Updated: Aug 16, 2021
Let’s talk about how the Elect are Elected:
“But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” - 2Th 2:13
Henry Theissen says,
“By election we mean that sovereign act of God in grace, whereby from all eternity He chose in Christ Jesus for Himself and for salvation, all those whom He foreknew would respond positively to prevenient grace.”
There are some theologians who would agree with Theissen until he says, “all those who He foreknow would respond positively to prevenient grace.” The resistance is directed at the idea that man is capable of “responding positively” to God. That, at least, seems to be what is indicated in Romans when Paul says,
“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’”
Another reason for the resistance is that some think that “responding positively” provides a person with “merit” (it is a good thing to do) and that would mean that the person is Elected by a “work”. Which is in direct contradiction to what is written in Rom 9:11 & 12:
“in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by Him who calls”
However, Theissen leans on Hodge in support for his position. Who says,
“There is no merit in the asking or in the willingness, which is the ground of the gift. It remains a gratuitous favour: but it is, nevertheless, suspended upon the act of asking. It is in this last sense only that faith is the condition of the covenant of grace. There is no merit in believing. It is only the act of receiving a proffered favour.”
The difference is that Theissen thinks that believing in the gospel is to “respond positively”. While other people think that believing in the gospel is simply “not responding negatively”. And there is a difference. Those who are saved are those who don’t resist God’s grace. It’s not that the Elect are people who choose to take or actively accept God’s grace; it’s that God gives us grace and we, eventually, don’t resist Him.
Then again, there are those who believe that God’s grace is irresistible. They believe those whom God has elected will not be able to resist because nobody can resist the saving grace of God. Some believe this because if God’s grace is resistible then it seems to threaten God’s power and sovereignty. However, if God’s saving grace is irresistible and He only gives that saving grace to the Elect the it seems to contradict what Peter says,
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” - 2Pe 3:9
If God refrains from providing this irresistible saving grace to someone it seems to mean that He wants that person to perish. Personally, I think Genesis 32:22-32 is very relevant and edifying when we talk about whether or not God is resistible. And I think it has to do with God allowing His power to be resistible. Like when a father wrestles with his young child. He could easily overpower them but has the control to allow his child to overpower him.
What do you think about God’s Elect and how they are Elected? Do you think that you choose to accept God’s gift or do you think you have simply not resisted God’s call? What do you think about Double Predestination? Let us know!
Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Pg. 156). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951.
Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology: The Complete Three Volumes (p. 1123). GLH Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Biblical Doctrine (Pg. 674-691). Zondervan