Vistesd, although I still don't believe that God can or will save men from eternal damnation who reject His Son, Jesus Christ, I must admit that my Calvinist views of the elect have been biblically unsound. I have unknowingly defended the Calvinist position up until now, and need desperately to amend my exegesis to more closely reflect the whole of scripture. Why change now? Well, I came across an article online by F. Furman Kearley, Ph.D. called, "THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION, FOREORDINATION, AND ELECTION", which opened my eyes. I had been troubled lately by the Calvinist conclusions I have derived from certain scripture passages; by their blatant contradiction of Christ's message and call to faith; and had up until now been unable to reconcile them. Here are the most poignant and relevant excerpts from Kearley's paper:
"Ephesians 4:1 says, "Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world for us to be holy and unblemished before him in love." While reference is made here in the context to the act of choice being made before the foundation of the world, the context also indicates that the act of choice was as much centered on the kind of life style as on individuals. The passage is saying simply that God chose--before the foundation of the world--that those whom he would bless with every spiritual blessing would be the ones who would be holy and without blemish before him in love. The election has to do with selecting or predetermining holy characteristics, not individuals."
"The clear teaching of the Bible is that God “would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God does not wish “any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Peter, who at one time thought only a particular race of people was chosen of God, had to be taught a thorough lesson on this very point. Through the vision he experienced, he learned
“of a truth I perceive God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).
"From these and numerous other passages it is clear that: (a) the Bible teaches that God loves every human being and has acted to make possible the salvation of each one; and (b) the death of Christ was for every man, and makes it possible for every man to receive atonement for his sins. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Christ, demonstrating God’s love, tasted “of death for every
man” (Hebrews 2:9). He “gave himself a ransom for all” (2 Timothy 2:6).
The great commission is aimed toward all men (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). The invitation is extended to all, according to Revelation 22:17: “And the spirit and the bride say, come. And he who hears, let him say, come. And he who is athirst, let him come: he who will, let him take the water of life freely.” Clearly, the atonement is not limited (as Calvin taught). The plain teaching of Scripture is that election is conditioned by man’s response, or failure to respond, to God in faith and obedience. It is not conditioned by God’s arbitrary choice, before a man is born, as to whether he will be saved or lost. Such a concept is totally out of harmony with the plain expressions of Scripture regarding the care and concern of God and Christ, and of their actions in order to save mankind from sin."