Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1081 MP3 Audio File Video File

Berean Distinctives Pt. 2: Sovereign Election

Various Scriptures

Delivered 09/12/21

We are doing a series on Berean Distinctives. We are looking at the doctrines that Berea Bible Church holds that distinguish us from mainstream Christianity. I am doing these in what I see as their order of importance. Last week we looked at Free Grace and this morning we are going to look at the doctrine of Sovereign Election which is also called Calvinism. The famous Baptist preacher, C. H. Spurgeon wrote: "I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the Gospel, and nothing else."

I think it is sad that the doctrine of Sovereign Election is a distinctive of BBC. Not that long ago most of the Church held to this teaching. All the Reformers held to Sovereign Election. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Cranmer all believed that "Salvation is of the Lord." The German reformer, the Swiss reformer, the French reformer, the Scottish reformer, the English reformer—every one of them believed not only in Grace but in Yahweh's sovereign grace in election.

Let's begin by looking at what Paul says in Romans 9. The emphasis in this chapter is on the absolute sovereignty of God. I would say that Romans 9 is the normative passage in Scripture dealing with the sovereignty of God. Romans 9 is difficult for many folks to handle because it so strongly affirms the sovereignty of God in election.

And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:10-13 ESV

Rebecca gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau, and God chose Jacob. God's unconditional election finds its most unequivocal expression in the choice of the younger twin born to Rebecca. Esau was the first born and should have had the right of primogeniture, a double blessing. But God chose Jacob.

In choosing Jacob and rejecting Esau, God had respect to nothing but His own purpose. The choice is solely in God and His sovereign choices.

When we hear Paul say "Not because of works," we naturally expect him to also say "but by faith." But that is not what he says here. He says "not because of works but because of Him who calls." Why? Because faith is not a condition of election. Election is unconditional.

The Gospel is the good news about what God has done for his people. It is the good news about Yeshua the Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Salvation is a gift of God to His people from beginning to end. The new birth roots in the resolute will of God as the motivating force which gives new life. Salvation is a work of God. Man has no part in the miracle of the new birth and cannot have. This is what we call the doctrine of Sovereign Election.

A.W. Pink once began a message in Australia this way:

I am going to speak tonight on one of the most hated doctrines in the Bible, namely that of God's sovereign election.

Pink went on to say,

"God's sovereign election is the truth most loathed and reviled by the majority of those claiming to be believers. Let it be plainly announced that salvation originated, not in the will of man, but in the will of God, that were it not so none would or could be saved. For as a result of the fall, man has lost all desire and will unto that which is good, and that even the elect themselves have to be made willing, and loud will be the cries of indignation against such teaching. Most mongers will not allow the supremacy of the divine will and the impedance of the human will. Consequently, they who are the most bitter in denouncing election by the sovereign pleasure of God are the warmest in crying up the free will of fallen man. [A.W. Pink The Doctrine of Election pg 10.]

The doctrine of sovereign election is hard for man to accept. It's hard for man to acknowledge that his salvation is an act of God. In his fallen state, he wants to assume some responsibility for having believed, even if it's a small responsibility. He wants some credit for having made the right choice. The doctrine of sovereign election is repulsive to many of us because, by our standards, it seems unfair that God should choose, out of all the human beings, some at his own discretion to be saved. Man, in his fallenness, wants a part because he wants to exercise his pride! Pink states, "The doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God is a great battering-ram against human pride."

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:28-29 ESV

Calvin says, "We shall never be clearly persuaded, as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from the wellspring of God's free mercy until we come to know His eternal election, which illumines God's grace by this contrast: That He does not indiscriminately adopt all into the hope of salvation but gives to some what he denies to others."

Now someone may ask, "Is that fair? Is it fair for God to give to some what he denies to others? What about justice? Is God unfair?" God is never to be measured by human standards. Certainly not by the human standard of fairness, which is also a reflection of man's fallenness. Do we, as fallen sinful creatures, have a higher standard of what is right than an infinitely and eternally holy God? What kind of pride is that?

These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. Psalm 50:21 ESV

God is not like us; he is Holy and we are sinful. The Scriptures warn us that we are not to assume that what we believe is the standard by which God must function. Whatever God does is righteous and just.

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Psalm 97:2 ESV

When you say that God does anything that isn't fair, you've stepped over the bounds. How can sinful man question God?  Divine justice is an essential attribute of God, whereby He is infinitely and perfectly just in Himself, of Himself, for Himself, from himself, by Himself and none other.

For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. Psalm 11:7 ESV

James Usher said, "The source of God's justice is his own free will and nothing else, for whatsoever he wills, is just. And because he wills it, therefore it is just, not because it is just, therefore he wills it."

A thing is just because God wills it. He does not will it because it is just by human standards. He sets the standard. Divine justice is of an entirely different order and character than human justice. Justice isn't really the issue anyway. You don't really want to talk about justice when you talk about salvation because justice for all of us would be condemnation. How can God be called unjust when whatever he does is just. How is it unjust for God to elect certain ones for salvation in light of the fact that none deserve it? Salvation is never a matter of justice; it is always a matter of grace!

Why teach this? If it is hard to understand and so despised by man, why teach it? Can you answer that question for me? Let me give you John Calvin's answer to the question. "The Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know. Therefore we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what it is in any way profitable to suppress."

Calvin goes on to say this: "But for those who are so cautious or fearful that they desire to bury predestination in order not to disturb weak souls—with what color will they cloak their arrogance when they accuse God indirectly of stupid thoughtlessness, as if he had not foreseen the peril that they feel they have wisely met? Whoever, then, heaps odium upon the doctrine of predestination openly reproaches God, as if he had unadvisedly let slip something hurtful to the church. "

Let's look at what the Scriptures say about election?

"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you… Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV

God chose Israel. After Babel, when Yahweh turned the nations over to lesser gods, He wasn't sitting up in heaven saying, "I hope some nation will believe in me and choose me." God says, "I choose you because I love you."

The nation, Israel, was elect, chosen by God. Why? Because God willed to. Do you have a problem with that? Why Abraham? Why did God choose him? Why did God choose you? The "why" rests in God's will. God doesn't call the good people because there isn't any.

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Psalms 14:1-3 ESV

God chose his people Israel by his own free choice. The idea that man has some personal integrity and freedom that God dare not violate is the reverse of what the Bible teaches.

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!  Psalms 65:4 ESV

It is clear from the Scriptures that the nature of our election rests in God's sovereign choice, not ours. For the first thirteen years of my Christian life, I was an Arminian. I believed that man's will was free, and if he came to Christ, it was because he decided to. I guess you could call this "decisional regeneration." What changed my mind was the text. My downfall was that I taught verse-by-verse and at the time I was going through James.

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:18 ESV

My first question here was, "What about my will?" And as I studied this out, I found myself believing in election by the sovereign grace of God. If you are a Christian, it is because God has chosen you. You might think that you are a Christian because you believed the Gospel, but the only reason you believed the Gospel is because God gave you a new birth. Birth precedes belief.

Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 1 John 5:1 ESV

For some reason, even the New American Standard Bible (which is usually quite literal) obscures the sense of the Greek verb in verse 1. The English Standard Version translates it correctly: "Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Christ has been born of God." The tenses are very important. Sadly, they are not made clear in the English translation, so just bear with me. John uses the present tense: "Everyone who believes." It conveys the idea that everyone who is presently believing in Yeshua "has been born of God." Here the perfect tense is used which all Greek students know generally refers to an event in past time, the results of which persist to the present time. So, we have a present tense and we have a perfect tense, and the perfect tense would indicate that that represented by the perfect tense is an event that occurred previous to the other. The tenses make it clear that the divine begetting is the antecedent, not the consequent, of the believing.

"Has been born of God"—is a perfect passive indicative, conveying a settled condition brought about by an outside agent—Yahweh. So, let me state it like this: "Everyone who is presently believing in Christ has been in the past born of God." This verse teaches that faith is the result and evidence of one's being born again and not the reverse. In other words, we are not born again as the result of faith. Birth precedes the believing.

Why does birth have to precede believing? Because we were dead!

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 ESV

Fallen man, in his natural state, lacks all power to commune with God because man is spiritually dead. He's not ill, he's dead. Apart from the new birth, man cannot understand spiritual things:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

Who is the natural person? The word natural is psuchikos. Jude uses this same Greek word. It is translated here as "natural" and as "worldly" in Jude 19 ("worldly people, devoid of the Spirit"). The natural man is the man without the spirit of God. The new birth or regeneration is absolutely necessary because apart from it, man has no ability to understand or desire the things of God.

Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— Ephesians 2:5 ESV

We were dead, and God gave us life. When a person is dead, he cannot see, feel, or act. Until God gives a person life, he is dead to spiritual things. Man is passive in the new birth; he does no more to produce his own birth than Lazarus did to produce his resurrection.

Those who do not like the truth of God's absolute sovereignty in salvation try to come up with ways around it. They make up strawman arguments like Michael Heiser does on his Naked Bible Podcast #208. Where he says,

Calvinists, of course, make spiritual deadness about an inability to believe, based on the idea that dead people can't do anything. They're dead! But that presses the focal point of the metaphor (a dead body) into an unnecessary service. That is, it takes all the aspects of the metaphor and then loads them into the discussion. That's an intentional but unnecessary use of the metaphor, so I have a bone to pick with the Calvinists here. The spiritual death topic ultimately hinges on how one defines death. For Calvinists, death is the absence of conscious life. You see what they did there? They loaded consciousness onto the idea of death.

What? No Calvinist believes that when the Bible says that man is dead that that means that he has no conscious life. Consciousness is being aware of one's environment and body and lifestyle. Spiritual dead man is very aware of his environment. He is just unaware of the spiritual realm because he is spiritually dead.

Heiser continues, "In other words, if you define spiritual death based on all of the elements of a dead body (a dead body obviously has no conscious life)….if that's how you frame spiritual deadness—that you're unable to believe because dead bodies don't do anything and they can't make decisions…"

Calvinists don't define spiritual death based on all of the elements of a dead body. The dead body is an analogy of a spiritual condition. Man is spiritually dead. He cannot respond to God.

Heiser goes on to say, "You have human beings that are no longer self-aware in a Calvinist system, prior to regeneration. It just doesn't make any sense."

Self-awareness is having conscious knowledge of one's own character and feelings. Spiritual dead beings are self-aware; they just aren't God-aware. This is a total strawman argument by a man who is way too smart to be doing this. No Calvinist believes what he says we do.

Believers, please understand this, the new birth or regeneration is affected without means. Most Christians think that the means of the new birth or regeneration is the Word of God or faith. But regeneration is a direct act of God upon the spirit of a man. Truth cannot be the means of regeneration, because before a man is regenerated, he is blind and cannot see the truth, he is deaf and cannot hear the truth, he is dead and cannot respond to the truth. Truth cannot be the means of the new birth when the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit as taught in 1 Corinthians 2:14. The increase of light will not enable a blind man to see; the disease of the eye must first be cured. A man must be regenerated by the Spirit before he can receive the truth. It is solely a work of the Spirit. The Greek text of 1 Peter 1:23 helps clarify the concept of regeneration without means.

…since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1 Peter 1:23 ESV

Those two prepositions, "of" and "through," are different. The preposition "of" indicates the source. We are born of God. And "through" indicates the instrumentality. The Holy Spirit gives us life, so we can receive the Word. The new birth is a direct act of God upon the spirit of man. It is a spiritual resurrection.

Bereans, let me ask you this question: How do you know if you have been born from above. Is there evidence to demonstrate the new birth? Yes, the evidence of the new birth is faith in Yeshua.

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. Acts 16:13-14 ESV

This is the only place in the New Testament that uses the phrase "opened heart," and the Bible gives the whole credit for this "opening" to God's power and not to man's will. Modern evangelism does the exact opposite and credits the opening of the heart to the power of man's "free will." Arminianism insists that man's free will must furnish the willingness or power, and the Bible says that the Holy Spirit of God furnishes that power or ability in the new birth.

Notice exactly what God did. We see here demonstrated what God must do before Lydia can be saved. (l) He provided a salvation of "by grace through faith" that could be preached. Obviously, "what was said by Paul" was the gospel facts concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Yeshua. (2) God also brought the message of His provision to Lydia. He sent a preacher to tell her about this great plan of salvation. God went to a lot of trouble to provide such a gospel--He gave His only begotten Son up to death. He went to great ends to provide such a preacher as Paul. It is at this point that Arminianism departs from the Bible and proceeds to apply human logic to the above truths. Its proponents tragically fail to look at the rest of the biblical text and see that God must do something else. (3) God must open Lydia's heart (or give her life) so she will be able to believe.

Why does anyone come to believe in Yeshua? It is only because Yahweh gave them life, and He gave them life because they had been chosen and given by the Father to the Son as a love gift. Notice what Yeshua says,

But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:36-37 ESV

Yeshua says that "all that the Father gives me will come to me." What we need to understand here is that "coming to Christ" is a synonym for "believing in Christ."

Yeshua said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35 ESV

"Coming to Yeshua" and "believing in Yeshua" are synonymous concepts. These are parallel terms. Coming to Christ is the same as believing in Christ and vice versa. This is very important in understanding this text.

So, who believes in Yeshua? "All that the Father gives to Yeshua" (vs 37). The ability to believe on Yeshua requires divine enablement. It is only those whom "the Father" enables to believe that "come to" Yeshua in faith. These are "all" the people whom "the Father gives" to the Son as gifts. Yeshua viewed the ultimate cause of faith as God's electing grace, not man's choice.

To those of you who are Arminians, the order here is crucial. "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me"—Yeshua does not say that all who come to Him will then be given to Him by the Father. We do not determine by our response who will be the Father's gift to the Son. Rather, our response is determined by the prior election of God.

The word "gives" is a word of destiny. It's divine sovereign election. The concept of the elect's being a love gift from the Father to the Son is taught throughout Scripture. Notice what Isaiah writes:

Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. Isaiah 8:18 ESV

Who is speaking here? The Epistle to the Hebrews quotes these words as the distinct words of Yeshua.

And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me." Hebrews 2:13 ESV

Speaking of Isaiah 8:18, The IVP Bible Background Commentary states the following:

"These are not the words of the prophet, speaking of himself and his natural children, nor of his spiritual children, his disciples, called sometimes the sons of the prophets; but of Christ, who has a seed, a spiritual offspring who are given Him of God, in the covenant of grace." [IVP Bible Background Commentary].

The Tanakh represents the Father as promising the Son a certain reward for His sufferings on behalf of sinners.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:10-11 ESV

"He shall see His offspring"—this is a reference to the elect of God. God has given the elect to Christ; we are children of promise. Notice, that it says "He shall see it and be satisfied," and not frustrated.

So, when Yeshua says, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me"—He is saying, "Though many may reject me, all that have been given me by my Father will believe in me." How can Yeshua be sure that those who the Father has given Him will come to Him? What if their will is not to come to the Son?

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 ESV

Notice the words "come to me" as we have noted this can be translated, "believe in me." Some have tried to interpret the word "draw" here as "call or invite." Some people would go so far as to say God calls or invites everybody equally and at all times. They would say that the Father draws everybody, and everybody can choose to refuse.

This view distorts the text. If this is all that Yeshua is trying to say, His words make no sense in the context of the discussion in which He spoke them. His words only make sense if the implication is that His objectors may not have been drawn.

There are three things I want to point out here. The first is the phrase "no one." This is a "universal negative." That is to say that the phrase "no one" includes both classes of people, Jews and Gentiles. Second are the words "can come to Me"—this has to do with the ability of man. Yeshua was saying, "No one, neither Jew nor Gentile, has the ability to come to Me." Lastly, there is the word "unless." This word is a "necessary condition." Yeshua said that the necessary condition for someone's coming to Him was God's giving it to them. What does God give them? Life. Simply put, God gives man life which is the ability to come to Christ. Man, on his own, does not have that ability.

Let's look at the word "draws." The Greek word translated "draws" is helkuo, which means "to drag." It is used eight times in the New Testament. To understand what it means, let's look at a few of its uses.

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)  John 18:10 ESV

The word "drew" is helkuo. Does "call or invite" make any sense here? Did Peter invite or call his sword to come out? No! He grabbed it, and pulled it out. What did the sword have to say about being drawn? Nothing!

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. Acts 16:19 ESV

The word "dragged" is helkuo. Does "call or invite" make any sense here? They did not invite Paul and Silas to the market place. They grabbed them and dragged them. Helkuo means to drag by irresistible superiority.

Please take the time to look up all eight uses of helkuo in the New Testament. They all have the idea of dragging, not inviting or calling. This definition of helkuo, to drag by irresistible superiority, also holds true outside of Scripture in secular literature.

"And he drew [helkuo] the bow, clutching at once the notched arrow and the string of ox's sinew" (Homer, Iliad, 4.122)

"But Sarpedon with strong hands caught hold of the battlement and tugged [helkuo], and the whole length of it gave way" (Homer, Iliad, 12.398)

When a drawstring is pulled back or when a battlement is tugged and made to fall, these things are not invited or called. They are forced back and forced over. The meaning of the word cannot be clearer. Nobody is capable of coming to Yeshua unless the Father by irresistible superiority draws them.

So, in John 6:44, Yeshua is saying that no one can come to Him "…unless the Father who sent Me draws him!" This is what Calvinists call "Irresistible Grace or Sovereign Grace." It is not that God drags those who don't want to come. It is that God makes willing by His grace. In regeneration, God gives us spiritual life which includes a desire for Him. If God gives us a desire for Christ, we will act according to that desire and we will choose Christ.

So, to be "given" is to be part of the elect of God. Yeshua says it again in John 6.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. John 6:39 ESV

Who is it that receives resurrection life? All that the Father has given Christ. Isn't that what it says? If the Father "gives" them, the Son will raise them at the last day. All who are given are raised. God the Father has given the elect to Christ as a love gift. Yeshua says it again.

And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." John 6:65 ESV

Four times in this chapter He tells unbelievers that they cannot believe in Him unless they have been given to Him by the Father, who will draw the given. Now I'm sure that you realize that this truth is not isolate to John 6. The concept of believers being the gifts of the Father to the Son forms a central element of Yeshua's high-priestly prayer in John 17.

When Yeshua had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. John 17:1-2 ESV

Whom does Christ give eternal life to? He gives it to all those that the Father has given Him, the elect.

"I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. John 17:6 ESV
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9 ESV

Whom is it that Yeshua prays for? He prays for those that the Father has given Him. He doesn't pray for the world.

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24 ESV

Those given to Yeshua by God the Father are children of promise. God is selective in salvation. Over and over again He says, "You gave them to Me."

One more verse.

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV

Whom do we thank? God! How could anyone miss this?

Here are some questions that often arise:

What about the people who aren't elect? What happens to them? They get what all sinners deserve. They perish because of their unbelief. Men are responsible for their sins.

What about John 3:16, doesn't God love the whole world? The word "world" is the Greek word kosmos. John is telling the Jews that God's love is not limited to the bounds of Judaism but has flowed out to the Gentiles also. The use of the word "world" throughout Scripture makes it clear that it does not refer to every single person.

What about 1 John 2:2?

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 ESV

"Not for ours only"—there is no "other" propitiation. Christ's work on the cross is for all the elect. Christ is the only advocate and the only propitiation. This is speaking of the exclusiveness of Christ's work. You either accept his work or you have no propitiation.

What about 1 Timothy 2:4?

who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4 ESV

Look at the context of this verse. It is clear that "all people" refers to all types of people. It's the same as "all men" that they were to pray for in verses 1-3.

To say that God desired all men to be saved but was unable to save all men would be to say that God was impotent. If God's purpose is to save all men, if Yeshua died for all men, and if the Holy Spirit is trying to win all men to Yeshua the Christ, by observation and fact, it is obvious that most people don't believe in Christ and are dying without eternal life. Then what you have is a God who is disappointed, a Savior who is dissatisfied, and a Holy Spirit that is defeated. To argue that God is trying His best to save all mankind but that the majority of men will not let Him save them is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and the will of the creature is omnipotent. But the God of the Bible is not impotent and under the will of man. The God of the Bible is absolutely sovereign.

What about 2 Peter 3:9?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

Again, we must look at the context to understand the verse. The context deals with scoffers asking what happened to the promised second coming of Christ.

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV

Peter's response is in verse 9. Yeshua will come just as he said, but he is longsuffering towards "you"—the elect, waiting for his own to come to repentance.

What about all the "whosoever wills" in the Scripture? Whosoever will may come. The problem is no one wills to come unless he is called of God and given life. The offer is open to all.

Someone wrote the following to me: "What if the elect and called and chosen was something that God did in the first century to bring the gospel to the world and now we are just simply believers?"

God chose and gave life to his elect because they were dead in sin. Has this changed since AD 70? Has the nature of man changed? If not, then men are still born dead in sin and must be given life in order to believe.

Election is not taught to confuse us but to destroy our pride and elicit our praise. Calvin said, "For neither will anything else suffice to make us humble as we ought to be nor shall we otherwise sincerely feel how much we are obliged to God."

Let me close with a quote from John Robbins of the Trinity Foundation.

Most churches in the United States that call themselves Christian reject the Gospel. They teach, if they are liberal, that Jesus was a good man, even a martyr, but he died in no one's place; or, if they are conservative, that Jesus died in everyone's place, desires all men to be saved, and offers salvation to all. But it really makes little difference whether a church is large, respectable and liberal and teaches that Jesus died for no one; or enthusiastic, growing, and conservative and teaches that Jesus died for everyone: The result is the same: Jesus Christ actually saves no one—no one at all. Both liberals and conservatives agree that people save themselves by an exercise of their wills. The conservative "Christ" makes salvation possible, if people will only let him into their hearts; the liberal "Christ" points the way to salvation, if people will but follow his example. Neither "Christ" saves. The liberal "Christ," at best, is a brave soul who endures injustice rather than renounce his belief in humankind; the conservative "Christ" is a wimp who begs people to let him into their hearts."

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