Election Is Only “Unto Salvation”, So It’s Not Part of the Gospel Itself?

Ephesians 3:9-11 “To make all even gentiles see what is the communion 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.”

Sometimes we are told that “election is not salvation” because election is “only UNTO salvation”. Folks like to explain to us that “election is not the gospel” but instead what causes people to believe the gospel.

I want to criticize these often assumed contrasts. Of course the word “salvation” can be used in different senses, but if the denial that “election is not salvation” is saying that the righteousness Christ earned is not intended 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.

Christ’s righteousness is the cause of the elect’s believing. This means that we cannot say that election without the righteousness is the gospel. It also means that we cannot say that the righteousness without election is the gospel.

Those who deny that election is in the gospel think they can talk about the righteousness of Christ without saying that this righteousness was only obtained for the elect. The effect of this cover-up is that they end up teaching that the work of the Spirit in the sinner causing the sinner to believe is not a result but the cause of Christ’s work working.

These folks may say: let’s just talk about the cross before we get into the whole election thing. But ironically, they end up not glorying in the cross but putting the Spirit’s work in the sinner in the determinative place. This is the great danger of saying that “election is not the gospel” but only that which makes sinners believe the gospel. I know some people only say that because they have heard other people say it, and it sounds good. But you need to think before you begin repeating what I say!

The texts I have quoted from Ephesians will not support leaving election out of the gospel and salvation. But folks want to leave out election because they don’t want to talk about non-election.

It is wrong to say that non-election is only conditioned on sin and the sinner. Both those elected and those not elected are sinners. If sin were the cause of non-elect, then all sinners would not be elect. God’s justice is no less sovereign than God’s grace.

If we try to take God’s sovereignty out of God’s justice, then there would be no reason for either election or non-election. If we attempt to leave God’s election out of God’s gospel, then there would be no good reason for why some sinners are saved and others are not.

God’s 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.

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One Comment on “Election Is Only “Unto Salvation”, So It’s Not Part of the Gospel Itself?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    of course we know that the apostles were not Arminians, but from the book of Acts we can’t tell if yet if they are “Reformed”, so you can present gospel without any reference to the doctrine of election

    but we know for sure that the thief on the cross had never heard about election

    and we know for sure that the apostles never heard what Jesus said about election, and even if they did, what Jesus taught about election is not a model for us

    sarcasm alert

    Acts 16: 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

    mark: and we have no idea what word they spoke to them, and how “seeker-friendly” it might have been, but we know for sure that they didn’t talk about the new birth, which is an act of God not of man, and a secret thing. And we also know for sure that they didn’t talk about the atonement, so it’s safe for us to simply teach the gospel that Jesus is raised from the dead and Lord (NT Wright assures us) and not need to get into doctrines about the atonement, and for sure they said nothing about election, and since you can’t be sure what they did say, you can’t be sure that you ever need to talk about election either, so the safest way is to not teach it…_

    You can check out Machen out on what the “minimum fundamentals” are. Machen says we can’t know, but saying more not less is safer….

    Acts 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

    Acts 4: 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

    Acts 13: 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

    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.


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