The Eighteen Principles of Divine Revelation

Principle No. 13 The Election Principle Part 1

By Clifton L. Fowler

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1924


God has a supreme purpose which is according to election. It must be instantly conceded that God may have many other purposes, but these other purposes of Deity must all accept secondary place when God's purpose according to election is in view.

God's purpose according to election, being fixed in His very character, does not change; it is gloriously immutable. The Modernist, with characteristic godlessness, turns away from the Biblical teaching that God is immutable and changeless. When the Modernist discusses any truth taught in God's Book, it is a guarantee that the truth will be warped into a wreck before he is through h s discussion. When the Modernist essays the theme of Divine immutability, he has no argument worthy of recognition, so he ransacks his vocabulary for a sneering term of belittlement. With cheap effort at showy parade of learning the pedantic fellow brushes aside the thought that God is changeless and avers that such a conception of God makes Him "static." We must now think of God as "evolving," "developing," "being reconstructed" in order to meet the special need of a modernistic age! We unhesitatingly repudiate this wicked falsehood and accept the Scripture in which the Lord declares, concerning Himself, "I change not" (Mal. 3:6). Since He changes not. His supreme purpose is not subject to change. God's purpose according to election shall stand.

The Election Principle of Divine Revelation underlies God's entire Revelation. Every book in the Bible shows up evidences of the activity of this interesting principle. Every doctrine in Scripture sheds new light into the mind of the student when this principle is recognized.

The definition of the Election Principle is, —

The Election Principle is that principle of Divine Revelation whereby God, in the working out of His creative and redemptive purposes uniformly sets aside all firsts and establishes all seconds.

So unique is this principle that God, knowing the human tendency toward skepticism, has revealed its existence in the Scripture by means of two exceedingly clear examples of the Direct Statement Principle.

The first is Rom. 9:10-12:

"And not only this; hut when Rebecca also had received by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger" (Rom. 9:10-12).

We find that the Holy Spirit here reveals three things concerning the Election Principle:

(a) The existence of the Election Principle.

(b) The ground of the Election Principle.

(c) The effect of the Election Principle.

First, the existence of the Election Principle is revealed by the simple words, "That the purpose of God according to election might stand." No amount of reasoning can dispose of so candid a declaration. God has a purpose. It is a purpose which is according to His sovereign election, His sovereign choice. This purpose is destined to stand. It will stand because God is watching over the affairs of men. It will stand because God is eternally sovereign. It will stand because God's purposes do not break down. If it breaks down once in God's dealing with His own, then His purpose according to election has failed to stand. It is specially to be noted that the very statements of Scripture exist because of God's determined purpose that the Election Principle should stand, thus demonstrating it to be a principle of divine revelation.

" * * * that the purpose of God according to election might stand * * * IT WAS SAW."

Could a proposition be more clear? The statement is so exact and didactic as to be almost a challenge. The Holy Spirit lays down the inescapable teaching that a certain thing which was said in the Old Testament was said because the Election Principle was operative, and God was determined that His purpose according to election should stand. "That the purpose of God according to election might stand * * * it was said."

Second, the ground of the Election Principle is revealed in a statement which sets forth both the negative and affirmative sides of the case:

"Not of works, but of Him that calleth."

With one majestic sweep the whole fabric of human pretension is cast aside. When God's purpose according to election is operating, the ground of that operation is not man's works, be they ever so good, and pure, and strong. The revealed ground of the Election Principle is:

"* * * of HIM that calleth."

The expression "the called" and "the called ones" are used by Paul concerning those who have believed in Jesus Christ as a personal Saviour. The "called," are the saved. Hence when Paul says, "Not of works but of Him that calleth," he is saying, "not by human strength but by the One who is the Saviour." Since His saving work was accomplished at Calvary by His death," the inspired contrast in this passage become most rich and full of blessing. Paul's evident meaning is:

"Not by a human life

But by a Saviour's death!"

And throughout the Inspired Book, this cardinal fact is the foundation of God s great purposes. What blessed contemplation! What food for the hungry soul! God's purpose is built upon the Saviour's work on Calvary! The purpose of God according to election has for its ground, not the deeds of sinful human flesh, but the sacrificial death of Jesus. Oh Holy Cross! Oh blessed death! Upon such a foundation the Election Principle rests.

Third, the effect of the operation of the Election Principle is set forth in the words, —

"The elder shall serve the younger."

Here the Holy Spirit shows the effect of the Election Principle in the Messianic line. The first born became the servant of his younger brother. The things which happened to the people of Israel in those far away days, happened unto them for ensamples (types). The types exhibiting the effect of this principle appear most frequently in the family from which the Messiah finally sprang. However, the far more vital effects of the activity of this principle are found in the truths pertaining to Christ, His person and work, and to the believer, his needs and the out-working of the salvation provided for him. Wherever the Election Principle appears, the same effect is immediately in evidence, — an elder (a first) has given place to a younger (a second). God's purpose according to election stands.

With what comforting assurance this contradicts the old erroneous idea concerning election, that God has elected certain ones to be saved and certain ones to be damned. Election is not God arbitrarily choosing some for glorification and some for condemnation, but rather, election is God in sovereign grace determining in His dealings with earth and man, to set aside all firsts and establish all seconds. This is not man's definition of election, but God's, for He says, "That the purpose of God according to election might stand * * * it was said ft * * the elder shall serve the younger," the Inspired Word thus revealing that the divine expression of election is in the setting aside of the first and the establishing of the second. One inspired definition of election is rather to be had than myriads of human conjectures.

Thus this remarkable passage in Romans 9 does three things for us. First, it shows us that the existence of the Election Principle in Divine Revelation, is an actuality. Second, it shows us that the only ground on which the Election Principle rests is the death of God's only S-n, our Saviour. Third, it shows that the effect of the normal functioning of the Election Principle in His dealing with earth and man, is the setting aside of the firsts and establishing of the seconds.

Beside the helpful passage from Romans 9, which we have just investigated, there is another inspired statement, on the Election Principle, which merits our prayerful attention and study. It occurs in Heb. 10:7-9:

"Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said. Sacrifice and offering and burnt-offerings and offering for sin, thou wouldst not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. HE TAKETH AWAY THE FIRST, THAT HE MAY ESTABLISH THE SECOND."

The Apostle is discussing the sacrifices and offerings which were offered under the first covenant (the Law) and comparing with them the sacrifice made by Jesus our great High Priest. It is while he is showing how the sacrifice of Jesus sets aside the sacrifices made on Jewish altars, that he makes the statement which is so intimately related to our study of the Election Principle:

"He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second" (Heb. 10:9).

Here is perfect agreement. This is only a further demonstration that God's purpose according to election must stand. The ancient sacrifices are taken away because the Saviour's sacrifice has taken their place. The first is set aside that the second might be established. It again becomes clear that the ground on which God operates in putting over His election purposes is always the death of Jesus.

Surely it is most unfortunate that in the past this subject which God has set forth in His Book in such radiant simplicity should have been invested with such unnecessary mystery and difficulty. It casts no reflection on God to say that His purpose according to election must stand. It simply means that He has determined that that which the death of Jesus His Son accomplished shall be settled and established forever. This is His purpose according to election. He, in the exercise of His sovereign right, has decreed it, — the first shall be subservient, the second shall be exalted. The reason for this is that in God's Word the firsts stand connected with the activity of the flesh and Satan while all seconds stand connected with the spirit and the Lord Jesus. The setting aside of the first and the establishment of the second is the setting aside of Satanic work and the establishment of the things of Christ. God's purpose according to election is that Christ shall be victor forever. The second shall be permanently established. This glorious purpose to eternally establish the Lord Jesus Christ as the pre-eminent One, is the purpose of God which shall stand, for we read, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess Him Lord. Blessed purpose of God! Wondrous Election Principle!


Adams two grounds of possible access to God furnish an example of the activity of this principle. Before the fall of man, Adam's access to God was on the ground of the continuance of his own righteousness. We know this to be the case because one evil deed completely closed the fellowship and communion which had evidently been so free, so spontaneous, and so delightful between the Creator and the creature. A human being does not last long when his relationship to God is to be maintained on a platform of works. But as soon as sin entered, God slew animals, clothed the sinful man and his wife with the skins and thereby showed that a new access was provided, this time based on the death of a victim. Man can again communicate with his God. This time he stands, no longer naked, but clothed in the covering of the One who died. It is one of the first instances of the activity of the Election Principle. The first access to God was set aside and the second access established through the shedding of the blood, and death of an innocent victim.

Another type which exhibits this principle is the Cain-Abel-Seth type. Cain is the elder son. He and Abel, the younger son, come before the Lord bringing their offerings. Evidently they have both heard the true way for the Holy Spirit says in Hebrews ( Heb. 11:4) that Abel came by faith; and the Genesis narrative shows that God held Cain responsible for not coming the same way Abel came. Since faith cometh by hearing (Rom. 10:17), it follows that both had heard the true way to approach God. Cain came with vegetables and fruits, beautiful but bloodless. Abel slew a lamb and offered the bleeding sacrifice to God. God set aside the first and accepted the second on the ground of the death of a bleeding victim. Cain was rejected and Abel was accepted that God's purpose according to election might stand. He set aside the first and established the second.

Still another election type is seen in the striking incident of the old man, Israel, blessing the two sons of Joseph. The spirit of God goes into such detail in describing the occurrence that we give it in full:

"And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said. Who are these? And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed- And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, ^' ho was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first born. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before Whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my father Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he he'd up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father. Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused and said, I know it my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, "And his seed shall become a multitude of nations" (Gen. 28:8-19).

The Election Principle 's here most clearly active. The old blind man guided his hands wittingly. His right hand crossed over in front of him to rest on the younger boy's head, because it was the right hand blessing which carried with it the birthright and patriarchal inheritance. His left hand also crossed over in front of him to rest on the older boy's head, thus causing the arms of the old man to make a cross. What a wonderful type! It is God saying in picture, "I set aside all firsts that I might establish all seconds, and the ground on which this thing is. done is the Cross!" God's purpose according to election stands. God's ground, whether in type or in fact, is always the same, — the death of the Saviour.


"The earth itself furnishes one of the illuminating illustration of God's purpose according to election. The first earth, upon which we now live, is slated for universal rejuvenating judgments which shall make the earth new. At the same time heaven shall be purged and made ready for eternal blessedness. When God has completed this mighty cataclysmic cleansing of both heaven and earth then shall be fulfilled the words, "We * * * look for new heaven: and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (II Pet 3:13). It is another convincing example of the Election Principle. God shall set aside the first heaven and the first earth, because sin has had access to both of them, and He shall establish a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness shall forever dwell.

God's two Adams still further exhibit the prevalence of this principle in the Inspired Book. God's first man is the First Adam. God's second man is Christ, the Second Adam.

"And so it is written. The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they; also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (I Cor. 15:45-49).

Adam was the original Federal Head of the race. God has transferred the Federal Headship to His Son. The victory on which this transfer is based was wrought at Calvary. This is but the Election Principle functioning in normal fashion in conformity to the revelations concerning it. God has purposed to set aside all firsts and establish all seconds and that purpose stands.

The Election Principle finds happy expression in connection with the glorious facts of our great salvation. According to God's Word we were lost, — that was our first condition Now, by His grace, those who believe are saved, — that is our second condition. What rapture to know that he sets aside the first to establish the second! What bliss to see He has set aside our lost condition in order that on the ground of the death of Jesus He might establish forever our salvation! In our first condition we were without hope, in our second condition He tells us we are saved in hope. In our first condition we wandered in the darkness of sin, but in our second condition we walk in light, the light which streams from the face of Jesus Christ. In our first condition, our lives having been dominated by sin, we were as black as midnight, but the Bible describes our second condition as "whiter than snow." In our first condition we were rebels, but in our second, ambassadors. In our first condition we were the dogs and wolves which prey upon the flock, while in our second condition we are the sheep of His pasture. In our first condition we rested on works, but now we trust the blood. In our first condition we were hell-doomed and hell-deserving, but our second condition is security to the glory world, where Father, Son and Spirit have planned and executed blessings of infinite proportions as the eternal inheritance of those who accept the redemption purchased on Calvary's tree. Blessed be God forever. He has set aside all these hideous firsts in order to establish His glorious seconds. Creation and Redemption, man and earth, the Word of God and the work of God all vie with one another in declaring this mighty truth, — the purpose of God according to election shall stand.

Copyright, 1924, by Clifton L. Fowler