Is Predestination Unconditional?

Is Predestination Unconditional?

Romans 8:28–30
“And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.”


This is one of those topics that divides us. Those who are proponents of unconditional election fall into the camp of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon, just to name a few. These notes are taken from a class I attended on the subject. I welcome your thoughts in support of this position or in another.

Unconditional Election: The belief that God predestined people for salvation before the beginning of time. God’s election is not conditioned by anything in man, good or evil, foreseen or present, but upon God’s sovereign choice.

Defense of unconditional election:

Election must be unconditional and individual, because man is totally depraved. If election were conditioned upon the choice of man, no one would ever be elect, since man does not have the
inclination or ability to choose God on his own. The only thing that man contributes to his salvation is sin. Therefore, God must unconditionally predestine people to salvation.

Romans 3:10–18
“Just as it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one. Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and
bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

Jeremiah 13:23
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

Titus 3:3
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”

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.”

John 6:65
“And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’”

John 6:37
“Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.”



2. The Bible clearly teaches that election is not conditioned on man.

John 15:16
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”


3. The words “predestine,” “choose,” “appoint,” and “foreknow” are all in the active voice, which speaks of the initiative of the actor behind the action (God). One would have to have a preconceived bias against the doctrine of election in order to interpret these words in a conditional sense.

4. Romans 9:8–29 clearly and contextually teach unconditional election of individuals.

“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they 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— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

                  “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
      and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ”
                  “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
      there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” And as Isaiah predicted,

                  “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
      we would have been like Sodom
      and become like Gomorrah.”


5. Salvation is by grace alone and for God’s glory alone. If people are elect based on their own choice, then merit is gained through the work of the individual (i.e., their faith). Salvation would not be by grace alone and for God’s glory alone.

Ephesians 2:8–9
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it

is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

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