submit to Him. Mercy and compassion are not shown because of men’s works, but they come through grace, when men choose and submit to the will of God.


Paul showed Israel that she was resisting God’s will like Esau and Pharaoh and she was to be cut off like others who had resisted God’s will (Rom.9:1-11:29). They were God’s elect but if they chose to resist God and refused to do His will, God’s program had to go forward even if God had to turn the Jewish calling over to the Gentiles.


(3) Ephesians 1:4-11 is used to prove that God chooses from eternity past certain people to be saved, but this passage only reveals that God’s plan is that all who are to be saved were chosen to be holy and that this purpose of God was made before the disruption of the world. God predestinated that the saved should be holy before God forever, but who and which ones will be saved and be holy is left entirely up to the choice of each individual to conform to the plan of God and enjoy the predestinated blessing of God. The lost were likewise predestinated to be lost but who or which persons will be lost is left entirely up to the choice of the individual who can refuse to the end of life to conform to the plan of God. The plan itself is the thing that is predestined, not the individual conformity of one single person to that plan.


(4) Romans 8:27-30 is also used to prove God’s choice is the sole reason some are saved and others are lost, but this passage does not say who or which persons will be saved or lost. It simply states that God knew that some would be saved and some would be lost. What is the reason some are saved and others are lost? Is it solely because of God’s choice? No! It is solely because He cannot save all because all will not believe and conform to the gospel. Those who do believe will partake of the predestined blessings and those who do not will partake of the predestined curses of the plan. God foreknew that some would be saved and some would be lost, but who and which ones would believe are not personally included in this foreknowledge. That is left up to the individual. God foreknew and predestined some to be saved and the rest to be lost, but He designated no particular individuals, and this is all the Bible does teach on this question. Thousands of statements in the Bible expressing will power are used to prove that all may conform if they choose, but since all men are free agents and since all do not choose the same things in life, as is well known, not only to God but also to man, some will choose to be saved and others will choose to be lost.


  1. There are no concrete examples of God saving some men and damning others solely because of His own choice. It is true that no man can be saved except God deals with him (John 6:3744) and that God’s people are called His own possession (Eph. 1:14), but this does not mean that God does not deal with all men, or that all men who desire cannot become the people of God. The Holy Spirit is faithful to deal with all men as they hear the gospel (Rom.10:9-17John 16:7-15). The Bible speaks of Christ being the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9). No man has been saved or has been forced to stay saved against his will. Because men are born of God’s will and not their own (John 1:13) is no proof that they are saved only because of God’s will. It simply means that salvation has not been provided by the will of man, but it is also true that God cannot and will not save one man if he himself does not will it (John 3:16-20; 22:17; 1 Tim. 4:10Mark 16:15, 16). It is God’s will to save all, but all are not saved, so it must also take the will of man in accepting the gospel for him to be saved.


  1. All of God’s blessings are conditional and the very nature of the case proves that God does not determine beforehand the acts of free moral agents. The blessing of God upon every person is conditioned upon personal faith and conformity to the gospel, not upon predetermined choices of God, as we shall see in Lesson Thirty-five. Meeting gospel conditions such as repentance and faith are not works that purchase salvation but are necessary requirements to be saved if one wants the salvation purchased by the blood of Christ. Choosing to eat a meal prepared by someone does not earn the meal, but it is necessary to eat if one wants the benefits of the food provided for him.


If God should seek to save and keep rebels contrary to their wills He would break His own laws and fail to carry out His own plan. God could not be guilty of such unlawful dealings, so if men are finally lost it is not because God has failed, His plan has failed, the sacrifice of Christ has failed, or that God did not have power to keep them contrary to His plan. If God’s promises and covenants were made on the condition that man must fulfill righteousness, then God cannot do otherwise than to cut off all who refuse to conform to His demands. If God failed to hold men to the terms of the contracts He has made with them, He would be a liar and all men with free wills would lose respect for Him. The following are a few of the many passages that plainly teach that God’s dealings have always been on the condition of obedience (Ex. 15:2619:5, 622:23, 2423:30-3332:33Lev. 26:3-46Deut. 7:12-248:10-2011:13-3128:1-6829:9-2830:1-20Josh. 23:1624:201 Sam. 12:14, 15241 Kings 3:129:3-911:38, 39;2 Kings 17:7-2321:7, 8; Isa.1:19, 20Col. 1:231 Cor. 15:1-5Heb. 3:612-144:116:4-12Heb. 10:26-392 Pet. 2:20-22John 15:1-6; etc.)


  1. There are many examples of saved men and angels being cast off from God because of sin, as we shall see in the section eternal security.


  1. There are no reasonable or Scriptural arguments that can be presented to prove that God saves or keeps men contrary to their free choice. Nothing is hard to understand about election, foreknowledge, or predestination when we realize that it is God’s plan itself, and not personal conformity to that plan that has been foreknown ant predestinated. God decrees that all who do conform will be saved and all who do not will be lost and this is the sum and substance of these doctrines. God’s decrees were never made to determine the choices of free moral agents as to whether some will be saved or others will be lost. The decrees of God are those parts of His plan to which all must conform in order to be saved and those who refuse will be lost. Men have made the great mistake of making the doctrine of decrees, to which all must conform to be saved, the same as the free acts of men in conforming to those laws. God does not determine our willing and doing but He does decree the basis of the action for free moral agents that will save or damn them accordingly. This does not mean that the initiative of man’s salvation is with man. It is with God who chose to make a way of salvation for all men, especially of them that believe and that conform to this plan of their own free choice.


Election deals with all creatures as sinners and therefore must deal with them on the same basis or the plan is faulty and the Planner is a respecter of persons and unjust in His dealings. The reason God saves only a few is because only a few choose the way of God, and therefore God is free from the final responsibility of the salvation or damnation of anyone. God cannot say to some that He did them no wrong if He does not deal with them in justice and righteousness on the same basis as others and make them personally responsible as to their destiny. If God offers pardon to all, then all can accept it alike or the offer of pardon is a fraud. If all can accept it, then He is fair to all and the salvation and damnation rests with the individual and not with God. To argue that God offers a pardon to all alike and then to contradict this by saying that He offers it to only a few special ones whom He has chosen to save, does not make logic and it is not scriptural. God does not force one to become willing and another to become unwilling to be saved. He deals with all men, seeking to persuade them to be saved and because some become willing and others do not is no sign that God is responsible for the choice made.


It is a matter of record that there were qualities of character in Abraham, David, and others that caused God to choose them. It was because they became willing to obey God. God tested them to the end of knowing whether they would obey or not. This is very clear from the following passages (Gen. 18:17-19;22:112Ex. 4:8, 9Josh. 1:71 Sam. 2:2613:13, 1415:112223-2816:1-142 Sam. 12:241 Kings 3:10-14Luke 2:524:1-13Heb. 5:8, 9; etc.). Common sense alone teaches us that God could not choose certain people for certain works because they are not of the type that could be used. Even men have this much intelligence. God’s continued use of men has always been on the basis of their obedience. Many whom He has used when they were humble became cut off because they became exalted and sinned. See section on eternal security


We have all the reason in the world to believe that God treats all moral beings alike according to like standards of light that they have received. All inequality in moral agents has come through the fall and rebellion. On several occasions God placed the whole race on an equal footing concerning His plan. This was true of Adam’s race in the beginning. It was true at the flood. It was true on other occasions (Rom.1:17-32). God still deals with all men on the same basis of no difference in Christ if all will accept the truth (1 Cor. 12:12-13Gal. 3:26-29John 3:16-20Rev. 22:17). All men, regardless of their types and dispositions, like the different kinds of ground in Matt. 13:19-23
, can become changed in life and conduct by accepting the gospel so that God will use them in His work. One might as well argue that fallow ground cannot be broken, that stony ground cannot have the stones taken out, that the thorny ground must always be thorny, and that all ground cannot be made to produce fruit, as to argue that all men cannot have their lives changed by the gospel to the point of being used of God and saved in the end if they so desire. To sum up the doctrine of election, we may say that the elect of God are the whosoever will class who come and take of the water of life freely and the non-elect are the whosoever will not class who choose to reject the gospel.