(Click here to watch a Youtube clip I did on this subject.)

Election and predestination (E/P) teaching has become such a complicated saga in the Church because of one major misunderstanding when interpreting the Scriptures. There is an important key to understanding all the E/P scriptures. When you understand this key it will simply unlock all the scriptures on this subject in their true context to reveal God's salvation plan towards all mankind. This key is the revelation that when Scripture refers to E/P it is referring to nations and not individuals. This is the simple key you need and I'm going to show you this in all the major E/P scriptures. You will see how E/P is referring to the Gentiles along with the Jews as God's chosen and elect people, not randomly chosen individuals in some cosmic lucky-draw. It is crucial to see that when New Testament Scripture refers to E/P it is not trying to make the point that some are chosen while others aren't. Instead Scripture is making the point that the Gentiles are also chosen for salvation through faith and not just the Jews. Unless you see this you will never be able to look at E/P scriptures with the right lenses on. In my opinion, Calvinism and Arminianism look at E/P with the wrong lenses on and only see random individuals. Once you put the right lenses on you will see how obvious it is that E/P scriptures are all about the Gentiles also being included in God's election plan of salvation for mankind! You may even laugh a little when you realise how obvious it has been all along. I believe if people had of just realised this 500 years ago we may have avoided a whole lot of fighting and division in the Body of Christ.

Election by nature sounds like it is exclusive to certain individuals, yet when understood in context we see it is actually inclusive of all individuals. (This doesn't mean that all will be saved or are saved, but that all have an opportunity in this lifetime to be saved.) To say it simply, the emphasis of E/P is inclusivity of the Gentiles together with the Jews and not exclusivity of certain individuals by Gods random choosing.
This had to be a major emphasis in the Early Church by the apostles because it took a long time for Jews to accept that Gentiles could also be saved. It also took the Gentiles a long time to realise that God had also included them in His salvation plan and was not counting them out because they were not of the pedigree or birthright of Israel. Most often we read the Bible today unaware that this was such a big issue in the Early Church. But it is so clear in the Scriptures.
For example Peter, in Acts 10, was shocked to see the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles and saving them since they were Gentiles and not God's "chosen elect". When reporting this back to the Church in Jerusalem they were shocked and it took them quite awhile to understand that this was God's plan! Yet right from the very inception of the Jewish nation God went to the Gentiles and chose Abram out from among them. Abram was a Gentile and yet was chosen by God to receive righteousness through faith and not works. God said to Abram that all nations on earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). All nations would have the opportunity to receive righteousness through his seed, Christ. This is phenomenal and shows us early in Scripture that God had always chosen all nations on earth to receive righteousness through faith in Christ. This is God's election plan! God did not chose only Abraham or Israel or certain individuals for this, but all nations. This is hidden in plain sight in Acts 15:14-17 where it explains God first visited the Gentiles to choose out a people (Abraham, the Jews and his seed, Christ) so that later the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, that's all the Gentiles! Take special note of how verse 14 and 17 directly relate to each other through the words "first" and "the rest".

Acts 15:14-17

"14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 'After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.'"

Gods plan was for all the Gentiles all along! All the Gentiles are called by God's name. It's not specific Gentiles it's all the Gentiles which is reinforced by the previous statement "the rest of mankind". God first chose Abraham and Israel out of the Gentiles so that later the rest of the Gentiles could seek him and be saved. There is no random selection of individuals here but nations being chosen to be the recipients of the grace of God!

This is all very consistent with the heart of God for all mankind to be saved that is revealed in the following important scriptures:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

1 Timothy 2:3-6 "This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all..."

2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

God's heart is for all mankind to be saved. He sent His Son for everyone. God now partners with us into this earth to pray for the lost, to love the lost and to preach the Gospel to the lost to lead them to the Lord. God is not sovereignly forcing people against their will to believe in Christ irrespective of their free will. God has drawn all to himself through Christ on the Cross and is calling us to go and preach to everyone, everywhere that they may be saved.

The point I am making is that if you have the wrong lenses on you'll read the scriptures thinking God has chosen a select few and is sovereignly going about saving them regardless of human partnership. This will lead to all other kinds of strange deductions that in my opinion destroy the Gospel, destroy faith, destroy prayer, destroy miracles, destroy the gifts of the Spirit and destroy relationship and partnership with God. But if you see the key (because not everyone sees it) to unlocking E/P scriptures you will never be able to read those scriptures the wrong way again and your beliefs will be foundationed on the right things and therefore be more effective and powerful.

Here is a list of important E/P scriptures. As you read them, see if you can see how they are talking about nations and not individuals.

Ephesians 3:4-6
"When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."

Romans 9:22-24
"What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"

Ephesians 1:2-10
(Note: Paul as a Jew is writing to Gentiles so when he says "us" and "we" and "our" he is referring to Jews and Gentiles. In chapter 2 Paul emphasises how Christ brought the Gentiles near through the Cross and has removed the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile.)

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

Notice that Paul first opens with the statement in verse 2 "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." This is something he could never have said to Gentiles before Christ had come but now confidently says to them. Many Jews in the Early Church would have struggled with this statement being made to Gentiles. Gentiles would even struggle with it. That's why Paul goes on in verses 3-10 to assure them of their calling in the Gospel together with the Jews before time began.

Romans 5:1 is very similar to Ephesians 1 in that it's Paul, a Jew, speaking to Gentile believers and so the "we" and the "our" refers to Jews and Gentiles. If you read the proceeding chapter (which we will go through next) you'll see that Paul was reinforcing the revelation that the Gentiles are also included together with the Jews as the seed of Abraham through faith in Christ, and that this was God's plan all along.

Romans 5:1
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Romans 4:9-13, 16-17
"Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

...Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations")..."

Galatians 3: 8-9, 13-14, 16, 28-29
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written,"Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree", 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Romans 9 - 11 is a key E/P section of Scripture. If you study it with the right lenses on you will see that it's all about nations, Jews and Gentiles, not random individuals. It reveals Paul's heart to see Israel turn to Christ and be saved yet it also continually makes the point that the Gentiles are also chosen as part of God's election plan not just the Jews. 

A major emphasis of Romans 9 - 11 is that salvation is all by grace through faith and not through the works of the law or birthright in Abraham. Israel, who were God's chosen and elect, stumbled and fell because they went under the law and tried to earn salvation by works. Because of the blindness of law based righteouness they rejected the Messiah and actually crucified Him. Yet in all this God's eternal plan of salvation was being worked and through Israel's fall salvation went out to all the Gentiles. Now, whether Jew or Gentile, salvation can be received faith, but confidence in works or birthright must be abandoned. Also God hasn't fogotten the Jews or cut them off completely for if Israel were to have faith in Christ they too, like the Gentiles, can be saved.

Romans 11:11-12 & 15 are key verses,
"I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! ...15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Quite simply, if you see the context, you'll see that Romans 9-11 is not talking about random individuals but nations being chosen to relate to God through faith in Christ. This is the theme throughout these chapters.

Conclusion:

Election and predestination are not about some cosmic lucky-draw, but rather how God, before time, has include all nations in His great salvation plan, and that it has always been about faith in Christ and never works of our flesh. God is calling us into partnership with Him to preach the Gospel to all nations and to see His purposes in salvation coming to all mankind. To reconcile people back to himself and have a relationship with them that is based on grace.
The key, once again, is to see that E/P is not exclusive to some but it's inclusive of all. It's not about randomly chosen individuals but it's about nations - not just Jews but also Gentiles!

Romans 3:29, 30
"Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith."

Romans 8:11 - 13 "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

 

What about scriptures that sound like unconditional election for random individuals?

When you understand the key that E/P is not about individuals but nations you will be able to unlock any scripture that sounds like it's speaking of unconditional election of random individuals. Lets look at a few and apply the key.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

It sound like Paul is speaking to random people who received salvation but again, as a Jew, he is speaking to Gentile believers and is saying that from the beginning God also chose Gentiles for salvation, to which he called those Thessalonians believers to through the Gospel Paul preached to them.

2 Timothy 1:8-11
"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles."

Paul is affirming that before time God predestination was grace for all people, including both Jews and Gentiles. Yet this grace was only revealed by the appearing of Christ and is brought to light through the preaching of the Gospel in order that people might receive it. Paul is encouraging Timothy to share with him in suffering for the Gospel, in order to bring light to the Gentiles. In a nutshell: God elected all mankind to grace. This grace was revealed through Christ. The Gospel is what brings it to light. The Gospel must be preached everywhere so that everyone has the opportunity to be saved!

2 Timothy 2:10
"Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

This elect are clearly people that are not yet saved. Are they random individuals that will believe or could it be referring to all the Gentiles collectively whom Paul was called as an apostle to reach? I believe Paul is simple speaking of the Gentiles as a whole who are also chosen for salvation. He must suffer all things in order to reach the Gentiles that they too, just like the Jews may "also" obtain salvation. If you contrast this verse with 2 Timothy 1: 8-11 you will see that Paul is saying that he must suffer for the sake of reaching the Gentiles with the Gospel. Paul was willing to suffer all things for the sake of reaching the Gentiles with the Gospel that they also may obtain salvation, not just the Jews!
I find it particularly interesting that Paul says that he will endure all things so that the elect may obtain salvation. Surely the antithesis of this is that they won't obtain salvation unless someone endures and preaches to them. This means that just because God has elected people doesn't mean that they are guaranteed to be saved. This show that God has limited his sovereignty in the earth in order to have partnership with man and to allow free will. God isn't randomly forcing regeneration and faith on people in violation of their will. Salvation does not come by God sovereignly regenerating some so they can then have faith, no faith and regeneration is the result of preaching the Gospel so people can hear and have faith and be saved. (Key scriptures: Romans 10:11-17 and Acts 15:9 and Romans 5:1,2)

John 6:44
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."

How does the Father draw people? By lifting up the Son!

John 12:32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

Jesus dying on the Cross was God drawing all mankind to himself. Now anyone and everyone who sees the Son lifted up and believes in Him will be saved.

John 6:40 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Some people try use this John 6:44 to say that God has to draw a person to Christ before they can have faith. Since only some come to Christ it's proof that He only draws some and not others. But this is a very thin scripture to build such a big doctrine upon. Jesus was speaking to religious Jews here who were refusing to see Christ as the Messiah and savior of the world. The point is not that some are drawn but that everyone who sees the Son can be saved because all are drawn through the Cross. (Also Jesus didn't die for some, he died for all. 1 Timothy 2: 3-6.)

Romans 8:29-30
"For 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."

My view on these verses is that they are found in the book of Romans where Paul is convincing the Gentiles that they are also included in God's plan of salvation and not just the Jews. That salvation is of grace through faith and not through the works of the law. Therefore those "whom He foreknew" is not a reference to random individuals but to Gentiles also being included. God foreknew the Gentiles as well not just the Jews. Before time God had predestined the Gentiles along with the Jews to be conformed to the image of Christ. The emphasis is on Jews and Gentiles and also on God's means for salvation - grace. Paul is not trying to convince them that random people are chosen. Rather his purpose for writing is to assure these Gentile believers of their security in Christ and that salvation is God's doing from start to finish. It's God who justifies us and it's He who ensure our glorification! Paul goes on from there to assure them that nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus. At this very point in Paul's discourse, if he were trying to say only some are chosen, it would have brought insecurity to his readers and achieved the very opposite of what he was trying to do! No salvation is by grace alone from start to finish, and God is calling all mankind to receive it through faith in Christ!

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