Not Chosen To Salvation

By Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor

P.O. Box 573| Walnut Grove, MN 56180 | Telephone (507) 859-2519



We are going to examine some of the verses that are used to endorse the doctrine of election to salvation.  It is amazing how some will pull verses out of context that clearly have to do with service and God’s provision for His saints and attempt to apply these to salvation.  It is unbelievable to what extremes men will go in an attempt to prove this doctrine.  They extract a line or verse from the context and apply it to support their particular teaching.


But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land.

But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.                         

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath.

And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

Luke 4:25 – 29

Christ made these statements while speaking in the synagogue as an illustration.  Now Mr. Nettleton gives his statement concerning these verses on page 26 of his book, “Chosen to Salvation:”

“One out of many widows was chosen, and one out of many lepers was cleansed. The result of such teaching was anger. Special mercy was shown to the widow and to the leper.”

We are going to examine the Old Testament account more thoroughly and see what the real purpose of God was in directing Elijah to the widow’s house.  The record of Elijah going to the widow’s home is found in 1st Kings 17:9.  When we begin with the 17th chapter of 1st Kings, we find that there had been a famine in the land and that Elijah had been by the brook, Cherith, that is the brook before Jordan.  We find out here that Elijah had been fed by the ravens, but when the brook dried up God then directed him to go to this woman’s house.  We are going to find out the purpose for this as it is a far cry from electing this woman, and then using this as an illustration for salvation as Nettleton has done.  It is hard for me to believe that someone would do this, when in reality, the Scriptures teach that God had a purpose for sending Elijah to this widow woman.  This purpose is found in 1st Kings 17:9:

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

The reason for this sustenance was that the brook had dried up.  You will notice that in verse 7 of this same chapter:

And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Therefore, God had directed Elijah to go to this particular town where the widow woman lived.  She was to sustain him, feed him and to water him, as this was the purpose of God.  For one to apply this to salvation is unbelievable!

Let us continue to read the entire story as found in 1st Kings, chapter 17.  We find that after the widow had fed Elijah and given him water, he stayed for a time.  Now we pick up the story in verse 17:

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

And she said unto Elijah, what have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

Perhaps the woman thought her son had been slain because of some past sin that she had committed.  We do not know for sure as this is all that is given.  But we find out that Elijah had prayed to God for life to be restored to her son.  God had seen fit to honor Elijah’s prayer as God had a purpose in restoring his life again.  He, evidently, had been dead for just a short period of time.  Now, the record is found in verses 22 to 24:

And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, see, thy son liveth.

And the woman said to Elijah, now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

There was a two fold reason for God’s directing Elijah to this woman’s house.  The first reason, of course, being that God had spoken to this woman to care for Elijah.  We find this in verse 9 of the 17th chapter, in the last part of the verse:

…behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

So we see the first purpose of sending Elijah to the widow woman was to have her sustain Elijah.  Could the Lord have stated it any clearer?

Nettleton cites this case as evidence and leverage to support his contention that some are elected to salvation.  It would have been nice of Nettleton to have informed his readers of GOD’S PURPOSE for using the widow woman in sustaining Elijah.  She could have been the only available person in the vicinity that was saved, we do not really know.  Nevertheless, in spite of God’s stating His purpose, Nettleton chose to use this event to support his own purpose of endorsing election to salvation.  He, himself, is proof of the freewill of man.  It would be inconceivable that God would direct someone to use Scripture and apply it contrary to the purpose clearly stated in His word.

Again, He used the widow woman to sustain His servant, Elijah.  He could have chosen anyone, but He happened to choose this woman--NOT TO SALVATION--as this has nothing to do with salvation at all.

The second purpose was to prove to this woman, by the raising of her son from the dead, that Elijah was truly God’s prophet.  There were many miracles done in the Old and New Testaments, but this had absolutely nothing to do with salvation.  Remember, the purpose of the miracle was to convince the woman that Elijah was a true prophet.

Nettleton also uses Luke 4:27 as support of his doctrine of election:

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

Let us notice the record of this that Christ quoted is found in the Old Testament in 2nd Kings 5:3-15.  One should take time and read the whole account for themselves.  In essence, we find that Naaman was a Syrian and he was a captain of the host of the king of Syria.  He was a great man with his master, honorable, and a mighty man in valor but he was a leper, as recorded in 2nd Kings 5:1.  We find out how this whole situation took place, how God worked and the reason for all of this concerning Naaman, the leper.  God’s purpose for healing him was to prove that there was a true God in Israel.  God performed this miracle in healing the leper, to prove to all the company that was with him at that time, that only the true God of Israel could do such a thing.  This He did by the prophet, Elisha.

Again we emphasize that this had nothing to do with salvation whatsoever!  God performed this miracle to substantiate the fact that there was only one God and that was Israel’s JEHOVAH.  This was the purpose of God.

We find when we read on in the story and let the Scriptures speak for themselves, the purpose of God is made known.  In 2nd Kings 5:2 we find that the Syrians had gone out by companies and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid who waited on Naaman’s wife.  He had taken the girl into his home and she was the maid of the house.  She knew that her master was a leper and she told her mistress how he could be cured.  The record is found in verse 3:

….Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.

This information came to the king of Syria, who sent a letter to the king of Israel, who at that time was Jehoram.  When Jehoram got the letter he made the statement, “I’m not God!”  It is recorded in verse 7:

And it came to  pass when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy.  Wherefore consider, I pray you…

Now when Elisha heard of this he said, “Send the man unto me,” and this is exactly what happened.  We are told that Naaman came unto the house of Elisha who gave him instructions to follow so his leprosy would be cured.  Here is the record found in verses 9 and 10:

So Naaman came with his horses and his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.

And Elisha sent a message unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

When Naaman heard this he became very angry because he thought Elisha would just come out of the house and put his hand over him and he would be healed.  That is not the way God chose to do it.  Notice verse 13:

And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, my father, if the prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, wash and be clean?

They talked him into it and he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River.  The last part of verse 14 tells us that he was cleansed.  Then in verse 15 the REASON for this is stated:

And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now, therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.

This was the purpose of God in sending Naaman to his prophet, Elisha.  It was to be a testimony by the healing of this man, that God was truly the God of Israel.  No idolistic gods could do what the true God had just done.

It taxes my imagination to see someone use theses Scriptures to support a false doctrine of electing some to be saved and others to be lost.  Again, allow me to quote Nettleton’s statement after using theses verses in support of his doctrine. (“Chosen to Salvation, page 26.)

“One out of many widows was chosen, and one out of many lepers was cleansed. The result of such teaching was anger. Special mercy was shown to the widow and to the leper.”

Also quoting, page 13 and 14 of “Chosen to Salvation.”

“There are two things man will never understand this side of Heaven: how God could elect to save some sinners and not others…”

How important it is to study the Scriptures for yourself.  How contradictory Nettleton’s applications are to the clear purpose of God as stated in His word.  Allow me to summarize briefly the purpose of God in each event:

  1. Elijah sent to the widow’s house.  PURPOSE—“I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” (1st Kings 17:9)
  2. Elijah restores life to the widow’s son.  PURPOSE—“Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.” (1st Kings 17:24)
  3. Elisha directs Naaman who is healed of leprosy.  PURPOSE—“...Behold, now I (Naaman) know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel…” (2nd Kings 5:15)

The over-all scene is clearly pictured in Luke 4:14 to 29.  Christ was raised in Nazareth as a child (Luke 2:39-40).  In His ministry, He returned to Nazareth and preached in the synagogue (Luke 4:16).  He is telling the Jews that he was anointed to heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captives and open the eyes of the blind (18).  They ask Him to do the same miracles here in Nazareth that they heard He had done in Capernaum.  Christ knew they would not believe Him, even if He did them; therefore He stated that “…No prophet is accepted in his own country (23,24). To substantiate this, He uses two Old Testament illustrations, one of Elisha and the other concerning Elijah (25-27). In other words, the same principle was true in Old Testament times as it was in Jesus’ day.”

For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

John 4:44

To extract theses two illustrations used by Christ and attempt to make them support the doctrine of election to salvation is asinine!  May we always take time to examine the Scriptures for ourselves.


So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

 Matthew 20:16

Now notice verse 1 of this chapter:

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard.

Matthew 20:1

This is the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.  We need the context to find out why God said this and to what it is referring.  It is not referring to salvation as many try to apply it.  In verse 2, he had gone out into the vineyard:

And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

We find out that there were others that also went in verse 7:

They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whosoever is right, that shall ye receive.

Now when it came to the end of the day, we find in verse 10:

"But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

Notice carefully.  Those who murmured had made a deal with God (the Goodman of the house) to work for Him for a certain amount and God had simply kept His part of the bargain.  They did not trust God to reward them honestly.  What they actually did was limit the grace and goodness of God.  God would have given them more.  But God gave them exactly what they had agreed to, and that was a penny a day.  The others came freely, just trusting that God would reward them accordingly, and He did.  Then we come on down and find out at the conclusion of the parable in verse 16:

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

The Greek word for “called” is “invited or appointed to service.”  There are only a few chosen and the reason is because of their attitude.  Just as this parable reveals--the first who came, came because they made a deal with the Lord.  They did not receive the kind of reward that God would have given them if they had not limited God by their dealings.  Therefore, the whole point of this parable is--they are all invited (this being the “many”), but only those are “chosen” who come with the right attitude for service, trusting that God will reward them justly.  This is the whole point of the parable.  It concerns service and has nothing to do with salvation whatsoever!  Many are called, but only a few are chosen for a full reward due to the attitude they take of their own free will.  How important it is to examine the context of a parable to determine if that parable is speaking concerning salvation or service.


Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

 1st Peter 1:2,3

In Nettleton’s book he quotes 1st Peter 1:2 on page 33, emphasizing “unto obedience.”  He then goes on to explain what he feels these verses mean, and I quote:

“This matter of salvation is a matter of begetting.  In natural physical life the parent begets children: he chooses to have children, follows normal methods and means, and children are born.  In the spiritual realm it is much the same.  God decides to have spiritual children and chooses from among the sons of men certain individuals and saves them.  That is election.  It is a mystery, but a fact to be believed.”

He further goes on in the next paragraph and states:

“It is readily acknowledge that in the spiritual birth the one born makes a choice.  He exercises faith, whereas he did nothing in the process of natural birth.  Yes, there is a difference between natural birth and spiritual birth, but one truth remains: the choice of the parent plays a part.  Physical parents make a choice in the natural birth; God makes a choice in the spiritual birth.  We are ‘begotten’.”

This is Mr. Nettleton's reasoning.  The only problem with this is--this is an allegory chosen by Mr. Nettleton and not used by God!  To say that God makes a choice as to who goes to Heaven and who does not, would again contradict His Word that He is “not willing that any should perish” (2nd Peter 3:9).  Why did His Son die for the sins of the world?  Why not just die for the sins of those who have already been elected?  Something that is not brought out in Nettleton’s allegory is this--when the children are born and begin to grow, the choice of what avenue of life he wishes to take is left up to the child.  He may want to be a doctor, a carpenter, a dentist or whatever profession he chooses.  That choice is up to him.  The parent may try to make him choose, but still the choice is left up to the child of the natural parent.  So it is with each one of us.  We have a choice about what we are going to do when we reach the age of accountability concerning Christ.  We can either accept or reject Him as our Saviour. 

Since Nettleton claims election to salvation by stating God made a choice in the spiritual birth--since we are all sinners, on what merit did God make the choice?  Of course, he reverts back to the statement that, “It is a mystery!”  No, it only becomes a mystery when one accuses God of doing something He did not do.  Then--and only then--does it become a mystery and one must hide under this shield because it cannot be explained.  Yet, if we take the Word of God so simply, we can explain that God did love the world and that He sent His only begotten Son--that He is not willing any should perish but that all should come to repentance (a change of mind).  Now, anyone can understand that!

It is when men begin to use allegories and begin to attempt to extract one verse of Scripture and make it mean what they want it to, that we have to insert the word “mystery” because we cannot understand the position we have taken!  It is because of man’s philosophy that the so-called “mystery” cannot be understood--not because of the clear teaching of the Word of God.  I understand that God knows everything, Christ died for all, He is not willing any should perish, I have a free will and God will honor my decision when I die (Heaven or Hell).  Only when man, by his wisdom, thinks he can explain these things better than God, do we find a “mystery” and confusion.

While 1st Peter 1:2,3 is used in support of election to salvation, I would like to continue on into the chapter and, again, let the Scriptures speak for themselves.  We find in verses 8 and 9 that Peter says:

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 

“Your faith” in verse 9 is possessive.  It is your faith…the personal pronoun.  Yet we find out it does not say, “Receiving the end of the faith God gave you.”  It does say, “Receiving the end of your faith.”  You have put your faith in Christ and the end of your faith is, of course, “the salvation of your souls.”

In verse 22 we are told:

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with pure heart fervently.

We do this out of our own free will.  In other words, we have the right to obey the truth or to reject the truth of the Word of God.

Then we find that the word of God says, “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”  Why does Peter give that admonition if you do not have a right to do that or to neglect doing that?  He admonishes us, therefore, to do it.  He would not do so if we were already elected to love one another with a pure heart fervently, with no choice of our own.  There would be no reason for Peter to even bring it to mind if we were elected to do it automatically.  There would be no reason to put all of the exhortations in the New Testament to serve Christ and to urge others to serve Christ.  There would be no reason for this whatsoever, if we are elected to service, believing that election over-rides our free will.  Why would the Scriptures be asking us to serve Christ?  We would just automatically do so.  Of course, this is erroneous and not the teaching of the Word of God.  No wonder those who claim election to salvation have to always throw it back as a “mystery” as to the sovereignty of God.  Yes, God does know everything about everything.  He knows the things that would have happened if the things had not happened that did happen.  He knows everything about everything; but, because He knows the end from beginning does not mean that He makes machines out of people.  He wants them to “love Him because He first loved us” (1st John 4:19).

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Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor

P.O. Box 573
Walnut Grove, MN 56180
Telephone (507) 859-2519


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