Friday, February 3, 2012

Election in the Book of Acts

The Book of Acts is a history book, the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. This in no way undermines its infallibility. However, such books aren't generally useful as a doctrinal foundation. They tell us more about what God and His people have done, rather than what they have taught or believed. The reversal of that hermeneutical principle is how we ended up with some of the more bizarre doctrines of some Pentecostals, such as the modalism of the United Pentecostal Church. However, that is not to say that there is no theology in it; I merely suggest that it be used as support for a doctrine, not the foundation.

For example, sovereign election is most-explicitly a Pauline doctrine, though it is certainly prominent throughout both Testaments. Somehow, the Pentecostals overlook it while mining for their distinctive doctrines in Acts.

First consider Acts 4:27-28, "Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, Whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place." This is a portion of the prayer of the Apostles after they had been hauled before the Sanhedrin. I think it is especially significant that the Apostles find comfort and renewal in their knowledge that all that had occurred was only according to the prior plan and purpose of God.

And in Acts 13:48, we read, "And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed." Arminians are especially annoyed by this verse. They try to say that those that believe are appointed to eternal life. They gnash their teeth when anyone points out that the Scriptures teach the opposite order: those whom God has appointed to eternal life come unfailingly to believe.

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