Unconditional, man-centered election

Last weekend, Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusades was a hit in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Greg’s blog says about 19,000 people attended the three meetings, with 1,519 making “decisions for Christ.” The press release says:

The overarching message from Laurie during the weekend was simple: We make the decision where we will spend eternity.

The three messages were: “What Do You Live For?” “Do You Want to Change Your Life?” and “How to Find Eternal Life.”

leopard_smHowever, to say that “we make the decision where we will spend eternity” is pure humanism and absolutely unbiblical. And if we say we can “change our own life,” we are also saying that the leopard can “change his spots” (Jer 13:23) and we usurp the work of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

Laurie therefore believes in predestination – but one in which man predestines himself! He is the one who “changes his own life” by seeking God on his own will “to find eternal life.”

Compare this “decision” statement with Ephesians 1:3-14:

3 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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Let’s probe these few verses.

First, who made the choice? God “chose us in him…” (verse 4). See also Mark 13:20; John 15:16; Acts 13:48; 18:27; Rom 9:10-24; Eph 2:10; Phil 1:29; Col 3:12.

Second, who were chosen? “Us,” not only the “saints who are in Ephesus” to whom Paul wrote, but all saints throughout the world in all history. See also Deut 10:14, 15; Psa 33:12; 65:4; Matt 11:27; 22:14; Luke 18:7; Rom 8:28-30, 33; Tit 1:1; 1 Pet 1:1, 2; 2:9.

Third, how was the choice made? “In him” – Christ – because without Christ, there would be no election.

Fourth, when was the choice made? “Before the foundation of the world” (verse 4).

Fifth, what was the basis of the choice? God’s “love,” “the purpose of His will,” “according to the purpose of Him,” “according to the counsel of His will” (repeated several times in verses 4-11). Definitely not God’s foreknowledge of the human “decision for Christ.”

Sixth, what was the ultimate purpose of the choice? “To the praise of His glorious grace” (verses 6, 12) and “to unite all things, in heaven and on earth, in Christ” (verse 10).

Seventh, what are the benefits of election? Being counted holy and blameless in God’s sight (4), adoption into God’s family (5), redemption (7), forgiveness (7), inheritance (11, 14), and the seal of the Holy Spirit (13). See also Rom 8:29-30; 2 Thess 2:13, 14.

“But it’s unfair!” Paul’s answer to your concern about God’s fairness: “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!… So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Rom 9:14, 16, 18-20).

“But in Romans 9, isn’t Paul talking about Israel, not about Jacob and Esau?” Granted (which is again in error, to avoid the obvious), but firstly, there are no Jews who have been saved, are now saved, or who will be saved who were not chosen by God. And secondly, in choosing Israel over all other nations, is God unfair?

“Okay, but what happens to evangelism, since God will save his elect anyway?” Read Romans 10:14-17. Only God knows who His elect are. Our job is to faithfully spread the gospel (Acts 1:8) and pray for the unsaved (1 Tim. 2:1-4). God not only foreordains His plans, but also the means.

“But doesn’t election destroy man’s free will?” Really? Where is free will when we need it to make a decision for Christ? Nowhere. Unregenerated sinners – like the Pharisees – are slaves of Satan (John 8:44) and are slaves of sin as well (Rom 6:16-22). If we’re slaves, then are we free?

So if God were to leave all men alone to repent and believe in Christ, as Laurie would have us believe, would anyone be saved? Absolutely “no, not even one” ( (Rom. 3:10-12), because all unregenerated people think that the things of God are just plain nonsense (1 Cor 2:14).

Where is the human decision in all of these? Nowhere. None. Nil. Zip. Listen below as Michael Horton answers the question, “Who Saves Who?”

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2 thoughts on “Unconditional, man-centered election”

  1. I just came across Greg Laurie’s post “The Choice is Yours.” Read for yourself the classic Arminian view of salvation based solely on human choice—salvation by works.

    Not many evangelicals realize that being Arminian also means being partly Roman Catholic. Free will is exactly what the 16th century Counter-Reformation Council of Trent affirms:

    CANON IV. If any one shall affirm, that man’s free will, moved and excited by God, does not, by consenting, cooperate with God, the mover and exciter, so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of justification; if moreover, anyone shall say, that the human will cannot refuse complying, if it pleases, but that it is inactive, and merely passive; let such an one be accursed”!

    Compare with Laurie: “I believe the grace of God is resistible, though not easily.”

    CANON V. If anyone shall affirm, that since the fall of Adam, man’s free will is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing titular, yea a name, without a thing, and a fiction introduced by Satan into the Church; let such an one be accursed”!

    Compare with Laurie: “[T]here is free will. We must personally choose whether we will put our trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation.”

  2. Very true. Whose choice is more reliable, God’s or man’s? God’s choice is unchanging and eternal, unlike man’s decisions. This is why if the choice is left to man, then there’s no assurance of salvation.

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