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Randy-WhiteThe Election of Individuals for Salvation
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27).

This verse is used in Reformed theology (Calvinism) to support the claim that God has selected certain people to salvation. Such a theology would be valid if one could show that what is being taught in this passage is applicable in the age of grace in which we live.

The challenge is that several Scriptures become a direct contradiction to such a concept if it is carried over into this age. For example, consider these vital passages:

  • “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
  • “You have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

If the only one who can be saved is “the one to whom the Son wills to reveal” the Father (Matt. 11:27), then how can we also say that “the Holy Scriptures…are able to make (one) wise for salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15), or that “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17)? We would then have to devise a theology that limited these promises to certain individuals, and such a construct would not only be theologically unsound, it would deny the plain meaning of words.

I believe you will find great joy and meaning in the Scripture when you begin to carefully and correctly divide the Word (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15). You will learn to recognize religious demands by preachers or churches that are Biblically unmerited, and you will increase in confidence as you grow in understanding of what it takes to live as a fully obedient Christian.

Use these carryover principles when you need to determine whether an instruction, command or historical account is valid for your life today. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is the account anecdotal?
    • A description of what someone, somewhere, sometime did, thought or experienced should not become a principle for all people, all places and all times.
  • Is the instruction solely contained within the Mosaic Law?
    • The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy contain the Mosaic Law.
    • Teachings of the law had a purpose which has now been fulfilled (cf. Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14).
    • While certain principles drawn from the Mosaic Law may be valid, a legalistic conformation to the law is against the principles of freedom which Paul teaches in Galatians.
  • Is the instruction found both in the law and also prior to the law?
    • Be careful about claiming that a Mosaic Law matter that is also pre-law must be taken as a normative standard for Christian living.
    • The Sabbath and the sacrifices are both pre-law and also included in the law, but are not required of believers today (cf. Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 10:1-10).
  • Is the instruction or principle a moral demand on mankind based on the character of God?
    • The Mosaic Law contains many moral demands that are not based only on that law, though they are reflected and restated in the law.
    • Morality is based on the character of God, and is a requirement of all who were created to “bear (His) image” (1 Cor. 15:49).
    • If you can determine through Scripture that a behavior is offensive to God’s character, then the carryover principle applies because the instruction, principle or demand is not based in a particular dispensation, but transcends time and space.
  • Is the instruction stated in Paul’s writings?
    • Paul clearly wrote to those of our current age of grace, so his instruction will, by default, be applicable in today’s dispensation.
    • An oft-made error with the works of Paul is to “backflow” his teachings of grace upon those living in previous generations. This violates the carryover principle (as well as the teaching of Hebrews 1:1, which tells us “God…spoke…in many portions” (NASB)—none of which were complete).

Learning to “rightly (divide) the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) will be a huge blessing to your spiritual growth and Biblical understanding.

Furthermore, the dispensational principle of carryover can save you from theological error.

Happy dividing!

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
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