The Doctrine of Election
by Arthur W. Pink
6. Its Nature
It has been well said that, "The reason why any one believes in election is, that he finds it in the Bible. No man could ever imagine such a doctrine—for it is, in itself, contrary to the thinking and the wishes of the human heart. Every one, at first, opposes the doctrine, and it is only after many struggles, under the working of the Spirit of God, that we are made to receive it. A perfect acquiescence in this doctrine—an absolute lying still, in adoring wonder, at the footstool of God’s sovereignty, is the last attainment of the sanctified soul in this life, as it is the beginning of Heaven. The reason why any one believes in election is just this, and only this, that God has made it known. Had the Bible been a counterfeit it never could have contained the doctrine of election, for men are too averse to such a thought to give it expression, much more to give it prominence." (G. S. Bishop).
Thus far, in our exposition of this blessed truth, we have shown that the source of election is the will of God, for nothing exists or can exist apart from that. Next, we have seen, that the Grand Original of election is the man Christ Jesus, who was ordained unto union with the second person in the Godhead. Then, in order to clear the way for a more detailed examination of this truth as it bears upon us, we demonstrated the verity and then the justice of it, seeking to remove from the minds of Christian readers the defiling and disturbing effects of the principal objection which is made against divine election by its enemies. And now we shall endeavor to point out the principal elements which enter into election.
First, it is an act by God. True it is that there comes a day when each of the elect chooses God for his absolute Lord and supreme Good, but this is the effect and in no sense the cause of the former. Our choosing of Him is in time, His choosing of us was before time began; and certain it is that unless He had first chosen us, we would never choose Him at all. God, who is a sovereign being, does whatsoever He pleases both in heaven and in earth, having an absolute right to do as He will with His own creatures, and therefore did He choose a certain number of human beings to be His people, His children, His peculiar treasure. Having done this, it is called "election of God" (1 Thess. 1:4), for He is the efficient cause of it; and the persons chosen are denominated "His own elect" (Luke 18:7; cf. Rom. 8:33).
This choice of God’s is an absolute one, being entirely gratuitous, depending on nothing whatever outside of Himself. God elected the ones He did simply because He chose to do so: from no good, merit, or attraction in the creature, and from no foreseen merit or attraction to be in the creature. God is absolutely self-sufficient, and therefore He never goes outside of Himself to find a reason for any thing that He does. He cannot be swayed by the works of His own hand. No, He is the One who sways them, as He alone is the One who gave them existence. "In Him we live, and are moved [Greek], and have our being." It was, then, simply out of the spontaneous goodness of His own volition that God singled out from the mass of those He purposed to create a people who should show forth His praises for all eternity, to the glory of His sovereign grace forever and ever.
This choice of God’s is an unchangeable one. Necessarily so, for it is not founded upon anything in the creature, or grounded upon anything outside of Himself. It is before everything, even before His "foreknowledge." God does not decree because He foreknows, but He foreknows because He has infallibly and irrevocably fixed it—otherwise He would merely guess it. But since He foreknows it, then He does not guess—it is certain; and if certain, then He must have fixed it. Election being the act of God, it is forever, for whatever He does in a way of special grace, is irreversible and unalterable. Men may choose some to be their favorites and friends for a while, and then change their minds and choose others in their room. But God does not act such a part: He is of one mind, and none can turn Him; His purpose according to election stands firm, sure, unalterable (Rom. 9:11; 2 Tim 2:19).
Second, God’s act of election is made in Christ: "according as he hath chosen us in him" (Eph. 1:4). Election does not find men in Christ, but puts them there. It gives them a being in Christ and union to Him, which is the foundation of their manifestative being in Him at conversion. In the infinite mind of God, He willed to love a company of Adam’s posterity with an immutable love, and out of the love wherewith He loves them, He chose them in Christ. By this act in His infinite mind, God gave them being and blessedness in Christ from everlasting. Though, while all fell in Adam, yet all did not fall alike. The non-elect fell so as to be damned, they being left to perish in their sins, because they had no relation to Christ—He was not related to them as the Mediator of union with God.
The non-elect had their all in Adam, their natural head. But the elect had all spiritual blessing bestowed upon them in Christ, their gracious and glorious Head (Eph. 1:3). They could not lose these, because they were secured for them in Christ. God had chosen them as His own: He their God, they His people; He their Father, they His children. He gave them to Christ to be His brethren, His companions, His bride, His partners in all His communicable grace and glory. On the foresight of their fall in Adam, and what would be the effects thereof, the Father proposed to raise them up from the ruins of the fall, upon the consideration of His Son’s undertaking to perform all righteousness for them, and as their Surety, bear all their sins in His own body on the tree, making His soul an offering for sin. To carry all of this unto execution, the beloved Son became incarnate.
It was to this that the Lord Jesus referred in His high priestly prayer, when He said to the Father "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gayest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me" (John 17:6). He was alluding to the whole election of grace. They were the objects of the Father’s delight: His jewels, His portion; and in Christ’s eyes they were what the Father beheld them to be. How highly, then, did the Father esteem the Mediator, or He would never have bestowed His elect on Him and committed them all to His care and management! And how highly did Christ value this love-gift of the Father’s, or He would not have undertaken their salvation at such tremendous cost to Himself! Now the giving of the elect to Christ was a different act, a distinct act from that of their election. The elect were first the Father’s by election, who singled out the persons; and then He bestowed them upon Christ as His love-gift: "Thine they were [by election] and thou gavest them me"—in the same way that grace is said to be given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Tim. 1:9).
Third, this act of God was irrespective of and anterior to any foresight of the entrance of sin. We have somewhat anticipated this branch of our subject, yet as it is one upon which very few today are clear, and one we deem of considerable importance, we propose to give it separate consideration. The particular point which we are now to ponder is, as to whether His people were viewed by God, in His act of election, as fallen or unfallen; as in the corrupt mass through their defection in Adam, or in the pure mass of creaturehood, as to be created. Those who took the former view are known as Sublapsarians; those who took the latter as Supralapsarians, and in the past this question was debated considerably between high and low Calvinists. This writer unhesitatingly (after prolonged study) takes the Supralapsarian position, though he is well aware that few indeed will be ready to follow him.
Sin having drawn a veil over the greatest of all the divine mysteries of grace—that of the divine incarnation alone excepted—renders our present task the more difficult. It is much easier for us to apprehend our misery, and our redemption from it—by the incarnation, obedience, and sacrifice of the Son of God—than it is for us to conceive of the original glory, excellency, purity, and dignity of the Church of Christ, as the eternal object of God’s thoughts, counsels, and purpose. Nevertheless, if we adhere closely to the Holy Scriptures, it is evident (to the writer, at least) that God’s people had a super-creation and spiritual union with Christ before ever they had a creature and natural union with Adam; that they were blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ (Eph. 1:3), before they fell in Adam and became subject to all the evils of the curse. First, we will summarize the reasons given by John Gill in support of this.
God’s decree of election is to be divided into two parts or degrees, namely, His purpose concerning the end and His purpose concerning the means. The first part has to do with the purpose of God in Himself, in which He determined to have an elect people and that for His own glory. The second part has to do with the actual execution of the first, by fixing upon the means whereby the end shall be accomplished. These two parts in the divine decree are neither to be severed nor confounded, but considered distinctly. God’s purpose concerning the end means that He ordained a certain people to be the recipients of His special favor, for the glorifying of His sovereign goodness and grace. His purpose concerning the means signifies that He determined to create that people, permit them to fall, and to recover them out of it by Christ’s redemption and the Spirit’s sanctification. These are not to be regarded as separate decrees, but as component parts and degrees of one purpose. There is an order in the divine counsels as real and definite as Genesis 1 shows there was in connection with creation.
As the purpose of the end is first in view (in the order of nature) before the determination of the means, therefore what is first in intention is last in execution. Now as the glory of God is the last in execution, it necessarily follows that it was first in intention. Wherefore men must be considered in the Divine purpose concerning the end as neither yet created nor fallen, since both their creation and the permission of sin belong to God’s counsel concerning the means. Is it not obvious that if God first decreed to create men and suffer them to fall, and then out of the fallen mass chose some to grace and glory, that He purposed to create men without any end in view? And is not that charging God with what a wise man would never do, for when man determines to do a thing he proposes an end (say the building of an house) and then fixes on ways and means to bring about the end. Can it be thought for a moment that the Omniscient One should act otherwise?
The above distinction between the divine purpose concerning the end and God’s appointing of means to secure that end, is clearly borne out by Scripture. For example, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10). Here is first the decree concerning the end: God ordained His many sons "unto glory"; in His purpose of the means God ordained that the captain of their salvation should be made perfect "through sufferings." In like manner was it in connection with Christ Himself. "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand" (Ps. 110:1). God decreed that the Mediator should have this high honor conferred upon Him, yet in order thereto it was ordained that "He shall drink of the brook in the way" (v. 7): God, then, decreed that the Redeemer should drink of the fullness of those pleasures which are at His right hand for evermore (Ps. 16:11), but before that He must drain the bitter cup of anguish. So it is with His people: Canaan is their destined portion, but the wilderness is appointed as that through which they shall pass on their way thereto.
God’s foreordination of His people unto holiness and glory anterior to His foreview of their fall in Adam, comports far better with the instances given of Jacob and Esau in Romans 9:11 than does the sublapsarian view that His decree contemplated them as sinful creatures. There we read, "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger." The apostle is showing that the preference was given to Jacob independent of all ground of merit, because it was made before the children were born. If it be kept in mind that what God does in time is only a making manifest of what He secretly decreed in eternity, the point we are here pressing will be the more conclusive. God’s acts both of election and preterition—choosing and passing by—were entirely irrespective of any foreseen "good or evil." Note, too, how this compound expression "the purpose of God according to election" supports the contention of there being two parts to God’s decree.
It should also be pointed out that God’s foreordination of His people unto everlasting bliss before He contemplated them as sinful creatures, agrees far better than does the sublapsarian idea, with the unformed clay of the Potter: "Hath not the potter power [the right] over the clay; of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?" (Rom. 9:2 1). Upon this Beza (co-pastor with Calvin of the church at Geneva) remarked that "if the apostle had considered mankind as corrupted, he would not have said that some vessels were made unto honor and some unto dishonor, but rather that seeing all the vessels were fit for dishonor, some were left in that dishonor, and others translated from dishonor to honor"
But leaving inferences and deductions, let us turn now to something more express and definite. In Ephesians 1:11 we are told, "Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." Now a careful study of what precedes reveals a clear distinction in the "all things" which God works "according to the counsel of His own will," or, to state it in another way, the spiritual blessings which God bestows upon His people are divided into two distinct classes, according as He contemplated them first in an unfallen state and then in a fallen. The first and highest class of blessings are enumerated in verses 4-6 and have to do with God’s decree concerning the end; the second and subordinate class of blessings are described in verses 7-9 and have to do with God’s decree concerning the means which He has appointed for the accomplishment of that end.
These two parts in the mystery of God’s will towards His people from everlasting are clearly marked by the change of tense which is used: the past tense of "he hath chosen us" (v. 4), "having predestinated us unto the adoption of children" (v. 5) and "hath made us accepted in the beloved" (v. 6), becomes the present tense in verse 7: in whom we have redemption through His blood." The benefits spoken of in verses 4-6 are such as in no way depended upon a consideration of the fall, but follow from our being chosen in Christ, being given upon grounds higher and distinct from that of His being our Redeemer. God’s choice of us in Christ our Head, that we should be "holy" signifies not that imperfect holiness which we have in this life, but a perfect and immutable one such as even the unfallen angels had not by nature; and our predestination to adoption denotes an immediate communion with God Himself—blessings which had been ours had sin never entered.
As Thomas Goodwin pointed out in his unrivalled exposition of Ephesians 1, "The first source of blessings—perfect holiness, adoption, etc.—were ordained us without consideration of the Fall, though not before the consideration of the Fall; for all the things which God decrees are at once in His mind; they were all, both one another, ordained to our persons. But God in the decrees about these first sort of blessings viewed us as creatures which He could and would make so and so glorious. .. . But the second sort of blessings were ordained us merely upon consideration of the fall, and to our persons considered as sinners and unbelievers. The first sort were to the ‘praise of God’s grace,’ taking grace for the freeness of love; whereas the latter sort are to ‘the praise of the glory of his grace,’ taking grace for free mercy."
The first and higher blessings are to have their full accomplishment in heaven, being suited to that state into which we shall then be installed, and as in God’s primary intention they are before the other and are said to have been "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4), so they are to be realized after this world is ended—the "adoption" to which we are predestinated (Eph. 1:5) we still await (Rom. 8:23); whereas the second blessings are bestowed upon us in the lower world, for it is here and now we receive "forgiveness of sins" through the blood of Christ. Again; the first blessings are founded solely upon our relation to the person of Christ, as is evident from "chosen in Him. .. accepted in the beloved"; but the second sort are grounded upon His work, redemption issuing from Christ’s sacrifice. Thus the latter blessings are but the removing of those obstacles which by reason of sin stand in our way of that intended glory.
Again; this distinction of blessings which we receive in Christ as creatures, and through Christ as sinners, is confirmed by the twofold office which He sustains toward us. This is clearly expressed in "for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the savior of the body" (Eph. 5:23). Notice carefully the order of those titles: Christ is first as head and husband to us, which lays the foundation of that relation to God of being His adopted children—as by marriage with His Son. Second, He is our "Saviour," which necessarily respects sin. With Ephesians 5:23 should be compared Colossians 1:18-20, where the same order is set forth: in verses 18 and 19 we learn of what Christ is absolutely ordained to and His church with Him, by which He is the founder of that state we shall enter after the resurrection: and then in verse 20 we see Him as redeemer and reconciler: first the "head" of His Church, and then its "Saviour!" From this twofold relation of Christ to the elect arises a double glory which He is ordained unto: the one intrinsical, due to Him as the Son of God dwelling in human nature and being therein the head of a glorious Church (see John 17:5); and the other more extrinsical, as acquired by His work of redemption and purchased with the agony of His soul (see Phil. 2:8-10)!
We have called attention to the fact that the only reason why any God-fearing soul believes in the doctrine of election is because he finds it clearly and prominently revealed in God’s Word, and hence it follows that our only source of information thereon is the Word itself. Yet, what has just been said is much too general to be of specific help to the earnest inquirer. In turning to the Scriptures for light upon the mystery of election, it is most essential that we should bear in mind that Christ is the key to every part of them: "In the volume of the Book it is written of me" He declares, and therefore if we attempt to study this subject apart from Him we are certain to err. In preceding chapters we have evidenced that Christ is the grand original of election, and it is from that starting point we must proceed if we are to make any right advance.
What has just been pointed out holds good not only in the general, but in the particular: for instance, in connection with that special branch of our subject which was discussed we will now follow up from this particular viewpoint. If we go right back to the beginning itself then it will appear that God was pleased, and so resolved, to go forth into creature communion, which is to say that He determined to bring into existence creatures who should enjoy fellowship with Himself. His own glory was alone the supreme end in this determination, for "the Lord hath made all things for himself" (Prov. 16:4). We repeat, that His own glory was the sole and sufficient motive which induced God to create at all: "Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:35, 36).
The principal glory which God designed to Himself in election was the manifestation of the glory of His grace. This is irrefutably established by "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children through [Greek] Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace" (Eph. 1:5, 6). Grace is one of those illustrious perfections in the divine character, which is glorious in itself, and had ever remained so though no creature had been formed; but God has so displayed this attribute in election that His people will praise and render glory to it throughout the endless ages yet to be. God showed His holiness in the giving of the Law, His power in the making of the world, His justice in casting the wicked into hell, but His grace shines forth especially in predestination and what His elect are predestinated unto. So, too, when it is said to God "that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" (Rom. 9:23), the prime reference is to His grace as Ephesians 1:7 shows.
The second person in the Trinity was predestinated to be God-man, being first decreed, for we are "chosen in Him" (Eph. 1:4), which presupposes Him to be chosen first, as the soil in which we are set. We are predestinated unto the adoption of children, yet it is "through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:5). So we read "Who verily was foreordained [as "Christ"—see previous verse] before the foundation of the world" (1 Pet. 1:20); as we shall show later that expression "before the foundation of the world" is not merely a note of time, but chiefly one of eminence or preference, that God had Christ in His view before His intention to create the world for Him and His people. Now we have shown that Christ was ordained to be God-man for much higher ends than our salvation, namely, for God’s own self to delight in, to behold the perfect image of Himself in a creature, and by that union to communicate Himself to that man in a manner and degree not possible to any mere creature as such.
Together with the Son’s being predestinated to be God-man, there falls unto His glorious person, as His inheritance, to be the sovereign end of all things else which God should make and the end of whatever His intelligent creatures He should be pleased to choose unto glory. This is clear from "For all things are yours . . and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s" (1 Cor. 3:21-23), which is spoken of in reference of endship. As you, the saints, are the end for which all things were ordained, so Christ is the end of you, and Christ is God’s end or design m acting. We say that Christ is "the sovereign end," and not the supreme end, for God Himself is above and over all; but Christ is the sovereign end unto all creation, having joint-authority with God, under God. So it is declared that "by Him" and "for Him" were all things created (Col. 1:16), as it is said of God in Romans 11:36. Thus this sovereign end in creation fell to Him as the inheritance of the Mediator: "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand" (John 3:35).
In the predestination of the Son of man unto union with the Son of God, and in the constituting of Him through that union to be the sovereign end of us and of all things, there was conferred upon the man Christ Jesus thus exalted the highest possible favor, immeasurably transcending all the grace shown unto the elect any way considered, so that if the election of us be to the praise of the glory of God’s grace, His much more so. More honor has been conferred upon "that holy thing" born of the virgin than upon all the members of His mystical body put together; and it was grace pure and simple, sovereign grace, which bestowed it. What was there in His humanity, simply considered, which entitled it to such an exaltation? nor could there be any desert foreseen which required it, for it must be said of the man Christ Jesus, as of every other creature, "for who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7).
Let it not be forgotten that in decreeing the Son of man into union with the second person of the Trinity, with all the honor and glory involved therein, that God was perfectly free, as in everything else, to have decreed Him or not decreed Him, as He would; yea, had He pleased, He could have appointed the arch-angel rather than the seed of the woman, to that inestimable privilege. It was therefore free grace in God which made that decree, and by how much loftier was the dignity conferred upon Christ above His fellows, so much greater was the grace. The predestination of the man Jesus, then, is the highest example of grace, and thus God’s greatest end in predestination to manifest His grace (from whence election hath its title to be styled "the election of grace": Rom 11:5) was accomplished in Him above His brethren, that He should be to the praise of the glory of God’s grace, far above what we are.
Since in the case of Christ we have both the pattern and example of election—the grand original—it is quite evident that grace is not to be limited or understood only of the divine favor toward creatures that are fallen and are delivered out of ruin and misery. Grace does not necessarily presuppose sin in the objects it is shown unto, for the highest instance of all, that of the grace bestowed upon the man Christ Jesus, was conferred upon One who had no sin and was incapable of it. Grace is favor shown to the undeserving, for the human nature in the God-man merited not the distinction conferred upon it. When extended to fallen creatures, it is favor shown to the ill-deserving and Hell-deserving, yet this is not implied in the term itself, as may further be seen in the case of divine grace being extended to the unfallen angels. Thus, as Christ is the pattern to whom God has predestinated His people to be conformed, His election of them to everlasting glory was under His view of them as unfallen and not as corrupt creatures.
God having thus absolutely chosen the Son of man and therewith endowed Him with such royalty as to be the sovereign end of all whom He should create or elect to glory, it therefore follows that those who were chosen of us men were intended by the very ordination of God in our choice to be for Christ’s glory as the end of our election, as well as for God’s own glory. We were not absolutely ordained—as Christ in His unique predestination was in the first design of it—but from the first of ours the intention of God concerning us was that we should be Christ’s and have our glory from Him who is "the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8). Here, as everywhere, Christ has the preeminence, for the person of Christ, God-man, was predestinated for the dignity of Himself, but we for the glory of God and of Christ. Though God the Father, first and alone, designed who the favored ones should be, yet that there should be an election of any was for Christ’s sake, as well as His own.
In our election God had His Son in view as God-man, and in His design of Him as our end, He chose us for His sake, that we might be His "fellows" or companions (Ps. 45:7), that as He was God’s delight (Isa. 42:1), so we might be His delight (Prov. 8:31). Thus we were given to Christ first, not as sinners to be saved by Him, but as sinless members to a sinless Head, as a sovereign gift to His person, for His honor and pleasure, and to be partakers of a supernatural glory with Him and from Him. "And the glory which thou gayest me [as the God-man] I have given them" as concurring with Thy election of them and Thy giving of them to Me to be Mine. Thou hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me (i.e., with an everlasting love in election), yea, thou gayest them to me for my glory as their end, and for which chiefly Thou lovest them (John 17:22, 23).
And what immediately follows in John 17? This, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (v. 24). Christ was loved in His election from everlasting, and out of God’s love for Him His people were given to Him—with what intent? Even to behold, admire, and adore Him in His person and glory, as being that very thing they were ordained for, more than for their own glory, for their glory arises from beholding His (2 Cor. 3:18). And what is this glory which Christ was ordained unto? The glory of His person first absolutely decreed Him which is the height of His glory in heaven, where it is we are ordained to behold it. And observe how He here (John 17:24) reveals the main motive to God in this: "for thou lovedst me"—Christ’s being chosen first in the intention of God, the members were chosen and given to Him so that they should redound to His glory.
We being chosen for Christ’s glory as our end, and for His sake, as well as to the glory of God’s grace towards us, God did ordain a double relation of Christ unto us for His glory, additional unto that absolute glory of His person. First the relation of an "Head," wherein we were given to Him as members of His body, and as a spouse unto her husband to be her head. Second, the relation of a "Saviour" and Redeemer, which is in addition to His headship; and both of these for the further glory of Christ, and also for the demonstration of God’s grace towards us. These two relations are quite distinct and must not be confounded. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the Saviour of the body" (Eph. 5:23): each of those offices were appointed Him by the good pleasure of God’s will. This same twofold relation of Christ to His people is set forth again in Colossians 1:18-20: this double official honor conferred upon Him is further and above the absolute royalties of His person as the God-man.
Now that twofold relation of Christ to His people has, answerably a double and distinct aspect and consideration upon us and of us in our election by God, which was not absolute as Christ’s was, but relative unto His two principal offices. The first concerns our persons without the consideration of our fall in Adam, whereby we were contemplated in the pure lump of creatureship as to be created, and in that consideration God ordained us unto ultimate glory, under relation to Christ as an "Head": whether as members of His body or as His bride, or rather both as He is the Head of the Church; of either or both which our persons were fully capable of before or without any consideration of our fall. Second, of our persons viewed as fallen, as corrupt and sinful, and therefore as objects to be saved and redeemed from the thraldom thereof, under our relation to Him as a "Saviour"
Each of these relations was for the glory of God’s grace. First, in His design to advance us, considered purely as creatures, to an higher glory by His Christ than was attainable by the law of creation. To ordain us unto this glory was pure grace, no less so than to redeem us from sin and misery when fallen; for it was wholly independent of works or merit, even as Christ’s election (which is the pattern of ours) was apart from the consideration of works of any kind: as He declared, "my goodness extendeth not to thee" (Ps. 16:2). "Although the life-work and death-agony of the Son did reflect unparalleled lustre upon every attribute of God, yet the most blessed and infinitely happy God stood in no need of the obedience and death of His Son: it was for our sakes that the work of redemption was undertaken" (C. H. Spurgeon). It is to this original grace that 2 Timothy 1:9 refers: grace alone moving God to redeem and call us, apart from works, "according to" that mother grace whereby we were ordained to glory from the beginning.
In that original grace lay God’s grand and ultimate design, for it will have its accomplishment last of all, and as the perfection of all. God might immediately, upon our first creation, have taken us up into that glory. But second, for the further magnifying of Christ and the ampler demonstration of His grace—to extend it to its utmost reach: as the word in the Hebrew is "draw out at length thy lovingkindness" (Ps. 36:10)—He was not pleased to bring us unto the full possession of our inheritance in beholding the personal glory of Christ our head; but permissively ordained that we should fall into sin, and therefore decreed to create us in mutable condition (as the law of creation required), which made way for the abounding of His grace (Rom. 5:15). This is confirmed by, "But God, who is rich in mercy [a term which denotes our ill-desert], for his great love wherewith he loved us" (Eph. 2:4): first God loved us, viewed as sinless creatures; and this became the foundation of "mercy" to us considered as sinners.
It was upon this divine determination that the elect should not immediately upon their creation enter into the glory unto which they were ordained, but should first be suffered to fall into sin and wretchedness and then be delivered out of the same, that Christ had for His great and further glory the office of Redeemer and Saviour superadded to His election of Headship. It is our being sinful and miserable which occupies our present and immediate concern, as that which we are most solicitous about while left in this world, and therefore it is that the Scriptures do principally set forth Christ as Redeemer and Saviour. We say "principally" for as we have seen they are by no means silent upon the higher glory of His headship; yea, sufficient is said thereon to draw out our thoughts, affections and hopes unto the beholding Him in His grandest glory.
In bringing to a close this outline of the divine order of Christ’s election, and of ours, as it is represented in Scripture, let it be pointed out that we are not to suppose an interval of time between God’s foreordination of Christ as Head and of Him as Saviour, for all was simultaneous in the mind of God; but the distinction is in the order of nature, and for our better understanding thereof. Christ could not be the "Head" without the correlate of His mystical "body," as He could not be our "Saviour" except we had fallen. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth" (Isa. 42:1): Christ was first God’s elect and delight and then His servant—upheld by Him in the work of redeeming. Absolutely and primarily Christ as God-man was ordained for Himself, for His own glory; relatively and secondarily, He was chosen for us and our salvation.
The glory of the person of the God-man, absolutely considered, was the primo-primitive design of God, that upon which He set His heart; next unto this was His ordination of Christ to be an Head unto us and we a body to Him that by our union to Him as our Head, He was the sufficient and efficient author of such blessings as our becoming immutably holy, of sonship from His Sonship, and the gracious acceptance of our persons in Him as the chief Beloved, and heirs of the same glory with Him—all of which we were capable of in God’s considering us as pure creatures through our union with Christ, and needed not His death to have purchased them for us, being quite distinct from the blessing of redemption as Ephesians 1: 7 (following vv. 3-6) clearly enough shows. As this was the first in God’s design, so it is the last in execution, being greater than all "salvation" blessings, the crown of all, when we shall be "forever with the Lord."
Descending to a much lower level, let it be pointed out that most certainly the holy angels could not be regarded in the corrupt mass when they were chosen, since they never fell; therefore it is most reasonable to suppose we were regarded by God as in the same pure mass of creatureship, when He elected us. Thus it was with the human nature of Christ, which is the object of election, for it never fell in Adam, nor ever came into a corrupt state, yet it was "chosen out of the people" (Ps. 89:19), and consequently the people out of which it was chosen must be considered as yet unfallen. This alone agrees with the type of Eve (the Church) being given to Adam (Christ) before sin entered. So God’s double ordination of the elect to glory and then to salvation (in view of the fall) agrees with the double ordination of the non-elect: preterition as creatures and condemnation as sinners.
N.B. For most of the above we are indebted to Thomas Goodwin. In some places we have purposely repeated ourselves in this chapter, as much of the ground gone over is entirely new to most of our readers.