The Doctrine of Unconditional Election is not for sissies. What I mean by that is if we adhere to this doctrine then we had better be ready for those in unbelief to attack us with their broadsides and accusations. It seems that every Pelagian out there, whether full blown Pelagian or semi-Pelagian or Arminian, is convinced that Man is not dead in his or her trespasses and sins and is fully able to elect God or not. Of course, none of their arguments hold any water because they are derived either from man-centered philosophy or from Bible verses taken out of context (eisegesis). On the other hand, the Doctrines of Grace are all completely Biblical and are based entirely in Holy Scripture expositions done exegetically.
The Doctrines of Grace describe and teach what God has done for His people in Jesus Christ. While the Doctrine of Unconditional Election is important it is not the best place to start in trying to understand God’s good work in His people’s hearts and for their behalf in eternity. Why? It is completely contrary to Man’s natural way of thinking and understanding. However, it is vital that we do understand and grasp it. Why? This doctrine is “an important measuring rod for someone’s theology, since an acceptance or rejection of this doctrine reveals at once whether a person is biblically correct on such other doctrines as the nature and extent of sin, the bondage of the will, the full grace of God in salvation, and even the presentation of the gospel.”1
However, it is proper to teach the “U” from T.U.L.I.P. immediately after we have looked at Total Depravity or Total Inability, the “T” in our acronym. Why? Unless we understand the depth of our spiritual deadness we will never quite understand our desperate need for God’s divine election. “It follows…from what has been said that salvation is absolutely and solely of grace—that God is free, in consistency with the infinite perfections of his nature, to save none, few, many, or all, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his will. It also follows that salvation is not based on any merits in the creature, and that it depends on God, and not on men, who are, and who are not, to be made partakers of eternal life. God acts as a sovereign in saving some and passing by others who are left to the just recompense of their sins.”2
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 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— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:6-18 ESV)
I listened to a sermon by Ergun Caner several years ago before he was forced to “resign” from Liberty University Seminary. He preached this sermon when Jerry Falwell was still alive at his church where he tried to deal with this passage. Caner is an Arminian and a declared enemy of the Doctrines of Grace. When he came to vv11-15, which state:
11 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— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:11-15 ESV)
Caner said, “God chose Jacob to be the Patriarch of God’s people because God saw into the future and knew that Jacob would do right while he knew that Esau would do wrong.” In other words, he was stating exactly the opposite of what this passage says. This passage says that God elected Jacob and did not elect Esau based on nothing they did or did not do since neither was born yet. This Arminian argument is a classic case of eisegesis. Jerry Falwell, and no one else at Liberty University or in Falwell’s church called him on it either.