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15 thoughts on “How do I preach Genesis? How do I preach election?

  1. John B

    This is a wonderful proclamation of the gospel!

    Very often when I've heard election preached, it seems to be conflated with predestination. The two are connected, yet distinct. Election, and union with Christ, the one who is the elect of God, is the very heart of the gospel. Predestination is the assurance of the fulfillment of all of God's promises to those who are united to Christ.

    So, when Rich says, "The Father has only made one choice", as to election, I'm crying "Amen"! But here, I must always pause to also meditate on God's awesome sovereignty. He calls and predestinates those whom he wills to be united and conformed to the image of Christ.

    Without God's amazing grace in predestining sinners to union with Christ, I'm left with trusting in my trust. I know my own faith, and of itself it is pitiful. I could never put my faith in it.

    "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:9)

  2. Moore to ponder

    I do not know what your denomination teaches on election.

    In my lifetime I have attended many different denominations, and have been exposed to many teachings. Some were Aminian, while others were not. Some embraced all 5 points known as TULIP, and some taught that believers are eternally secure, but rejected Limited Atonement and maybe a couple other points. I myself have come to believe that all saved people will remain saved.

    There is a site that I like to go to from time to time. There are a number of authors there. My personal favorite is a man named Charles Henry Mackintosh. Below is a link to one of his shorter writings that really blessed me and speaks a little on election.

  3. John B

    The church has struggled in coming to terms with this doctrine throughout its history. For me, Article 17 of The 39 Articles of Religion, because of its Scriptural balance, is the most satisfying confessional statement of this doctrine.

    This article resonates with the Reformation as a revival of the Augustinian understanding of God's grace, which itself was a revival of the teaching of our Lord Jesus and his Apostles.

    Even in the early church, as in the medieval period, as well as today, many have understood predestination as applying to the church corporately, rather than to individual Christians. But, especially in the second paragraph of Article 17, it seems to me to be a crystal clear affirmation that God chooses and predestinates individual sinners to life in Christ.

    "...Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feeling in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ..." ~Article 17

  4. Glen

    Moore to ponder,

    Thanks for the link. I'm sympathetic to Mackintosh's desires here. I think, as Rich said in the sermon, the best way to guard them is to begin and end our thinking in Christ - the Elect One..

    John B - yes I'm a fan of the articles too (which is handy - being Anglican!). And I wonder whether the starting point - article 1 being on Trinity - is what sets the whole confession off on the kind of trajectory that can properly handle election.

  5. Moore to ponder

    I forgot to mention that I tried to click on the phrase "Like this" in the green type above before I made my comment, but my computer was acting up, so I was not able to read or hear it. I might go to the public library and see if it will work on one of their computers. Are the Articles referenced above available to be viewed by clicking on that link?

    After reading John B's comments I am concluding that you all are 5 point Calvinists. Could you tell me if I am correct?
    I hope my link was not offensive to anyone. If it was, please know that it was not my intention to offend. I am currently attending a denomination that does embrace all 5 points, and I really enjoy worshiping with them, even though I have not yet come to embrace all of them personally.

    I am not a minister; just another Christian whose heart rejoices in the truth, and continually seeks to understand the Bible, and considers it to be inerrant. My knowledge is still quite limited, but I strive to walk in the light that I have.

  6. John B

    Moore to ponder,

    Here's a URL for The 39 Articles:

    Naturally, I can only speak for myself. I struggle with one of Dort's five tulip petals. From reading Mackintosh, it's the one that he seems to object to most strenuously. So I'd say that I'm on board with four points.

    Thank you for the link to Mackintosh. I enjoyed it and hadn't read him before. There is certainly a tension throughout Scripture between human moral responsibility and God's sovereign grace. Mackintosh looks for the balance, as do I.


    Yes! Starting with the Holy Trinity sets the right course for confessing Predestination and Election. I'm sure of it!

  7. Glen

    Hi Moore to Ponder,

    I think tulip guards important things that need to be guarded. But I'm with Mackintosh and John B with reservations - I'm glad you linked the article, thank you.

    Maybe if you right-clicked on "Like this" and saved it as an mp3 you could listen to it later? Let me know if that works. I've asked Rich for the transcript but his wife is about to have (or has had) a baby so I think we might have to wait for that.

    I've written a little reflection on election here (based on the story of David and Goliath):

  8. Si

    I often find that the biggest problem with TULIP is it's phrasing - not only because you have to 'bacronym' the doctrines to fit with the Dutch flower, but also condensing the Canons of Dort into 5 counter-remonstrances (because the Synod of Dort counteracted the 5 remonstrances of Arminianism), and not only 5 short statements, but 5 two-word statements.

    'Total Depravity' does seem to have to be explained in that what it doesn't mean every time it's introduced.

    'Unconditional Election' is clear and excellently worded

    'Limited Atonement' tends to get completely misinterpreted because, while a summary of the theology of Dort on this issue, is a very misleading summary. It's probably the worst bit of the TULIP acronym.

    'Irresistible Grace' is also clear, though perhaps worded a bit like people are forced to be saved

    'Perseverance of the Saints' (OK, it's not two words) tends to get misunderstood by some because the word 'saints' is applied to either a select group of believers, or the visible church and thus including saints plus nominal Christians.

    Of course there are rocks of stumbling and offence there (eg that we are unable to know God by our own work (T) and are, in totality, fallen. That we aren't chosen out of anything in us (U)...)

    I'm not saying that I agree totally with the Canons of Dort - I don't know, but I think a lot of the problem with Reformed Theology on election is the TULIP acronym screwing people about misleading people. I agree with the 5 points of TULIP, as they have been explained to me (maybe needing to rework L a little), but they've had to be explained to me.

  9. John B


    Thanks for citing the "Five Smooth Stones" piece. I hadn't seen that one. It's very helpful. I particularly enjoy your post of 20 February, 2009 in the comment thread. There you write: "...election is not a hidden miracle *behind* Christ. It is the miracle opened out for all to see *in* the gospel of Christ."

    There's the sound bite I've been looking for!


    Great comments on TULIP!

    While agreeing about the need to always explain the T, I think that the term "total depravity" is totally fortuitous for its shock value. Psychology is the modern religion, so the term "depravity" is always heard anachronistically in the psychological sense, which was never intended by Dort. "Depravity" originally meant something more like completely crooked as in the old nursery rhyme, "There Was a Crooked Man". English translations of early Eastern Orthodox catechisms make frequent use of the term "depravity" (though without the modifier "total", which is really redundant anyway, but a T was needed for the acrostic).

    As you suggest, the greatest difficulty is with the L. This is the stumbling block in the TULIP bed. Or so it seems to me, an Amyraldian black sheep within the Reformed flock.

  10. Heather

    Haven't been able to listen to the message yet. The discussion's been interesting, though :)

    I appreciate your dissection of TULIP.

    It does seem a lot of people cringe at the concept of total depravity. The way I understand Scripture is that man was created with no ability to properly care for himself. Adam decided he'd rather try to figure things out for himself and was cut off from the only true source of life, so it appears to me that humanity is not only "totally incapable", but because of the addition of inherited sin nature, we are also "totally dead" apart from Christ.

    Someone told me my perspective concerning atonement is Amyraldian, but it seems to me that "Christ died for all but only some are saved" is a problem only if one assumes that the only thing His death accomplished is the redemption of the elect.

  11. Moore to ponder


    I just read "Five Smooth Stones" using the link you provided.

    It seemed to me that there was more than one theme in that entry. Each paragraph was thought provoking, and many questions came to my mind as I read. I am not sure how to respond without creating a number of lengthy digressions. At times I would find my self saying "Yes, yes, I agree with statement here and that statement there, but I am not sure if I would draw the same conclusions that he has drawn, and I might not make the same connections."

    I am afraid I might ask too many questions. I will have to read it again really slowly with my Bible open, so I can refer to the passages. What you say is very interesting, and the analogies you chose were new ones for me.

    For now let me just say that I believe all scripture is "God Breathed". Here is Romans 8:28-30 below.

    28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

    30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    I would think that the word "predestinate" as used in the above passage would mean the same thing as elect. I didn't look it up in the Greek, but it just reads that way to me. The word "foreknow" in verse 29 is very important. I already know how some 5 point Calvinists interpret that word, but I am at this time I still do not interpret it the same way that they do.

    I do agree with Ephesians 2:8-9, but I don't consider a person's belief to be considered a work. So far this conclusion is the only one I have come to that does not contradict passages like John 3:16 and a few others.

    I do agree with the Ephesians verse

  12. Heather

    Favorite reference concerning the Elect:

    Isaiah 42:1
    Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My Elect, in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit on Him; He shall bring out judgment to the nations.

    How that relates to "us":

    Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled in but a little time. Blessed are all who put their trust in Him.

    My brain can't handle much more than that

  13. Moore to ponder

    I should have proofread my last comment before I posted it. I am sorry that it contained grammatical mistakes, and wasn't very clear. I will read "Five Smooth Stones" as soon as I can. It is about 10:00 in the evening in the part of the United States where I live. I hope I do better tomorrow. Thank you for your help.


  14. Glen

    Heather - you've just won comment of the month! Any comment that combines Christ in the Old Testament and christocentric election scores a thousand points. Well done indeed!

    Thanks Theresa - good to have your thoughtful comments

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