– Election –
very nature much of Scripture IS Israel orientated and specific,
and thus time or era specific as well, yet this in no way negates its
value for believers post Parousia in applying its truths and principles
beyond the first-fruits first century time frame, for this reason:
Israel was God's redemptive microcosm for what He was outworking
in reconciliation on behalf of the whole creation – macrocosm.
God predestined, called and elected historic Israel; out of Israel He
chose a remnant; through this remnant came the Messiah [Christ]; "in
Christ" God called a remnant or "first-fruits"; through this
remnant God delivered [saved] "all Israel"; and in redeeming
Israel God reconciled the whole world, thus restoring
humanity to Himself.
it another way:
the world God chose Israel.
Out of Israel God chose the Remnant.
........ Out of the Remnant God chose the Messiah.
........ In the Messiah God chose the Remnant.
In the Remnant God chose Israel.
Israel God chose the world.
unilateral covenant with the Gentile Abram that "all
families of the earth would be blessed" [Gen 12:3] found
fruition in the Seed – Christ, and subsequently through Christ's 'Body'
of first-fruits believers. Through them was ministered and manifested
the redemptive plan and purpose of God for and on behalf of ALL humanity
– to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. This is how that which had a
fixed "this generation" fulfillment, purpose and reality extended
through and beyond the Parousia to embrace all humankind.
pantelistic reading of Paul understands the first-fruits mission on
behalf of Israel and the wider world this way:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us [first-fruits].
For the earnest expectation of the creature [Israel]
waiteth for the manifestation [in election] of the sons of
God [the first-fruits]. For the creature [Israel]
was made subject to vanity [the Law], not willingly,
but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope [new
covenant resurrection], because the creature itself [Israel
herself] also shall be delivered [redeemed] from
the bondage of corruption [the old covenant] into the
glorious liberty [the new covenant] of the children of God
[the first-fruits]. For we know that the whole creation [humanity]
groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they
[Israel-Humanity], but ourselves [the first-fruits]
also, which have the firstfruits [down payment] of the
[eschatological] Spirit, even we ourselves [the
first-fruits] groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption,
to wit, the redemption of our body [i.e., our rising up out of
the Old Covenant Body of the Death into the New Covenant Body of the
paraphrase what I believe to be Paul's intent:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us first-fruit
believers. For the earnest expectation of Israel eagerly
waits for the calling of the first-fruit sons of God. For
Israel was subjected to the futility of the law, not
willingly, but because of Him who subjected her in new
covenant resurrection hope; because Israel herself also will
be redeemed from the bondage of the law into the glorious
liberty of the first-fruits children of God. For we know that
even the greater world groans and labors with birth pangs
together until now. And not only that, but we as believers
also who have the first-fruits of the
Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for
the adoption, the redemption-resurrection out of this old covenant
the "the children of God" [a very Jewish designation] i.e., the
first-fruit saints, elsewhere are called "sons of God" signifying
covenantal authority, who "in Christ" are the elect of the
elect – or a refining of such, that experience "in part" in that
transitional age, a rising up out of the old covenant body of death.
This rising up came to fruition in the Parousia when ALL
historic Israel was redeemed, and as a result all humanity reconciled.
Just as Gideon of old selected certain ones to join his band
to bring deliverance [salvation] to Israel, so too did Christ draw to
himself those elect ones through whom the great deliverance would come –
initially on Israel's behalf, and then to the world.
This then broaches the issue of ELECTION. From the
of pantelism election had naught to do with future post mortem
position, but everything to do with the redemptive purpose of
God in this life. Paul demonstrates that the issue of
works whether good or bad – hence judgment, was not the focal
point with regards to election:
…for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good
or evil, that the purpose of God according to election
might stand, not of works but of Him who calls…
The outworking of Christ's redemptive reconciliation by those elect
first-fruits would cost many their lives [Mk 10:39; Jn 15:20].
Rejection of Israel's new covenant likewise cost many in Israel their
lives – those who rejected or refused to heed Jesus' words "unless
as those of Siloam [Lk 13:3-5] suffered the ultimate perishing in
the great conflagration of AD70, being wiped out of the 'book of life'
i.e., out of 'the book' or land of the living – a covenantal euphemism
for the literal loss of life [Psa 69:28]. Their loss of temporal
physical life in Jerusalem's AD70 'lake of fire' consequently meant the
greater loss of "reward" in the forth coming consummative Resurrection.
To say then that Christ died for the elect ONLY
with "the elect"
being viewed as a special group that gains exclusive entrance into heaven
upon physical death at the expense of all else, is to have the whole
redemptive and reconciling scenario upside down and back to front; quite
apart from the fact that nowhere in Scripture is such a thing
intimated. The first-fruit elect were the ones losing their lives [Mk
8:35; Jn 15:13] "in Christ" [and some quite literally] as
they were laying down their lives on behalf of their brethren –
old and new covenant Israel, past and present as it then was. It was
this laying down in sacrificial service that is the essence of
thought behind those who were being "baptized for the dead" of
1Cor 15:29. cf. my article:
Baptised for the Dead.
All who answered the call of God as evidenced in the Old
Testament did so, again, not to get to Heaven
– that was NEVER
the issue, but rather to minister to and on behalf of God's people.
Through Christ's atoning sacrifice the whole of humanity has been
restored and are now generically speaking 'the people of God', or
possibly expressing it this way – humanity has been brought into Israel,
and believers are as the 'New Jerusalem'. Christ's disciples then, are
God's ministers in and to the 'new creation' – a priesthood of believers
to the rest of God's creation.
Thus coming to faith in Christ is not and never was about
securing potential 'fire insurance' from some supposed post death
calamity such as a fiery Hell or total annihilation; coming to faith
in Christ was and is about coming into a life of service with God.
By responding affirmatively in repentance and faith to the call
of God – experiencing conversion, one enters into the priesthood of
service, a priesthood of believers who are "saved to serve".
Some with a critical eye of judgment view Romans 9 as the
touchstone of election and reprobation with regards to existence beyond
the grave, but miss God's redemptive purpose, not appreciating that the
new covenant was a heavenward call toward loving justice,
doing mercifully and walking in humility [Mic 6:8].
And this ultimately being demonstrated by the axiom of "love thy
neighbour…" – doing so is loving God, and experientially in life
being loved by God – knowing His assurance of peace.
God's dismissiveness towards Esau as stated by Paul in Romans was not
that of a rancid hatred, but rather needs to be seen and understood in the
light of redemptive history – God's redemptive story, that is, Esau
was not the one chosen or elected for such a high
redemptive calling. When God "hates Esau" [Rom 9:13]
it means God had no regard towards him – in relation to the
outworking of the Divine redemptive plan. It does NOT mean:
"therefore he shall be eternally damned upon death!!"
This expressed hatred is likewise seen
elsewhere in terms of the hyperbolic requirement to "hate" even
ones very own father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister…
an embellished hatred relative to the commitment of
Israel's redemptive cause with NO literal intent of caustic
This is why 'election' in its
proper context of redemption was [past tense] about purpose NOT position, it was about service NOT security.
Election as defined in the Scriptures was NOT about getting to Heaven, but rather about Immanuel!! God with us; Yahweh dwelling and present with man, reunited and
restored with Him in the last Adam.
Thus rejection – or as some wrongly label "reprobation"
– simply means: NOT chosen for the higher redemptive purpose.
Take for instance the account of the call of David as found in
1Sam 16:1-13. Note in particular verse 7 where refusal or
rejection by God clearly means nothing more than NOT CALLED for
that redemptive ministration.
1Sam 16:6-7 So it was, when they came, that he
looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before
Him!" But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at
his physical stature, because I have refused [rejected]
him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks
at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
This then is the true nature of Paul's election issue of Romans 9: whether helped, hindered or hardened of the Lord
had nothing to do with one's individual and exclusive post death destiny, but had
everything to do with God's corporate and inclusive redemptive plan for
humankind. That was the story of Israel – to be the world's light.
Christ and his ELECT first-fruit saints fulfilled Israel's mission.
Paul's various "vessels" [Rom 9:21-23; 2Tm 2:20-21] whether
they be honourable OR NOT were all from the same lump,
all were of the one house [kingdom]. Israel, believing AND
unbelieving, whether rebellious OR faithful were no less all-together
the covenanted people of God. Faithfulness indeed obtained the
blessings and promises whereas faithlessness with a certainty led
to temporal judgment and forfeiture of blessing, yet such as these were,
these consequences of actions were still experienced in this life.
So the scope of redemption as it applied to Israel WAS
comprehensive and inclusive of ALL, yet faith enabled those
"called" to be useful in the
redeeming-reconciling hand of God – something the first-fruit saints
came into, and so found salvation in this life.
So we find, scripturally speaking, that "rejection by God" was NOT
about post death retributive judgment via damnation or
obliteration; it was simply NON-election to the greater
redemptive purposes of God – nothing more and nothing less. This notion
that "election" has to do with post death destinies has NO biblical
warrant whatsoever, none! Ultimately election was for the benefit
and inclusion of all, NOT their exclusion. And that benefit was and is a
covenantal relationship with God in life, this life – none other than
what the Bible calls
eternal life. It is this LIFE that is grasped by faith
in Christ, and so finds the salvation of life specifically,
individually; as distinct from the redemptive reconciliation that
encompasses all generically and collectively.
Any divine calling and empowering subsequent to the Parousia was and
is for the
testimony and maintaining of this grand reality
worship and works. This truly is what the "fulfilled
paradigm" of pantelism [realised eschatology and realised redemption] is
all about. Folk can banter back and forth on the platform of supposed
"orthodoxy" quibbling over the vice or virtues of the likes of Calvinism
or Arminianism, yet all the while the train of spiritual seekers keeps
passing them by.
Is it possible that both Calvin and Luther erred in part? – One in
dragging redemptive election past the Parousia; and the other by
dragging "justification" i.e., salvific vindication past this
life – thus making it the means of escaping a supposed post death
calamity and so the passport into heaven? Pantelism believes so. Yes
there is a "righteousness of faith" for the believer, but again
that righteousness is in relation to one's standing in the call
of Divine service [2Pet 1:10] – none other than the new covenant standing
in this life and not some post death standing in Heaven's queue.
It is time for those of the "fulfilled framework" to stop ignoring
this glaring inconsistency and start re-examining their so-called
"position" as it relates to the fulfillment and realisation of
redemption if THAT is what we claim Christ's Parousia was truly all
Thus the focus of New Testament biblical election became a
generational reality, finding fullness in that age and was indelibly linked to the
eschaton – "the end"
of the Mosaic age.
N. T. Wright in his recent work 'Paul' makes this passing comment: "Election was closely bound
up with eschatology…" [p. 110]. New Testament eschatology being
bound up and
fulfilled in Christ and outworked through His first-fruit saints demands
likewise the fulfillment of election. The new covenant age has
no eschaton – no end of the age time; therefore there is no
redemptive administrative election post Parousia in
relation to the removal of Israel's sin-offense [Jn 1:29; 1Jn 2:2],
as election was for the sole purpose of fulfilling the old covenant, in
bringing the promised restorative deliverance to Israel [Rom 11:26-27],
and thus mankind [Rom 11:15] to fruition – something that occurred
in and through the pre Parousia "this generation" firstfruits world of
AD30-70. It is finished.
We who live post Parousia are in a sense the "offspring" of that
generation i.e., we live in the ageless world of righteousness – that
which the first-fruit saints in their time were awaiting [2Pet 3:13;
Gal 5:5]. We who believe today are like those who believed then – we
are God's priests in and to His world. The pre Parousia priesthood "Body
of Christ" fulfilled their role in securing redemption – believers post
Parousia are a priesthood proclaiming and demonstrating that job
done, which is; humanity HAS been reconciled, so "COME, walk in
the fruits of it!!" Doing so decisively in faith IS salvation –
finding, experiencing, and sharing the presence of God in this life.
This is Pantelism this is REALISED REDEMPTION.
David G. Embury
© Copyright 2006à