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Baptists In All Ages: Chapter XVIII PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.S. Newman   

Historic Election and Predestination. 

In this chapter I will discuss the doctrine of election and predestination as taught in the Bible, and by church historians and other standard works.

ELECTION, in theology, means divine choice, or the predestination of God, by which persons are distinguished as objects of God's sovereign mercy; become subjects of efficacious grace, and are sanctified and thus prepared for heaven. God's choice of His people was in Christ; not in time, but in Christ before the foundation of the world. Paul said: "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."--Eph, i. 4. This text tells where the people were chosen--"in Christ." It also tells us when--"before the foundation of the world"--as well as the reason why--"that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." Jesus said: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."--John vi. 37. The Father certainly did not give more or less to His Son than He chose in Him. As the choice of the people was in Christ before the foundation of the world, the gift of the people by the Father to the Son must have been before the foundation of the world. They were given that they "should come." They were chosen that they "should be holy and without blame before Him in love." Jesus said: "And shall not God avenge His own elect?"--Luke xviii. 7. The people He chose were His "own elect." Jesus said: "If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."--Matt, xxiv. 24. In verse thirty-one we have this language: "And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." "His own elect," "the very elect," and "His elect," evidently have reference to all the Father gave the Son, or chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. In Romans ix. 11 we have this statement: "For the children (Jacob and Esau) being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth." "Election" cannot be of human works of any kind, because it antedates or is anterior to the existence of man. God "formed man of the dust of the ground," while God chose His people in Christ before the foundation of the world; hence, before He made man of the dust of the ground.

Paul said: "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded."--Rom, xi. 5, 6, 7. These scriptures very conclusively demonstrate that our election to salvation is of God, through grace and not of our works. Paul argues that if election is of grace, then it is not of works; and, if it is of works, then it cannot be by grace. Let us have some more of the Pauline doctrine: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."--2 Thess. ii. 13. The end sought from the beginning was the salvation of all God chose from the beginning. If all the chosen will not be saved, then God chose some to salvation whom He knew He would not save. Our obedience cannot be the cause, or even one of the causes, of our election to salvation, from the fact that Paul said our election was "by grace and not by works." And Paul said: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."--Eph, ii. 8, 9, 10. Peter said: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."--I Pet. i. 2. Election is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, and not because of our obedience, but "unto obedience," "unto salvation," that "we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." Paul said: "Knowing, brethren, beloved, your election of God."--I Thess. i. 4.

Our "election of God" was in Christ "before the foundation of the world." Our "election of God" was "from the beginning." Our
"election of God" was by "grace," and not "of our works." Our "election of God" was "unto salvation" and "unto obedience." Our election was "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." Paul asked this question: "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."--Rom, viii. 33.

From this text we are sure that God has an elect people, and that they were His by choice before they were by justification. Many other scriptures could be introduced to prove the doctrine of election, but I think that the above texts are ample and sufficient to satisfy any reasonable and fair minded man or woman.

 

PREDESTINATION--This doctrine, like the doctrine of election, has been perverted, distorted and made to serve evil purposes. The predestination of God, as it relates to salvation, embraces the elect of God as well as all the means necessary to carry into effect the salvation of all the Father gave the Son. The God of the Bible is a God of purpose, and He makes His purpose known according to the "good pleasure of His will" (Eph. i. 9). The purpose or predestination of God is like Himself--eternal, immutable and, therefore, unchangeable.

The purpose or predestination of God embraces all events, good or bad. All righteousness, effectively or causatively, and all evil, He permits, surfers, allows or does not hinder. Anything that comes to pass that God could hinder without interfering with what He had purposed, are such things, and those evil things that He has the power to keep from coming to pass and yet does not do it. While the things He purposed to come to pass, must necessarily come to pass just as He purposed they should. Such things He could not prevent or hinder without wrecking and destroying His wisdom and the immutability of His counsel. God had the power to have kept Adam from sinning. To deny this is sheer nonsense; and to confess it, is to acknowledge that He purposed to permit (not license) it, allow it, suffer it or to not hinder it. If we say God permitted it, suffered it, allowed it, did not hinder it, and then say He did not purpose what He did, then we say He does some things that He did not intend or purpose to do. When we say that we believe God saves sinners, we say we believe He purposed to save them. When we say we believe that God "suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" (Acts xiv. 16), we say we believe God purposed to do so; or else we say God did something He did not purpose or intend to do. God once suffered or permitted things that grieved Him, and He is doing the same yet. "But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?"--Heb, iii. 17. God did not purpose for the people to do. the things that grieved Him. If He did, then He was grieved over things that occurred just as He had fixed for them to occur. God purposed to suffer them to do things that grieved Him.

I do not think it would be right to say that God permits, suffers, allows or does not hinder the salvation of sinners, for the reason that God purposed the salvation of sinners and He could not hinder it without hindering His own work. If God eternally fixed all things, as some blindly and boldly say, then it is futile, and worse than folly for the people to spend their time and best energies in trying to have better times, either religiously, morally, socially or financially.

Paul and Barnabas said, while preaching to the Gentiles: "And as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed."--Acts xiii. 48. The "many" that were ordained to eternal life were the elect of God among the Gentiles. "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name."--xv. 14. The "many" among the Gentiles that were ordained to eternal life were a part of "all the Father giveth Me." "As Thou has given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him."--John xvii. 2. The "many" the Father gave the Son are saved by grace according to the purpose of God. "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."--2 Tim. i. 9. This text tells us that God saves and calls us. It also tells us how God saves and calls us as well as how He does not save and call us. We were not elected through our works or obedience (1 Peter i. 2); neither did God purpose to save us through our works, "but according to His own purpose and grace." Paul said: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."--Rom, viii. 28. God's choice of His people was in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. i. 4).

His purpose to save us was also in Christ before the world began (Eph. iii. 11). "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren." All God foreknew must be all He gave His Son, or chose in Him; and all "He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son," must likewise be all the Father gave to, or chose in His Son. God did not foreknow more or less than He gave to His Son as His people or portion. "For the Lord's portion is His people."--Deut, xxxii. 9. The Lord will not call more than He foreknew; neither will He call less. "Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified."

Just as sure as God purposed to call some one, just that sure will He call that one. "I have purposed it, I will also do it."--Isa, xlvi. 11. God predestinated that His portion, or all He gave, or chose in His Son should, in regeneration, be adopted into His spiritual family. "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."--Eph. i. 5. The "us" He predestinated to the adoption of sons, are all He gave His Son. All He foreknew, all He chose in Christ. The elect of God will all obtain an inheritance in Christ in the new birth. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after His own will."--Eph, i. 11.

So far as I know, the above is what our people have believed from the days of our Saviour till now as a body. I am sure should some one come to our people denying the above principles that he would be rejected. The above being Bible doctrine, we, as a people, must believe and preach it in order to be in line with the New Testament Churches. I shall now proceed to prove that the above doctrine was the belief of the Baptists whose history I have given in the previous pages. If I succeed in doing this, then I shall prove that the Primitive Baptists are in line with the Bible on election and predestination. However, before I do this, I will say that the Primitive Baptists and the Missionary Baptists were once together, and as we are now two separate and distinct people, it might be well enough to say: "For it matters not which party is in the majority, when a separation occurs, it is always true that the party which departs from the faith has fallen away."--Church Succession, p. 160. We will let the Baptists say what they believed before the general division of 1832 on the doctrine of election, predestination and the atonement, and then let the reader decide as to who have departed from the faith of the Baptists, as well as who is the fallen away party,

Mr. Mosheim, in speaking of the Baptists of 860, said they believed "that God did not desire or will the salvation of all mankind, but of the elect only; and that Christ did not suffer death for the whole human race, but for those persons only whom God has predestinated to eternal salvation."--Vol. 1, p. 227. I have before me a history of all religions by S. M. Smucker. On pages 40, 41, he says: "The doctrinal system of this denomination of Baptists is Calvinistic and orthodox. They believe in the eternal decrees of God, in reference to the salvation of the elect, and hold that such as have been predestinated to be saved from the foundation of the world shall be saved and no others." In speaking of our people in the thirteenth century, Mr. Smith, in his history of the Christian Church, said on page 297: "They asserted that all who had been and shall be saved, have been elected of God before the foundation of the world; and that whosoever upholds free will, absolutely denies predestination, and the grace of God. By an upholder of free will, they undoubtedly meant one who maintains that there are resources in the nature of man sufficient to enable him to live to God as he ought, without any need of the renewal of his nature by divine grace."

I have before me a copy of the history of the Waldenses, by Peyran. On page 462 he said: "That this Church consists in the union of believers, who, chosen of God before the foundation of the world, and called with an holy calling, are united to follow the Word of God, and cherish a salutary religious fear; namely, such as is productive of holiness and a reformation of manners." "We believe that there is one holy Church comprising the whole assembly of the elect and faithful, who have existed from the beginning of the world, and shall be to the end thereof."--Orchard, Vol. 1, p. 288.

The above is the fourth article of a confession of faith published in 1554. I have before me a copy of the Confession of Faith put forth by seven Baptist Churches in London about 1643:

"Art. 3. God hath decreed in Himself, before the world was, concerning all things, whether necessary, accidental or voluntary, with all the circumstances of them, to work, dispose and bring about all things according to the counsel of His own will, to His glory (yet without being the author of sin, or having fellowship with any therein), in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, unchangeableness, power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree; and God hath, before the foundation of the world, foreordained some men to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of His grace; leaving the rest in their sin, to their just condemnation, to the praise of His justice."

"Art. 6. All the elect, being loved of God with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened and saved, not by themselves, nor their own works, lest any man should boast, but only and wholly by God, of His free grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ, who is made unto us by God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, and all in all, that he that rejoiceth might rejoice through the Lord."

Art. 21 says: "Jesus Christ, by His death, did purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto Him; these only have interest in Him, for whom He makes intercession to His Father in their behalf, and to them alone doth God by this Spirit apply this redemption; as also the free gift of eternal life is given to them, and none else."

The doctrine contained in the above quotations was believed and preached by the Baptists prior to the introduction of the Fuller system. The seven churches that drew up the above articles of faith were called Anabaptists. See Neal's History of The Puritans, Vol. 2, p. 475.

In 1689 the ministers and messengers of upward of one hundred Baptist Churches of England and Wales met denying Arminianism, and drew up a confession of faith which has stood unquestioned as an expression of what our people believe on the points mentioned; which "confession we own as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice, and do desire that the members of our churches respectively furnish themselves therewith."

I will now quote a few articles of the above Confession of Faith: "God hath decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever; come to pass; yet so, as thereby is God neither the author of sin, nor hath fellowship With any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established, in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree."

"By the decree of God for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life, through Jesus Christ to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation to the praise of His glorious justice."

 

"These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished."

"Those of mankind who are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto."

"As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto, wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; neither are any others redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, but the elect only."

If the Missionary Baptists do not believe the doctrine contained in the above quotations, then they are not the original Baptists, for the above is what the Baptists believed, preached and published before the division between us in 1832.

The first Baptists that came to the United States emigrated from England and Wales. They did not come here seeking to save lost souls, but to find a place where they might have a respite from persecution. Dr. John Clark, who came to the United States from London, organized the first Baptist Church in the United States, which occurred in March, 1638.

I will now quote from Mr. Backus, Vol. 1, p. 206, to prove that the first Baptist Church planted on United States soil believed the same doctrine that wad believed and preached by our people in England and Wales:

"The decree of God is that whereby God hath from eternity set down with Himself whatsoever shall come to pass in time. All things with their causes, effects, circumstances and manner of being, are decreed by God (Acts ii. 23). Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts iv. 28). This decree is most wise (Rom. xi. 33); most just (Rom. ix. 13, 14); eternal (Eph. i. 4, 5); necessary (Ps. xxxiii. 2); unchangeable (Heb. vi. 17); most free (Rom. ix. 13); and the cause of all good (Jas. i. 17); but not of any sin (1 John i. 5). The special decree of God concerning angels and men is called predestination (Rom. viii. 30). Of the former, viz., 'angels,' little is spoken in the Holy Scriptures; of the latter, more is revealed, not unprofitable to be known. It may be defined, 'the wise, free, just, eternal and unchangeable sentence or decree of God,' determining to create and govern man for His special glory, viz., the praise of His glorious mercy and justice. Election is the decree of God, of His free love, grace and mercy, choosing some men to faith, holiness and eternal life, for the praise of His glorious mercy. The cause which mowed the Lord to elect those who are chosen, was none other but His mere good will and pleasure. The end is the manifestation of the riches of His mercy. The sending of Christ, faith, holiness and eternal life, are the effects of His love, by which He manifesteth the infinite riches of His grace. In the same order, God doth execute this decree in time. He did decree it in His eternal counsel."

The above is a part of what Dr. John Clark said he believed. The first church organized in the United States was organized by Dr. John Clark in March, 1638, at Newport, Rhode Island. Here is what Mr. Backus, Vol. 2, p. 28, said it believed: "The first church at Newport had now about fifty members; the first in Swanzey, two hundred, and their sister church in Boston, eighty. These held to particular election. The church in Boston was organized March 28, 1665, with ten members. See history of "First Church in Boston," by N. E. Wood, p. 56. This church was, at the time of its constitution, in line with the New England Particular Baptists, which the following will prove:

"The Church of Christ at Boston, in New England, of the faith and order of the gospel, baptizing visible believers upon the profession of: their faith, and believing the principles of a particular election of a certain number, who shall continue in the perseverance in grace, unto the several Churches of Christ that are in the same faith and order of the gospel, in London, do heartily desire your increase and growth in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus, and in all the graces of His Holy Spirit."--Backus, Vol. 1, p. 489.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.