Walking Amongst the TULIPs: Reformed Theology in John Series (Part Four)

By Colton Corter

Unconditional Election (3)
John 10 is a bulwark of assurance for the believer. This is the penultimate end of these doctrines with its ultimate end being God’s greater glory. Christ is the good shepherd. This good shepherd “knows his own.” The shepherd has an allotment of sheep, separate from the goats, that he lays down his life for. Those who God has given to Christ, He atones for and earns a justifying, alien righteousness available by trusting. What grace that Christ knows us, his own! That there would be a “his own” in a world full of God-haters is awe striking. These are His own simply because they are His own. Nothing commended them to get into the sheepfold, nothing inherent within them to drive Him to the tree. It is these who come and “know” him as well. But we only ever come to know Christ, the good shepherd, if he knows us. Election has implications for missions as well. Jesus speaks of those who are His sheep but are not yet in the fold. But they are His sheep! How does Christ know these will come? Because, He has determined the fact within the eternal mind of God to bestow grace on undeserving sinners. There are others out there, even now, who are not in the fold yet. But the good shepherd has given His life for them. They will come. We must go. Persisting in unbelief is again attributed to not being among the sheep in verse 26. Only those who are in the sheepfold will come, solely based on the grace of God.

Unconditional Election (4)
Jesus speaks of his sovereign grace again in John 13:18. Jesus is addressing the disciples about one of them betraying Him. He says in verse 17 that if they know these things and do them then they are blessed. But Jesus is not speaking to everyone here. In fact he says in verse 18, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen.” Christ knew Judas was a false convert and would betray Him soon. He is contrasted by those who do know him; namely, those who he has chosen. It is God’s choice that precedes living unto Him. Jesus, speaking again to His disciples, says in John 15 quite pointedly in verse 16, “You did no choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” The exegetical gymnastics one has to do to escape the sovereignty of God in choosing those whom he will are evident. It cannot be more bluntly stated. Jesus is calling them to look away from themselves as the source of their salvation. They cannot boast in their choosing of Christ for it is Christ who chose them. We love Him because we loved Him first (1 John 4:9). This choosing did have a certain holiness of life in mind, but one that came after God’s choosing and saving. It is not the holiness that makes them a part of the elect. Rather, their fruit is a result of their election. Holiness proceeds from the free grace of God. The disciples are hated by the world because they are no longer of it. They are not of the world anymore because they have been chosen out of the world. Remember how John uses “world” in many cases. The disciples were once of the world. The elect still stand condemned until called and justified. But the disciples were chosen out of the world (v.19). This choosing owed nothing to competency (obviously, because they were less than bright) but to the grace of God. Out of the mass of fallen humanity, God has decided scandalously save some; justifying them by the finished work of Christ, showing great grace and uncompromised holiness.

Unconditional Election (5)
John 17 gives the high priestly prayer of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Christ is here praying for His disciples, and not only these but those who have set to be saved. He prays for us, on behalf of us. These sinners (us sinners) had no hope outside of the intercession of Christ, based on his meditorial office and work on the cross. He asks the God to glorify the Son since he has been given authority to grant eternal life to all He has been given (v.2). The glorification of Christ and the purposes of God’s election go hand in hand. In fact, when wondering why God saves as He does, one could give a worse answer than the fact that salvation is of the Lord, serving His glory amongst the nations. It is in these people’s lives that the glory of Christ will be magnified. It is these people who God has manifested His own name to them, those whom have been given to Christ out of the world (v.6). We must see that all stem from the same race. We all have a common parent in Adam. The world was the master of us all at one point. So there is no divine partiality here. God saves from an equal-opportunity cemetery. God chooses to save sinners because He is good and will have a people for Himself to be satisfied by Him, to the praise of His glorious grace. Those whom God has chosen will be with Him, enabled to see His glory and treasure Him above all things (v.24).
Finally, we come to John 18. This text gives light to the current post-modern attitude against absolute truth. Pilate asks, “What is truth?” in verse 38. The reason that Pilate does not believe the truth is because he is not of the truth. It should be obvious by now that one only becomes of the truth because of the sovereign work of God on their behalf. Election finds its source in God, so that He might be supremely honored for His great salvation.


Colton Corter is a graduate student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. You can follow him on Twitter at @coltonMcorter.

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