Because God is sovereign over everything, then he is also sovereign in our salvation. Our 1689 Confession of Faith states: “By His decree, and for the manifestation of His glory, God has predestined (or foreordained) certain men and angels to eternal life through Jesus Christ, thus revealing His grace. Others, whom he has left to perish in their sins, show the terrors of His justice” (Ch.3, Sect.3). Also read Sects.4-7.
biblical doctrine of election
Election = to choose, just as when Kenya has a general election MP are chosen by the voters. The idea that Christians have been chosen by God occurs about 40 times in the New Testament. The “elect” is often another name for a Christian (Matthew 24:22,24,31, Luke 18:7, Romans 8:33, Colossians 3;12, 2 Timothy 2:10, Titus 1:1, 2 John 1,13, Revelation 17:14). Read Ephesians 1:3-4 that teaches us that being chosen by God is one of the spiritual blessings we should thank God for.
When did God choose us? He chose us in him before the foundation of the world
What are the two little words that describe the relationship of our election to Christ? in him
What was the purpose for which God chose us? That we should be holy and blameless before him.
Romans 9:6-24 is the most detailed passage about the sovereignty of God in election. Paul is answering the objection that salvation is not certain because so many of God’s people, the Jews, refused to believe in Christ. The passage teaches that it was God’s purpose to save some and not all. One of his examples is Jacob and Esau. God chose to love Jacob before either child was born, so His choice was not because of (their) works, but because He already had a purpose of election (v.11). This calling to salvation does not depend upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy (v.16).
The doctrine of election not only fits in with God’s sovereignty, but also with the fact that because of sin man is totally unable to do anything to save himself. Unless God saves, all men will continue in their sins and go to hell. We are like a drowning man totally dependent upon another to choose to rescue us from certain death.
“Predestination” is another word that is used, and it emphasizes the purpose (or goal) for which God has chosen us (see Romans 8:29, Ephesians 1:5). “Foreknowledge” is a word used to emphasize that it is God who first enters into a close relationship with men with the purpose of saving them from their utter helplessness of sin (Romans 8:29, 1 Peter 1:2).
a false view of election
Everyone believes the Bible teaches election and predestination, but many explain it in a false way. Such believe that God chooses people to salvation because he knows they will believe in Christ. This makes salvation totally dependent upon whether a person chooses to believe or not. They teach, “If a person uses his free-will to choose Christ, then God will respond by choosing him to salvation”. This makes man sovereign and not God! How can this be answered?
(1) Jacob was not loved unto salvation because of anything he had done, either good or bad.
(Romans 9:11). But faith is something good that a man exercises towards Christ.
(2) The Bible denies that being one of the true people of God depends on them (Romans 9:16), and positively teaches that God has mercy on whomever he will show mercy (Romans 9:18).
(3) Faith is the fruit of election. In Antioch, who were the ones who believed? As many as were appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48).
(4) Our will is not free to choose Christ whenever we want. What did Jesus say it is impossible for the sinner to do unless the Father draws him? to come to Him_ (John 6:44,65). What two things does Paul teach are impossible for the person who is “in the flesh”? Submit to God's law and to please God (Romans 8:7-8).
common objections to the doctrine of election
(1) God is unjust to save only some and condemn the rest. How does the apostle Paul answer this question in Romans 9:14? By no means!. What did God say to Moses about His sovereignty that shows he is not unjust? "I will have mercy on whom “I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (Romans 9:15). Because all men are sinners, all men deserve condemnation. If some are saved it is only because God is merciful.
(2) God says He does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). This means that he does not condemn the wicked gladly; He takes no pleasure in casting people into hell (Ezekiel 33:11). He is pleased when a sinner repents. If anyone is lost it is because he refuses to repent.
(3) If someone is not chosen he cannot be saved even if he wants to be. Everyone who wants to be saved, and calls upon the name of Christ, will surely be saved (Romans 10:13). What assurance did Jesus give to anyone who comes to Him? All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out (John 6:37). Note the first part of John 6:37; who are the only ones that will come to Christ? Only those the Father gives to Christ If a person truly wants to be saved it shows that God has already been at work in him.
(4) Election destroys human responsibility. This is not true, as the Bible teaches both God’s sovereignty in election, and man’s responsibility to believe and be saved (this is not the same as free-will). Throughout the Bible God addresses men as fully responsible for their own actions, yet they are unable to do anything spiritually good by their own efforts (for example, Jeremiah 13:23). What is an evil man unable to do? To do good (Matthew 12:34).
the practical benefits of the doctrine of election
The doctrine of election is very practical, and is not only for special students of the Bible.
· It brings praise to God. What does Paul do to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as he thinks about being chosen? he blessed Him (Ephesians 1:3). What does Paul do to God because He chose the Thessalonians? Thanked Him (2 Thessalonians 2:13). If I am chosen by God, it is by grace (Romans 11:5), and not because I have done anything to deserve it (Romans 11:6). If the only reason I am saved is because of God’s eternal choice then I must eternally praise Him.
· It gives assurance to the Christian. What three other blessings does God guarantee to the one He has predestinated? Called, justified and glorified (Romans 8:30). If I am saved because of God’s gracious choice, there is nothing that can make God change His mind. This is how I can be sure that in my life God works everything for my good (Romans 8:28).
· It makes us sinners humble. The key of the door of salvation is in God’s hand and not in mine! It is impossible to know the Father unless the Son reveals Him (Matthew 11:27). I can do nothing to save myself; I deserve nothing but condemnation.
Question. How can I know if God has chosen me? How did Paul know the Thessalonians had been chosen by God? Write out the first half of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ”because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” Has this happened to you?
Write true or false for each of the following statements:
_____ God chooses to save a person because He foreknows they will believe
_____ The belief in election makes a big difference to our Christian living
_____ Those God does not graciously choose to save he chooses to condemn for their sins
_____ No one can be saved unless God chooses them to be saved
_____ It is impossible to know if I have been chosen by God unto salvation
Further reading on this subject:
1. The Sovereignty of God, by A. W. Pink, pp.45-55.
2. Saving Grace, by John Cheeseman, pp.52-77.
3. Spurgeon on Election (2 Thessalonains 2:13-14).