God Decides 2008!- What Happens to the Non-Elect?

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” -John 6.44

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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” -Ephesians 1.11-12

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.” -Romans 11.7

Now we get to the hard part. In our previous discussions we have argued that (1) election exists, (2) that all who are elect are saved, and (3) that their election preceded their salvation, thus being unconditional towards anything they have done or will do. It is at this point, though, that we must look at the flip-side, and by that I mean, if there is such a group as the elect, then this also means that there is such a group as the non-elect, or those who were not set apart by God for a special purpose, and if so, what about those people?

(Note: I will not be handling the idea of double predestination here because I have previously addressed it in this post.)

Because this is so controversial and because I have absolute disdain for wishy-washy answers I will tell you straight up: I believe that the non-elect will not be saved. Now that I have said that I want to develop the argument by which I come to this conclusion.

The first place we need to go is the verse which I referenced last time in discussing the call (or, should I be more clear, the inward call, as opposed to the outward call of the Gospel preaching), that being John 6.44:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

As I mentioned previously, without pushing it too far, this verse tells us, along with John 6.65, that before anyone can receive salvation the Father must allow them to receive it, either by a wooing as some would argue, or by an effectual calling. Regardless of how you dissect it, there must be some sort of inward call which precedes the salvific event in a person’s life. So, we already said that the elect receive that call (Romans 8.30), but what about the non-elect?

Well, the first place to turn in attempt to answer this would be Romans 8.28-30:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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.

We have argued much about election from this passage and so it seems fitting to see if it tells us anything about the non-elect. Unfortunately, I do not think it is as successful in this venture. From the way I read it there are only two things we may ascertain. First, this passage only says “if elect then called,” which does not give us the converse “if not elect then not called,” and so we can not advance here. Second, it may be that we can read “if called then justified” without the precondition of election, which would mean that all who are called will be saved, which is interesting in light of the fact that the denial of universalism would say that not everyone is called, and then if only some non-elect are called, and all of those thus saved, then how are they different from the elect; but alas, I do not know if we can press that reading this far, and so the passage seems to be a wash.

The next place I would want to go is Romans 11.7:

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.

This, as we have mentioned before, is Paul addressing the Jews and talking about the chosen remnant which was preserved by God, to whom he calls the elect, and says that they indeed obtained salvation, though the others did not. So, what we get in this case is a situation where the non-elect, of ethnic Israel at least, were not saved. Thus, we may conclude that if the call did go out to the non-elect here then it certainly did not do anything for their salvation, which, if you hold a “man’s choice” view of salvation seems to be an awfully weird occurrence. Of course, if you hold a “sovereignty of God” view of salvation then this would make you ask what type of call could have gone out to the non-elect that would be ineffectual and you would conclude that it must be different from the call which goes out to the elect, and therefore not the call we are searching for. Either way, given this declaration by Paul, it seems awfully unlikely that the non-elect of ethnic Israel ever received an inward call to salvation.

The final place I want to look at, and this I believe is sufficient to end the discussion, is Ephesians 1.3-12. This passage, as a whole, is written as a praise to God for the salvation of the author and of the peoples he is writing to, namely Paul and the church at Ephesus. In wrapping it up, Paul says,

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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (vv.11-12)

This is interesting because, though Paul has already mentioned that the people of his address were elect, he here says that they have been saved and then adopted as sons, as a result of being numbered among the elect. Now, I know that Paul was under inspiration of the Holy Spirit at this time, but do we really want to assume that Paul had special insight into who was elect and who wasn’t? And if it is the case that he does know, does it not seem odd that the whole of the saved congregation he is writing to is elect? Again I think we are approached with the problem from Romans 11.7: if the non-elect can be saved, why do we see groups of saved people all referred to as being elect? We cannot think it because election simply means saved, since we have already argued to the contrary. Thus, I think it would be rash to continue holding out an argument which says that the non-elect may be saved.

All this said, it now comes to the point which I had intended all along, that being our response. I hope that, whether you agree with all of my conclusions or not, you will at least remain engaged in the series so as to see what I have to say about the response of one who holds to this view of election and how they should answer certain common objections to it

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