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LOISLEL's Photo LOISLEL Posts: 6,677
4/25/17 10:43 P

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Thanks for posting this. It has always confused me.


South Carolina Eastern Standard

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)

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MARGIT1945's Photo MARGIT1945 Posts: 149
10/8/15 12:48 P

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I found the following articles at www.gotquestionsorg (Bible Questions Answered). Which do you believe - Monergism or synergism? I’ve highlighted with *** the points I found most interesting.

Question: How are predestination and election connected with foreknowledge?

Answer: Certainly, since God knows everything, it would have been possible for God to base His predestination and election of individuals upon His foreknowledge of the future. In fact, that is the exact position that many Christians believe, as it is the Arminian view of predestination. The problem is that it really is not what the Bible teaches about predestination, election, and foreknowledge. In order to understand why the view that “God made His choice based on merely knowing the future” is not what the Bible teaches, let’s first consider a couple of verses that speak to the reason God elected or predestined people to salvation.

Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” According to this verse, the basis of our being predestined is not something that we do or will do, but is based solely on the will of God for His own pleasure. As Romans 9:15-16 says, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.” Similarly, Romans 9:11 declares regarding Jacob and Esau, “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad - in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls.” Then again in Ephesians 1:11 we see that people are “chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” From these and many others passages, we see that Scripture consistently teaches that predestination or election is not based upon something that we do or will do. God predestined people based on His own sovereign will to redeem for Himself people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. God predetermined or predestined this from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) based solely on His sovereign will and not because of anything that He knew the people would do.

But what about Romans 8:29 where it says that those “He foreknew, He also predestined”? Doesn’t that seem to say that predestination is based upon the foreknowledge of God? Of course, the answer is yes, it does teach that predestination is based on the foreknowledge of God. But what does the word foreknowledge mean? Does it mean “based upon God’s knowledge of the future,” meaning God simply looks down through the future and sees who will believe the gospel message and then predestines or elects them? If that were the case, it would contradict the verses above from Romans and Ephesians that make it very clear election is not based on anything man does or will do.

***Fortunately, God does not leave us to wonder about this issue. In John 10:26, Jesus said, “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” The reason some people believe is that they belong to God. They were chosen for salvation, not based on the fact that they would one day believe, but because God chose them for “adoption as sons in Christ Jesus” before they ever existed. The reason one person believes and another person does not is that one person has been adopted by God and the other has not. The truth is that the word foreknew in Romans 8:29 is not speaking of God's knowing the future. The word foreknowledge is never used in terms of knowing about future events, times or actions (God’s omniscience). What it does describe is a predetermined relationship in the knowledge of God whereby God brings the salvation relationship into existence by decreeing it into existence ahead of time.***

The word know is sometimes used in the Bible to describe an intimate or personal relationship between a man and a woman. In a similar sense, before God ever created the heavens and earth, and a long time before we were ever born, God knew His elect in a personal way and chose them to be His sheep, not because they would someday follow Him but in order to guarantee that they would follow Him. His knowing them and choosing them is the reason they follow Him, not the other way around. The issue really is not whether or not God knows who will believe, but why some believe and others do not. The answer to that is God chooses to have mercy on some and others He leaves in their sinful rebellion.

The following quote by John Murray is excellent in dealing with this issue: "Even if it were granted that ‘foreknew’ means the foresight of faith, the biblical doctrine of sovereign election is not thereby eliminated or disproven. For it is certainly true that God foresees faith; He foresees all that comes to pass. The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith, which God foresees? ***And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith He himself creates (cf. John 3:3-8; 6:44, 45, 65; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Peter 1:2). Hence His eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by His decree to generate this faith in those whom He foresees as believing."

Question: Who are the elect of God?

Answer: Simply put, the “elect of God” are those whom God has predestined to salvation. They are called the “elect” because that word denotes the concept of choosing. Every four years in the U.S., we "elect" a President - i.e., we choose who will serve in that office. The same goes for God and those who will be saved; God chooses those who will be saved. These are the elect of God.

***As it stands, the concept of God electing those who will be saved isn’t controversial. What is controversial is how and in what manner God chooses those who will be saved. Throughout church history, there have been two main views on the doctrine of election (or predestination). ***One view, which we will call the prescient or foreknowledge view, teaches that God, through His omniscience, knows those who will in the course of time choose of their own free will to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. On the basis of this divine foreknowledge, God elects these individuals “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). This view is held by the majority of American evangelicals.

***The second main view is the Augustinian view, which essentially teaches that God not only divinely elects those who will have faith in Jesus Christ, but also divinely elects to grant to these individuals the faith to believe in Christ. In other words, God’s election unto salvation is not based on a foreknowledge of an individual’s faith, but is based on the free, sovereign grace of Almighty God. God elects people to salvation, and in time these people will come to faith in Christ because God has elected them.

***The difference boils down to this: who has the ultimate choice in salvation - God or man? In the first view (the prescient view), man has control; his free will is sovereign and becomes the determining factor in God’s election. God can provide the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, but man must choose Christ for himself in order to make salvation real. Ultimately, this view diminishes the biblical understanding of God's sovereignty. This view puts the Creator's provision of salvation at the mercy of the creature; if God wants people in heaven, He has to hope that man will freely choose His way of salvation. In reality, the prescient view of election is no view of election at all, because God is not really choosing - He is only confirming. It is man who is the ultimate chooser.

In the Augustinian view, God has control; He is the one who, of His own sovereign will, freely chooses those whom He will save. He not only elects those whom He will save, but He actually accomplishes their salvation. Rather than simply make salvation possible, God chooses those whom He will save and then saves them. This view puts God in His proper place as Creator and Sovereign.

***The Augustinian view is not without problems of its own. Critics have claimed that this view robs man of his free will. If God chooses those who will be saved, then what difference does it make for man to believe? Why preach the gospel? Furthermore, if God elects according to His sovereign will, then how can we be responsible for our actions? These are all good and fair questions that need to be answered. A good passage to answer these questions is Romans 9, the most in-depth passage dealing with God’s sovereignty in election.

The context of the passage flows from Romans 8, which ends with a great climax of praise: “For I am convinced that [nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This leads Paul to consider how a Jew might respond to that statement. While Jesus came to the lost children of Israel and while the early church was largely Jewish in makeup, the gospel was spreading among the Gentiles much faster than among the Jews. In fact, most Jews saw the gospel as a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:23) and rejected Jesus. This would lead the average Jew to wonder if God’s plan of election has failed, since most Jews reject the message of the gospel.

Throughout Romans 9, Paul systematically shows that God’s sovereign election has been in force from the very beginning. He begins with a crucial statement: “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9:6). This means that not all people of ethnic Israel (that is, those descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) belong to true Israel (the elect of God). Reviewing the history of Israel, Paul shows that God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau. Just in case anyone thinks that God was choosing these individuals based on the faith or good works they would do in the future, he adds, “Though they [Jacob and Esau] 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” (Romans 9:11).

At this point, one might be tempted to accuse God of acting unjustly. Paul anticipates this accusation in v. 14, stating plainly that God is not unjust in any way. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). God is sovereign over His creation. He is free to choose those whom He will choose, and He is free to pass by those whom He will pass by. The creature has no right to accuse the Creator of being unjust. The very thought that the creature can stand in judgment of the Creator is absurd to Paul, and it should be so to every Christian, as well. The balance of Romans 9 substantiates this point.

As already mentioned, there are other passages that talk to a lesser extent on the topic of God’s elect (John 6:37-45 and Ephesians 1:3-14, to name a couple). The point is that God has ordained to redeem a remnant of humanity to salvation. These elect individuals were chosen before the creation of the world, and their salvation is complete in Christ. As Paul says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

Question: Monergism vs. synergism - which view is correct?

Answer: This topic has been hotly debated within the church for centuries. It is not exaggerating to say that this debate concerns the very heart of the gospel itself. First, let us define the two terms. When we talk about monergism vs. synergism, theologically speaking, we’re talking about who brings about our salvation. ***Monergism, which comes from a compound Greek word that means “to work alone,” is the view that God alone effects our salvation.*** This view is held primarily by Calvinistic and Reformed traditions and is closely tied to what is known as the “doctrines of grace.” ***Synergism, which also comes from a compound Greek word meaning “to work together,” is the view that God works together with us in effecting salvation.*** While monergism is closely associated with John Calvin, synergism is associated with Jacob Arminius, and his views have greatly shaped the modern evangelical landscape. Calvin and Arminius aren’t the creators of these views, but are the best-known proponents of Calvinism and Arminianism.

These two views were heavily debated in the early 17th century when followers of Arminius published The Five Articles of the Remonstrance (FAR), a document stating where their theology differed from that of Calvin and his followers. The pivotal point in this debate is between the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election vs. the Arminian doctrine of conditional election. If one believes election is unconditional, then one will tend toward a monergistic view of salvation. Conversely, if one holds to a view that election is based on God’s foreknowledge of who would believe in Him, then one tends toward the synergistic view.

The view of unconditional election is stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith: “Those of mankind that are predestinated unto 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 free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace”(WCF III.5, emphasis added). As we can see, unconditional election teaches that God’s choice of the elect is based on the good pleasure of His will and nothing more. Furthermore, His choice in election is not based on His foreseeing a person’s faith or any good works or that person's persevering in either faith or good works.

Two classic biblical passages support this doctrine. The first is Ephesians 1:4-5, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” According to this passage, we were chosen by God to be in Christ - holy and blameless - before the world was created, and this choice was based on the “purpose of God’s will.” The other passage is Romans 9:16, “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.” God’s choice is not dependent on anything we do or believe in, but is made solely at the discretion of God’s mercy.

The essence of Calvinism, and the monergistic argument, is that God is in the business of actually saving people and not merely making them savable. ***Because all people are born in sin and because of their fallen nature (total depravity), they will always reject God; therefore, God must act in saving the elect without any pre-condition on their part such as faith. In order to bestow the blessings of salvation and eternal life to the elect, God must first atone for their sins (limited atonement). This grace and salvation must then be applied to the elect, and thus the Holy Spirit applies the effects of salvation to the elect by regenerating their spirits and drawing them into salvation (irresistible grace). Finally, those whom God has saved He will preserve to the end (perseverance of the saints). From beginning to end, salvation (in all its aspects) is a work of God and God alone - monergism! The point is that actual people are being saved - the elect. Consider Romans 8:28-30. In that passage we see that there is a group of people whom God “calls according to his purpose.” These people are identified as “those who love God.” These people are also those who in vv. 29-30 are foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified. God is the one who is moving this group of people (those who love God, the elect) from foreknowledge to glorification, and none are lost along the way.

In support of the synergistic argument, let’s turn our attention to the Five Articles of the Remonstrance: “That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in 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,’ and according to other passages of Scripture also” (FAR, Article I, emphasis added). Here we see that salvation is conditional upon the faith and perseverance of the individual. What conditional election does is place the determining factor of our salvation squarely upon us, on our ability to choose Jesus and remain in Him. Now Arminians will claim that our ability to choose Jesus is the result of a universal grace that God first gives to all people that offsets the effects of the fall and allows man to choose to accept or reject Christ. In other words, God must do something to even make the choice of salvation possible, but in the end it is our choice which saves us. The Scripture reference that Article I supplies certainly affirms that those who believe have eternal life and that those who reject do not have eternal life, so it would seem there is some scriptural support for this doctrine. Thus, the synergistic argument claims that God makes salvation possible, but it is our choice that makes salvation actual.

So, while monergism claims that God is both a necessary and sufficient condition for our salvation, synergism will agree that God is a necessary condition, but will deny His sufficiency. Our free will plus God’s activity is what makes it sufficient. ***Logically speaking, we should be able to see the flaw in the synergistic argument - that God doesn’t actually save anyone. This places the responsibility for salvation on us, for it is we who have to make salvation real by placing our faith in Christ. If God doesn’t actually save anyone, then it is possible that no one will be saved.*** If God doesn’t actually save anyone, how do we explain such strong passages as Romans 8:28-30? All of the Greek verbs in that passage are aorist/indicative, meaning that the action described therein is complete; there is no potentiality implied in that passage. From God’s perspective, salvation has been effected. Further, Article IV of the Remonstrance says the grace of God is resistible, and Article V asserts that those who have chosen the grace of God can also fall from that grace and “return to this present evil world” becoming “devoid of grace.” This view contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in regard to the eternal security of the believer.

If that is the case, how then do we respond to the biblical support for conditional election (cf. John 3:36)? There is no denying that faith is necessary to make salvation a "done deal" in our lives, but where does faith fall in the order of salvation (Ordo Salutis)? Again, if we consider Romans 8:29-30, we see a logical progression of salvation. Justification, which is typically in view when considering salvation by faith, is fourth on that list preceded by foreknowledge, predestination, and calling. Now calling can be broken down into the following: regeneration, evangelism, faith and repentance. In other words, the "call" (referred to as “effectual calling” by Reformed theologians) first must involve being born again by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3). Next comes the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17), followed by faith and repentance. However, before any of that can take place, it must be logically preceded by foreknowledge and predestination.

This brings us to the question of foreknowledge. Arminians will claim that foreknowledge refers to God foreknowing the faith of the elect. If that is the case, then God’s electing us is no longer based on the “good purpose of his will,” but rather on our being able to choose Him, despite our fallen condition which, according to Romans 8:7 is hostile to God and incapable of doing so. The Arminian view of foreknowledge also contradicts the clear teaching of the passages mentioned above in support of unconditional election (Ephesians 1:4-5 and Romans 9:16). This view essentially robs God of His sovereignty and places the responsibility for salvation squarely on the shoulders of creatures who are wholly incapable of saving themselves.

In conclusion, the weight of the logical evidence and the weight of the biblical evidence supports the monergistic view of salvation - God is the author and perfector of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2). He who began a good work in us will perfect it on the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Monergism not only has a profound impact on how one views salvation, but on evangelism as well. If salvation is solely based on God’s saving grace, then there is no room for us to boast, and all the glory goes to Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). In addition, if God actually saves people, then our evangelistic efforts must bear fruit because God has promised to save the elect. Monergism equals greater glory to God!

Question: How can I know if I am one of the elect?

Answer: While there are numerous ideas of precisely what election means in regards to salvation, the fact that believers are elect is indisputable (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:4). Simply put, the doctrine of election is that God chooses / determines / elects / predestines who will be saved. It is not within the scope of this article to determine how election works. Rather, the question is “How can I know if I am one of the elect?” The answer is exceedingly simple: believe!

The Bible nowhere instructs us to be concerned regarding our status of elect vs. non-elect. Rather, God calls us to believe, to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). If a person truly trusts in Jesus alone for salvation, that person is one of the elect. Whether belief secures election, or election causes belief - that is another debate. But what is sure that belief is evidence of election. No one can receive Jesus as Savior unless God draws him or her (John 6:44). God calls/draws those whom He has predestined / elected (Romans 8:29-30). Saving faith is not possible without divine election. Therefore, saving faith is evidence of election.

The idea of a person wanting to be saved but being unable to, due to not being one of the elect, is absolutely foreign to the Bible. No one seeks after God’s plan of salvation on his own accord (Romans 3:10-18). Those without Christ are blind to their need for salvation (2 Corinthians 4:4). This only changes when God begins drawing a person to Himself. It is God who opens eyes and enlightens minds to the need for Jesus Christ as Savior. A person cannot repent (change the mind about sin and the need for salvation) unless God grants repentance (Acts 11:18). Therefore, if you understand God’s plan of salvation, recognize your need for it, and feel compelled to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, then believe, and you are saved.

If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, trusting Him alone for salvation, believing that His sacrifice is the full payment for your sins - congratulations, you are one of the elect.

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