Feb 25

Session 6 Recap: Mark Dever, “Election”

2017 | by Ethan Hester | Category: Clarus 17

Editor’s Note: Ethan Hester is the Preaching Pastor at Grace Bible Church, Las Cruces, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Mark Dever’s message from Saturday afternoon at Clarus, February 25, “Election,” from Romans 9.


In Session 6 this afternoon Pastor Mark Dever preached on election as presented in Romans 9.  He recognized the fact that while there is no subject as controversial as election, this chapter and the doctrine of election specifically have been the greatest agent of change for how many believers think about God.  

After coming to the climax of his gospel presentation in Chapter 8, Paul’s mind is moved to the truth that not all will take part in God’s glorious salvation.  In his mind the possibility of an objection arises.  He is struck with the question of whether Israel’s rejection of Jesus means that God’s word has failed.  It could easily seem that way, given that Israel has received so many blessings in being God’s chosen people, and yet they have not believed in Christ as the Messiah.

What is the answer to this problem?  It is to remember that God’s word hasn’t failed and that Israel’s response to Christ as the Messiah is due to God’s electing purpose of choosing some for belief and salvation and some for unbelief.  There are seven things that we should remember about God’s election.

  • God’s election is not simply physical (vv. 6-7). Election doesn’t extend to all of Abraham’s physical descendants. God’s election is not the same as an outward calling. The Israelites had an outward calling, but many did not receive the promised Messiah in faith. You cannot inherit a good relationship with God.
  • God’s election is based on himself (vv.8-13). God’s choice of some for salvation has nothing to do with any man’s foreseen works or faith, but rather on God and his love.
  • God’s election is just (vv. 14-18). Paul anticipates that a human may be tempted to question whether or not God is just. But we are reminded that God told Moses that He has the right to show mercy and compassion on whomever he chooses (Exodus 33:19) and that He hardens whomever He will. He ironically gives the example of Pharaoh’s heart being hardened in comparison with unbelieving Jews.
  • God’s election is not relieving humans of our responsibility (v. 19) Just because God chooses some, it does not mean that those who don’t believe are off the hook for their sin.  On the contrary, because we sin we are all guilty before God and rightly deserve hell, though some of us are saved in spite of that fact.
  • God’s election is revealing (vv.20-23) God’s election reveals God and His place as Creator, who has the right to make vessels for honorable and dishonorable uses as He sees fit.
  • God’s election is international (vv.24-29) God’s election isn’t just tribal, but it is for some inside of Israel and for some outside of Israel, the Gentiles.
  • God’s election was predicted (vv.30-33) God doesn’t elect those in and out of Israel because he needed a new plan after his original one failed.  Instead it was always his plan that Christ, the “stumbling block”, would come and cause many inside of Israel to stumble by lacking faith in Him as the Messiah.


For those of us who may struggle with the doctrine of election, we should aim to lay down our judgment of God and His choice, and remember that He is the one who will be judging us.  For those who are convinced, remember that the doctrine of election shouldn’t bring an air of superiority because of our knowledge, but instead it should lead to a heart of love for the lost as we remember that we too were once slaves to sin and that we did nothing to earn our place in God’s family.