Paul Washer: Divine Election Explained

Some time back I posted a video of a conversation where seemingly unannouced, buy information pills a young man walked up to Paul Washer asking him if he could explain the doctrine of election (with another friend standing by with a video camera). The result was a very poor quality audio recording but with the transcript provided, it is fairly easy to follow.

Today I spent some time writing out a full transcript of the conversation. There are some people who for some reason find the viewing of videos to be problematic. I hope adding the transcript below serves you.

So, here’s the video once again, this time with the transcript (which starts after the initial question has been asked). God bless, John

What it all comes down to is this. You have to answer one question: is man radically depraved?

That’s the only question you have to ask. Because if he is truly dead in his sin, if he truly hates God, if all men are equally evil, and they are, then the question is, how are you standing here right now believing God while some of your friends who are more moral than you still hate Him?

What happened?

If you say you opened up your heart, I’ll say, “no you didn’t” because the Bible says God opened up Lydia’s heart.

If you say, “well I repented.” Well, repentance is an evangelical grace in all the confessions. That means it comes from God as a gift.

If you say, “well I believe.” Ephesians 2. It is also a gift.

Questioner: (I know the Bible says that no man can come to God unless he is drawn by God. I know that well. My question is, “is the offer of salvation for all men or did God sit back in eternity and say, ‘its for you, you, you and you, and you, you, you, you are going to go to hell”?)

See, first of all, your problem is this: let’s say there’s no election. None. Ok. Let’s just start fresh and say there’s no election. Alright.. now, let’s say that men really are radically depraved and no man can come to God unless God draws him. So God comes down to every man and says “Anyone who will bow the knee to Me, anyone who will accept my Son as their Savior will be saved.” Since every man is radically depraved, they all hate God, they all blaspheme Him, turn around walk away and go to hell. The whole world goes to hell. Is that God’s fault?

(No.)

Alright, let’s say that really is the reality. Let’s say the Bible is true and that men hate God that much. So, who is going to be saved? Absolutely no one!

And if God saved no one because everyone is evil and rejects Him, is God wrong in doing that?

No, so that is what you’ve got without election – you’ve got the whole world hating God and going to hell.

That’s it…. and the other option is this:

Among these evil men, for His own glory and to demonstrate His own kindness before the foundation of the world He chooses a group of men out of there to demonstrate His glory in them. Is that wrong?

Did He rip the other men off?

What did He do?

You’ve got two choices: God saves a group of people by His own sovereignty or everybody goes to hell. Everybody!

Because men are that evil.

See, what you need to realize is that if God, right now, were to throw open the door of hell and say “everyone who wants out of hell, the only thing you have to do is bow your knee to Me and recognize My Lordship.” they’ll slam the door and stay in hell.

See what you don’t realize because of the humanistic Christianity in America, you don’t realize that men are really evil. They really ARE evil.

I’ll give you an example.

Have any of you seen Lord of the Rings?

Saruman makes these orcs, they come out of the ground evil. EVIL.

Alright, Aragon, all the heroes in the movie, slaughter them like they were insects. Slaughter them. And every time an orc gets killed, what do you do…

Yay! (Cheer)

Why?

Because those orcs really are evil. They are evil.

There’s your problem. You don’t think men are.

Men really are evil. Men really deserve hell. They really do.

(I believe that)

We talk about the doctrine of inability – that men cannot come to God. Jesus said that. Alright, men CANNOT come to God.

Now, if you say, “if men can’t come to God then how can God judge them? Its like judging a blind man because he can’t read. If men can’t come to God then man is not a culprit, he’s a victim.”

But here’s what you have to understand. Men cannot come to God because they WILL not come to God and they will not come to God because they hate Him… and therefore they are responsible.

Men are evil. God is good.

So, men hate God, they hate His law, they hate everything about Him. OK.

It says of Joseph’s brothers: they could not speak to him peaceably.

Now they spoke Aramaic. Why couldn’t they speak to him peaceably?

They could not because they hated him.

Alright, that’s why no man will ever come to God.

If God comes down and says, “Alright, everybody make their choice.”

No one is coming to God.

Why?

They hate Him.

And that is why they are judged, for their moral inability. Their inability is moral. They really hate God.

So, you’ve got the whole human race, every one of them is fallen, everyone of them hates God. God comes down to them and says, “who wants to be saved?”

Everybody blasphemes the name of God, walks into hell and slams the door. That’s what you’ve got. Because men really are evil.

and if out of that God says, “For My own glory, I am going to redeem a people and give them to My Son, by My own choice and by My own Sovereign election. He’s done wrong to no one.

Now how does He save them?

Here’s a question: Are you spiritually dead prior to salvation?

(Yes)

Well then, how did you come to Christ?

If you are spiritually blind, how do you now see Him?

(He draws me unto Him)

But you’re a dead man.

If some of it has to do with you, you’re a dead man.

If God calls your name, you hate Him. You’re not going to come, you’re going to run farther away from Him.

That is why in all.. now listen very carefully… in all the Christian confessions – the old Christian confessions, in the Reformation, early Baptist confessions, … you have been raised on this” ‘If you believe in Jesus you can be born again.’

ALL the early Baptist confessions say you must be born again in order to believe in Jesus.

That’s the difference.

Because if I tell a dead man, “Look, you’re dead, but there’s a hospital over here, where they can put some electrodes on you – so get up and follow me over to the hospital.”

Its nonsensical. He’s dead.

If he can get up he doesn’t need to go to the hospital.

So when Jesus looked at Lazarus and said, “Lazarus come forth” – there’s a problem – Lazarus is dead.

How does he hear the command?

The command was not only to be given, the moment the command is given, Lazarus must be resurrected to be able to even hear the command and respond.

That’s why you probably heard the Gospel for many years, and you’re sitting there and you didn’t care, it’s no big deal, maybe you made a profession of faith.. nothing.

And then one day, the Gospel is preached and wooosh – the blinders are taken off and not only that but you want Him.

Some people say, “well, what God does is He draws us to a certain point and then gives us a choice.”

There’s a problem. If God only illuminates the mind of the sinner then the more the sinner sees God, the more he’s going to hate Him.

So He not only illuminates the mind, He changes the heart.

With a new heart, for the first time you want Jesus and say, “I love Him and am irresistibly drawn to Him. I want Him more than anything.”

That’s what it is.

29 thoughts on “Paul Washer: Divine Election Explained

  1. “There are some people who for some reason find the viewing of videos to be probelmatic…”

    Sir, speaking for myself, assuming your not talking technically such as flash, html5, etc, I have found the problem in many cases to be “theo-tainment” in the place of edifying writing on many sites.

    Much as how conferences (desiring Warren for example) have in many cases become American Idol sets, the proliferation of videos has made many of us uneasy.

    Thank you for the video, which I prefer not to watch when there is transcript or print, and for the transcript.

  2. Absolutely what I needed to read! Great explanation. Really helped me understand the process of election! I wish every person could read this.

  3. An excellent, informal conversation about divine election by Paul Washer. Truly, if God is at the ultimate mercy of the fallen will of man for salvation, then no one would ever positively respond to the Gospel and Jesus would have died in vain and failed His earthly mission.

    The real truth is, however, that our awesome, sovereign God never goes on a rescue mission that fails. “Salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9 NIV). Salvation is a rescue operation from start to finish. It’s all about Him! Soli Deo Gloria!

    Dennis Fischer
    Lincoln, Nebraska USA

  4. Bryant,

    I believe Scripture makes it clear that unregenerate man is spiritually dead, desires to live independently of God, will not submit to the law of God and indeed cannot do so, and will not in any way come to the light because he hates the light, all the thoughts of his heart being only evil continually.

    I’m with Paul Washer on this. Man is not neutral towards God and certainly does not by nature want Him.

    May I ask, what is your scriptural premise for saying that natural man is born with a desire to be filled with only God? Though he has deep longings for the things only a relationship with God would provide (freedom from a guilty conscience, peace, assurance, a sense of purpose, etc.) he wants these things in independence of God. All the so called “searching” for God in false religions are attempts to run and hide from the true God. That is the nature we have inherited from Adam who hid from God in the garden after his sin.

    John 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

    Romans 3:11 “There is no God seeker.”

    Only the regenerate seek Him, once given new hearts by the Spirit of God.

    • Are you not using the same broken argument of Calvin by stretching the word “dead” to mean a physcial condition, when it’s talking about a spiritual condition. You know the “men are so dead in sin they couldn’t receive Christ if they tried” arguement.

      How would explain the use of the word “dead” in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:24, 32,which is the same greek word used as in Ephesians 2:1

      24for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
      32‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”
      Clearly we are talking about a spiritual condition, however scripture does not support the theory that regeneration preceeds faith…

      Russ

      ——————————————————————————–

      • Russ,

        A word is correctly defined by looking at the semantic range of how a word is used and then determining the context. Clearly the Prodigal Son was not dead physically, but dead towards his father in terms of any love for him. Another interpretive rule is to interpret parables by the intended application of the story – sometimes they have one main point to illustrate rather than looking at each detail in a parable to determine doctrine. That is important.

        You then say Scripture does not support the theory that regeneration precedes faith. Actually it does. Unless a man is born again he CANNOT enter the kingdom and 1 Cor 2:14, Romans 8:7, 8 and especially 1 John 5:1 teaches it clearly also.

        • John you wrote:
          “A word is correctly defined by looking at the semantic range of how a word is used and then determining the context. Clearly the Prodigal Son was not dead physically, but dead towards his father in terms of any love for him.”

          You’re right the prodigal was not physically dead, but who is Christ was not a prodigal berfore Christ? What do you see this parable teaching?

          1 Cor 2:14, 14But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

          This supports Total Depravity, not regeneration preceding faith

          Romans 8:7, 8
          7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

          Again this is teaching TD not regeneration preceding faith.

          1 John 5:1 teaches it clearly also.
          1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.

          In this verse is not the word “believes” indicating it is preceding regeneration?

          If you look at the word “believe” in this verse we notice it’s in the Present participle active tense, meaning this is talking about ongoing/active faith, not a one-time event.

          As we keeping reading in 1 John 5:2-5 we come across “has been”- again indicates past and present. Continuing in the faith
          In verses 2-5 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God
          Here we see more continued faith, not a onetime event.
          russ

          Russ

  5. While I love the preaching of Paul washer, I believe his whole argument is based on man hating God. While I believe we are deceptively wicked, I also believe we are born with a desire to be fill with only God. We do go about and try to fill that God void with counterfeit gods, but to say the more we know about God the more we hate him is untrue and a flawed premise.

    It is clear from scripture that unless God convicts us of our sin we will never call out to him for salvation. But I see no consistent scripture saying we hate God and the more we know him the more we hate him.

    • Hi Bryant,

      With John, I would ask, “Where in Scripture you base your belief that ‘we are born with a desire to be filled with only God’? You’re right, Paul Washer’s argument is indeed based on man’s hatred for God. This is the meaning of the doctrine of Total (Radical) Depravity. We know, from Scripture, that sinners hate God. This is not something that was invented by John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, Paul Washer, or anyone else who believed/believes such things.

      – Jesus, in John 3:20, said that “everyone who does wicked things HATES the light and does not come to the light” (emphasis mine). According to the context, those who do “wicked things” are those who love the darkness rather than the light (3:19), and those who love the darkness rather than the light are those who do not believe in the Son (3:18). Man, in his hatred for Christ (who is the image of the invisible God), will not come to Christ.

      – Paul, in Romans 1, paints one of the darkest pictures of fallen man for us. Beginning in verse 18, he begins the section by speaking of the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” As the section comes to an end, the apostle refers to the same group (mankind) as “HATERS of God” (1:30, emphasis mine). Scripture teaches us that the sons and daughters of Adam really do “hate” God.

      The “God-void” or the popular “God-shaped hole in our hearts” teaching supposes that, although we all naturally desire and long for the One True, Holy, Righteous, Sovereign God, we seek to fill that mysterious hole with all sorts of forbidden fruits, abominable treasures, and filthy pleasures. However, Scripture speaks of no mysterious, deep, or hidden longing for God. Rather, we discover that “no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:12).

      Also, if I may ask, “Can you provide a Scriptural basis for saying that it is an ‘untrue and flawed premise’ to say that the more an unregenerate, radically depraved, darkness-loving, God-hating sinner knows about the One True God, the more he will hate Him?” Biblically, that seems to be the only thing sinners would do if the light that they so hate becomes brighter and clearer in their view.

      The whole matter when it comes to fallen man and his relationship to his Creator is love-and-hate: In his love for the darkness, he hates the light and will not come to the light.

      • Hey Justin you stated:

        “The whole matter when it comes to fallen man and his relationship to his Creator is love-and-hate: In his love for the darkness, he hates the light and will not come to the light.”

        Well in the Calvinist view , didn’t God meticulously predestine the fallen man to hate God? If that is the case, how shall fallen man be held accountable for something God predestined them to be especially if He did not provide the Grace to come to God?

        thanks russ

          • You’re right, but in your case, God predestined that man love his sin. So how is he to be held accountable?

            russ

          • If you believe in God’s exhaustive knowledge of the future (which all orthodox Christians do) then you too would affirm that God knew about the Fall of man long before it happened – in fact, He always knew of it. However, though He decreed that sin would take place, He is not responsible for the sin that is in the heart of man.

            Example: God decreed that Christ would die an atoning death for sinners, but that does not mean He made men sin. Men did this out of their own rebellious hearts, even though God ordained that all this would happen.

            The early church prayed in Acts 4, “for 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.” (Acts 4:27,28)

            Men meant this for evil. God meant this for good.

  6. Pingback: A changed heart causes a desire to see Jesus « Awakening Grace

  7. Man! So nourishing…we are totally dead that we cannot even begin to understand how dead we really are. Thank God for His grace and mercy in the election of His haters!

  8. John you stated” However, though He decreed that sin would take place, He is not responsible for the sin that is in the heart of man.”

    Tell me how God could decree something to happen and not be responsible for it coming to pass?

    “Example: God decreed that Christ would die an atoning death for sinners, but that does not mean He made men sin. Men did this out of their own rebellious hearts, even though God ordained that all this would happen. ”

    I agree, but that still doesn’t speak to God decreeing from eternity past every sin that man would do, supply then not grace to do otherwise, and then hold them accountable to what God decreed them to do.
    Thanks russ

  9. Russ,

    It seems that you misunderstand the basic nature of grace. Grace by its very definition can never be demanded. God does not have to show mercy to anyone. He reserves the right to show mercy to whom He will show mercy (Romans 9). You seem to think otherwise. God can leave people in their hostile defiance of Him, just as He has done with the devil and the fallen angels, whom He has no plans to redeem.

    What is your view – did God ordain the Fall… the cross?? the sin that put Him there…? Or is all of this (and the events of time) a complete shock to Him?

    • John,

      I stand with you that Grace is the unmerited favor of God and I also believe God doesn’t owe a single one of us Grace. That being said, I also believe scripture doesn’t support God decreeing the sin that people will commit, that would absolutely God the author of sin, which would not hold consistent with His holiness, amoungst His other attributes as well.

      How would you reconcile God decreeing sin in an individual yet holding them accountable to it with verses like
      Deuteronomy 24:16
      16“Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.

      Ezekiel 18:20
      20“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

      “What is your view – did God ordain the Fall… the cross?? the sin that put Him there…? Or is all of this (and the events of time) a complete shock to Him?

      God foreknew the fall but he didn’t predestine it, if He did He would then become the author of sin.

      Nothing is a shock to God, scripture shows us God’s permissive will, God didn’t decree that Cain kill abel but He allowed it and punished it(held Cain accountable)…

      Russ

      • Russ,

        You assume that because God predestines something should happen that He is responsible for the sin that is involved. All the Reformed Confessions make it clear this is not the case. God is not the author of evil but has ordained that evil exists (in the heart of man and fallen angels)…

        May I ask you about the cross… The early church prayed in Acts 4, “for 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.” (Acts 4:27,28)

        The crucifixion of the Son of God was an unspeakably evil and sinful act on man’s part – right? Yet the text says that God ordained this evil act. Man had evil intent in this, God had only good intent.

        Do you not believe Acts 4:27, 28 – that speaks of the cross (and the sin that caused it) as a predestined event?

        As Joseph said to his brothers concerning their sin and betrayal against him, “you meant it for evil, God meant it for good.”

        If Acts 4:27, 28 is true concerning the greatest sin in human history – that God planned and predestined it, yet without sin on God’s part – is it not possible that all other sin can be predestined by God?

        • John,
          “You assume that because God predestines something should happen that He is responsible for the sin that is involved. All the Reformed Confessions make it clear this is not the case. God is not the author of evil but has ordained that evil exists (in the heart of man and fallen angels)… “
          I know they do, but they also fail to reasonably demonstrate how this could be ….One side in the C camp believes God does author sin ie Calvin, Sproul, Piper, but then they start redefining what “author” means. The other side swears up and down that God decrees everything except sin, but somehow is not the author of it. The first position is much more consistent, then the latter. But then again the first position starts to go into the so called “secret” will of God, but can’t seem to deduce it from scripture.
          John the following quote sums up what I believe about Acts 4:27-28

          “I think the key is that the verse does not say that God predetermined who would do the deed, but the deed itself. It is easy to see how God could predetermine that some specific act take place without predetermining or necessitating anyone in particluar to do it. Sending Jesus into the envirnonment he did and among the people who were in power predetemined the cross without necessitating that those people would act in that way. Knowing those people, God knew they would react in the way they did to Jesus and accomplish his will of sacrificing Jesus. It might not actually have been hard to predict on a merely human level for some (power hungry religious zealots; someone comes who became wildly popular with the people, constantly defied them, and was an obvious threat to their power with many wanting to make him king, and at the same time fear that he could bring the Romans down on them, etc. etc.).
          So the text just doesn’t say what the C’s need for it to say. They need it to say that God predestined so and so specifically to put Jesus to death, not merely that Jesus was predestined to be put to death or whatever. But I want to stress again that the text does not say that those people were predestined to do what they did. The biblical emphasis is on Jesus’ death for us being part of God’s plan, not on determinism or anything of the sort. “Dr. Brian Abasciano

          Russ

          • Acts 4:27, 28 speaks for itself. God predestined all the events surrounding the crucifixion of His Son, including the sin that put him there, the deeds of Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel. You obviously do not, in spite of what the text says. Because of this, I do not believe further discussion on this is profitable.

    • Russ, To say you disagree is not an argument. What Dr. White states is factually correct. The fact the you disagree is regrettable but that is not an argument against what he has said.

        • I dont have the necessary time to devote to this to look at articles you send as your only response. I believe Dr. White’s exegesis is totally factual and his credentials as a leading Greek scholar is well known as he is an advisor on the New American Standard Bible committee. I wish you well Russ.

          • Brother it was great to dialogue with you!
            If you do get some time, please take a peek at that article. I hope with our discussion we can live out this verse even with disagreements in our soteriology.

            John 17:22-23
            22“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me

            In Christ, Russ

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