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

Synod%20of%20Dort.jpgArticle 10: Election Based on God's Good Pleasure

But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad..., she (Rebecca) was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Rom. 9:11_13). Also, All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).


As we have seen in our survey of the previous articles, the Canons point out that the only biblical basis for God’s choice of a multitude of sinners so vast they cannot be counted to become vessels of honor and not vessels of destruction (Romans 9:22-23) is to be found solely in God’s own inscrutable will (Isaiah 46:8-10; Psalm 115:3; 135:6).  Likewise, the reason why God sovereignly passes over others is known only to himself (Romans 9:14-16), except to say, that since all of Adam’s children are sinners by nature and by choice (Romans 5:12-19), not one of them deserves to be chosen.

To put it another way, the only reason why any are chosen to be redeemed from their sin is to be found in God and not in the creature.  This means that election is based upon God’s sovereign pleasure and purpose, and not because of anything good in us, since we are seen as fallen in Adam when we are chosen.  

The sole reason why any of us were chosen by God is because of God’s mysterious will—what Calvin called the “horrible [awesome] decree.”  What good or value could God possibly foresee in us that would cause him to choose us?  There is nothing good in us (Romans 3:10-12).  God doesn’t choose us because we are smarter, better-looking, less offensive, and so on, than others.  Rather, we are chosen from the same common lump of fallen human clay to become vessels of glory for reasons known only to God.  Those who are not chosen remain as they were before and are, therefore, destined to remain vessels of wrath.  The elect receive grace.  Those passed-by receive justice.  No one is treated unjustly or unfairly as our contemporaries so often whine.  

Clearly, this is a great mystery and it is this very point about which most people object--democratic Americans especially.  It is only natural that we would want God to choose everyone.  It is certainly understandable why we would want God to choose our unsaved loved ones.  Of course, we want God to do it our way, or else we will object!  But who are sinners, bound to time and space, and who can have no knowledge of what it means for the Holy God to be offended by our sin, to complain about how the creator of all saves a multitude of people who don’t deserve to be saved?   We don't like this doctrine because it forces us to bow the knee before our Creator and Redeemer and say, "not my will be done, but thine."

The fact is, Scripture teaches that God elects a multitude of Adam's fallen children based upon reasons known only to himself--reasons which he chooses not to reveal to us.  If any go to heaven, it is only because God elects them in Christ and then redeems them in Christ.  If any perish eternally, it is because God has passed over them and leaves them to the just consequences of their own sin and their sin in Adam. 

When we talk of election, God must get all praise, glory and honor.  And we must accept all the blame.  And that is why people don't like the topic of election.

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