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The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Article Eight

Synod%20of%20Dort.jpgArticle 8: A Single Decision of Election

This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for all who were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture declares that there is a single good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God's will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace and to glory, both to salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us to walk in.


Scripture clearly teaches that election is based upon God’s eternal counsel and purpose, and is a mystery to us unless revealed by God in his word or through the passage of time (cf. Ephesians 1:3-i4). 

As we have seen, election is not based upon anything God foresees in the creature.  We now learn that God’s decree is one.  God does not have multiple wills or purposes, as for example, when our Lutheran friends contend that God has an antecedent will to save all men and women but a consequent will to save those who believe and do not resist grace [the elect].  This may be a sincere attempt to solve the problem of reprobation [God not choosing some to be saved, thereby rendering them objects of his wrath], but ends up creating a bigger problem–two apparently contradictory wills within God.  These two wills include God’s will to save all, and his will to save the elect only (those who do not resist God’s grace and who believe the gospel.  

Therefore, it is important for the authors of the Canons to point out that God has a single eternal purpose based upon his own eternal counsel.  While this is beyond our full comprehension, it is nevertheless a fundamental fact of the teaching of Holy Scripture (cf. Ephesians 1:11— “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will”).  
It is also clear from Scripture that God’s elect, who would otherwise remain dead in sin, are expressly called from their former condition unto holiness of life.  As Paul says in Ephesians 1:4, “we were chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless.”  And as the apostle says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  From this it is clear that we have been called from our bondage and slavery to sin and its wage (death), and are given faith and are thereby united to Christ.  As an inevitable result of this union with our savior, we will now walk in the good works which God has prepared in advance for us to walk.  

Far from making us indifferent to holy living and cold toward God and neighbor, election is in reality the only biblical basis for a life of obedience, lived in gratitude as a response to God’s grace bestowed to us in Christ!  The only way a bad tree will ever bear good fruit is if the nature of the tree itself is changed.  This is, of course, exactly what happens in election and regeneration which flows from God decision in eternity past.  This is what Jesus is getting at when he says in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

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