Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "Soteriology"


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible


  1. Election of God (or the choices of God) are used in relation to the following groups and individuals
    1. In relation to the whole nation of Israel
      1 Ki. 3:8; Ps. 33:12; Isa. 14:1; Mk. 13:20; Rom. 11:5,7,28
    2. In relation to certain ones from among the Israelites
      1 Sam. 10:24; Num. 17:5; Ps. 68:70; Mt. 24:31
    3. In relation to all Christians
      Jn. 13:18; Rom. 8:33; 1 Cor. 1:27-28
    4. In relation to certain ones from among Christians
      Lk. 6:13; Jn. 15:16,19; Acts 9:15
    5. In relation to the Lord Jesus Christ
      Lk. 23:35; 1 Pet. 2:4,6; Isa. 42:1; Mt. 12:18
  2. Explanatory remarks
    We see that election is taught in the Scriptures.

    God has not been pleased to disclose His motives in election. We believe, however, that God acts in election upon good and righteous grounds.

    Election is declared to be according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet. 1:2), but Scripture nowhere declares what it is in the Divine foreknowledge which determines the Divine choice.

    It is certain, however, that the election is not determined by the Divine fore­knowledge of any merit in the chosen one, for election is expressly declared to be of grace (Rom. 9:11; 11:5-6).

    It is not Biblical to say that God's election is determined by the foreknowledge of the obedience of faith exercised by the one chosen. The purpose and result of God's election is to bring the one elected "unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:2). Peter uses the word "obedience" as a synonym for faith (1 Pet. 1:22; 4:17; Acts 5:32).

    The relation of God's foreknowledge to His electing grace is, therefore, an unrevealed relation.

    Here it is both reverent and wise to respect the Divine silences and to restrain the mind within that which is revealed. It is unwise to form any iron-clad theory, however logical, that requires one to overemphasize or soft pedal passages on one side of the debatable question or the other.

    "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us" (Dt. 29:29). It is not likely at this late date that any of us will be able to categorically settle questions which have raged for centuries.
  3. Intimately associated with election are three other important words of Scripture
    1. Predestinate = "to mark off beforehand"
      This expression occurs six times in the New Testament.
      1. Acts 4:28 - affirms that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was marked off beforehand in the counsel of God.
      2. Romans 8:29 - teaches that whom God did foreknow He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.
      3. Romans 8:30 - states that whom God did predestinate, them He also called, justified, glorified.
      4. 1 Corinthians 2:7 - the mystery which God predestinated unto our glory, the mystery of the fullness of wisdom embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ.
      5. Ephesians 1:5 - God has predestinated us unto the adoption of children (better, "the placing of sons"). To whom does the word "us" of Ephesians 1:5 refer? Compare Ephesians 1:22-23. It refers to the predestinating of the CHURCH. This was a sovereign act of God.

        How do I become identified with this group (the Church) which is predestinated? (Cp. Rom. 8:30, "justified"; cp. Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Mt. 16:16-18;Jn. 1:12; 3:16)
      6. Ephesians 1:11-12 - "God has predestinated unto the praise of His glory."
        Note: These occurrences of the word "predestinate" have to do with believers.

        Definition: In all the passages there is but one consistent meaning, so that predestination may be defined as that active exercise of the will of God by which certain results are brought to pass so that not one of those who were chosen according to His foreknowledge will fail to be among the company of those who are eventually "glorified, " i.e., "conformed to the image of His Son. "
    2. Purpose = "to aim, resolve, or plan"
      This word is used three times in the New Testament.
      1. Romans 1:13 - Paul's purpose to go to Rome.
      2. Romans 3:25 - God hath set forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the propitiation for the sins of the world.
      3. Ephesians 1:9 - God's purpose to gather together in one all things in Christ.

        Definition: The English word "purpose" correctly indicates the meaning; it signifies an internal decision or determination of the mind to make, and accomplish, a plan.
    3. Foreknowledge = "to have knowledge of beforehand"
      1. The passages involved are
        1. Acts 26:5
        2. Romans 8:29
        3. Romans 11:2
        4. 1 Peter 1:20 (ASV)
        5. 2 Peter 3:17
        6. Acts 2:23
        7. 1 Peter 1:2
      2. Distinctions (taken from Chafer's Systematic Theology, Vol. 7, p. 158)
        1. Prescience - the knowledge of future events
          Prescience may depend upon the will of the creatures for its immediate execution, or for its expectation, but foreknow­ledge in God is that which He Himself purposes to bring to pass.
        2. Omniscience - embraces all things, past, present, and future, while foreknowledge anticipates only the future events. c. Foreknowledge - should be distinguished from His knowledge of events which are merely possible. It is in the range of Divine understanding to foresee what would happen under certain circumstances, but in His providence never does occur (Mt. 11:21).
      3. The Scriptural illustration of foreknowledge - Psalm 139
      4. The blessing of God's foreknowledge - Job 42:2; Romans 11:33-36
        God's foreknowledge brings joy and gladness to the believing heart, for we know that: God knows perfectly the road ahead, though often we do not know

        Definition: The words proginosko or prognosis assert God's foreknowledge concerning the matters spoken of in the passages.

        In order, the Divine procedure would seem to be:
        1. Foreknowledge
        2. Purpose
        3. Election
        4. Predestination, or the active bringing to pass of that which was foreknown, purposed, and chosen

          In all the Christian centuries men have endeavored to account philosophically for the apparent paradox of God's sovereign election and man's free will, but none have ever succeeded.

          Both are wholly true, but the connecting and reconciling truth has not been revealed.

          William Jay (quoted by Scofield in the third volume of his Bible correspondence course): "Two grand truths have always seemed to me to pervade the whole Bible, and not confined to a few phrases, namely, that if we are saved, it is entirely of God's grace, and if we are lost, it will be entirely from ourselves."

  4. Final definitions of election
    The New Testament doctrine of election may be defined as:
    1. The sovereign act of God in. grace whereby certain persons are chosen from among mankind for Himself.
      Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Tit. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2:9

      Note: The believer's election is never apart from Christ, but "in Christ" and antedates the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 16:13).
    2. The sovereign act of God whereby certain of such elect persons are designated for distinctive services for Him. Lk. 6:13; Jn. 15:16; Acts 9:15; 1 Cor. 1:27

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