Election

by Mike Ratliff

13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (NASB)

So many Christians are afraid to use the term “election” or to refer to the Body of Christ as “the elect.” The Bible does not have this problem. To “elect” means to select or choose. The Bible clearly says that before creation God selected from the human race those whom he would redeem, justify, sanctify, and glorify in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14; 2 Timothy 1:9, 10). The divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace. It is not merited by anything in those who are chosen. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind only condemnation; so it is a wonder that he should choose to save anyone.

Like every truth about God, the doctrine of election involves mystery, and it sometimes stirs controversy. But in Sacred Scripture it is a pastoral doctrine, helping Christians to see how great is the grace that saves them, and moving them to respond with humility, confidence, and praise. We do not know what others God has chosen among those who do not yet believe, nor why he chose us in particular. We do know that we believe now only because we were chosen, and we know that as believers we can rely on God to finish the good work he has begun (1 Corinthians 1:8, 9; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24; 2 Timothy 1:12; 4:18). For these reasons the knowledge of election is a source of gratitude and confidence.

10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 2 Peter 1:10-11 (NASB)

In 2 Peter 1:10 we read that we should “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing” us. Peter is telling us to make sure that it is “certain to us” personally. Election is known by its fruits. Paul knew that the Thessalonians had been chosen because he saw their faith, hope, and love, the transformation of their lives brought about by the gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:3-6).

Reprobation is the name given to God’s eternal decision regarding those sinners whom he has not chosen for life. In not choosing them for life, God has determined not to change them. They will continue in sin, and finally will be judged for what they have done. In some cases God may further remove the restraining influences that keep a person from extremes of disobedience. This abandonment, called “hardening,” is itself a penalty for sins (Romans 9:18; 11:25; cf. Psalm 81:12; Romans 1:24, 26, 28).

Reprobation is taught in the Bible (Romans 9:14-24; 1 Peter 2:8), but as a doctrine its bearing on Christian behavior is indirect. God’s decree of election is secret; which persons are elect and which are reprobate will not be revealed before the Judgment. Until that time, God’s command is that the call to repent and believe be preached to everyone.

Our ultimate authority is God. He is sovereign. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three members of the Godhead works together in our salvation, which the Apostle Paul lays out for us very clearly in Ephesians 1. The Work of the Father is expressed in our election in vv3-6, the Work of the Son is expressed in our redemption in vv7-12, and the Work of the Spirit in our protection in vv13,14.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (NASB)

The word “chose” in v4 above is the Greek word εξελεξατο, which means, “to choose for oneself.” The grammatical form of this verb usage here enforces this. It is in aorist tense, infinitive mood, and middle voice, which refers to a non-continuous action for or concerning oneself. In other words, God selected His children for Himself, for His glory. The doctrine of election is emphasized throughout Sacred Scripture (Deut. 7:6; Is. 45:4; John 6:44; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:29; 9:11; 1 Thess. 1:3,4;2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10). God chose His children by Himself and for Himself to the praise of His own glory (vv6, 12, 14). However, for those who become incensed at this clear and direct interpretation of these verses, this does not mean that this nullifies man’s responsibility to believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour (Matthew 3:1,2; 4:17; John 5:40).

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:7-12 (NASB)

In these verses, we have the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Our predestination is to be conformed to the image of the Son. Why? It is all to the praise of God’s glory. All in Christ are called to be submitted to God’s authority through the Son. We don’t “choose” this like we are shopping and must choose to be Christian or Hindu or whatever. No, we are elected and effectually called by God. However, in our religiosity, there is a form of Christianity that is not valid, which is all according to the designs and will of the men who are running it. That invalid form of Christianity has nothing to do with the true Church, which is made up of those elected and called by God. These are reserved and preserved by God and will not bow the knee to these false forms of Jesus that are man-made.

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, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 (NASB)

Here we have the role of the Holy Spirit in our salvation. He seals us in Christ. He is the guarantee of our inheritance. All in Christ will persevere to the end because of this. Those who appear to be genuine, but fall away were not sealed nor did they receive this guarantee.

In these passages from Ephesians 1 we have who we really are and how we got that way and why we will continue. We are blessed v3, chosen v4, predestined v5, adopted v5, accepted v6, redeemed v7, forgiven v7, enlightened vv8-9, given an inheritance v11, sealed v13, and assured v14. I find that the more I study the sovereignty of God that I am even more assured, more joyful, more firm in my convictions, and am filled with an overwhelming desire to bring Him glory and to shine the light of these truths into the hearts of all of His children that they may see who they really are in Him.

On the other hand, if we believe we are in Christ by our own efforts in our own form of religiosity how could any of that apply to us or be true? Of course it couldn’t. In fact, those who fit that bill are on the broad way not the narrow path that began through the narrow gate which is hard to find who is Christ.  Instead, they came in some other way and are strangers. Instead of having peace with Christ and having His joy they are overburdened with self-righteousness and their religiosity is marked by works-righteousness. I submit that these false believers are not blessed, not chosen, not predestined, not adopted, not accepted, not redeemed, not forgiven, not enlightened, not given an inheritance, not sealed, and definitely not assured. However, that does not keep them from attacking the doctrine of election every chance they get.

We are Christians because of what God has done. Not one of us were chosen because of any merit or actions on our part (Ephesians 2:1-10). No, we are in Christ because He did all that is required to make sure that we would believe at the proper time and thus be justified and forgiven. He has sealed us and preserves us. What a blessing!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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