Incompatibility of Calvinism & Fulfillment Theology [Corporate Election Explained]


Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.


Introduction

Within Arminianism, there are two different viewpoints on the doctrine of election. The classical view is the idea that God elects according to His foreknowledge. In other words, God elects those whom He foreknows will come to faith in Christ (1 Pet 1:2).

The other is the corporate view. I believe Corporate Election is what’s presented in the Bible. I further believe it’s an extension of Fulfillment Theology. Before I make my case for that, we must first have a proper understanding of Corporate Election.

Salvation and the election to salvation begin and end with Christ. Just as He is our salvation, so He is our election. Just as our salvation is in Christ, so is our election in Christ. Just as there is no salvation apart from being in Christ, so is there no election apart from being in Christ.

However, Calvinists place salvation and election in two separate categories. They will readily acknowledge that we must be in Christ to have salvation, but they do not view election as being in Christ. They view election as being outside of Christ, as something that draws them to Christ.

I believe God’s Word teaches that salvation and election are both in Christ. We must be in Christ to have either. That’s the corporate view of election. Our election is in Him. We are elect when we are in Him. We are not elect before we are in Him. We are elect because of the fact that we are in the Elect Christ.

Corporate Election Basics

At some point in eternity God chose to save sinners. God chose to save a people group out of this world for Himself – a people who would represent Him and glorify Him. He chose one plan to save sinners. He chose Christ, His Son (“My Chosen One” Lu 9:35) to be that one plan of salvation. He chose not to save mankind through any other any other means. Those who try to come to God through any other way, He rejects. They are the non-chosen or non-elect. The elect are those who come to God via the plan that God chose to save us through. God chose to save anyone who comes to Him through His Son. When we do, we become a part of the elect people of God. Our election is in Christ, in our union with Him.

We are not the elect as individuals before we come to faith in Christ. It’s only at the point of salvation that we become a part of the elect people of God. We are the elect as individuals in the sense that God chose to save us as individuals upon our faith in Christ, according to the Plan that He provided. We are saved as individuals not because we are “one of the elect,” but because we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior. At that point we become an individual part of the corporate people of God, the Church, of whom Christ is the Corporate Head. We are saved as individuals not because we are the elect, rather, we are the elect because we are saved, because we are members of God’s called-out people.

As for Christ being the Corporate Head of the Church, the Father referred to His Son as “My Chosen One.” He is the One whom God chose to pay the price for the sins of mankind. He is the One through whom God calls out of the world a people for Himself. Christ is the Elect One. He is the Head of the body, the Elect Church (Col 1:18), who came through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Elect Church, is in the Elect Christ (Eph 1:4). Individually, we become a part of the Elect Church upon our faith in the Elect Christ.

When God chose His Son, he was choosing a people. When God chose to save mankind from their sins, He was looking upon mankind as a whole. Thus He was not choosing individuals, He was choosing a people.

It makes sense that a group of people requires group election. God looked upon mankind as a whole. He saw all mankind as sinners in need of a Savior. He did not see just one person who needed to be saved. God saw all mankind as sinners and in need of forgiveness. Thus He chose to save mankind corporately, but only through the One Plan that He ordained, and that was through His One Elect Son.  

Abraham and the Nation of Israel

Genesis 12:2-3
2 and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing:
3 and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 18:17-18
17 And Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham that which I do;
18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Romans 4:16-18
16 For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
17 (as it is written, A father of many nations have I made thee), before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were.
18 Who in hope believed against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, So shall thy seed be.

We as Christians have our roots in Abraham. God chose a nation out of this world for Himself, and that nation was Israel. God chose Abraham to be the father of that nation. They were the elect nation, and Abraham was the father of that nation. Those who were born into Abraham’s line (through Isaac and Jacob), were born into this elect nation. Individual Jews were elect only in the sense that they were part of that nation, the corporate people of God. It was the corporate, elect nation that was in view, not the individual.

Election has always been corporate, for God’s plan of election and of salvation is unchangeable in the unchangeable Christ. However, with the choosing of Abraham as the means of carrying out His plan of redemption, God gave it a structure. It’s not that corporate election didn’t exist before him, it’s just that in him and the nation of Israel, God gave it a clear identity.

It’s here that we begin to see the connection between Corporate Election and Fulfillment Theology.

God told Abraham that in him all the nations/families of the earth would be blessed. This blessing refers directly to Christ, who would come through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All the nations/families of the earth have their blessing in Christ, who provided salvation for the world.

While the nation of Israel is in view, it’s not the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh who are the True Israel of God. It’s those who are of the faith of Abraham who are the true offspring of Abraham, who make up true Israel. Those of Israel who don’t share the same faith of Abraham, are not true children of Abraham:

Galatians 3:16, 26-29
16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.
28 There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

Romans 9:6-8
6 But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel:
7 neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.

Romans 4:11-13
11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be in uncircumcision, that righteousness might be reckoned unto them;
12 and the father of circumcision to them who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham which he had in uncircumcision.
13 For not through the law was the promise to Abraham or to his seed that he should be heir of the world, but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:16-17
16 For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
17 (as it is written, A father of many nations have I made thee) before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were.  

Galatians 3:6-9
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.
7 Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed.
9 So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.

The true offspring (seed) of Abraham are not the offspring according to the flesh (the nation), but according to the faith of Abraham. His call to be the father of Israel extended beyond the ethnic nation. It pointed to everyone who would share his faith in Christ, the Messiah. As a people of faith, we are one, we are a spiritual nation of God’s people. It’s this spiritual nation that God has elected and called out of the world, and the Church is that nation. Peter confirms this:

1 Peter 2:3-10
3 if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious:
4 unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious,
5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6 Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame.
7 For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner;
8 and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9 But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

In verses 4 and 6, Jesus is referred to as “elect.” He is the Elect Son of God, chosen by the Father to be the Savior of the world. We have our election in Him. We are an “elect race” (vs 9).  Notice that in this whole passage, there is not one reference to individuals. All terms are corporate:

spiritual house
holy priesthood
elect race
royal priesthood
holy nation
a people
people of God

The evidence here is overwhelming that Peter viewed “the elect” as a corporate body, and not as individuals.

Not only are all these terms corporate, but also Jewish. The nation of Israel has its fulfillment and completion as a spiritual nation in Christ. This line of election begins with Abraham as an ethnic nation, and continues with Abraham in Christ as a spiritual nation. 

Abraham was called to be the father of Israel, which began as an ethnic nation and continues in Christ as a spiritual nation, which is the Church – True Israel.  This line of the corporate people of God that began with Abraham, extends all the way to Christ. The election of a nation of God’s people never ceased. Whatever made us think that it did?

Furthermore, I believe that’s how the Jewish Christians of Paul’s day would have viewed election. That’s evident by the fact that the Jews believed they were eternally secure just because they were the physical descendants of Abraham, as members of the nation of Israel. The idea of individualistic election would have been foreign to their thinking. It’s important that we remove ourselves from our individualistic mindset, and place ourselves in the Jewish culture of Paul’s day. Only then can we understand the doctrine of election.

As the father of the corporate people of God, Abraham represents all people who share his faith in Christ. All who come to faith in Christ, are born (again) into this corporate body of believers. Just as individual Jews were born into the elect nation of Israel, so individuals of faith are born (again) into this elect nation, called the Church. We are not elected as individuals to join the Church, rather, we become elect when we join the Elect Church upon our faith in the Elect Christ, the Elect Plan.

As the father of God’s people of faith, Abraham represents the whole called out group of people. God told Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” He is the father of all people who join him with like-faith.

A Clear Picture of Corporate Election

Abraham’s Family Tree:

Romans 11;11-24
11 I say then, Did they stumble that they might fall? God forbid: but by their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.
12 Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
13 But I speak to you that are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry;
14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them that are my flesh, and may save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
16 And if the firstfruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree;
18 glory not over the branches: but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by thy faith. Be not high-minded, but fear:
21 for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee.
22 Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God’s goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

This is a picture of corporate election. The tree described here as a “good olive tree,” is a tree of life or a tree of salvation, which has its roots in Abraham. We can call this Abraham’s family tree. This tree is true Israel, the people of faith, of whom Abraham is the father.

The “natural branches” are individual Jews who were broken off from their own cultivated olive tree because of unbelief. The branches that were “cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree,” are Gentiles who are grafted into this “good olive tree” through faith in Christ.

Since both believing Jews and believing Gentiles are branches of the same tree, this tree must be viewed as the Church, for it is clearly a picture of the Church. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is a tree that has Abrahamic roots, for it is through Abraham that the world is blessed. Thus the Church is must be regarded as True Israel.

It’s important to see that both Jew and Gentile are among the elect of God only as they remain in this tree of faith, and that’s just the way corporate election works. It’s not the purpose of this study to make a case for conditional eternal security, but we can’t escape the fact that individuals will be broken off if they do not “continue in His goodness,” because they “stand by faith” (“standest by thy faith”).

It’s also important to see that individuals who have been “broken off” because of “unbelief,” can be grafted back in “again,” “if they do not remain in unbelief.” This breaking off and being grafted back in again, is part of the corporate picture that we need to see. We are elect only as we remain in union with Christ, through an abiding faith.

Symbolism of The Cultivated Olive Tree

God always has a purpose for doing what He does. In Rom 11:5-7, Paul refers to election:

Romans 11:5-7
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
6 But if it is by grace, it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.
7 What then? That which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened:

A few verses later, he gives us a picture of our election in Christ, in this good olive tree. We might ask, why a tree? Consider this:

A tree has a body, roots, and branches. The tree body represents the whole, the branches are all individual and can be broken off and grafted in, and the roots are what gives the tree life and stability.

So what is Paul trying to teach us here?

I believe the roots refer to Abraham (ultimately Christ), through whom all the families of the earth are blessed. It’s through the line of Abraham that Christ came, providing life for all. He is our root of stability.

The body refers to the elect body of Christ, the called out corporate people of God. This is a picture of True Israel, which is the Church, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, for we are all one in Christ. All believers are the offspring of Abraham (Gal 3:26-29).

The branches refer to individual believers within the elect body. As with a real tree, branches can be broken off, and they can be grafted in. Our election depends on remaining firm in our faith, or like branches, we will be cut off from the  elect body of Christ.

I believe that Abraham, and God’s choosing of a tree – with its symbolism and implications – is a significant key to understanding the doctrine of election. When one considers the picture that this olive tree presents, I don’t believe there can be any reasonable doubt that Corporate Election is what’s presented in the Word of God, unless looked upon with a positional bias. From the viewpoint of Christian Jews of Paul’s day, individual election is not how they would have seen it.

Romans 11 – Verse by Verse

In addition to the picture of Corporate Election that Paul provides in Romans 11, he actually reveals something else in this chapter that’s very difficult to refute. First I’m going to do a brief commentary on this chapter (as it pertains to my point). Then I’ll provide discussion that will provide further evidence that Paul viewed election as corporate, and not individualistic.

Romans 11
1 I say then, Did God cast off his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Paul refers to the nation of Israel as God’s people. He then asks the question: “Did God cast off his people?” In other words, did God reject His people wholesale, 100 percent of them? No, for Paul himself was an Israelite, and was one of many Jews who came to faith in Christ.

2 God did not cast off his people which he foreknew. Or know ye not what the scripture saith of Elijah? how he pleadeth with God against Israel:

Again, God did not reject His people wholesale. Individual Jews still came to Christ.

3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have left for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

God chooses to save anyone who comes to him via His Son in faith. They are the elect. Those who come to God any other way, He rejects. They are the non-elect.

There was at that time still a remnant of Jews who were saved, of whom Paul was one.

6 But if it is by grace, it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.
7 What then? That which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened:

The people of Israel in general did not obtain salvation, but individual  Jews did. In other words, the unbelieving majority did not, but the believing few did. Those who did, are identified as the elect. Those who didn’t must obviously be identified as the non-elect. Keep this in mind, as it’s the key to the point I want to make.

8 according as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day.

Speaking of the unbelieving non-elect.

9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, And a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, And bow thou down their back always.
11 I say then, Did they stumble that they might fall? God forbid: but by their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.

“might fall,” refers to falling beyond recovery.

Though clearly identified as the non-elect, they did not fall beyond recovery.

12 Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
13 But I speak to you that are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry;
14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them that are my flesh, and may save some of them.

Still referring to the unbelieving non-elect.

15 For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

The unbelieving non-elect are rejected by God. But we also see here that the opportunity to receive life was still available to them.

16 And if the firstfruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree;
18 glory not over the branches: but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by thy faith. Be not high-minded, but fear:

The non-elect were broken off because of unbelief.

21 for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee.
22 Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God’s goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

If the non-elect do not continue in unbelief, they will be grafted in. In other words, God will receive them. Thus they will no longer be regarded as the non-elect, but as the elect.
24 For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

The non-elect could still be “grafted into their own olive tree.” It’s at the point of faith they become the elect.

25 For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in;
26 and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 And this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins.
28 As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake.
29 For the gifts and the calling of God are not repented of.
30 For as ye in time past were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience,
31 even so have these also now been disobedient, that by the mercy shown to you they also may now obtain mercy.

This same unbelieving non-elect that Paul has been referring to throughout this chapter, still had opportunity to place their faith in Christ. God’s mercy was still available to them. Those who turned to Christ would then become the elect of God.

32 For God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
35 or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36 For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Discussion:

In verse 7 it refers to “Israel” and the “elect” of Israel. It also refers to the “rest” of Israel who were hardened. The “rest” would necessarily be the non-elect. Paul goes on in detail about the rest, and how the rest still had opportunity to come to faith in Christ, as he makes clear in verses 11,14,23,24,31.
According to the Calvinist’s view of election, everyone who is going to get saved was chosen to be saved before mankind was even created, that it was a done deal somewhere in eternity past. If that is true, then how can Paul refer to the “elect” on one hand, and then go on to discuss how the “rest”(the unbelieving non-elect) of Israel still had the opportunity to be “grafted into their own olive tree?” (vs. 24)
Verse 11 says, “Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all!” (NIV). The stumbling of unbelieving Israel was not beyond recovery. The opportunity for salvation was (and is) still there for them as individuals.

My whole point is, that Paul revealed that the “rest” of unbelieving Israel (the non-elect) could still be grafted into the tree of salvation if they did not continue in their unbelief (vs. 23). But if the Calvinist’s interpretation of election is correct, then how could there still be any opportunity for the “rest” to be grafted in if they were not among the “elect’? The Calvinist position on this point is very hard to defend.
The only way you can make sense out of the distinction Paul makes between the “elect” and the “rest,”  is to view it from the Corporate Election position. This “good olive tree” that Paul describes in this chapter, is the perfect picture of Corporate Election. According to this position, we as individuals are “elect” because we are members of the body of Christ. We are not, as Calvinism teaches, members of the body of Christ because we are the elect prior to inclusion. In other words, the elect are those who are in Christ, and the non-elect are those who are not in Christ.

Not An Empty Set

Some have accused Corporate Election as being an empty set. That is, it starts with the choosing of an empty Church. Thus if it starts with an empty Church, how can this idea be valid? What if no one becomes a member of it? Or so goes the argument. That argument reveals a lack of understanding regarding Corporate Election. To begin with, it doesn’t start with an empty Church, it starts with Christ, who is the Corporate Head. The Father chose His Son to be the Head of the Church. Thus with Jesus as the Corporate Head, it’s never been an empty Church.

Furthermore, God is not limited to the present, but can see all things future. Thus He’s always seen His people within the Elect Church. Revelation 7:9-14 makes this clear:

Revelation 7:9-14
9 After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11 And all the angels were standing round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they?
14 And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

This is a future scene of the Saints of God in Heaven. God, who knows all and all things future, has always known His people. Therefore, the idea that Corporate Election is an empty set has no basis. If it was ever an empty set, why would He choose His Son in the first place? The choosing of His Son was done before man existed. Therefore, what we have here is not an empty set, but an empty argument.

Cain and Abel:

God chose one way of salvation, and those who go to God via that one way, are the elect. Cain tried to come to God his own way, and God rejected it. Those who try to come to God any other way than the One Plan He has provided, are the non-elect.

Though God rejected Cain and his offering, He encouraged Cain to get it right, to go to Him in the acceptable way that He provided. God said to him, “If you do well, will you not be accepted” (Ge 4:7 ESV)? But he refused. Cain made that decision of his own free will.

God also told him, in regard to sin, that “its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Ge 4:7 ESV). Again, here is a clear case of free will. Cain could have exercised his will to rule over sin by choosing God’s way. God is consistent with Himself; He is not going to elect Cain for damnation on the one hand, and then encourage him to do something that is impossible for him to do, on the other. Furthermore, to do so would be insincere and deceptive. It would do no more for Cain than to give him false hope.

Regarding Abel, the lamb that he offered to God is a picture of Christ. Thus God accepted his offering, and Abel’s sins were atoned for. God chose to save anyone who would come to Him through His Son, the Lamb of God. Those who do, are the elect. God elected a people for Himself, through His Elect Son. Those who place their faith in the Elect Christ, become a part of the Elect People of God. Abel was among the elect of God because he was brought into union with Christ through the One Plan of salvation that God provided.

Cain, on the other hand, was among the non-elect because he tried to go to God his own way. It was not that God chose Abel for salvation, and chose Cain for damnation, as Calvinists teach. They both apparently knew the right way, and Abel chose that way, but Cain did not. Abel accepted God’s one way of salvation, so God chose to save him. Thus he is counted as among the elect. Out of love for Cain, God tried to encourage him to turn from his own way to go His way, but he refused….so God refused him. Thus he is counted as among the non-elect.

Cain and Abel are representative of the world:

Abel’s offering is a picture of Christ and God’s one way to save mankind from their sins. Those who embrace that one way, are accepted, and they are therefore the elect. Cain’s offering represents all other religions of the world by which man tries to reach God. Those who embrace any of those ways, are rejected, and they are therefore the non-elect.

It stands to reason that if God rejects those who come to Him any other way, they would be regarded as non-elected, and are therefore, the non-elect.  It also stands to reason that if God receives those who come to Him according to His One Plan, that they would be regarded as elected for salvation, and are therefore, the elect.

This account of Cain and Abel also demonstrates the role that man’s free will has in the plan of salvation. Salvation is of all of God, so we can’t take any credit for it. However, God has designed His plan to be one that is to be freely accepted or freely rejected. That God has chosen to carry out His plan of salvation within the framework of man’s free will, is clearly illustrated for us from the very beginning of the human race.

Cain and Abel are representative of how the doctrine of election works. God looked upon them both as sinners in need of forgiveness. He chose to save either of them according to their positive response to the truth, based upon the one Plan he chose to save them through.

Abel was elected for salvation because he came to God via the Plan He provided. Cain was not elected for salvation because he chose to come to God via some other way, his own way. Thus Election is based on an elect plan, not that God has pinned a badge of election on the chest of certain individuals who are then irresistibly drawn to Him. Election is not focused on the individual, but on the Plan and on the people collectively who benefit from that Plan.

Therefore, election is an identification with an Elect Plan – which is God’s Son, not a label that we wear coming into the world. We are elect because of our identification with Christ, who is the Elect Plan, the elect means of drawing and saving people unto Himself. There are no individuals in Christ in the sense that we are entities in and of ourselves. Our identification is in Christ and in the people that represent Him. We are each a part of the one entity that is in Christ, as one uniquely created people.

We’re saved individually of course, but our salvation is according to the election of a plan and of a people who would represent Him and the truth in the world.

Abel’s election was according to the One Plan that God ordained to save sinners through, which is through His Son. He is the Elect Plan. Those who go to God via that One Plan, are elect based on having received it. Those who go to God via some other so-called plan, are non-elect based on having rejected God’s plan, and being rejected by God because of it.

We are the elect of God individually because we are among those whom God chose to save out of this world according to a specific plan, one that He ordained before the world began. The non-elect are those outside of that plan, who refuse to go to God according to that Plan. It’s not God’s will to save anyone outside of that plan. Everyone inside of God’s plan are the chosen, everyone outside of God’s plan are the non-chosen.

There’s no need to make the doctrine of election more difficult than it really is. It’s not as complex and mysterious as many people would have us believe.

Our salvation begins and ends with Christ. Our election begins and ends with Christ. Just as He is our salvation, so is He our election. Just as our salvation is in Christ, so is our election in Christ. Just as there is no salvation apart from being in Christ, so is there no election apart from being in Christ. We are elect as individuals because we are a part of the corporate, called out people of God.

The Bride of Christ – A Picture

The fact that we are identified as the “Bride” of Christ, shows that God chose us corporately. The Father chose a Bride for His Son, not Brides. This is one of the strongest arguments for Corporate Election. It’s the most perfect picture that we have of Corporate Election in the Bible. Calvinist individualistic election is completely out of harmony with it. If election was individual, we would necessarily see the term “Brides,” not “Bride.” Individually, we would be Brides of Christ.  But then, that would be a picture of polygamy, not of a pure and unique Bride set apart for God’s Son. God chose the Bride, which is the Church. We are elect as individuals only as we are in the Elect Church.

Types of Corporate Election

Truth and Falsehood:  There is only one truth. There is only one falsehood. All individual aspects of truth, are merely a reflection of, and  representative of, the one truth. Collectively, they make up the truth. The individual aspects have their identity in the overall truth they represent. They have no identity as truth by themselves. Truth is general, but revealed in many individual ways. As with the truth, so with falsehood.

Light and Darkness:  There is only one light. There is only one darkness. All individual aspects of the light, are merely a reflection of, and representative of, the one light. Collectively, they make up the light. The individual aspects have their identity in the overall light they represent. They have no identity as light by themselves. Light is general, but revealed in many individual ways. As with the light, so with darkness.

Good and Evil:  There is only one good. There is only one evil. All individual aspects of good, are merely a reflection of, and representative of,  the one good. Collectively, they make up good. The individual aspects have their identity in the overall good they represent. They have no identity as good by themselves. Good is general, but revealed in many individual ways. As with the good, so with evil.

Application:

Elect and Non-Elect:  There is only one elect. There is only one non-elect. All individual aspects of the elect, are merely a reflection of, and representative of, the one elect. Collectively, they make up the elect. The individual aspects have their identity in the overall elect they represent. They have no identity as the elect by themselves. Elect is general, but revealed in many individual ways. As with the elect, so with the non-elect.

Therefore, the idea of individualistic election, as Calvinists view it, is clearly out of harmony with the types that we see here.

One more type:

The River of Election

The phrase River of Election, is not in the Bible, but we do see a picture of it. Using the types above, we see a river of truth, and everything in  that river is a part of the whole river that makes up the truth. Truth is in the whole of the river. Likewise with light and good. Thus we have a river of truth, a river of light, and a river of good. Truth and light and good is in the whole of the respective river they represent.


Election is like a river that flows in and through and from Christ, and one must, therefore, enter into that river to be among the elect. This river of election does not flow outside of Christ. That’s why Paul said that “he chose us in him” (Eph 1:4). In other words, we’re not elected to enter this river, we are elect only upon entering it.
Election is not a tag that’s been pinned on us as individuals, and thus, as something that we carry outside of Christ when we enter the world. Election is only in Christ and flows from Christ and is something that can only be entered into. We do that through faith in Him.

Conclusion

God chose to allow man into His presence only through faith in His Son. Those who approach Him according to that One Way, are allowed, and are therefore termed the chosen or the elect. Those who attempt to approach God any other way, are rejected, and are therefore the non-chosen or non-elect.

When it comes to the doctrine of election, it’s all about that One Plan, that one way of salvation that God has provided for mankind. It’s all about His Son Jesus, His Chosen One. Those who come to God through faith in His Chosen One, become elect through their identification with the Elect Son.

Just as Adam was chosen to give birth to the human race, and just as Abraham was chosen to give birth to a nation, so was Jesus chosen to give birth to the people of God. Through faith in Christ, we are born into God’s chosen family. We are elect as individuals because of our birth into the elect people of God, which was brought forth through His Elect Son.

Individuals are elect human beings through birth. Individuals are elect Jews through birth. Individuals are elect children of God through birth (the new birth). We are not members of the elect people of God because we are “the elect.” We are elect as individuals in the sense that we join ourselves to the elect people of God through the new birth. It’s a people group that God has chosen, not select individuals whom God has pinned a label on before they even come into the world.

Corporate Election and Fulfillment Theology

If you read my series on the Church and Israel, you’re probably beginning to see the association between Corporate Election and Fulfillment Theology. You’ll see it even more clearly once we do the analysis of the two side by side. We’ll do that after an explanation of Fulfillment Theology. Even though I’ve gone into great detail about that in the series prior to this one, I’ll need to deal with it again briefly in order to make the comparison.

I encourage you to stay with me on this, because you may be surprised by what you read.