The Foundation of Our Security
by Lucien J. LeSage, Jr.
"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:" (2Th 2:13).
What is the doctrine of election? . Charles H. Spurgeon said, concerning election, "The whole of the work, whereby a lost ruined sinner is brought from death unto life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son, is of God and of Him only." There have been many things said about the doctrine of election. Those that hate it and believe in works for salvation have even gone so far as to call it a doctrine of the devil.
"Election" and "the elect" are Biblical words indeed. Here are just a couple of scriptures that refer to the elect.
Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Mrk 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
The word elect comes from the Greek word "eklektos" which means "picked out, chosen." In Mark 13:20, the verse just mentioned, we see the phrase "whom he hath chosen." So, the basic idea is to pick out or to choose.
There are two general views on the doctrine of election, one being conditional and the other unconditional. With conditional election it is believed that God looked into the future and saw who would believe and therefore elected before the foundation of the world on that foreseen faith. Election based on foreseen faith would necessitate that man would be the producer of his own saving faith rather than God. But this is not a true election at all and disputes the sovereignty of God. It is only an attempt to "explain away" Godís word. God says, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with Mine own?" (Matt 20:15). Someone will say, "but you have to believe" and that is certainly true, for unconditional election does not mean that unbelievers will go to heaven just because they are elected, for all of the elect will believe. God has not only elected a people but also the means to bring them to Himself.
Before understanding unconditional election it is necessary to understand the doctrine of total depravity. If we have a misunderstanding of manís spiritual ability then we will certainly fail to see the necessity of sovereign election. Total depravity states that man has within himself no ability to perform that which is good and pleasing to God although in the eyes of the world he may be a good person and do good works. But remember God says that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Those that deny total depravity say that man was only injured in the fall of Adam and not so injured that he cannot come to God in faith and repentance of his own free will. The question is, does the Bible teach this, and if not, then what does it teach about man's ability to come to God in faith and repentance. Now, let us remember Paulís statement in Romans 3:4, "yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;".
What is man's condition by nature? What does the Bible declare it to be? Eph 2:1 states, "And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins;". Eph 2:5 also states, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved),". Here it says that man is spiritually dead in sins, and the question arises, "what can a spiritually dead man do that is pleasing to God?" In the physical realm, what can a man lying dead do? Can he respond to those around him? Only the power of God can raise the dead. God puts it another way in Jer 13:23, " Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil." You say, certainly a man can do some good, but the Bible states in Rom 3:12 that "there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Rom 14:23 also tells us that "for whatever is not of faith is sin." What is the possibility of a leopard changing his spots. The Ethiopian may cover his skin to hide it but it is still black. Many men hide their sins with religion but they are still there. Adam tried to hide his nakedness with fig leaves that he made, but God covered him with the skins of an animal, and blood was shed for the first time. Jesus related manís condition to a corrupt tree when he said, " Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Mat 7:18). Birds act like birds and their offspring do the same. It is the same with pigs, dogs, cats, and all other animals. So too with sinners. They produce sin and other sinners. Can a cat bark like a dog? No, because it is not in his nature to bark. The pig wallows in the mire because it is his nature to do that and he loves it there. The sow may be washed (religion) but will return to the mire because itís nature is still the same. Jesus plainly declares manís ability when He says in John 6:44, that " No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him". The word draw means to pull as a horse draws a cart. The horse doesn't ask the cart to follow it. We have an excellent example of how the scripture uses this word in John 18:10; "Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear". Now Peter did not persuade the sword out, but deliberately and with authority drew the sword. Again, Jesus said, "Therefore said I unto you that no man can come unto me except it were given unto him of my Father" (Joh 6:65). Notice the verse did not say "no man may" but rather "no man CAN." It is ability and desire that is lacking. In this verse Jesus says that it is impossible for any man to come to him unless it is given. And a man must come in faith. Paul speaks of the natural man, the lost man, the man dead in his sins when he said, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14). Notice the natural man (dead in sins) can not even know spiritual things because they are spiritual. Jesus told Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Joh 3:3). The word "see" means to perceive. Notice Jesus said "except a man be born again," not "except a man get born again." Get, means to acquire by one's own efforts but "be" is a state. "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word" (Joh 8:43). Notice that Jesus answers his own question with the fact that they cannot hear his word with the spiritual ear. They "having ears, hear not" because they have no spiritual ears. They are spiritually deaf. Can a man that is deaf hear by just willing it? Paul says in 2 Tim 3:7, "Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Here the Bible speaks about men studying the word of God and never having within themselves the ability to come to the knowledge of the truth. Paul again speaks of lost manís ability in Rom 8:7-8 when he states, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be. So, then , they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Cannot means just that, cannot. Paul informs us of manís knowledge and desire for the true God when he says that "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom 3:11). You may say, surely some must seek after God but here the Apostle Paul says none, and the same apostle says in Heb 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." You see faith is a gift, sovereignly bestowed.
The man that is dead in sins is likened unto Lazarus when he was dead in the grave and stinking. Jesus didn't say, "Lazarus I will raise you from the dead if you will let me." Or perhaps, "Lazarus, you take the first step." He didn't ask him if he wanted to be raised from the dead. How many times have you heard that terminology? Yet, in Joh 12:17 it says that Jesus " called Lazarus out of the grave." When Jesus said, "Lazarus come forth" in Joh 11:43, it was a call that was effectual. It was a call with power. It was the same call that said "Let there be light: and there was light."
People are always talking about the heart. "Listen to your heart", etc. Well, what is the condition of the spiritually dead man's heart? Jeremiah says that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer 17:9). There is nothing more deceitful than the heart, and it is desperately wicked. Jesus also spoke of manís heart when He said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications murderers" (Mark 7:21). Notice that the actions of the will came from the heart. The problem with men is not the environment but their dead, totally depraved hearts. The will is a slave to an evil heart. The heart is like a treasure chest in which the will may go and pull anything it wants from that treasure chest. Now, if the treasure chest is full of old rusty nails and old rusty bolts, then how can the will reach in and pull out gold? Proverbs says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Pr 23:7). "A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps" (Pr 16:9). Notice a manís way (actions of the will), comes from the heart.
Many preachers have said, "Jesus is standing at your heartís door knocking, and you have to let him come in;" but the Bible says that God opens the heart. Listen to Acts 16:14, "And a certain woman, named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul." The scripture in Rev 3:20 which says, "Behold I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me", was addressed to the Church at Laodicea. "And unto the church of the Laodiceans write:" (Rev 3:14). He is talking to a remnant of called out believers in a backsliden church, a church so worldly that Jesus stands on the outside, not to dead totally depraved sinners. Can dead men open the door of their heart? No, he is standing at the door of the church of the Laodiceans. Where is the heart even mentioned in that verse?
Henry Mahan said, "If man is fallen. If man is depraved. If man is dead. If man can not and will not come to Christ. If the law cannot save him. If men do not know God. If the natural mind is enmity against God. Then God must initiate salvation! God must make men willing. God must quicken to life. Because man can not and will not do it for himself. Jesus said 'with men it is impossible;' Salvation with men is impossible 'but with God all things are possible.' (Mat 19:26)"
So then, how can men be saved if they must seek after God and yet none seek? How can a sinner's will be set free from the bondage of his own depraved heart? How can his heart be changed to serve the living God? How can he be raised from the spiritual dead to life eternal? By the power of God, that's how. Psalms 110:3 says, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power;" Thy people (the elect of God) shall be willing when they are born again by the power of God. You say, God doesn't save us against our will. No, but he makes us willing. Our willingness is the effect of the new birth not the cause. Compare it to your natural birth. Your breathing was not the cause of your natural birth, but it was the effect of your birth. All of the actions of a new born babe are the results of life, not the cause. Some one may say, "God doesn't cause us to come to him but leaves it up to our free will," but the Bible says in Psalms 65:4, "Blessed is the man whom thou chooset, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts;" Yes, the man approached unto God, but his approaching was because he was chosen (elected), and made to. That is, it was the effect of God's election. It was the effect of the new birth. It was the effect of God's sovereign grace. It was the effect of Sovereign love and power. The elected man was given a willing and seeking heart.
Who is the sovereign one in the new birth, man or God? Whose will is supreme? John 1:13, in talking about the new birth states, "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Notice that man's will is totally excluded from the new birth. Jesus said in John 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth (willeth), and thou hearest the sound of it, but canst not tell from where it cometh, and where it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Jesus likened the Holy Spirit to the wind, which went where he wanted and quickened whom he wanted. Jesus said in John 5:21, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." Do men control the wind? No, they only see the results of it and the sound that it makes.
Yes, men are born again because God has chosen or elected to whom He will bestow the power of regeneration. That is what the doctrine of election is all about. Paul said in 2 Thes 2:13, "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Here we see that God has chosen a people from the very beginning. When was the beginning? Well the Bible says "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (the very 1st verse in the Bible). Notice that God also chose the means, "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Paul says again in Eph 1:4-5, "according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him, in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will". Notice we are predestinated according to the good pleasure of his will, and not the good pleasure of our will, or foreseen faith, and that was done before the world was created. Notice, in verse 6 that he made us accepted in the Beloved, rather than we making ourselves accepted. In verse 9, he has made known unto us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, not our good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself and not what we have purposed.
What have we been predestinated to? Will anyone go to heaven while in unbelief just because they are predestinated? No, Paul tells us what we are predestinated to in Rom 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." We (the elect) are predestinated to be believers and to be conformed to the image of his Son. Verse 30 goes on to say, "Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Notice, all of whom He foreknew He did predestinate, and all of whom He predestinated He did call, and all of whom He called He did justify, and all of whom He justified He did glorify. He did not loose one of them. Notice also Paul says, "whom He did foreknow" not "what He foreknew they would do." The fact that all of the called here are justified and glorified tells us that this call is an effectual call. There is a general call and there is an effectual call. Both may be resisted, but the effectual call can not be resisted successfully.
When the word of God is preached and men do not repent and believe, is it that the word of God has failed and not accomplished that which God has purposed and wanted it to accomplish? Isaiah 55:11 tells us, no. Listen to what Jehovah says, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Paul tells us also in Rom 9:6, "Not as though the word of God hath taken no effect. For they are not all Israel, who are of Israel;" Thatís right, and not all are Christians, who are of Christianity. Verse 7 of Romans 9, "Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Just because Abraham was their natural father didn't make them the children of God, but God chose Isaac over Ishmael. Verse 8, "That is, They who are the children of the flesh these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as the seed." Just because they are natural children by flesh doesn't make them the children of God, but the children of promise are counted as Abraham's seed.
So, Paul, how is the promise made? Verse 9, "For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father, Isaac". Notice, they had the same father and mother and were even twins. Verse 11, "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth". Verse 12, "It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger, As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." It was said, that Esau would serve Jacob, and that God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were ever born and had done any good or evil, so that it would be by God's choosing or electing, which is grace, and not of works, foreseen or otherwise.
Many people say that God elected on the basis of foreseen faith and works, but here it shows that their election was not based on anything that they had done, so that it would be of Him that calleth and not of works. Now that, my dear reader, is election. Salvation is truly by grace (all grace), and not of works (any works). It is this way so that "no flesh would glory in his sight". Many may say that if God did such a thing, that it would make him unjust, so Paul says in verse 14 of Romans 9, "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." Verse 15, "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." His mercy and compassion are given to whomsoever he wants to give it. He is sovereign in the bestowal of his favors. Verse 16, "So, then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." Salvation is not because we will it or because we run after it. A man may will to be president and may even run for office, but that doesn't make him president. You may say, that he is talking about salvation in general and not about individuals, but Paul says in verse 17, "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth."
So, God raised Pharaoh up for him to do exactly what he did. Verse 18, "Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Here it says that God has mercy on some and hardens the hearts of others. How many times did God tell Moses that he would harden Pharaoh's heart? Some may say then, if no man can resist his will and he raises up men for them to do what they do, then how can he find fault with them. Verse 19, "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" Paul answers the question in verse 20, "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" Verse 21, "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?" Verse 22, "What if God willing to show his wrath and make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction;" Verse 23, "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory."
Many may say that he is talking only about the Jews being his chosen people, but Paul says in the next verse, 24 of Romans 9, "Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" Notice also, whom he hath called he also has afore prepared unto glory, suggesting an effectual call.
In Romans 11:7, the apostle Paul states, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded". Verse 8 of Romans 11, "According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day." Israel sought it in their works and in the law, but had not obtained salvation, but the elect had their eyes opened to see their depravity and their need of a substitute. The elect had their ears opened to hear the sweet sound of the Gospel. The elect had their hearts opened that they attended unto the things of Godís word, and the rest were blinded.
When people hear of this doctrine they frequently say, "What about John 3:16?" Well, does John 3:16 just wipe out all of the scripture that, positively, shows God's election? Does God have scripture that just wipes out other scripture? Is God the author of confusion? What about John 3:16? "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Let's read the next verse also. Verse 17, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
First of all, is this the same world, here in John 3:16, that Jesus would not even pray for in John 17:9? Jesus in His high priestly prayer said, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." Here the word "world" is used, but the "them" in this verse can't be part of the world that he would not pray for. So, the word world in this verse can't possibly mean every person that has ever lived without exception.
Look at Romans 11:12 where Paul says, "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?" Here it talks about the fall of a certain group of people being the riches of another group of people, but it uses the word "world" to describe one of those groups, but not both. The word "world" here is used to refer to the Gentiles. In John 12:19 we read, "The Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him." Here it states that the Pharisees said, the world had gone after Jesus, but they weren't talking about themselves. So, the word "world" here didn't include the Pharisees.
In 1 Cor 11:32 we read, "But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." Here the word world is used to refer to a group of people that would be condemned, but it didn't refer to the group that was chastened of the Lord (the we). Again, in 2 Cor 5:19 we read, "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,". Here it speaks of a world that was reconciled to God, and that did not have their sins imputed to them. Certainly, you must realize that there are many that are not reconciled to God, and that will pay for their sins in a lake of fire.
Hebrews 11:7 says, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of the things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." Did Noah condemn himself or the ones that were in the ark? Yet, the word world is used to refer to people that were condemned, but it did not included Noah and his family. We read of the "whole world" in 1 John 5:19 where it says, "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." Were the ones that were of God part of the group that lieth in wickedness, yet here the Bible, here, uses the phrase "whole world".
The word world, in John 3:16, has the idea of all men without distinction, for God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), but not all men without exception. (See Rev. 5:9 for the world of John 3:16). Was the Esau of ROMANS 9:13, "but Esau have I hated", part of the world that God "so loved" in John 3:16?
Let us quote A. W. Pink on the next verse, John 3:17, where the phrase "might be saved" appears. "It is to be remarked that the word 'might' here does not express any uncertainty. Instead it declares the purpose of God in the sending of His Son. In common speech the word 'might' signifies a contingency. It is only another case of the vital importance of ignoring man's dictionaries and the way he employs words, and turning to a concordance to see how the Holy Spirit uses each word in the Scriptures themselves. The word 'might' - as part of the verb - expresses design. When we are told that God sent His Son into the world that through Him 'the world might be saved,' it signifies that 'through him the world should be saved,' and this is how it is rendered in the R.V. For other instances we refer the reader to 1 Peter 3:18 - 'might bring us to God' implies no uncertainty whatever, but tells of the object to be accomplished. For further examples see Gal. 4:5; Titus 2:14; 2 Peter 1:4, etc."
In Christís High Priestly prayer which is recorded in chapter 17 of the Gospel according to John, Christ spoke of those that were given to Him by the Father no less than seven times. In verse 2 of that chapter, Christ said that the Father had given him power over all flesh so that He would give eternal life to all those who were given to Him of His Father. And this giving of eternal life to the elect was not something that the Son was just hoping to do, but it was a thing that "should" be done, for the Father had given Him the power to perform it.
In John Ďs Gospel, Christ said that everyone of the ones given to Him by His Father would come to Him and that he would not lose one of them but that He would raise everyone of them up on the last day. (See John 6:37-39). Thatís eternal security, but it is based on Godís grace in election. It is based upon Godís power in regeneration. It is based upon God starting a work in a depraved dead sinner, and Paul, speaking of that work, said that He would perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ. (See Philippians 1:6). The elect who have been called are not only preserved forever (Ps 37:28), but they are caused to persevere.
The doctrine of election should humble believers, not make them proud, because it gives God all of the credit for our salvation. Jonah said, "Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9). It gives Him credit for making us alive, when we were dead in our sins. It gives Him the credit for giving us faith, when we had none. Philippians 1:29 declares that faith is a gift of God when it says, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." You may say, God gives all men faith, but 2 Thessalonians 3:2 says, "for not all men have faith." Perhaps men can work up a little pseudo faith on their own, but it is not the "faith of God's elect", and it is not saving faith, where men believe unto the "saving of the soul".
Not only does God give saving faith, in time, to the elect, but, God also gives to His elect repentance, which is one of the evidences of the new birth. Listen to Acts 11:18, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." The word granted, according to Strong's concordance, means to give. Listen also to 2 Timothy 2:25, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure (perhaps), will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,"
You may raise the question, if God has elected certain men to be saved, then why preach, since they are going to be saved anyway? But, God has not only elected men out of Adam's fallen race, He has also elected the means of bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They will not be saved anyway, but they will be saved God's way, and he has chosen the "foolishness of preaching to save them that believe". And He will save them through the foolishness of preaching; all of them, and not a one will be lost. You may also ask, what if a man believes with all of his heart but is not one of the elect? How preposterous! Can men who are dead in their sins believe with all of their depraved hearts? Any man who truly wants to be saved and truly believes with all of his heart can and will be saved.
The question is, did you start the work that is in you, or did God start it? If you started it with a "decision" then you can end it with a "decision", but if God started it, he will finish it. Paul in Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;" Your very security has at it's foundation, the doctrine of election. Listen again to 1 Peter 1:5, "Who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." We are kept by the power of God because the power of God is what started the good work (faith), that is in us. Notice also, that the means by which he keeps us is faith, suggesting that the faith must be a work of God. Jesus said that faith was a work of God when he said, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John 6:29). Jesus said that believing was a work of God, not a work of man.
As we near conclusion, notice the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:27, "All things are delivered unto me by my Father, and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." The ones that are laboring and heavy laden under their sins in the next verse are the whomsoever in this verse.
It is either all of works or all of grace. Salvation is totally a work of grace by the Lord.
The compact Bible dictionary published by Zondervan Publishing House, on the definition of election, states, "ELECTION (choice, selection). God's eternal and immutable decree to choose from sinners those whom He will save, providing the source of their salvation in grace through Christ, and the means through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit's regenerative work.
The sovereign decree of God to choose out (ek, from lego, to pick out) is the basic idea in election. This concept is applied in at least five ways: to elect those who are to be saved, to elect the means of their salvation in Christ, to elect the means in the redeeming activity of the Holy Spirit, to elect the results in the implantation of Christ's righteous nature to those who are saved, and to elect the destiny of eternal fellowship with God.
Much attention has been given to the relation between God's sovereign choice in election and the foreknowledge of God, since the two concepts are related in Romans 8:27-30, and I Peter 1:1, 2. Erroneous interpretation has implied that election was based on foreknowledge by God of the choice which man would make, using foreknowledge 'prior' knowledge. This interpretation not only contradicts the idea of sovereignty, but ignores the basic meaning of the word foreknow.
When election refers to salvation, its objects are individual men. The concept of universal election is foreign to Scriptures; rather, particular election only is taught (Matt. 22:14; John 15:19; Rom. 8:29; 9:13, 15, 18, 22; I Thess. 5:9)." (end of quote)
The question is, are we trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ, or, are we trusting in some decision we made? What really is the object of your faith? Does your faith look back to signing a card, raising a hand, walking an aisle, saying a prayer, getting baptized, or something else men may have told you to do? True faith indeed has an object, and the object of that faith is not faith itself, but the Lord Jesus Christ and the work that He accomplished on the cross. If Christ finished a work then we cannot add to it. Did Jesus Christ really atone for sins at Calvary, or only make atonement possible? Did He purge a people's sins at Calvary, or only make purging possible? Hebrews 1:2 says, "when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high". Are we only reconciled, in the legal sense, when we become friends of the Lord, or when He died for our sins? Romans 5:10 gives us the answer, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Did He reconcile us to God, totally by His work, or do we make it effective? Notice that the "we" in Romans 5:10 were reconciled to God while they were yet enemies of God, and that it was secured by the death of Jesus Christ, and reconciliation being done, they for whom He performed it "shall be saved." Are we trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ because of some wisdom in us, or because of the grace and power of a sovereign God?
Two men sitting on a bench one day had the Gospel preached to them. One thought it was foolishness, but the other for some unknown reason saw himself undone, a sinner condemned and no place to turn for safety but Christ and His atoning work. To him the Gospel was sweet news to a man in trouble. Who or what was the difference in the two men? Was the second man more wise within himself than the first man, who thought it foolishness? Was he just more spiritual than the first man? Did the man make the difference? Well, the apostle Paul tells us the answer, "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it" (1Co 4:7). God made the difference.
If you have a son in which you truly love, and he falls overboard into the sea, and when seeing this, you swim out to rescue him. Upon reaching him he says, no dad I want to die, and upon hearing these words you reply, son I love you, but I will have to let you drown because I cannot violate your free will. Is that what you would tell your beloved son? If that was my son, whom I love, I would apprehend him and if I could I would try to change his heart to have a desire to be rescued. Does not God have the power? "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power," the Bible tells us. The apostle Paul said that he was "apprehended of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:12). Why have you trusted in Jesus Christ, if you have, and so many others reject his righteousness for their own (religious, but lost)? Is it not because of His marvelous grace?
Election is a truth divine,
As absolute as free;
Works ne'er can make the blessing mine;
'Tis God's own wise decree.
Before Jehovah built the skies,
Or earth, or seas, or sun,
He chose a people for His praise,
And gave them to His Son.
Eternal was the choice of God,
A sovereign act indeed;
And Jesus, the incarnate Word,
Secures the chosen seed.
He loved and chose because He would;
Nor did His choice depend
On sinners' work, or bad or good,
But on His sovereign mind.
Nor law, nor death, nor hell, nor sin,
Can alter His decree;
The elect eternal life shall win,
And all God's glory see.
His counsel stands for ever sure,
Immortal and divine;
And justice, mercy, truth, and power,
Unite to make it mine.
This is truly a great doctrine that abases man and exalts God, and one that should be cherished and studied.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726