Non-Election is Not Conditioned on the Sinner

Ephesians 3:9-11. “To make all (even gentiles) see what is the fellowship/union of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places would be known by the called out elect the manifold wisdom of God according to the permanent purpose which He decreed in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ…”

It is wrong to say that non-election is conditioned on sin: both the elect and the non-elect are sinners–if sin were the cause/condition of non-elect, then all sinners would be non-elect. The reason for non-election is like the reason for election. God’s justice is no less sovereign than God’s grace.

The texts in Ephesians remind us that there is more to know about God than His sovereign justice: His glory is also revealed in His sovereign love and in His sovereign wrath. To know His name is to know Him as the one who has mercy on some and who hardens others.

I deny that non-election is conditioned on sin. God’s very first concern is to manifest His glory in discriminating between sinner and sinner, so that election in Christ from the beginning is an election of sinners. To be outside Christ from the beginning is to be non-elect sinner.

God does not wait for sinners to sin, and then decide to pass some of them by. In the very purpose to elect and to not elect for His glory, God is the Subject and sinners are His objects. God’s choice is the first thing.

Sin is not the first thing, and then God reacts. Neither is creation the first thing, and then God reacts. Sin is necessary if God is to choose between sinners. Only because of God’s choice to choose between sinners, does God ordain sin.

We often hear the phrase “election is not salvation” so that “election is UNTO salvation”. Or that “election is not the gospel” but that election is what causes people to believe the gospel. I want to criticize these often-stated contrasts.

Of course the word “salvation” can be used in different senses. But if the righteousness Christ earned is not for the elect until the elect believe, it makes no difference if you say that the righteousness was earned only for the elect or also for others besides the elect. In any case, it is not the righteousness which is the cause of believing.

The effect of denying election in the gospel is to make Christ’s work of obedience not be the ONLY cause of salvation. It makes the work of the Spirit in the sinner causing the sinner to believe becomes not a result but a condition of Christ’s work.

This false gospel will end up not glorying in the cross but putting the Spirit’s work in the sinner in the determinative place. This false gospel, in which Christ‘s work is not the cause, will also say that “election is not the gospel” but only that which makes sinners believe the gospel.

II Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, in order that those who live will no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came, p 35

p 352—”Some conclude that the efficacy of Christ’s work occurs only at the point of faith, and not before. This ignores the fact that union with Christ precedes any reception of Christ’s work by faith. It is union with Christ that leads to the efficacy of Christ’s work to those who belong to Him.”

ps: One common dodge of election is to deny that God knows about or cares about time. Instead of saying that God is both outside time and inside time, the typical procedure is to deny that God is concerned with order and sequence and time.

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17 Comments on “Non-Election is Not Conditioned on the Sinner”

  1. David Bishop Says:

    I like your essay, especially your PS. It seems to me that those who want to restrict God to an either/or when it comes to outside and inside time, never want to address the question of how God knew, knows and is also always knowing.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    everybody created with a chance, and then God passed by some? no

    nfralapsarians tend to say that the gospel becomes the law. To say–you had your chance. They don’t think God would be fair to judge (law) unless there was first gospel (a chance) for everybody.


    question for Barth—if election is universal, then why isn’t salvation universal ? Or is Barth back to the old idea that God is inscrutable, “God’s good pleasure”? Or does a human still have the choice to exclude self? does a human still have the will to bring into effect the wrath of God?

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Matthew 11: 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[g] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    Luke 4: 5 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers[a] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Mark 4: 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

    “they may indeed see but not perceive,
    and may indeed hear but not understand,
    lest they should turn and be forgiven.” Isaiah 6:9

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Leithart—In some Reformed theologians, such as Edwards, there’s an implicit teleological anthropology; human beings are what they are by virtue of their ends. Double predestination says that human beings are predestined by God’s decree to either salvation or reprobation, but if human beings are what they are at the end, then it seems God created two different sorts of human beings.

    One sector of the human race is eternally considered in Christ, the other is by decretal definition Christless and Spiritless. Reprobation describes an act and decision of God but excludes talk of the Son and Spirit.

    Behind this, Holmes sees a more general problem in Reformed theology: “It was not just a removal of Christ from the being of the reprobate, but a prior removal of Christ from the being of the created world that was the problem.

    Holmes knows that Barth brushes close to universalism, but says that this is a point in Barth’s favor: “the question for Christian theology in the light of what God has done in Christ must surely be how this can fail to affect any given human being, how anyone can fail to be saved” (268).

    Leithart– Holmes makes some powerful compelling points: He seems on solid ground in saying that the problem underlying the problem of reprobation is a failure to understand creation Trinitarianly, and this, I would add, reflects persistent nature/grace dualism in Reformed theology. If creation exists only by the continuous work of the Father’s Word and Spirit, then there is no one anywhere, reprobate or elect, who is not the recipient of God’s gift and the object of His care.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    the non-elect will be destroyed because Christ never died for them

    Christ’s death is inadequate for the non-elect, not enough for them

    and the non-elect will be destroyed for this reason

    i know the infras insist no, the non-elect die only for their own, not fault of Christ’s death

    but since the elect do not die for their sin, the sin of the non-elect is not the only factor

    the non-election of the sinner is not conditioned on the sinner

    no sin will count against as many as believe the gospel

    each and every sin will count for as many as don’t believe the gospel (not only the sin of unbelief of the gospel but all sins)

    but yes, it’s a sin not to believe the gospel

    and all those for whom Christ died will believe the gospel, Christ having died to obtain this gift for them

    so Christ’s death is not adequate to give the non-elect faith, because Christ never died for the non-elect

  8. markmcculley Says:

    elect IN CHRIST

    Christ’s propitiation is not the cause of election

    sinners are elected
    what these sinners will do is not the cause of election

    Christ is elected
    what Christ will do is not the cause of election

    on the other hand,
    Christ is God, the one who elected, the cause and decider

    Christ is both the subject and object of election

    Christ is both the subject and object of propitiation (and reconciliation)

    the mystery is revealed and then there’s all that is not revealed

    faith is not the cause of election
    election is the cause of faith

    Christ’s death is not the cause of election
    election is the cause of Christ’s death

  9. markmcculley Says:

    God (the Trinity) elected God the Son to become the Christ. the anointed and appointed

    Psalm 2: 7 I will declare the Lord’s decree:
    He said to Me, “You are My Son;
    TODAY I have BECOME Your[g] Father.

    Luke 4: 16 He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:

    18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
    because He has ANOINTED ME

    I Peter 1:20 Christ was chosen before the ages but was revealed at the end of the ages for you 21 who THROUGH HIM ARE BELIEVERS in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory

    john Murray—Jesus was not appointed Son of God; as we found, he is conceived to be the eternal Son, and this sonship had no historical beginning. But this objection has validity only as we overlook the force of the expression “with power”. The apostle does not say that Jesus was appointed “Son of God” but “Son of God in power”.

    Romans 1–“Who was declared to be the Son of God with power.” The word rendered “declared” is the word which elsewhere in the New Testament means to ” “appoint,” “ordain” (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 10:42; 11:29; 17:26, 31; Heb. 4:7)



    Hebrews 4:7 God HAS APPOINTED a certain day—today—speaking through David after such a long time, as previously stated:

    Today, if you hear His voice,
    do not harden your hearts.
    8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day

    Luke 22: 2 22 For the Son of Man will go away as it has been appointed , but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Capon—Jesus did not locate Gehenna outside the realm of grace.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    God decreed the non-election of the non-elect before the ages, and so God excluded certain humans from salvation, even while ordaining these humans to be sinners.
    It is not necessary to preach law until despair and then gospel as hope. This can be a way of assuming that sinners can actually take sides against themselves without any hope of forgiveness, simply by announcing the just judgment of God.
    True repentance is not produced by the law only, however, but by the revelation of the gospel. Since the justice of God is a part of the gospel, there is no need to preach law separately before gospel.
    There is only one person who took sides against himself and submitted to the righteousness of God without the hope of forgiveness, and Jesus had to bear the whole weight of sin by himself with no substitute, so that his elect would one day be free from that guilt.

    . Even the non-elect are commanded to believe the gospel
    2. Believing the gospel is NOT believing that “God has grace for me” or that “God has grace for everybody”
    3. The promise of the gospel is that as many as believe the gospel will be justified, so that anybody who says I believe the promise but I don’t believe that there is grace for me….is not yet believing the promise
    The logic of “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin” is not that Christ died for every sinner, and that every sinner had a “chance” or an “opportunity” to be saved, if they accepted “the offer”. No. The logic rather is that now and always there has been only sacrifice that really takes away sin, and that’s the sacrifice of Christ. The old economies had their place because their ceremonies pointed to this one sacrifice of Christ. Now that Christ has come, now that the new covenant has arrived, not only in promise, but in fulfillment, still there remains one (and only one) sacrifice for sins.
    Put it this way— for every sinner, for any sinner, there is only one sacrifice that can take away sins, and it’s Christ’s propitiatory death. This does not at all mean that Christ has died for every sinner. It means every sinner needs Christ’s death. But only the sins of the elect the Father has given the Son were imputed to the Son, and the Son has only made a propitiation for those sins. Christ’s death is not enough for every sinner, because it was never intended for every sinner. But the point is—Christ is the only propitiation there is, and if you don’t trust Christ, then there can be no propitiation for you

    1. The non-elect do NOT “exclude themselves”
    2. The gospel is not the law, and we are born condemned, so that those who never hear the gospel are still condemned.
    3. Rejection of the gospel is not the basis of condemnation, and John 3 is not saying that it is, because John 3:18-20 is saying that there is no escape from condemnation except by the gospel.
    John 3: 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. 19 “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.

  12. markmcculley Says:

    God’s justice in Christ is NOT the cause of God’s love, but it is the necessary means of God’s love. justification is not election, but trying to teach imputation without election is failing to teach imputation and the justice of Christ’s death for imputed sins. God’s non-election and God’s condemnation of the non-elect are two different things.

    does God “owe justice” to Himself or does God have an “indifferent freewill” and no character or nature?

    Job 41: 11 Who confronted Me, that I should repay him?
    Everything under heaven belongs to Me.

    Psalm 11: 7 For the Lord is just. The Lord loves justice

    God owes justice even to us because God owes justice to Himself

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Giovanni Camacho I wonder what the aversion is to saying that it is by God’s will that the non-elect are condemned. It seems to be logically inconsistent to say that election is unto salvation, but that non-election is not unto damnation. It’s a semantic slight of hand that introduces some concept of responsibility for one’s own condemnation, rather than the sovereign will of God.
    I’m guessing the reason is because of the way they think it might make God, or themselves look if they say that, but frankly, it is dishonest to say anything less.
    It is true that men are sinners, and the grounds for legal punishment arise out of that sin. However, it is not true to say that men condemn themselves, that the non-elect choose hell, or that their failure to repent is what caused them to go to hell. Rather, Romans 9 is clear in its instruction concerning predestination of the elect and non-elect.
    God is sovereign over the final destination of every human created.. God before the ages made the decisions both of who to redeem and who to condemn. The non-elect were not born with a chance to avoid the second death. Saying that condemnation is merely about justice and not sovereignty creates a situation where it sounds like the non-elect sinner is the primary cause of his condemnation. This leads to a sense of conditionalism.
    My issue is, why would one have a problem with election unto condemnation, and yet be completely behind the idea of election unto salvation? It’s inconsistent.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    when infras tell us why it’s fair
    they say “that’s not the question”
    but I tell them
    what’s wrong with their question
    for starters, they need a different question
    instead of assuming they are already Christians
    and then pretending to humbly asking why
    they could start with asking themselves
    if they are even born again yet and justified before God
    if they continue to assume they can explain what’s fair
    and if they keep on saying that
    God has not told us how it’s fair
    but then themselves tell us how it’s fair
    as in, the question is not why God does not save some
    because they say, the question is why God saves anybody
    i only ask
    is it not for God’s glory that God does not save some?

  15. markmcculley Says:

    God’s condemnation is not merely a response to what sinners do


    2. God will in time actively regenerate each elect sinner in order to give them faith in Christ’s death as that which saves all the elect and none of the non-elect

    3. the finished work of Christ has purchased for the elect the still unfinished work of Christ in His intercession and second coiming

  16. markmcculley Says:

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