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Saving the elect


Please explain election in simple terms.  I have to wonder why if the 
elect are saved do we bother with missionaries.  

first response

If God did not choose some people to become His children, all of us 
would be lost. Romans 3 says, "No one seeks after God." No one 
deserves to be saved, so God would be quite justified in destroying 
us all. Below I have included ISBE's section on the complex subject 
of election.

God has told us to proclaim the good news to all men--this is the way 
He has appointed for people to come to know Him.  So we are to 
announce this good news to all.

."But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in 
your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach);  because, if 
you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your 
heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For man 
believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with 
his lips and so is saved.   The scripture says, "No one who believes 
in him will be put to shame."  For there is no distinction between 
Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches 
upon all who call upon him.   For, "every one who calls upon the name 
of the Lord will be saved."  But how are men to call upon him in whom 
they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom 
they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? 
And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How 
beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!"  But they have 
not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed 
what he has heard from us?"  So faith comes from what is heard, and 
what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.  But I ask, have they 
not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the
earth, and their words to the ends of the world." (Romans 10:8-18)

In addition, 2 Cor. 5 says we should urge all men to receive Christ 
as Lord. God does not desire men to perish and from a human point of 
view we should not give up on any one until they stop breathing.

"For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our 
right mind, it is for you.  For the love of Christ controls us, 
because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all 
have died.  And he died for all, that those who live might live no 
longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was 
raised.  From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point 
of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of 
view, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if any one is in 
Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the 
new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us 
to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in 
Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their 
trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of 
reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his 
appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled 
to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that 
in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:13-21)

It is easy to be confused about election if we try to see God's side 
of things versus the human side all at once.  I like to remember 
Donald Grey Barnhouse's statement on this:

People are all standing in a room with several doors. Above one door 
is a sign which reads "All who will may enter." Those who choose to 
enter the door find on the back side of the door a sign which reads, 
"Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world."

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second response

I am one of the volunteers of the Paraclete Forum and I will attempt to
answer your question about God's election.

There must first be drawn a distinction between the concept of
predestination that is presented in the Bible and the pagan concept of
Fate. Fate can be summarized in the (relatively) modern idea called
Determinism. The Encylopaedia Britannica describes Determinism as:

"[the] theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely
determined by previously existing causes that preclude free will and the
possibility that man could have acted otherwise."

The misunderstanding comes when God inserted here as the "previously
existing cause."  Predestination is then understood in terms of Fate.
But the predestination of the Bible is a completely different concept.
Predestination couples God's choice with His foreknowledge, as Paul

"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to
the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many
brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom
He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also
glorified." (Rom 8:29-30)

So how is this really different than the pagan idea of Fate?  Consider a
football game.  If you know ahead of time who will win then on whom
would you place your bets? You would choose the one that you knew would
win, of course.  This is election according to foreknowledge.  Fate, on
the other hand, would be where the football game was "fixed" so that one
team would win and the other would lose.  Fate would make God into a
mobster who fixes games to collect his bets.  But God does not interfere
with the choices that the players make.  Fate interferes with the
choices.  Actually, since God has foreknowledge the idea of God choosing
would have to exist; it would logically follow.

But there is another thing that seems to be a problem here.  The Bible
tells us that the Lord is absolutely sovereign over everyone and
everything in the Universe at all times.  So does this mean that God has
rigged the outcome?  No, and here is the reason why. God knows the
nature of individuals and groups and channels them to accomplish what He
wills. Just as we harness the attributes of nature to accomplish what we
desire without violating the laws of physics so does God direct people
and events without violating people's free will.  And though God directs
events and channels people in one direction or another according to His
plans He allows each person to choose their relationship with Him.  That
is, though we have no choice as far as our situations and environment we
still are given the choice of what relationship we want with God.  Some
might say that since we were born with a sin nature (see Rom 7:14-24) we
are put in an unfair condition having no choice but to sin.  It might
seem that Adam and Eve, who were created without a sin-nature, had the
fair choice. They had the choice of having life or having death. We, on
the other hand, were born with a sin-nature and have no choice but to
sin. Yet, a careful evaluation reveals that we have the same choice as
Adam and Eve.  That is, we can choose between life and death. This is
the bottom line. The starting point is not the important issue ("The end
of a matter is better than its beginning" - Eccl 7:8a). The important
issue is that we are given the ability to choose life. Adam and Eve were
given the ability to choose death. So we are not at any disadvantage
over Adam and Eve. We all have the choice of life or death. And this is
the only thing that makes us born into a state of sin fair and does
not give us an excuse before the court of God.

And this brings us to the question of "why bother with missionaries?"
There are several reasons for this but I'll only touch on one aspect
that is relevant to our topic of predestination.  It has to do with God
being just. On Judgement Day there will not be any of the condemned who
could claim God as unfair and unjust.  God will not choose someone who
did not want to be chosen (I am not talking about those who would choose
God's blessings). So  those who were provided with opportunity to choose
life and refused it will know why they were not chosen.  But even more,
when some receive more severe punishment (because they had a clearer
opportunity to know God's will) everyone will see that God is just and
righteous in what He does. Jesus discussed this in the parable of the
talents (Luke 12:35-48):

"And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act
in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did
not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but
few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and
to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more" (Luke

Those who had opportunity to know God's will better and neglected it
have much more to answer to God for than those who lacked similar
opportunities. As I said, this is only one aspect of why God has sent us
out into the world to preach the Gospel.  But as far as predestination
goes, demonstrating God's justice before Himself and the whole Universe
is part of it.

I hope this helps understand this difficult and confusing topic somewhat
better.  But one thing about this is that God's knowledge and ways are
way beyond our knowledge and ways so I am sure I have been touching only
the shadows of the reality.