Unconditional Election: The Glory of Electing Grace

The doctrine of election should be a most humbling doctrine

I have no reason to stand before God except for the grace of God. There is no basis in myself as to why I should experience that grace. Even my response to God in faith is something He worked in me. As Ephesians 1 reminds us, the working of God in redemption, especially in election and predestination is “according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.”

 

The doctrine of election should be a most humbling doctrine. It means that God chooses for salvation before the foundations of the world a people unto Himself to receive that salvation. The basis for election is “unconditional”. In other words, God does not look ahead and take into account what people will do or how they will respond. Indeed, if God left us to ourselves, we would remain dead in our sins. So even before creation, God chose a people unto himself. He chose for reasons known only to Himself. It is nothing more than His goodness and his free determination to have mercy on whom He wills to have mercy.

But does this doctrine make us more humble? If we are honest, sometimes us ‘Calvinists’ and ‘Reformed,’ can see it as a point of privilege that not only are we,  as believers, ’the chosen’ but we also are the ones who hold to the truth and understand this doctrine. If not careful, this can form a foundation for pride.

However, when we think of the doctrine of election, it should make us humble. I have no reason to stand before God except for the grace of God. There is no basis in myself as to why I should experience that grace. Even my response to God in faith is something He worked in me. As Ephesians 1 reminds us, the working of God in redemption, especially in election and predestination is “according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace”. You cannot truly praise the glorious grace of God and retain pride in your heart. The more I understand grace, the more pride should be cut down and put to death.

So as we return to Ephesians 1, we see that Paul’s reflecting on the working of God’s grace begins by pouring out blessing to the Father. God is our Father through adoption (1:5), but specifically Paul reflects on the Trinity—that God is the Father “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The whole hymn on the plan and purposes of God is Trinitarian here. “To the praise of his glorious grace” is grace to which we were predestined by the work of the Father, grace that was accomplished by the work of the Son, and grace that is applied by the work of the Holy Spirit.

With respect to election, God “chose us in Christ before the foundations of the world”. First, notice that the object of God’s choice is “us”. The believing Christian is a believing Christian precisely because God chose us. Second, the timing of God’s choice is “before the foundations of the world.” God’s purpose in election is “not because of works but because of him who calls” (9:11). God’s choice is just that: God’s choice based on the sovereignty of His will. It is He who calls us and this call is not on the basis of anything we have done, will do, or potential that we have.

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