The Gospel Does Not Tell Sinners who the Elect Are; The Gospel Tells Sinners about Election

Warnock tells us (p141) that “we are saved not only by believing the fact that Christ died for our sins, but by union with the crucified and risen Savour.”  But it is not a fact of the gospel tells any particular sinner that Christ died for their sins.  The gospel  does not tell sinners who the elect are; the gospel tells sinners about  election.

Election means that one aspect of  the  “union” of the elect in Christ is at work already at the cross, long before (or after) they are justified, Christ paid by death for their sins. Faith does not make this union happen.

Many evangelicals seem to assume  that God-given faith does make the union to happen. That’s why they talk about giving Jesus their sins.

On p 217, Warnock argues for the giving of the Spirit as a second blessing to be experienced after believing the gospel: “ it would be circular to interpret ‘believe and you will receive a work of the Spirit automatically without you being aware of it’, the main effect of which is to cause you to believe.” His unquestioned assumption is that God-given  faith is the cause of the first salvation.

We must talk about election, and not only when we talk about the order of salvation by which an elect person gets credited with Christ’s righteousness.  We must talk about election also when we think of the history of redemption and what Christ did and for whom Christ died.

Galatians 3:13-14 —“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that they would receive the Spirit through faith.”   As Bruce McCormack has so ably pointed out ( What’s At Stake in Justification), regeneration does not precede justification in this redemptive-historical text.  If union is by legal imputation, the forensic  is the cause of the life and efficacy of faith connected with justification. The righteousness imputed causes the hearing of the gospel. It’s not some active “believing is working” that causes the righteousness to be imputed or to be effective.

The Galatians 3 text does not start with believing to get justified, and it does not end with believing more to get the Spirit more.  Galatians 3 starts with “before your eyes Christ publicly portrayed as crucified.”  The opposition between works of the law and hearing by faith has everything to do with the object of faith legally constituting those who then hear.

Yes, there is a promise of the Spirit through faith, but that is because first “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” SO THAT this will happen. Not so that it might happen, if conditionally…. The blessing promised to Abraham is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the elect are those promised that blessing.



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2 Comments on “The Gospel Does Not Tell Sinners who the Elect Are; The Gospel Tells Sinners about Election”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Cunha’s book on Gaffin, p83—“Whatever is made of the fact that the new birth precedes faith, the Biblical definition of faith itself must not be altered in order to acommodate a notion that the forensic act of justification cannot be preceded….by the actual change produced within a man through the creative work of the new birth. To say that faith is merely an awareness of justification that has occurred prior to faith is to define faith in a way that is foreign to Scripture….

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Fisher’s Catechism on Q.87, q.20 What is the evil in maintaining that none but true penitents have a warrant to embrace Christ by faith? a. It sets sinners upon spinning repentance out of their own bowels, that they may fetch it with them, as a price in their hand to Christ, instead of coming to him by faith, to obtain it from him, as his gift. Mark: I agree with Fisher that we don’t need to know that we are regenerate (or elect) before coming to Christ. We can’t know before coming. But the warrant (the right) for sinners’ coming is not that “Christ is dead for you” or that Christ desires the salvation of the non-elect.

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