Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/election/elmss2.sam.htm
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell
Part I: Making Sense Of God's Election
Chapter II: Making Sense Of God's Election Through An Inductive Bible Study
A. Interpreting 1 Peter 1:1-2
- To "make sense" of God's election in contrast to what we have shown the major election positions do, we now perform an induction on 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and Ephesians 1:4-5.
- We begin by expounding 1 Peter 1:1-2 (as follows):
- In even beginning to study this important passage, we run headlong into the greatly debated issue of relating God's foreknowledge to His election:
- The Arminian would claim God's foreknowledge here is merely his prescience, His "knowing beforehand," cf. Henry Clarence Thiesson, Intro. Lectures in Syst. Theology, 1949, p. 344-345.
- Conversely, the Calvinist would say all that is knowable must be first eternally predestined by God to be knowable, cf. A. H. Strong, Systematic Theol., 1907, reprint (The Judson Press, 1970), p. 356; 783).
- Then the Moderate Calvinist would say God's foreknowledge and election are coextensive, meaning we can not set up a time sequence for both, but merely try to make one logically related to the other, cf. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, rev. John F. Walvoord, 1974, p. 233.
- Yet, as have shown that each of these views are illogical in how they treat either election or faith, it is fruitless for us to try to begin our inductive study by trying to relate God's foreknowledge to His election.
- However, we note each of these errant views treat the goal of election, "unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2b KJV), to be justification, a goal we must challenge (as follows):
- If the phrase "unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" means justification, we logically must adopt either the Arminian, Calvinist or Moderate Calvinist positions.
- Yet, as we before saw, doing so leaves us with an illogical stance in tension with the Bible's inerrancy.
- Accordingly, we conclude we must discern a different and hence true goal of election for this passage!
- We now view the passage to discern what other goal this phrase must depict (as follows):
- Peter's readers at least included Hebrew readers by way of what Galatians 2:7 witnesses about Peter's ministry to the Jew and by way of more recent quality scholarship, cf. Donald Guthrie, N.T. Intro., 3rd rev. ed., 1970, reprint (Inter-Varsity Press, 1971), p. 794-795.
- Thus, we at least need to consider what "obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (Messiah)" would mean to a Hebrew readership in the first century A. D.
- Well, the sole historical Hebrew Old Testament passage alluding to such an idea is Exodus 24:6-8. (Hebrews 9:19-20 is the only other Bible passage mentioning such sprinkling of blood on people in connection to obedience to God, and it in turn alludes back to this Exodus 24:6-8 event.)
- In Exodus 24:6-8, upon Israel's expressed desire to obey the Mosaic Law, Exodus 24:6-8 describes Moses' sprinkling a lamb's blood on the people to ratify this pledge of a new way of life before God.
- Well, such activity was not justification, for Romans 3:19-20 and Romans 8:3-4 clearly certify no one can be justified by keeping the Mosaic Law.
- However, the righteousness of the Law is achievable in life by those who are already justified by faith in Christ, and who then live by means of the Holy Spirit's power, cf. Romans 8:3-4.
- Thus, Peter could have borrowed the Old Testament figure of the sprinkling of the lamb on the people of Israel in Exodus 24:6-8 to illustrate the Christian's lifestyle righteousness, and that to a readership which, by way of its Hebrew membership, would have understood and deeply appreciated this figure!
- In other words, Peter would have taught God the Father had "sprinkled" the Christian in 1 Peter 1:1-2 with the blood of God's Lamb, Jesus, declaring a new relationship with the believer where one has a gracious opportunity to succeed in living in practical righteousness where Israel of old had failed!
- Note how well such a conclusion fits the context: for most of his epistle, in 1 Peter 1:13-5:14, Peter called and urged his readers unto righteous practical living.
- Conclusion on the Interpretation of 1 Peter 1:1-2.
- The goal of God's election in 1 Peter 1:1-2 is practical righteousness -- not justification, for this is the only logically acceptable and hence inerrant goal of election available in the 1 Peter 1 context!
- Thus, the election of 1 Peter 1:1-2 is God's choice of those He somehow (yet to be discerned in our study!) knew in the (eternal (to be yet established!)) past would be justified, and it determines these people would participate in a relationship with God involving living in practical righteousness.