The Corporate View of Election

To hear Professor Flowers give a clear concise summary of the corporate view of election CLICK HERE.

Here is an another excellent concise summary of the doctrines of conditional election and predestination from the corporate election perspective, which differs from the traditional Arminian view of individual election based on foreseen faith. <borrowed with permission from SEA Blog site and with some edits>

Both the traditional view and the corporate election view are allowed in SEA, for both conceive of election and predestination as conditional on faith in Christ. This material comes from Zondervan’s NIV Life Study Bible (now available only in the KJV under that name but still with the NIV or other translations). The description of the doctrines of election and predestination is followed by some comments quoted from the study Bible’s notes on 1 Peter 1:2 and Romans 8:29 to show how the corporate election perspective might view the place of foreknowledge in election, also quite different from the traditional Arminian view, though completely consonant with Arminian theology, figured as it is within a conditional view of election and predestination.

Election. God’s choice of those who believe in Christ is an important teaching of the apostle Paul (see Ro 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5, 7, 28; Col 3:12; 1 Th 1:4; 2 Th 2:13; Tit 1:1). Election (Gk eklego) refers to God choosing in Christ a people whom he destines to be holy and blameless in his sight (cf. 2 Th 2:13). Paul sees this election as expressing God’s initiative as the God of infinite love in giving us as finite creation every spiritual blessing through the redemptive work of his Son (1:3-5). Paul’s teaching about election involves the following truths:

(1) Election is Christocentric, i.e., election of humans occurs only in union with Jesus Christ. “He chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4; see 1:1, note). Jesus himself is first of all the elect of God. Concerning Jesus, God states, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen” (Mt 12:18; cf. Isa 42:1, 6; 1 Pet 2:4). Christ, as the elect, is the foundation of our election. Only in union with Christ do we become members of the elect (Eph 1:4, 6-7, 9-10, 12-13). No one is elect apart from union with Christ through faith.

(2) Election is “in him…through his blood” (Eph 1:7). God purposed before creation (Eph. 1:4) to form a people through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross. Thus election is grounded on Christ’s sacrificial death to save us from our sins (Ac 20:28; Ro 3:24-26).

(3) Election in Christ is primarily corporate, i.e., an election of a people (Eph 1:4-5, 7, 9). The elect are called “the body of Christ” (4:12), “my church” (Mt 16:18), “a people belonging to God” (1 Pe 2:9), and the “bride” of Christ (Rev 19:7). Therefore, election is corporate and embraces individual persons only as they identify and associate themselves with the body of Christ, the true church (Eph 1:22-23; see Robert Shank, Elect in the Son, [Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers]). This was true already of Israel in the OT (see Dt 29:18-21, note; 2Ki 21:14, note; see article on God’s Covenant with the Israelites, p. 298).

(4) The election to salvation and holiness of the body of Christ is always certain…(a) God’s eternal purpose for the church is that we should “be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4). This refers both to forgiveness of sins (1:7) and to the church’s purity as the bride of Christ. God’s elect people are being led by the Holy Spirit toward sanctification and holiness (see Ro 8:14; Gal. 5:16-25). The apostle repeatedly emphasizes this paramount purpose of God (see Eph 2:10; 3:14-19; 4:1-3, 13-24; 5:1-18). (b) Fulfillment of this purpose for the corporate church is certain: Christ will “present her to himself as a radiant church…holy and blameless” (Eph 5:27). (c) Fulfillment of this purpose for individuals in the church is conditional. Christ will present us “holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4) only if we continue in the faith. Paul states this clearly: Christ will “present you holy in his sight without blemish…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col 1:22-23).

(5) Election to salvation in Christ is offered to all (Jn 3:16-17; 1Ti 2:4-6; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9) but becomes actual for particular persons contingent on their repentance and faith as they accept God’s gift of salvation in Christ (Eph 2:8; 3:17; cf. Ac 20:21; Ro 1:16; 4:16). At the point of faith, the believer is incorporated into Christ’s elect body (the church) by the Holy Spirit (1 Co 12:13), thereby becoming one of the elect. Thus, there is both God’s initiative and our response in election (see Ro 8:29, note; 2 Pet 1:1-11).

Predestination. Predestination (Gk prooizo) means “to decide beforehand” and applies to God’s purposes comprehended in election. Election is God’s choice “in Christ” of a people (the true church) for himself. Predestination comprehends what will happen to God’s people (all genuine believers in Christ).

(1) God predestines his elect to be: (a) called (Rom. 8:30); (b) justified (Ro 3:24, 8:30); (c) glorified (Ro 8:30); (d) conformed to the likeness of his Son (Ro 8:29); (e) holy and blameless (Eph 1:4); (f) adopted as God’s children (1:5); (g) redeemed (1:7); (h) recipients of an inheritance (1:14); (i) for the praise of his glory (Eph 1:2; 1 Pe 2:9); (j) recipients of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; Gal 3:14); and (k) created to do good works (Eph 2:10).

(2) Predestination, like election, refers to the corporate body of Christ (i.e., the true spiritual church), and comprehends individuals only in association with that body through a living faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5, 7, 13; cf. Ac 2:38-41; 16:31).

Summary. Concerning election and predestination, we might use the analogy of a great ship on its way to heaven. The ship (the church) is chosen by God to be his very own vessel. Christ is the Captain and Pilot of this ship. All who desire to be a part of this elect ship and its Captain can do so through a living faith in Christ, by which they come on board the ship… Election is always only in union with the Captain and his ship. Predestination tells us about the ship’s destination and what God has prepared for those “mark in Him by faith” (Eph. 1:13). God invites everyone to come aboard the elect ship through faith in Jesus Christ. [Life in the Spirit Study Bible, pp. 1854-1855]

Life in the Spirit Study Bible note on 1 Peter 1:2 — the foreknowledge of God We are “chosen” to be God’s people according to his foreknowledge, i.e., according to God’s own comprehensive knowledge of his plan of redemption in Christ for the church, even before creation and human history began (see Rom. 8:29 note).

NOTE: No, this is not an impersonal view of election, as some opponents suggest: In fact, one could argue that it is MUCH more personal because it is a choice of an individual WITH ALL THEIR SIN IN FULL VIEW.  Calvinistic election to salvation is said to take place prior to the creation of the world and without any regard to the personhood, choices, actions of the individual.  What is more impersonal than that? Ask any woman if she would rather be loved by a man who chose her based on a prearrangement with her parents without regard to anything about her personally before she was born, OR a man who knew her fully, faults and all, and chose to love her anyway!  Our corporate view of election is MUCH more intimate and personal than the Calvinistic theory and it does involve individuals being chosen despite many false misconceptions of this view that have been propagated by those who do not rightly understand it. <note added by Professor Flowers>

Foreknowledge is virtually a synonym of God’s sovereign and far-seeing purpose to redeem according to his eternal love. The “chosen” are the company of true believers, chosen in harmony with God’s determined plan to redeem the church by the blood of Jesus Christ through the Spirit’s sanctifying work (see article on Election and Predestination, p. 1845). All believers must participate in their election by their response of faith and by being eager to make their calling and election sure (see 2 Pe 1:5, 10, notes).

Life in the Spirit Study Bible note on Romans 8:29 — those God foreknew “Foreknew” in this verse is equivalent to “foreloved” and is used in the sense of “to set loving regard on,” “to choose to bestow love on from eternity” (cf. Ex 2:25; Ps 1:6 Hos 13:5; Mt 7:23; 1 Cor 8:3; Gal 4:9; 1 Jn 3:1).

(1) Foreknowledge means that God purposed from eternity to love and redeem the human race through Christ (5:8; Jn 3:16). The recipient of God’s foreknowledge or forelove is stated in plural and refers to the church. That is, God’s forelove is primarily for the corporate body of Christ (Eph 1:4; 2:4; 1 Jn 4:19) and includes individuals only as they identify themselves with this corporate body through abiding faith in and union with Christ (Jn 15:1-6; see article on Election and Predestination, p. 1854)

(2) The corporate body of Christ will attain to glorification (v. 30). <…>

******************End of Study Bible Quotaion************************

Another corporate interpretation of foreknowledge in relation to election beyond those mentioned by the study Bible is that it refers to the prior acknowledgment of the corporate people of God as his covenant partner (see Brian Abasciano, “Clearing Up Misconceptions about Corporate Election”, Ashland Theological Journal 41 [2009] 67-102).

At the risk of oversimplification, all these corporate views of foreknowledge in election can be boiled down to saying that in the corporate election view, election according to foreknowledge refers to election based on the prior election of Christ and the corporate people of God.

COMMON ACCUSATION: “Corporate election is impersonal.” This is a misunderstanding of this perspective: READ BLOG POST TITLED: “Corporate Election = Impersonal Election.”

For more information on the doctrine of biblical election: READ THIS

64 thoughts on “The Corporate View of Election

  1. Good presentation, Leighton, though I would have edited out the conditional aspect of staying saved that is in the Arminian position. It may confuse some from seeing the importance of the biblical teaching of corporate election as the normal interpretation of Eph. 1:4.

    Another good illustration, I have used, of corporate election as expressed in Eph. 1:4 could be that of a baseball player saying anachronistically that he and his team (“we”) was chosen to play in the future in front of the commissioner of the league, by the commissioner, himself, back before the baseball team was even formed, and before this player had even joined that team. The commissioner had chosen back before the beginning of the league for the team manager of this team to take his future team, whom that manager would individually select, to play before the commissioner at the end of the season. This manager would select his players after those individuals had tried out and been accepted on the team. Once on the team, any player on that team could then say, “The commissioner chose us, (i.e., the ones whom the team manager picked), because of our manager, to play in the commissioner’s presence at the end of the season.” Actually, there are no clearly stated passages in Scripture that indicate any divinely planned detail that God had made before creation for any individual, besides those made for Christ!

  2. The text is saying that the Holy Spirit is the inward mark of God’s ownership of His people, that it is the fulfillment of God’s promise to indwell His people, and that it is a guarantee that He will also bring them to their final inheritance. But what I am asking is, how is God’s eternal purpose in electing a group, to be holy and blameless, to be a bride for the Groom, certain, if the effectiveness of election and salvation is ultimately dependent upon the fallen will of man? Hypothetically, it could have been as easily possible that no one was saved, no one believed, no one got on the boat of election. Consequently, no Church, therefore no bride for the Groom.

    1. Joel,

      Thank you for bringing the conversation here instead of Twitter. I’ve learned that those conversations disappear into the abyss and do not remain to help others profit from them. Here your comments will remain to help answer the questions that others will raise… so thank you!

      You said, “The text is saying that the Holy Spirit is the inward mark of God’s ownership of His people, that it is the fulfillment of God’s promise to indwell His people, and that it is a guarantee that He will also bring them to their final inheritance.”

      I affirm this. But notice carefully the term “IN HIM” which is used throughout the entire chapter. Verse 13 tells us how one comes to be IN HIM. Notice the order:

      1. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”

      They heard the truth…the gospel.

      2. “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”

      They were mark IN HIM after they believed.

      Clearly, Paul is saying that those who are IN HIM (through faith) are predestined to become holy (sanctified) and adopted (glorified). The text says nothing about God predestining some individual to believe the gospel so as to be IN HIM, as Calvinism reads into the text.

      You ask: “But what I am asking is, how is God’s eternal purpose in electing a group, to be holy and blameless, to be a bride for the Groom, certain, if the effectiveness of election and salvation is ultimately dependent upon the fallen will of man?”

      The effectiveness of election and salvation is NOT ultimately dependent upon the will of man. You are confounding two separate choices. For instance, there is the choices of the prodigal son to leave the pig sty and return home to beg for a job and then there is a SEPARATE choice of the Father. The choice to either give the son what he deserved, OR the choice to mercy him (not punish him) and the choice to grace him (give him reward) by throwing him party and restoring him as a son. The fact that the father, in his grace, has decided beforehand to forgive and throw a party for whoever humbly comes home does NOT mean the choice of mercy/grace is not the father’s alone. Grace and salvation depend on the father’s choice alone. Our choice is whether or not to remain in our pride thinking we can earn righteousness on our own or humbly admit we can’t earn righteousness and trust in Him instead.

      As to your hypothetical…didn’t Enoch, Noah, Lot, Moses and all those after them who did believe in the promise still need a savior to pay for the sins he overlooked for all those years? Noah, for example, found favor in the eyes of the Lord not because he was without sin (obviously we all agree with that), so why did he? God, from the beginning with Lucifer has ‘opposed the proud, but given grace to the humble.’

      James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

      2 Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”

      2 Chronicles 12:7: When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak.

      2 Chronicles 12:12: Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed.

      2 Chronicles 34:27: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord.

      Psalm 18:27: You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

      Psalm 25:9: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

      Psalm 147:6: The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

      Proverbs 3:34: He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

      Zephaniah 2:3: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

      Matthew 23:12: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

      Luke 1:52: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

      Luke 14:11: For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

      Luke 18:14: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

      James 4:6: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

      1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

    2. Joel,

      I have been wondering the same thing regarding the hypothetical “no person saved” scenario. It got me thinking, The Flood! I guess it’s not so hypothetical anymore 🙂 well, not counting Noah, and his family,… ahh it’s close enough! I would like to hear a response on that (*hint hint* Leighton). It might just be one of those questions we will have to answer the big dog upstairs otherwise!

      1. Kristofferlindvall – God, who knows all the possibilities of the future as well as all the things He has predetermined, would know, when making man in His image, even if man would fall into sin, how unlikely “no person saved” or “all people saved” would be within the boundaries of His determinations and left-open possibilities.

        It should be easy to trust Him to keep working in all things (Eph 1:11) according to His plan that never pre-determined any to perish (2Pet 3:9), and His desire that all come to a knowledge of the truth (1Tim 2:4), so that a group of redeemed would be formed of those actively accepting HIs offer of salvation in Christ! The hypotheticals of “no person saved” or “all people saved” are philosophical red herrings that only ignore the plain reading of Scripture and its report of how God is working to save souls today and to add to His elect in Christ!

  3. Interesting perspective. Can a dead man get on a boat or must he first be regenerated to even do such a thing? And how is true that Christ first loved us if we have to get on the ship before we can experience Christ’s love?

    1. Hi Mcleod, Please consider that the biblical definition of death is separation, not inability. I think too many have allowed the modern medical definition color the biblical meaning. It is true that no good work is acceptable to merit salvation. But it is also true that non-believers can do good works (cf. Cornelius, Acts 10:2, 35, 11:14). Non-believers, enabled by the enlightenment, conviction and preaching of the gospel can also actively accept or reject God’s gift of salvation and be lifted into the boat by Him! 🙂 Their active acceptance is not a merit, it is a surrender!

      1. Hmmm…where does scripture teach that the gospel enlightens and convicts the reprobate?

        On a separate note. I read John 10:26 and what I see scripture teaching is that people do not believe the gospel because they aren’t on the boat to begin with. If people need to believe the gospel to get on the boat, while their unbelief is because of the fact that they aren’t on the boat as John 10:26 says, then how do they get on the boat?

      2. Hi Mcleod, I would see John 1:9 and 16:7-8 as clear teaching that God enlightens and convicts everyone. There are other passages besides these, but I like these the most! No one is reprobate from birth, but some may become so after much hardening of their heart (Prov. 29:1).

        Your appeal to John 10:26 is a little misplaced if you are trying to prove faith happens after regeneration. It is true that true faith “in” Christ continues after becoming a sheep and helps others identify the true sheep, but this context is speaking about another type of faith, not salvation faith, though essential to it.

        Certain Jews were taunting Jesus to plainly say He was the Christ (vs. 24). It was faith in that truth, not faith in Him that Jesus was pointing to first (vs. 25). Then Jesus was saying to them that it is obvious that they are not openly believing “that” He is the Christ, because they are not of His sheep, like His disciples.

        It would be wrong to think that Jesus does not want them to become one of His sheep, but He is using their rejection for a redemptive purpose. They will get another chance to believe and become one of His sheep after His resurrection, especially after Pentecost.

        But the inference that everyone somehow become sheep BEFORE even starting to believe “that” Jesus is the Christ or BEFORE starting to believe “in” Jesus is not a necessary inference, and is only brought to this context because Calvinists are desperate to prove belief comes after regeneration. That contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in so many passages that clearly show that active personal faith in Christ precedes God’s gift of salvation life (cf. Eph 1:12-13)!

        So it’s personal active faith in God’s gracious enlightenment and conviction that precedes God making one His own sheep, who He then confirms in that faith by that regeneration and the sealing of the Spirit, so that they become recognizable to all others as His people who are hearing, following, and believing Jesus is the Christ. Hope this helps.

  4. psalm 51:5, psalm 58:3, romans 5, and romans 8:7-8 tell us that no one is going to get on that bought without an act of God being done on their heart and mind(ezekiiel 11:19-20, jeremiah 31:33)

      1. if ezekeil 11:19-20 is the gospel and happens to everyone that hears it you’re left explaining why some hear the message and don’t have this happen to them.

    1. Indeed Yudo, but nowhere in those Scriptures you listed is it said that God only does that work irresistibly in only a few hearts and minds damning the rest even though they were never able to hear His invitation to salvation. It fact Scriptures teach the opposite. He gives to everyone that work in their heart and mind (John 1:9, 16:7-8, 12:32, 2Pet 3:9) and yet leaves them also able to reject His work and harden their hearts (Heb 3:7-8).

    2. “The Lord is my Shepherd” is the first line in the well beloved Psalm 23. In this and many other passages in the old testament the LORD is the shepherd of his people; they are his sheep. This didn’t just begin at the Incarnation. Being one of the Trinity, Jesus is the Shepherd of Psalm 23. He has sheep already who when they heard his incarnate voice would recognize him and follow him. This is in contrast to the hypocritical fake Jewish Leaders of his day, who were not really his sheep. Thus they did not believe because they were not his sheep.Jesus also tells us that he has other sheep that will hear his voice and follow him and there will be one fold and one shepherd. These are the Gentiles who hearts had been prepared by Grace. See Acts 13:48 these are ones referred to when Luke writes, ” All who were destined for eternal life” and believed”. This was a transitional period between the Church of the Old Testament(People of Israel) and the Church of the new Testament ( New Israel containing both groups of sheep i.e jews and Gentiles that have now been united into one fold with one shepherd . This is not pre-temporal unconditional individual election but “Old Covenant” sheep who recognized the voice of their Master and Shepherd who had become flesh and responding in faith and obedience. Calvinists have totally misapplied these verses. Hope this Helps.

  5. if eze 11:19-20 happens to everyone than all should be saved the result of the new spirit and the heart tranplant is obedience to God. so either this doesn’t happen to everyone or you’re a universalist.

    1. Hi Yudo – Did you find these verses as you were reading Scriptures thinking about how God saves individual people or did you read these verses in a theology book whose author said, rather dogmatically, that they teach how God saves individual people?

      I am guessing that you know that the meaning of individual verses should be in full agreement with the context. After reading Ezekiel 11:14-21 again, would you agree that this is the local context of your verses and that this local context is about corporate Israel, not giving a promise to all individuals in Israel. If the emphasis was on individuals, one would expect – “I will give them new hearts [not one heart], and I will put new spirits within them [not a new spirit within them].” But it doesn’t read that way!

      That individuals in Israel can still avoid these blessings given to corporate Israel is seen clearly in verse 21, which ends the immediate context.

      Yudo, how does the warning in Heb 3:7-8 fit into your view? “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts …'” If this warning is to whom the Calvinist views as the non-elect, how are they hearing God’s voice and why? If this warning is to whom the Calvinist views as the elect, how are they able to refuse the call and what is the warning if they do?

      1. verse 21 is merely talking to those who will not receive from God the one heart(a heart that obeys the LORD) and a new spirit within them(the Holy Spirit which conforms those in whom it dwells into the image of Christ).

        ezekeil 11:19-20 is speaking of the elect, the israel of God(romans 9:6-8), the invisible church. notice that this is something God does and not what we do to ourselves. those in verse 21 aren’t the people who got what is promised in verses 19 and 20 and resisted, verse 21 are those who didnt get verse 19 and 20 at all.

        heb 3:7-8. really not that difficult to deal with. God gives his prescriptive will to a mixed audience of elect and non-elect and they will respond accordingly(2 cor2:15-16). it’s really that simple.

      2. I hope, Yudo, and pray that you will give more thought to the context of Ezek 11:14-21. Verse 17 clearly points to national Israel that includes both saved and unsaved being gathered from the nations in the future. And I hope you will look more closely at the clear inferences of Heb 3:7-8. Will you answer the questions I made more directly, which you should be able to do if these verses are indeed for both elect and non-elect from the Calvinist perspective. Are you saying the non-elect are able to hear the voice of God and the elect are able to harden their hearts against what they hear?

  6. i will gladly respond and answer your question but i want to ask you a quick question that will require no more than a yes or no asnwer(though you can expound upon your answer if you wish).

    do you hold to universalism or modalism, or at least some form of these?

    1. Yudo, I am continually interested in why people ask the questions they do on sites like this. If you have read a few of Leighton’s blog postings, you could easily answer your question above yourself, so I am still wondering why you would ask it. I hope it is not because you have been deceived by some extreme Calvinist teacher, whom you trust, to believe the false premise that anyone who does not believe in the predetermination of all things must be a universalist or a modalist?

    2. Hello Yudo
      I have seen the verse you mentioned in Ezekiel 11:19-20. You are right in that it is God Who gives men a new spirit and a heart of flesh in order that they obey His commandments. However notice who it is that will receive this promise of a new heart and spirit – it is those who who will remove all detestable things and abominations (Eze 11:18). Also notice that for those who do not remove all detestable things and abominations, God has another promise (Eze 11:21)

      1. Hi

        I’ve only just come across this discussion. But I too wanted agree with Matthew, after reading ezk11 from 13 to 21.
        In vs17 GOD says He will give those of vs15 (including “all the house of Isreal wholly”) the land of Isreal

        Vs18 says THEY shall come there, and THEY shall take away all the detestable things etc.
        There’s no indication that God has put it in their hearts to do. At least the scripture verse doesn’t say that.

        What that means to me then is that they did they works of repentance, they had godly sorrow. They had learnt from the discipline that God had given them.

        It is after this godly sorrow, that vs 19 takes places. Empowering them to do vs20.
        Vs21 show another set who are in the land part of the “wholly Isreal” who didn’t repent, keeping on in their detestable ways, though God had graciously brought them back into the land. They did not get the blessings of vs 19…. and therefore were recipients of His wrath.

        It reminds me of John3:
        17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
        18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

        And John 3:36
        He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him

        If you read verse 16, there’s a hopeful / merciful action that God implements in the midst of His judgment he says…..”yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come”

        That reflects a similar Father heart of God, to still send /leave a source of enlightenment in their midst. But He puts it on them to respond in faith (thankful repentance) back to Him. Those that “believe” (in this case take away the detestable things) receive “everlasting life” ( in this case the new heart etc).

        Those who rejected the light, stayed under the original condemnation, or abode under His wrath : parallel those of vs 21

        There’s no indication or mention that God put it in their hearts to do the positive, or that they were a pre ordained or elect ones, whom God moved their hearts to respond.
        It simply reads that THEY made the choice, to respond positively. Whilst others didn’t, that is why God recompensed them because they should have repented!

  7. “Are you saying the non-elect are able to hear the voice of God and the elect are able to harden their hearts against what they hear?”

    of course unsaved people heard the Words of God. elect and non-elect alike heard the OT prophets as well as elect and non-elect hearing Jesus’ preaching.

    non-elect will never come to the knowledge of the truth while the elect will eventually and inevitably come to that knowledge. the truth will remain foolishness to the non-elect while the elect will indeed come to the truth.

    1. Good question alkitabiah. All Christians believe that salvation becomes everlasting at some point, which infers that the nature is changed in such a way (one says, regeneration, another says, resurrection) so that the will, though free in some respects still, is no longer able to reject salvation and “jump ship”. 🙂

      1. Good morning alkitabiah. Maybe I was not clear enough for you. Sorry. But my guys is that you don’t believe you can lose your salvation after you get your resurrected body and you are in heaven. Do you?

        The question I ask those who are Arminian is, “If God can make it so you will not be able to lose your salvation after you experience resurrection, why couldn’t He make it so you couldn’t lose your salvation after regeneration?

    2. Yes of course, the person can jump ship so to speak. That’s the beauty of free will. But such a person may have a hard-impossible time trying to come back to Christ (Hebrews 6:4-6). There are however some who say that if the person repents, then they can return to Christ.

  8. Dear Brianwagner,

    Yes He can. He also CAN take away our free will, like He did with nebucadnezar.
    He can or cannot, that’s not the question.
    the real question is why the bible very clearly gave warning for us to keep abide in Him and not to fall away?
    because it’s a real and valid warning that we must keep our faith till the end.

    21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to TURN from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

    1. Thank you alkitabiah for granting that God is able to give an everlasting life that cannot be lost after regeneration. Would you grant that much of NT Scriptures, like Sunday sermons, are addressed to people, some of whom profess to be saved but only have a head knowledge? Could the verse you quoted be taken as being about those with only a head knowledge, like dogs or pigs that never had become sheep?

      1. what i understood from 2pet 2:20 is that person already saved and secured.
        it only takes very small knowledge (i.e. we sinned, repent and accept with whole-heart Jesus paid it all) to be saved.
        then after that we’re instructed to learn more and more. even with that minimal knowledge, we are saved.

        that’s why, again, there’re dozens of verses command the saved believers to fear, stand by faith, abide in Him, otherwise be cut off and it’s impossible to repent once again, thus crucify Christ once more.

        when one accept that Christ crucified once for his sin, he is saved. when one abide, he will be kept saved, God will preserve him.
        when one stop believing, leave the faith, not abide in him, despise the Spirit, sin unto death, the sin that you dont need to pray anymore cause he will be cut off the branch and cast into eternal fire. because he can not crucify Christ once more.

        that’s the reason why we pray that satan took his flesh before it happen, so that the spirit may be saved. (1cor 5:5)

        imho, that’s all consistent with all scriptures and not one verse i see that deny it.

      2. Hi alkitabiah! I still would be interested in your answers to my questions. “Would you grant that much of NT Scriptures, like Sunday sermons, are addressed to people, some of whom profess to be saved but only have a head knowledge? Could the verse you quoted be taken as being about those with only a head knowledge, like dogs or pigs that never had become sheep?” I would think you do believe that there are such people as false disciples, not truly saved, even if they profess to be and have “knowledge” in their head, or understanding of what the true gospel is, even though they have never accepted it in their heart to be born again. Right? There are a lot of Scriptures that speak to such false professions. Right?

        And you would agree that we will not need those warnings to “keep believing” once we get to heaven, because of some change God will make in our wills.

  9. Reblogged this on sanctuarytalk and commented:
    Excellent thoughts here concerning the Church and corporate election. When we rightly divide the word of God, we see that His plan for the Church, His Bride, is truth from His Word. We are His people. We are who He chose…the Bride of Christ. This is a dominant theme throughout all of Scripture which we have our great and living hope.

  10. When you say:

    Calvinistic election to salvation is said to take place prior to the creation of the world and without any regard to the personhood, choices, actions of the individual. What is more impersonal than that? Ask any woman if she would rather be loved by a man who chose her based on a prearrangement with her parents without regard to anything about her personally before she was born, OR a man who knew her fully, faults and all, and chose to love her anyway!

    This is a misrepresentation of what Calvinists believe. Calvinists believe that God fully knew every person and angel who were to ever exist BY NAME before He began His creation work. 1 Cor. 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been FULLY KNOWN. God doesn’t begin to know us at some point in time when we are born – He knew us before creation when He conceived of us in His mind. But even using words like “when” when referring to eternity past is problematic as God is outside of time. Now at this point you will probably argue that I’m saying that God wouldn’t exist without us and that’s not what I’m saying. We are contingent beings – not God. We exist ONLY because we exist in the mind of God. Truth is that which comports to the mind of God. If we didn’t exist in the mind of God, He would still be God and exist alone in His being (aseity).

    Now, because God fully knew us before creation (including our personality, our faults, our sin, future decisions, etc.) and chose to save a small portion of humanity before Earth was even created (Matt. 7:14 – For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.) – He chose us WITH REGARD to those things, not without regard as you say. You might say that He chose us DESPITE fully knowing our faults and rejection of/rebellion to Him. This view is intimately personal, not distant and arbitrary as you suggest. His choice to save some and pass over others may seem arbitrary to us – and that is likely your biggest issue with Calvinism – but the secret things belong to God and we have no right to question God’s authority to do what He wants with His creation, EVEN IF it seems unfair to our limited minds.

    [Rom 9:20-24 ] 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

  11. Hi there, I have a question on point 3:

    (3) Election in Christ is primarily corporate, i.e., an election of a people (Eph 1:4-5, 7, 9). The elect are called “the body of Christ” (4:12), “my church” (Mt 16:18), “a people belonging to God” (1 Pe 2:9), and the “bride” of Christ (Rev 19:7). Therefore, election is corporate and embraces individual persons only as they identify and associate themselves with the body of Christ, the true church (Eph 1:22-23; see Robert Shank, Elect in the Son, [Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers]). This was true already of Israel in the OT (see Dt 29:18-21, note; 2Ki 21:14, note; see article on God’s Covenant with the Israelites, p. 298).

    If Election in Christ is corporate, does it necessarily negate election for individual persons? Why can’t it be both together? Is there parts of scripture that explicitly says that election cannot be for the individuals? Eg. for the case of Jacob and Esau for example – we say that they represent nations – which is true but are they not real individuals as well? Did God not elect Jacob to be the Father of His chosen nation but also Jacob himself to be part of the elect as an individual? It feels like a false dichotomy to separate the corporate election from individual election – unless we are happy to say that Jacob and Esau were not real individuals.

    Full disclosure: I think I’m a Calvinist by conviction – maybe a 4 point one – but I’m asking humbly as someone who is seeking the truth.

    1. Welcome Kevin! The main problem with individual election before creation is that there were no individuals to choose between before creation except the members of the Godhead.

      Here’s my take on Eph 1:4 that may help.

      Determinists have always tried to read too much into that verse that Paul wrote in a context about blessings we now have, now that we are in Christ. Some of those blessings were given to Him before creation, to be shared with all who would later be joined to Him.

      The pronoun “us” is being used in a general reference, anachronistic sense, like me saying – “We chased the Native Americans before the Revolution so that they would live west of the Appalachian Mtn range.”

      Another similar example would be the Levites in David’s day who were chosen to carry the ark. David said, as recorded in 1Chr 15:2 – “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”

      Any Levite that day could have said to another Levite – “God chose us in Aaron, before Israel entered the promised land, to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.” Of course, he would not have had the ridiculous thought that God had his name written down in a book during Aaron’s time, along with the names of all future Levites. He would not think that he individually or physically would be ministering before the Lord forever in this special task as a priest. He would just be using the “us” as a pronoun of reference with a corporate connection because of the promise made to Aaron, and because of his being added into Aaron’s lineage by physical birth.

      We say, with Paul, we have the same privileges granted to the Son of God before creation that go to any in His lineage, since we are now joined to Him by spiritual birth through our personal faith. We now have the blessing to stand holy and blameless before God as one of God’s chosen in the Chosen One – Christ.

      Questions to ask a determinist:
      When God supposedly “chose” you before creation, where you unchosen at some point and then chosen? What did God see when He supposedly chose you… just your name, your life up to the point where He decided He wanted to get involved noticeably to you, your whole life forever and all His involvement in it already? What did “you” mean when He chose “you” back then before you existed?

      1. Hi Brian, Thanks for the reply.

        Good points and illustrations, was helpful for me to understand the point better. Thank you for taking the time to respond and I’m sorry I have some more questions – but this is a topic that really interest me, and not just intellectually.

        Some of my responses and questions:

        – True, there were no individuals to chose from before creation except the Godhead but again, likewise there were no nations or collective people like the Levites to chose/elect from either so if God doesnt choose us individually before creation, how does he chose us collectively then before creation? By that logic, we cannot have a doctrine of election whether individually or corporately.

        – Also you maybe right to say that it would be silly for any Levite to think that God had his name written down in a book during Aaron’s time, along with the names of all future Levites…but… again it is hard to separate the corporate election from the individual. Because to be part of the Levites would mean as you said to be born in the lineage of Aaron (as promised) but did not God individually decides who to be born in which lineage and hence also individually elected each and every Levite? You are right to say that individually each Levite is not more special than another but yet I find it hard to argue that God just randomly formed groups/lineages for people to be born into collectively without individually determining them. cf. Acts 17:26.

        – I think it would be more consistent if you do away with the whole doctrine of election – because if God was to elect collectively you cannot separate between his corporate and individual election such as the case with Jacob and Esau and their descendants.

        To your questions for determinists:

        I’ll be honest – I dont really have answers. My best guess is God just chose us for reasons only known to Him and because of grace. Did I do anything before my birth and existence to warrant God chosing me? – Obviously not. Yet I have to ask… why me?

        I was born in Malaysia, 1991, to a family of buddhists originally but because my mum randomly became a christian while I was 6 or 7, on the influence of her friends – this set in motion events that would led to my eventual conversion and confession of faith that Jesus is Lord. My two grandfathers, died before I had any memory of them – roughly before I hit 3 or 4. They never had a chance to hear about Jesus because in their time the gospel was still scarce in my country – yet they will face judgement for not acknowledging Jesus as Lord while me…being born in 1991 had a chance to respond to Jesus. I cant help but feel…everything is in God’s plan whether we like it or not. I trust however, that God will judge justly and will consider the fact that my grandfathers never had the opportunities that I did.

        But I feel the simple and natural reading of Eph 1:4 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world” – implies that God made a some sort of choice before creation involving us – And hence, also me individually).

        Sorry for the long reply –

        In my perspective, the logic seems to boil down to: If we reject individual election, we cannot then accept corporate election – we need to reject the whole concept of election (ie God making any form of choice/deterministic outcome before creation)

        Also, if we accept corporate election, we cannot divorce that from the individuals who end up within the corporate election (ie. If God chose the church, every individual within the church has to be chosen by God – or else they would not end up there or the church would not be in any real sense chosen by God)

      2. Thank you, Kevin, for your thoughful reply… Christ was the only Chosen One. There was no identifiable group of individuals in Christ chosen, when one says “corporate election”… at least not when I say it. 😊

        God did not individually decide before creation, or at Sinai, who would be individuality born to Levi, nor who would be individually born again and joined to Christ. You have to comprehend that God did not have to make all His choices before creation. Scripture confirms He didn’t.

        As for your grandfathers… here is my view –
        What about those who supposedly “never heard”?

        The premise or question – “What about those who have never heard” is a non-question (except maybe for infants who die before their conscience is mature enough). Paul says clearly all have heard – Rom 10:18 NKJV – But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

        Since God makes plain “in” a person that He exists (Rom 1:19) and brings conviction of sin by the work of the law written in their heart (Rom 2:15), and also that the true Light gives such light to each person (John 1:9), wouldn’t a person be able to call out to God at some point in humility – “God be merciful to me a sinner”? Jesus said that the man who did just that went home justified (Luke 18:13-14). Elihu also told Job the same thing, that God gives His righteousness to the one who prays in repentance (Job 33:26-27).

        It appears this has always been the minimalist way made by God to approach Him for salvation… expressing simple trust in His mercy. We know perhaps more facts about how that mercy was provided in Christ… but childlike trust is not so much the knowledge of facts but dependence only on the God who can meet the need of forgiveness.

        Ps 19:4 was the verse that Paul was quoting, and it was not in his day, but from 1000 years earlier. It is so sad when people don’t see how gracious God has been and continues to be to everyone fearfully and wonderfully made in His image since the dawn of creation. He makes every person with a plan to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever, but not an irresistible plan.

        Here are some other verses that show God has always had all the world in view.

        “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.'” – Rom 9:17 NKJV

        “And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” – 1Ki 4:34 NKJV

        “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” – Jhn 17:23 NKJV

        Romans 1:19 NKJV — because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

        Job 33:29-30 NKJV — “Behold, God works all these things (vs 14-28), Twice, in fact, three times with a man, To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.

        John 1:9 NKJV — That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

        Romans 2:4 NKJV — Or do you [O man] despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

        Everyone hears sufficiently, I believe, and are then able to call out – “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

        Luke 18:13-14 NKJV — “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  12. I have a friend who has tried to explain your position to me. I read your article carefully. It still makes no sense. It reminds me of Roman Catholic belief, which is my “pre-saved” background. I am not a “baby Christian” either. I have been a Christian and a Teacher for 30+ years. The only way I can grasp my own election is: God chose to save me before time, then He called me IN time to a prearranged marriage that He had arranged with his Son, who is now my “Bridegroom.” God called me and I said YES! I did not know it had been pre-arranged. Not until I was taught it from the Bible. Now that He called me, and I accepted, I am already seen by God as Glorified. My Lord Jesus will never divorce me, for any reason reason. God will never “disown” me as a Son, for any reason. “I love Him because He loved me first” (1 John). That is the only way I can understand this, and that is the way I teach it. That said, I must humbly admit that I do not fully understand it either. But one thing I KNOW for certain: “Jesus Loves me, this I know, ’cause the Bible tells me so.” That is what “makes my heart burn within me,” like those two nameless men on the way to Emmaus!

    1. Hello Timothy and welcome

      It is wisdom to remember that no human exists in a vacuum.
      Every one of us – especially during our formative years – were influenced by persons who represent a particular school of thought or tradition.
      So for me to believe that I simply picked up a bible all by myself – and that is how I came to my position – is not really realistic thinking.
      People are influenced and persuaded by others much more than they realize.
      You’ll find people here who came out the Calvinistic system of persuasion – and are just as convinced the Lord has faithfully led them towards life giving conclusions.

    2. The best explanation is from Ephesians 1:4 – God did not choose *us* before the foundation of the world. God chose *us in Him* before the foundation of the world. There are two ways that the phrase US IN HIM is understood – 1) God chose US TO BE IN HIM before the foundation of the world or 2) God chose US WHO ARE IN HIM before the foundation of the world.

      If read the first way individualistically (God choosing individuals before the foundation of the world), we get a deterministic / fatalistic view.

      If read the second way corporately (God chose the CHURCH (US IN HIM) before the foundation of the world), we get a God-ordained condition. Entering the church (becoming IN HIM) is conditioned on believing (Eph 1:13). And because this BELIEVING is a spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3) that happens in time (Eph 1:13 – after hearing the gospel message), it is not the individual that is chosen before the foundation of the world, but the corporate body of the church is chosen before the foundations of the world.

      In other words, God chose the church before the foundations of the world. The individuals choose whether they want to be part of the church in time.

  13. You provide a link to a summary of corporate election, but that page is illegible because it has lighter blue letters on a garish red background.

  14. I desperately want to believe that the Calvinist view of election can be proven from the Bible to be wrong, because if the Calvinists are right, then God would be a monster. But sadly, this article on corporate election is unconvincing to me, because -not to belabor the obvious- any corporate group is made up of individuals. Therefore at its root, election deals with the individual. That leaves me still facing the ugly prospect of a Deity who only draws chosen persons to saving faith and consigns the rest of humanity to unending torment for the “sin” of being born non-elect. If the only viable alternative that Christianity offers to the Augustinian/Calvinist perspective is some form of Arminianism/ free will, and Arminianism’s logical coherence is dependent on corporate election, then it is too weak to stand up to the Calvinist bully. Please offer me a a genuinely satisfying way out of this despair! Thank you.

    1. Hello John and welcome.
      You may be interested in reviewing Dr. Flower’s interviews with Dr. Kenneth Wilson – who reviews the evolution of how Augustine incorporated Gnostic/NeoPlatonic concepts into Christian doctrine. Dr. Wilson is not the first historical scholar to come to this conclusion.

      And I’m also sure, once you come to understand that all Calvinist belief statements are designed to function as a cosmetic mask to hide the underlying foundation of Theological Determinism – you’ll also come to the conclusion that Calvinism forces its believers into various degrees of dishonesty – manifest in the form of sophistry.


  15. Hi Leighton. I have enjoyed your posts. I wanted to ask you: You say at the top of your post, under number 1 re election;
    “Christ, as the elect, is the foundation of our election. Only in union with Christ do we become members of the elect (Eph 1:4, 6-7, 9-10, 12-13). No one is elect apart from union with Christ through faith.”
    I understand that Arminius himself was very much in agreement with the idea of a Christocentric election. Can you tell me what a Calvinist would disagree with though regarding the above definition you give? Surely they wouldn’t deny that election is Christoccentric in that no-one is elect outside of Christ? Just want to see where the Calvinist would differ here. Look forward to your response.

    1. Hello Greg and welcome

      Dr. Flowers – due to a busy schedule – is not here to interact with posters
      You may more readily find him at FaceBook – if you are an FB user.

      Otherwise – you may find someone else as a participant here may enjoy providing their opinion on your question.

      1. Thank you br.d – yes would be grateful to anyone who would have an opinion thank you

      2. Hello Greg, Calvinists would not disagree with a Christocentric election per say. All the elect are in or will be in Christ. Wheret they would find a disagreement is in the potentiality of election. Arminians might say that the umbrella is Christ and it’s big enough to fit everyone who has ever existed underneath it, if they so choose to come under the umbrella so as not to get wet (perish in their sins). Calvinists would disagree with that analogy and say that the umbrella will only fit the exact number of individuals chosen by the Father, given to the Son, whom the Son made payment for. They would say that the Son paid an exact price for exact number of elect individuals. The umbrella is only so big, and no bigger. There are vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and vessels of mercy prepared for glory. For if He paid the price for all people, but there are billions who will still suffer the wrath of God in the end due to them not deciding to stand under the umbrella, then that is not justice. Because truly if the price was paid for all, all would be saved and forgiven, even while in their sins. If a rich man comes to town and goes to the bank to pay off every mortgage for all citizens of the town, regardless of whether the citizens wanted it or not, the debt has been paid and the people no longer owe anything. The Arminians would say, well the rich man puts a condition on paying off their mortgages, each citizen must come to the bank and ask the rich man for it, and if they don’t, the rich man won’t pay their debt. Calvinists would say that the exact amount has already been deposited with the bank President for only a select number of citizens whom the rich man’s Father chose, and at some point in their lives the Father’s assistant (Holy Spirit) will move upon their hearts to go to the bank and gratuitously ask for their mortgage to be paid off.
        It’s a question of exactness vs. potentiality and who ultimately chooses for the debt to be paid (the rich man’s Father or the citizens).

    2. Hello Greg, A Calvinist would disagree with the last line – “No one is elect apart from union with Christ through faith.” They believe in unconditional election, so it would not include any “faith” precondition. And some of them believe union with Christ is before creation in election, but other Calvinists, probably most, believe the union with Christ happens after creation during a person’s life, but that they were elect before creation.

  16. Thank you Kevin and Brianwagner as well as Chris Matthew for drawing attention to your response. Much appreciated and really helpful.

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