Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email: cfpc@esatclear.ie

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD BIBLE STUDIES STUDY FOUR

BY COLIN MAXWELL

The Doctrine of Unconditional Election

READING: ROMANS 9:10-29/EPHESIANS 1:1-12

In the last study on total depravity, we observed how the fall of Adam affected the whole human race and made man incapable of not only saving himself or contributing to his salvation, but even availing of God's salvation offer. We might repeat then the Apostle's question' Who then can be saved? Will there be anyone in Heaven? If so, who? And on what grounds? This study answers those questions:

1) GOD DOES NOT OWE MAN ANYTHING:

A/ If God be God, then He cannot be obligated to any of His creatures. Observe the challenges which God issues - who can honestly answer them?

Job 41:11/Romans 11:35/1 Corinthians 4:7

If we keep this thought in mind - it will bring the whole matter of salvation into perspective. We must start with God - not with man. Much of the error which abounds over this doctrine comes from this problem of being anthropocentric i.e. man centred.

B/ Still in the same train of thought as above - who in particular is targeted with these penetrating questions? Job 35:7

2) SINFUL MAN DESERVES ONLY ETERNAL DEATH:

"Man is not only non deserving, but ill deserving and hell deserving." (IRKP)

A/ Ezekiel 18:4/Romans 6:23 reminds us of a vital point of theology that we all know only too well:

When we grasp this…anything more is a real bonus!

B/ What was the response of the following people when this truth laid hold upon them?

Job (40:4/42:6)

Isaiah (6:5)

Peter (Luke 5:8)

Prodigal Son (Luke 15:18-19)

C/ Do you think any of the above, having grasped something of their own sinfulness and God's holiness, would have insisted on any rights?

3) IF GOD IS NOT OBLIGED TO SAVE ANY - HE IS CERTAINLY NOT OBLIGED TO SAVE ALL:

A/ Logical - yet goes beyond logic. If God owes no man anything and can rightly damn men in hell for of their sin, then the fact that He can, in His sovereignty, choose to save some cannot be attacked on any grounds. God's challenge: Isaiah 41:21

B/ Let the objector show from the Bible that God is obligated to save all if He would save any. Consider God's rebuke to such: Ezekiel 18:25/29/33:17/20

4) GOD PASSES SOME SINNERS BY - LEAVING THEM TO PERISH IN THEIR SIN:

A/ This is the negative aspect of election (called reprobation) It is taught in Romans 9:10-29. Some people find this teaching very hard to grasp. One reason is that they have started with man. Another is that they practically believe that man was in a state of neutrality when God made His choice and that He arbitrarily chose to send some neutrals to Hell while arbitrarily deciding to send some neutrals to Heaven. What have we learned about this neutrality issue? Was man neutral?

B/ In Romans 9:13, what is the greatest wonder? That God loved Jacob or that He hated Esau?

C/ If a man perishes in His sins - who can he blame?

D/ What insight does Romans 3:19 give into the portioning of blame?

E/ Before Judas hung himself - going as it was determined of him: Luke 22:22 - where did he put the emphasise? Matthew 27:4 How did Peter view it? Acts 1:25 In the extensive conversation recorded by the Rich Man in Hell in Luke 16:19-31, is there any mention of a feeling of injustice? If not…why not?

5) THOSE WHOM GOD PREDESTINES TO ETERNAL LIFE ARE ELECTED UNCONDITIONALLY:

A/ What "conditions" are attached to election in Romans 9:15-16?

B/ Some folk - generally Arminians (see last study for historical background) believe that God foreknew who would believe the gospel and on that "condition" elected them to everlasting life? This is based on their interpretation of Romans 8:29 Is this a true interpretation? Why/why not?

C/ There is no doubt that justification is conditional upon faith (Acts 16:30-31/Romans 5:1) but is faith the cause of election or the effect of election? What light does Acts 13:48/Romans 9:16 throw on this?

D/ Scripture declares that we are predestined or "chosen in Christ" from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The Bible tells us that our redemption is "in Christ" (Romans 3:24) Can we contribute something to our redemption? Or is "salvation of the Lord"? (Jonah 2:9)

STUDY FIVE: LIMITED ATONEMENT (OR) PARTICULAR REDEMPTION

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