10 Things You Should Know About Election

Election is a pre-temporal decision by God, a choice he made before any of us ever existed

So, why did God choose this person and not that one? It was his good pleasure and will that he do so. But why was he “pleased” to choose this one and not another? We only know that it wasn’t because of anything in one that was not in another. But whatever “reason” or “purpose” moved God to choose as he did, it was pleasing to him and in perfect harmony with both his justice and his love.

 

Today I continue the weekly series on 10 things we should know about specific Christian doctrines. Our focus today is divine election.

[This was originally written for Crossway and posted on their blog on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.]

1. Election is a pre-temporal decision by God, a choice he made before any of us ever existed. God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). God “saved us,” said Paul, “and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Tim. 1:9).

2. Divine election is not merely corporate, but also of individuals. Whereas it is true that Christ is himself the Elect One, and whereas it is true that the Church is the chosen or elect people of God, individuals are themselves chosen by God to believe in Christ in order that they might become members of the church. In other words, God didn’t simply choose the church. He chose the specific individuals who would comprise the church.

On a related note, this glorious act of God’s grace in electing some is unto eternal salvation and not simply to temporal service. Paul gave thanks for the Thessalonians because “God chose” them “as the firstfruits to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:13). After the Gentiles heard the gospel preached, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

3. Everyone who believes the Bible believes in election. The issue isn’t whether or not God chooses people to inherit eternal life. The issue is the basis on which that divine choice is made.

Some believe that God restores in the fallen human heart the ability or freedom of will to believe. Ultimately, then, whether or not they receive or finally reject Christ is up to them.

Others believe that the Bible nowhere teaches this notion of “prevenient grace” in which the depravity and moral corruption of the human heart is to some extent neutralized or overcome. Therefore, if anyone is to believe it must come about through the work of the Holy Spirit, who sovereignly regenerates their hearts and then effectually and unfailingly brings the elect individual to faith and repentance. Ultimately, then, whether or not they receive Christ is up to God.

4. Divine election is not an arbitrary choice made by God, as if there were no reasons why he chose some for eternal life but passed over others.

Election is “according to the purpose of his [God’s] will” (Eph. 1:5). The basis of this choice is “the mystery of his will” (v. 9). It was according to his “purpose” (vv. 9, 11) and “the counsel of his will” (v. 11).

So, why did God choose this person and not that one? It was his good pleasure and will that he do so. But why was he “pleased” to choose this one and not another? We only know that it wasn’t because of anything in one that was not in another. But whatever “reason” or “purpose” moved God to choose as he did, it was pleasing to him and in perfect harmony with both his justice and his love.

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