For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Adrian Rogers: “Everyone is in Adam or in Christ. ... If you are in Adam, you’re going to face the wrath of God. ... I want to show you that we gain very much more in Jesus than we ever lost in Adam.” (In Jesus there is so much more: Romans 5:6-9, emphasis mine)
Romans 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Adrian Rogers: “Now what does it mean to be in Christ Jesus? Well, God wants us to be saved; He’s given us so many illustrations of salvation; one of the illustrations of salvation is Noah’s Ark. Noah’s Ark, the Bible teaches us in 2nd Peter, is an illustration, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, if you want to know what it is to be in Christ Jesus, know what it was for Noah to be in that Ark.” (Turning Hurts Into Hallelujahs: Romans 8:8-11, emphasis mine)
Question: So if you want God’s free gift of eternal life, you’ll find it in His Son. So how do you get in His Son?
Answer: The Arminian answers with Ephesians 1:13: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
Question: Why does God call us to life in His Son?
Answer: Because that’s the predestined place of His grace, ready and waiting.
John Calvin: “He has added, therefore, in Christ Jesus, to call us away from any conceit about our own dignity.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.136, emphasis mine)
John Calvin: “When he adds, In Christ, it is the second confirmation of the freedom of election. For if we are in Christ, it is outside of ourselves. It is not from the sight of our deserving, but because our heavenly Father has engrafted us, through the blessing of adoption, into the Body of Christ.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, p.125, emphasis mine)
John Calvin: “God chose us in Christ, because He foresaw in us a place for His grace which was otherwise free to all. He elects from the whole, because He foresaw that what was set forth in common for all would become peculiarly ours, that sanctified by it we might be co-operators. … As if it was in vain that Paul repeats five times that our salvation is wholly the effect of that decree and purpose that we were blessed in Christ because we were elect!” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.140-141, emphasis mine)
Or, perhaps God chose us in Christ, because He foresaw in Him a place for His grace. Calvinism always gravitates toward a primary election in the Father with a secondary election in Christ.
So what’s the difference between being chosen in the abstract vs. being chosen in Christ? That’s perhaps the most critical question in the entire Calvinism debate. To answer, you first need to ask another essential question: “When do you believe that you became in Christ? Were you in Christ when you were “lost” (Luke 19:10), “judged” (John 3:18) and under “condemnation” while existing in Adam as the “old creature”? (2nd Corinthians 5:17) Do you think based upon Ephesians 1:4, that you were in Christ all the way back from before the foundation of the world? Realize that what was back then, was God’s choice, and His foreknowledge (Romans 8:29), not necessarily you being in Christ at that time. The fact is that according to 2nd Corinthians 5:17, anyone is in Christ is a new creature. So were you in Christ as the old creature? Is that possible? God’s choice at Ephesians 1:4 is to say that for whom He foreknew in Christ, He thus predestined to all that comes with being a Christian. When God sought a place for His grace, He didn’t find us, who were condemned in Adam. Rather, the Father found His own Son, and all who believe in Him are enjoined to His body and therefore share in that grace.
One Calvinist: “In other words, if we were talking about becoming a member of a club, for instance, I would say that we are selected to become members before we join, and you would say we are selected to become members after we join. We join the club, and then the club leader says, ‘I choose you to be a member of my club.’ Is that right?”
No. To use your analogy, the club leader says, “I choose you for the certain benefits of membership because you are a member.” To suggest that we are “selected to become members after we join” doesn’t even make sense. Using your analogy, no one is chosen or selected to become a member of the “club” of Christ. Rather, people are called, invited and offered to join the “club” of Christ, as are all. (Matthew 22:14) When you accept the invitation, you are made a member of the Body of Christ through the Sanctification and Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and thus made a member of In Christ. Make note that the Bible does not say that you were chosen to become in Christ. Every Calvinist inserts “to be” or “to become” into Ephesians 1:4. But that’s not what verse says. Rather, we are chosen in Christ. That’s the specific language, without “to be” added. So why add it? Similarly stated, In Christ are we chosen, and that’s the true foundation of our legal adoption in the Father. On the basis of being in the Son, by Mutual Inclusion, you are now simultaneously in the Father, and given the privileges of membership. In Christ is the predestined place of God’s grace. However, while you remain condemned in Adam, you were “already judged” (John 3:18) under “condemnation” and plainly lost. However, now in Christ, there is “no condemnation” (Romans 8:1), and are made a “new creature.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17) Based upon Romans 8:29, for all those whom God the Father foreknew in Christ, He thus predestined all that which comes with being a Christian, such as your holy calling for service within the Body of Christ, based upon the unique gift that the Holy Spirit gives to each believer. The bottom line is that your standing with the Father is based upon your belonging to His Son, by faith. Your election and adoption in the Father is on the basis of being In Christ. No one comes to the Father but by the Son. (John 14:6)
Question: How can a free gift be taken back if it is freely given?
Answer: For the opposite perspective to be maintained, one would have to insist that the gift be conditionally maintained, but if that’s the case, then how could we ever speak of being “saved,” as opposed to simply being in a “saved condition”? That’s the concern that I have for the teaching that salvation can be lost.