Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tribulation? Elect? No problems!

Lately I’ve been immersing myself in studying the Atonement. Of particular interest to me is the doctrine of Limited Atonement which is the L in the Calvinistic acronym T.U.L.I.P. In a nutshell, Limited Atonement holds that Christ died to redeem ONLY the ELECT.

If you’re a Reformed 5 pointer, a more “efficient” rendering of John 3:16 might conceivably read as follows:

"For God so loved the ELECT, which He predestined to salvation, that he gave his only Son, that whoever (of the ELECT, though they have no choice) believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV (with some additions)

The elect were sovereignly chosen by God for salvation in eternity past. They were predestined. In fact they really had no choice in it due to Irresistible Grace. Once you are chosen you are saved and the best part is that you won’t lose that salvation because of what’s called Perseverance.

If you’re not one of the ELECT/CHOSEN, well…see, there’s this thing about Total Depravity. Sorry about that.

I realize I’m being somewhat flippant here. This is a serious issue.

But the subject got me to thinking – how does this affect pre-Millennial eschatology? Specifically, being prepared for the Great Tribulation and the possibility of taking the mark of the Beast if you’re a miscalculating pretribber?

Remember that you’re one of the ELECT! Your salvation has been sovereignly determined in eternity past. You were regenerated even before you could have faith. There was nothing you could do to gain salvation – and nothing to lose it.


The odd thing is that pretribulationism is sometimes frowned upon by the Reformed, pre-mil, 5 pointers who fret over the pretribulationist’s capacity to endure the Great Tribulation with their souls intact. Here’s a typical example:

“…who will be more prepared for this test? the person who is taught that this test will be applied to the Church and thus must have faith to endure; or, the person who is taught that the Church will be swept away in bed's of ease before the Antichrist uses the mark as a test of loyalty?”

So pretribulationists are being cautioned to "test their election", that they are not deceived and left wanting during the tribulation. Isn’t this contradictory…or am I missing something?

What endurance and what test?

Remember T.U.L.I.P.?

How can unsaved individuals - who weren’t Predestined - prepare for the “test of loyalty” if there’s nothing they can do to contribute to their salvation? On the other side of the coin, if you’re one of the ELECT then there’s nothing you can do to lose that salvation.

If you’re a consistent proponent of T.U.L.I.P., then, logically, it’s all been predetermined.


Man says:

" ...the conversion of a sinner being not owing to a man's self determination, but to God's determination, and eternal election, which is absolute, and depending on the sovereign Will of God, and not on the free will of man; as is evident from what has been said : and it being very evident from the Scriptures, that the eternal election of saints to the faith and holiness, is also an election of them to eternal salvation; hence their appointment to salvation must also be absolute, and not depending on their contingent, self-determining Will." Jonathan Edwards

God says:

1 John 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

And John 3:16 (without man's redefinition):

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

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