The Doctrine of Election (Part 3)

The Justice of God in Unconditional Election

(Romans 9:14-24)



Election is unconditional. Verses 11 to 12 teach that God elects us even before we were born, which means he did not base his choice of us on anything we have done whether good or bad. For, in the first place, if we were not yet born (and this was the time when God chose us) we certainly had not done anything whether good or bad! To summarize: God’s election is not from works, i.e., it’s not based on what we’ve done (verse 12). But what about the view that says God chose us because he foresaw that we will someday decide to choose him? If you take a look at verse 16 you will discover that the word “works” in verse 12 includes not only the exertions of the body but also the decisions of the will. Verse 16 is very clear, “It (i.e., election) does not depend on human will (i.e., the decisions of the will) or effort (i.e., the exertions of the body), but on God who shows mercy.”

You find the same thought in verses 5 and 6 of chapter 11. “There is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.” Election is a matter of grace, not by works. Note that the word “works” is once again mentioned, and remember, on the basis of chapter 9, verse 16, we know that works includes not only the exertions of the body but also the decisions of the will. Therefore, when the Bible says that election is by grace and not by works we understand it to mean that God did not choose us because he foresaw that we will someday choose him.

What then is the basis of God’s election? Ephesians 1:5 says he predestined according to the good pleasure of his will. Ephesians 1:11 says we are predestined according to the counsel or decision of his will. Election is based not on our decision for God, but simply on God’s decision, period! He chose us because he wants to choose us – that’s it!

Actually, there’s another way to prove from the Scriptures that election is unconditional. Take a look at Romans 9:14. Think about the question, “Is there injustice with God?” Why would anyone question God’s justice if election were conditional? If God chose us as a response to our choosing him first most people would find no problem with that! The only way this question could arise is if election were unconditional. If God chose us to be saved simply because he wants to, because that was his sovereign pleasure, if even our faith were a result and not the cause of God’s choosing of us, most people would find that problematic. Then they would question God’s justice. But the fact that this is precisely the question that Paul anticipated would arise in people’s minds in response to what he had just said in the preceding verses means that it was unconditional election that he was presenting all along!

So that’s settled. Election is unconditional. But then comes the natural question: Isn’t this unfair? Isn’t this unjust on God’s part. I want to share with you three reasons why God is just when he elects unconditionally:

I.    God is not unjust when he elects unconditionally because GRACE IS FREE. God has no obligation to elect or save anyone. That’s what verse 15 says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” If God had an obligation to elect anyone or everyone then election wouldn’t be by grace anymore. In order for grace to be grace it must be free. But if grace is free that means God is free to bestow it on whomever he chooses, and he is free to withhold it from anyone he doesn’t want to give it to. Please remember: None of us deserves God’s grace. What we deserve is God’s wrath. God is not committing any injustice against us if he does not show us grace. And we cannot complain that God is unjust if he shows grace to others and not to us because he is free to do what he wants with his grace. If you’re a beggar you can’t complain if a person decides to freely give money to your fellow beggar and not to you. Why? Because he’s free to do what he wants with his money. He has no obligation to give you any money. You don’t deserve his money in the first place and you have no claim on him. As the saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosers!” But we’re worse than beggars. We’re sinners. With all the more reason, God isn’t obligated to give us his grace.

II.   God is not unjust when he elects unconditionally because GOD IS GOD {see verses 19-21). God is God. He does not owe us an explanation. Who are we to demand that he should give an account of his actions. He is God. He does what he pleases! We are so arrogant. We treat God as if he were the accused, and we sit on judgment on him, and demand that he explain to us why he did this, and why he did that. Note that Paul doesn’t even answer the question posed in verse 19. Instead, he turns the tables around and asks, “Who do you think you are to ask that question in the first place?” Remember: It’s God we’re dealing with. He is God. He does what he pleases. Job learned this. In the last chapters of Job, after Job complained a lot about the sufferings he experienced even though he was a righteous man, God appeared to him. In order to explain? No. He appeared to remind Job who he was dealing with. But he did not answer Job’s questions. Instead he reminded Job of his power and wisdom. Who made the universe? Who made the stars? Who sustains the life of every living thing? God’s point is: You have no right to question my justice, you have no right to question my wisdom. Are you wiser than God that you dare teach him how he should run his universe? So instead of answering our questions, God counters with his own question (Job 40:2), “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?”

Besides, even if God were to answer our questions, I’m sure we wouldn’t be able to understand anyway. It would be like a man explaining things to a microbe.

III. Finally, God is not unjust when he elects unconditionally because GLORY IS IMPORTANT. The most important thing in the universe is the display of God’s glory. And the most righteous thing in the universe is that the most important thing be given the importance it deserves. Since the most important thing is the display of God’s glory, the most righteous thing in the universe is that God’s glory be actually displayed. But what is God’s glory? God glory is the glory of all his attributes, i.e., his mercy and his justice. Now, if God were to save all, his mercy would be magnified but not his justice. On the other hand, if God were to punish everyone for their sins his justice would be magnified but not his mercy. The solution to this problem is unconditional election. God elects some. In that way his mercy is glorified. The rest he leaves to suffer the punishment which they richly deserve. In this way, his justice is magnified. To the one he gives mercy. To the others, he gives justice. He does not do any injustice to anyone.


The Bible says we are elected unto holiness (Eph. 1:4). If a person wants to be holy then he is elect. Holiness is the fruit of election and the evidence that one is elect. On the other hand, if he does not want to be holy and does not want to repent, why should he complain if God does not give him what he does not want?

Finally, here’s something I learned from C.S. Lewis: If a person goes to heaven, it is because that person says to God, “Thy will be done.” If a person goes to hell, it is because God says to that person, “Thy will be done.” If you go to heaven, you owe it to God’s grace alone. If you go to hell, you owe it your own sins alone.

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