TULIP: U is for Unconditional Election

I want to start explaining unconditional election by explaining election. The reason I want to start at election/predestination is because that alone is a big hang up for some people. I know people that have axed the word election from their Biblical vocabulary entirely. I’m always astonished at people that hate on Calvinists because they use the word election. Election is a Biblical concept, taught from it’s pages which means God is its author. Therefore, since it is a Biblically based concept, everyone should have knowledge of it.

There’s two basic ideas when it comes to predestination/election. The most popular and widely accepted idea (based on my interaction with other humans )is this:

  • Because God is all-knowing He simply looked down the corridors of time and choose the people that He saw would choose Him.

Well, obviously that cannot be reconciled that with the total depravity of man. I discussed here that man is not capable of choosing God while in his natural state. So, that throws idea number one out the window. So what is idea number two? Well it is a highly unpopular one that causes many people to break the second commandment. Here’s idea number two:

  • God choose, for all eternity, who would and would not be saved. He chose who to save and who not to save.

I know, I know … I can hear it now (because I’ve heard lots), “Not my god, oh no my god would never do that.” That is creating an idol. We cannot define God outside of scripture and we certainly should not be in the business of telling God what He can and cannot do.

I understand that this concept can be a hard one to grasp, stomach, accept, etc. Even Christians struggle with it. This is a concept that our flesh rails against massively. As humans we love the idea of saving ourselves and taking the glory away from God. Sometimes it takes just that little bit to quiet our flesh — for example, claiming we chose God.

But, let’s just see what the Bible says about predestination/election (because, again, it is a Biblical concept and everyone ought to have some sort of belief on it).

I think we can see election/predestination being played out in this passage as we hear God say He is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart.

1 And the Lord said to Moses, โ€œSee, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.โ€ Exodus 7:1-5

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, [1] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

It’s interesting to note here that in the last verse it says “those whom he called he also justified.” I’ve read a lot on this and tend to agree with Dr. John Piper when he talks about this verse. He basically says that all who are called are justified so not everyone can be called since, obviously, all people are not justified. Source.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us [1] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known [2] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee [3] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, [4] to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:3-14

I think those verses are pretty straight forward.

Other verses in this topic include Acts 13:48 and Romans 9:6-25.

The unconditional part of “unconditional election” is pretty straight forward. It means that man does not have to meet any certain criteria for God to choose to save him. The “unconditional” part really ties in to the “total depravity” part. As we work our way through T.U.L.I.P you will see that each piece works with the other pieces.
It’s important to note that unconditional election is not the same as unconditional salvation. Salvation may only be granted by a saving faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross. However, faith is not a prerequisite for election instead it’s the other way around, election is a prerequisite for faith.

I think that about sums it up for the “U” of T.U.L.I.P. Next will be the “L” for limited atonement.

There are many, many theologians who have said this much better than I. Here are some links to additional reading on the doctrine of unconditional election:

Be Blessed,


16 thoughts on “TULIP: U is for Unconditional Election

  1. Pretty straight forward. The U takes away every last shred of pride and all its little minions, and some people really don't like that idea. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love and blessings!

  2. Through the election of individuals the truly gracious character of salvation is most clearly shown. Those who declare that salvation is entirely by the grace of God, and yet deny the doctrine of election, hold an inconsistent position. The inspired writers leave no means unused to drive home the fact that Godโ€™s election of men is an absolutely sovereign one, founded solely upon His unmerited love, and designed to exhibit before men and angels His grace and saving mercy.–Loraine Boettner

  3. I love election/predestination, but not unconditional. The hyper calvinist says that God had a hand in reprobating souls to hell (and not just "passed over) those whom He wouldn't save (which is absolutely nowhere in Scripture) My biggest, "hang up," comes from Isaiah 66:4 – "so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring on them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me."Now, I understand that the last part of this verse could be explained, "Of course they would choose what displeases God, we're completely depraved." But…UE and IG are shot from this verse alone (in my opinion) And yes, Josh, I read it in context!! lol

  4. Erica – But, if you believe in Conditional election, then you believe man must do something to earn his salvation. Right? I don't see how you can't? And, yeah, I would say (in response to that verse) that yes we are all totally depraved so of course that would happen.

  5. Man does nothing to EARN his salvation. When you were saved, you repented & believed, right? In essence, you, "did," something, even though it wasn't of yourself. I think UE ties in so close with IG. Where you believe that someone is regenerated and then comes to saving faith (which honestly, I think is ridiculous. I understand the logic of it, stemming from TD, but like I've said…you're made alive so you can have faith to be made alive. I have to agree with Spurgeon on that one) I believe that God "peels the scales off of our eyes," and releases our will to accept or reject Him (for example, Felix in Acts 24). Arminians call this Prevenient Grace. Grace precedes decision, which I'm sure not even White would agree with that.

  6. I agree with you … EXCEPT (lol) I don't think once we are made alive we can refuse God. I don't understand how Felix is an example, because we aren't saying that everyone that hears the Gospel is regenerated. But once you are regenerated, you can resist God's grace. That's how I understand it anyway. Does that make sense?

  7. It does.My point with Felix, is that He literally trembled under conviction of the Holy Spirit, yet he refused God. Perhaps he got saved somewhere down the road & the Bible doesn't record it. But we're left with only the example that the Holy Spirit was drawing someone to salvation, and they refused.

  8. Erica- Ok, I read Acts 24. I think you must be referring to verse 25? The ESV says the Felix was alarmed and KJV read that he trembled after hearing about Paul's faith and the judgment to come. Now, unless I'm missing something I don't understand how this alarm/trembling has to do with the Holy Spirit drawing him? I didn't read that anywhere. I think it's perfectly normal for anyone to be afraid/tremble/be alarmed when hearing of judgment/end times. Can you explain how you see it as him trembling under the Holy Spirit?

  9. But it wasn't just judgment. Verse 24 says: After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. Verse 25 says that he also preached on righteousness, in addition to the judgment. Earlier in the chapter, it said Felix knew accurately, "the Way." That's like pew sitters of today. They can tell you all about Jesus, but they're not saved. On preaching faith in Christ Jesus and righteousness, he'd have to be preaching the Gospel.In verse 25, when he was alarmed, he said, "Go away. I'll call for you in a more convenient season." I don't understand why he'd call him when learning about judgment was convenient? I'd think he was using excuses like ppl do today. "I'll sow my wild oates and then get right with Jesus." "I'm still young and have living to do, I'll get saved later." (Which, of course, isn't how it happens, per John 6:44)Personally, when I wasn't saved, I didn't care about judgment. I grew up in church, so I KNEW there was a heaven, hell, Jesus, satan, sin, forgiveness, but I was blinded. Only until God drew me to Him and I understood that I was a sinner and deserving of hell at judgment was I scared. It may be different with other people, but I don't see why you'd be scared of judgment unless God was calling you and sowing you your sinfulness, and giving you an understanding of hell.

  10. I understand that. I guess maybe we are both reading it through the lenses of our own personal experience (?). Because, when I was unsaved I cared a great deal about judgment and I hated to hear about it and did everything I could to avoid hearing about it.

  11. Nicely written,though I don't totally agree lol Great convo too!!I don't believe you can earn your salvation,but you do have to repent once the Spirit draws you. To me that isn't earning,it's doing what the Lord asks of us. To repent of our sins and turn from our ways by asking Jesus to indwell in us and continue to grow in the Word of God. I'm sure that makes sense?I do believe once the Spirit convicts someone they can refuse God. I mentioned the verse about not going against mans will,but I haven't had time to look it up. I am trying to now,but you know how it is with little ones. Erika do you know what verse I am talking about,or maybe Josh does?I don't believe God forces Himself on us. So if the Spirit convicts us and we choose to deny him,Jesus will deny you before our Father. Does that make sense? I can see where you think He chooses. I do believe He chooses and we have the choice to accept or deny. He has chosen us all,or what would John 3:16 be in the Bible? When He draws us with His Spirit we can accept or deny,then pay the consequences.I like your discussions on here,they are very good and informative! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Heather- Thanks for the comment! ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm just curious, if you don't think God picks us then what do you make of verses like the one from Ephesians that say he chose us from before the foundation of the world? I agree that people do have to repent and take action for their salvation. My argument is that once made alive by God, we cannot refuse His grace. (I'll go into this more with the "I" which is "irresistible grace.") John 3:16 doesn't contradict election at all. "For(A) God so loved(B) the world,[a](C) that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not(D) perish but have eternal life. Whoever believes in God has eternal life — I wouldn't deny that statement at all :)Oh, and I understand how hard it is to look things up with little ones :)If you ever remember come across the verse I'd be happy to respond to it. I just don't know what verse you are talking about or I would respond now. Good conversation! I like to discuss things like this with fellow believers. I think it's good for us all ๐Ÿ™‚

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