The Corporate View of Election and Predestination: A Brief Introduction

The following is from Donald C. Stamps, Life in the Spirit Study Bible, pp. 1860-1

Election. God’s choice of those who believe in Christ is an important teaching of the apostle Paul (see Rom 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5, 7, 28; Col 3:12; 1 Thes 1:4; 2 Thes 2:13; Tit 1:1). Election (GK eklegó) refers to God choosing in Christ a people whom He destines to be holy and blameless in His sight (cf. 2 Thes 2:13). Paul sees this election as expressing God’s initiative as the God of infinite love in giving us as His finite creation every spiritual blessing through the redemptive work of His Son (Eph 1:3-5). Paul’s teaching about election involves the following truths:

(1)    Election is Christocentric, i.e., election of humans occurs only in union with Jesus Christ. ‘He hath chosen us in him’ (Eph 1:4; see 1:1, note). Jesus Himself is first of all the elect of God. Concerning Jesus, God states, ‘Behold my servant, whom I have chosen’ (Mat 12:18; cf. Is 42:1, 6; 1 Pet 2:4). Christ, as the elect, is the foundation of our election. Only in union with Christ do we become members of the elect (Eph 1:4, 6-7, 9-10, 12-13). No one is elect apart from union with Christ through faith.

(2)    Election is ‘in [him]…through his blood’ (Eph 1:7). God purposed before creation (Eph 1:4) to form a people through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross. Thus election is grounded in Christ’s sacrificial death to save us from our sins (Acts 20:28; Rom 3:24-26).

(3)    Election in Christ is primarily corporate, i.e., an election of a people (Eph 1:4-5, 7, 9). The elect are called ‘the body of Christ’ (4:12), ‘my church’ (Mat 16:18), ‘a peculiar people’ (belonging to God) (1 Pet 2:9), and the ‘wife of Christ’ (Rev 19:7). Therefore, election is corporate and embraces individual persons only as they identify and associate themselves with the body of Christ, the true church (Eph 1:22-23; see Robert Shank, Elect in the Son, [Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers]). This was true already of Israel in the OT (see Deut 29:18-21, note; 2 Ki 21:14, note; see article on God’s Covenant With the Israelites, p. 316).

(4)    The election to salvation and holiness of the body of Christ is always certain. But the certainty of election for individuals remains conditional on their personal living faith in Jesus Christ and perseverance in union with Him. Paul demonstrates this as follows. (a) God’s eternal purpose for the church is that we should ‘be holy and without blame before him’ (Eph 1:4). This refers both to forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7) and to the church’s purity as the bride of Christ. God’s elect people are being led by the Holy Spirit toward sanctification and holiness (see Rom 8:14; Gal 5:16-25). The apostle repeatedly emphasizes this paramount purpose of God (see Eph 2:10; 3:14-19; 4:1-3, 13-24; 5:1-18). (b) Fulfillment of this purpose for the corporate church is certain: Christ will ‘present it to himself a glorious church…holy and without blemish’ (Eph 5:27). (c) Fulfillment of this purpose for individuals in the church is conditional. Christ will present us ‘holy and without blame before him’ (Eph 1:4) only if we continue in the faith. Paul states this clearly: Christ will ‘present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (Col 1:22-23).

(5)    Election to salvation in Christ is offered to all (John 3:16-17; 1 Tim 2:4-6; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9) but becomes actual for particular persons contingent on their repentance and faith as they accept God’s gift of salvation in Christ (Eph 2:8; 3:17; cf. Acts 20:21; Rom 1:16; 4:16). At the point of faith, the believer is incorporated into Christ’s elect body (the church) by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13), thereby becoming one of the elect. Thus, there is both God’s initiative and our response in election (see Rom 8:29, note; 2 Pet 1:1-11).

Predestination. Predestination (Gk proorizé) means ‘to decide beforehand’ and applies to God’s purposes comprehended in election. Election is God’s choice ‘in Christ’ of a people (the true church) for Himself. Predestination comprehends what will happen to God’s people (all genuine believers in Christ).

(1)    God predestines His elect to be: (a) called (Rom 8:30); (b) justified (Rom 3:24; 8:30); (c) glorified (Rom 8:30); (d) conformed to the likeness of His Son (Rom 8:29); (e) holy and blameless (Eph 1:4); (f) adopted as God’s children (Eph 1:5); (g) redeemed (Eph 1:7); (h) recipients of an inheritance (Eph 1:14); (i) for the praise of His glory (Eph 1:12; 1 Pet 2:9); (j) recipients of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; Gal 3:14); and (k) created to do good works (Eph 2:10).

(2)    Predestination, like election, refers to the corporate body of Christ (i.e., the true spiritual church), and comprehends individuals only in association with that body through a living faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5, 7, 13; cf. Acts 2:38-41; 16:31).

Summary. Concerning election and predestination, we might use the analogy of a great ship on its way to heaven. The ship (the church) is chosen by God to be His very own vessel. Christ is the Captain and Pilot of this ship. All who desire to be a part of this elect ship and its Captain can do so through a living faith in Christ, by which they come on board the ship. As long as they are on the ship, in company with the ship’s Captain, they are among the elect. If they choose to abandon the ship and Captain, they cease to be part of the elect. Election is always only in union with the Captain and His ship. Predestination tells us about the ship’s destination and what God has prepared for those remaining on it. God invites everyone to come aboard the elect ship through faith in Jesus Christ.”

Stamps, D., (2003: Zondervan) Life in the Spirit Study Bible

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4 thoughts on “The Corporate View of Election and Predestination: A Brief Introduction

  1. Jack Hanley February 2, 2013 / 3:45 pm

    @ All who DESIRE to be a part of this elect ship and its Captain can do so through a living faith in Christ, by which they come on board the ship

    So then contrary to what the bible tells us, that it does not depend on man’s DESIRE,I guess the bible is incorrect, because according to the above, it does depend on our DESIRE after all.

  2. Jack Hanley September 20, 2013 / 8:34 pm

    I believe I posted this question in February, which would be 7 months, could I get a response or is this site dormant?

  3. Arminian September 20, 2013 / 11:48 pm

    From what I saw, there was no question. In any case, the site is not dormant, as such – I’ve simply been too busy of late to devote time responding to comments.

  4. Ando March 17, 2014 / 2:28 pm

    I especially liked the articles emphasis that election is in union with Christ! Apart from Christ, there is no election, no redemption, no gospel… The article, however, did not do a very good job of presenting predestination. This understanding of predestination is really a denial of predestination.

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