What about Adam & Eve, and their freedom to choose?
This is not a difficult question to answer. The problem that many people have about this question is that they confuse between the Pre-fallen stage and the Fallen stage. I completely agree that Adam and Eve were not created like robots. And I also agree that Adam and Eve had the freedom and the ability to choose. How? Because before the Fall, they were created perfect and sinless. But that’s the key: before the Fall, they were perfect and sinless. Their whole faculty of beings, such as knowledge, emotion, and will have not been contaminated by sin. Thus their knowledge, emotion, and will were absolutely perfect and absolutely free. And they had the ability and the freedom to choose.
But that all changed when they chose to sin. After the Fall, all human beings no longer have this freedom or the ability. It is a great mistake to think that you and I have the freedom or the ability to choose because we do not live in the Pre-fallen stage, but rather, in the Fallen stage. The Bible says that by one man’s disobedience we all have been infected with sin. Hence as fallen sinners, people are dominated and controlled by their sin and they are slaves (not free) to sin.
The doctrine regarding the total depravity of sin or the total inability is the foundation to understand the gospel message. That is why when people have trouble with the doctrine of election, their real problem is not with the doctrine of election, but it is with the doctrine of total depravity or the inability of the will. How deprave is depraved man?
Let God Be True and Every Man Liar
I now want to take you through some of the biblical texts to have you see for yourself what the Bible says. I want to begin with the Gospel of John.
- NAU John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
It is not by the will of the flesh or the will of man that salvation is granted, but is because of the will of God. Also:
- NAU 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.
- NAU 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.”
Apostle Paul echoes that same truth in Ephesians 1:4-5:
- NAU Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Again, it is not by the will of the flesh or the will of man that salvation is granted, but is because of the good pleasure of God’s will. Thus the only way that anybody can be saved is by the sovereign grace of God by which He first chooses some for salvation and then leads them to faith. The doctrine of election teaches that we are too hopelessly depraved in sin to ever earn God’s blessings on our own. Instead, God in his mercy chose us and then made his choice effectual (in theology, the effectual calling). First he made our salvation possible by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sin. Then he sent his Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the truth and the gospel, and we were deeply convicted of our sin and became regenerate by the mercy of God.
Paul echoes this truth in Titus 3:5-7, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit: Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Thus all the blessings we enjoy from God must be traced back to this sovereign electing purpose of God toward us in Jesus Christ. And that’s exactly how Paul opens his letter to Ephesians.
Implications on the Doctrine of Election
1. Election eliminates all human boasting.
- NAU Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus… 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded.
- NAU 1 Corinthians 1:28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.
- NAU Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
2. Election gives the real assurance of salvation.
John Calvin said, “If…our faith were not grounded in God’s eternal election, it is certain that Satan might pluck it from us every minute.”
3. Election leads to holiness.
A person may say, “If I am elect, then I’ll be saved regardless of what I do. So I’m going to enjoy myself and sin all I please.” But those who say that clearly demonstrates that they are not God’s elect. According to Scripture the purpose of election is to holiness. To quote the words of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, he said, “Being chosen and being holy are inseparable. It is possible to be intellectually orthodox and yet not be a Christian. The man who is chosen, is chosen to holiness; and if there is no evidence of holiness in his life it is proof that he has never been chosen” (God’s Ultimate Purpose, 103).
4. Election promotes real evangelism.
Since salvation is the work of God, and God is saving people on the basis of his prior election, then this helps us to speak the Word of God more boldly, knowing that all whom God has previously determined to come to faith will come to him. We do not know who the God’s elect are. The only way we can find them out is by their response to the gospel and by their desire to be holy. Thus the doctrine of election strongly encourages me to preach the Gospel more boldly, because although I may not know who are the God’s elect, but I do know that to those whom God has already called will come to him. And I can observe who the God’s elect are by examining their desire to be holy and to live a sanctified life.