© Copyright 2002 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be
freely copied, printed out, and distributed as
long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.
Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY
BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
Election is one of the more difficult subjects to discuss in
Christianity. The subject itself is really an easy one to prove from the Bible
because verses are abundant that speak of God's sovereign call of specific
people for salvation. The problem comes after proving that election exists. What
do we do with all the verses that teach that man has a free will to choose or
not to choose eternal life through Christ?
Many preachers and Bible teachers avoid the issue by skipping over the verses that seem to strongly teach election or man's will. Others try to blend the two doctrines together and show how they work. What happens, though, is that they end up destroying both doctrines. The best approach is to do what the Holy Spirit does--teach both doctrines independently of each other and let God understand how they mesh together. I admit that man is incapable of understanding how God's sovereignty in election can exist alongside the Biblical doctrine of man's free will. God has not chosen to reveal how they blend, He just states that both are true. This is where the finite must yield to the infinite and admit that we don't know the answer. It should not alarm us to admit that there is something in the Bible that we can't understand, because the Holy Spirit told us early in the Scriptures that, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever. . ." (Deuteronomy 29:29).
For this study we will be looking at the subject of election as the Bible does--separate from man's free will. Later I hope to write a file on the subject of free will also. I will not attempt to explain how the two doctrines mesh but only that they exist.
A. ELECTION DEFINED
Webster defines the word "elect" as those persons belonging to a specially privileged group, and the term "election" as the act of choosing a person to fill a position by vote. God uses both terms throughout Scripture in direct reference to those who are saved. Paul defines these two groups, the elect and the others who were hardened in the book of Romans, "What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain (salvation), but the elect did. The others were hardened." (Romans 11:7). The apostle Peter states that his book 1Peter is addressed to God's elect, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect, strangers in the world." (1Peter 1:1). In Romans, Paul refers to the twins Jacob and Esau, and quotes the Old Testament, ". . . before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by Him who calls--she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." (Romans 9:11-13;Genesis 25:23;Malachi 1:2-3). Election is simply God choosing who will be saved for eternal life. Those He does not choose are hardened (a process they began, but God continues, as in Pharoah's case). It is an independent choice, apart from any human consideration or input.
B. ELECTION TIMING
When did this election take place? According to the Bible it was before the world began! ". . . He chose us in Him before the creation of the world . . ." (Ephesians 1:4). If there was ever a doubt about man's input into the election process, then consider that man was not even created yet! But some will say, "God just looked down through the ages and picked the ones that would choose Him." This thought appeals to the human nature because it gives man some credit in salvation. All the saved ones chose by their intellect to believe in God, therefore God chose them. Not true, for other Scriptures scream NO! In Ephesians 2:8 we read that man is saved by "grace" through "faith." In other words, what acquires our grace of salvation is our faith to believe in Jesus. The problem is, where did we get the faith to trust in Jesus and the Gospel message? Again in Eph 2:8 we hear the Spirit say, " . . .it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God. . ." God must instill in us the faith to believe, so again man has no choice, for when God gives us the faith to believe--we will believe!
C. ELECTION'S PURPOSE
God chose us "to be holy and blameless in His sight." God simply wanted to have a people for Himself. This is a fair and righteous thing for God to do. He chose one nation out of the rest to be His favorite. What did Israel have to offer God? Nothing, but He wanted her, so he elected her as a nation. Why would God choose you and me for salvation? Because He wanted to. Not because He "saw" something in us that was lovely, for we were doomed to sin as we proved when we were born. Our election originated only in Him. Now some would say, "then why wouldn't God chose everybody to be saved, because that would be equitable." Well, God is not on trial; He is a just and fair God and we have no right to question His fairness. The question to ask is not, "Why doesn't God elect (save) everyone." Rather, it is to ask, "Why does God elect (save) anyone?" We all deserve eternal Hell for our sins, and why God chose to be so gracious as to let some live lies solely in God.
D. ELECTION MOTIVE
Why did God choose some to be saved? He had to choose some because, according to the Bible no one would have chosen Him. As it says in Psalms, "God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalm 53:2-3). The reason God chose some is LOVE! "In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will. . ." (Eph 1:5). God loved and chose some because it pleased Him to do so.
E. ELECTION'S APPLICATION
Without even "scratching the surface" of the subject of election, I'll conclude with some thoughts on the Christian's response to having been chosen by God for salvation.
1. Believe in election by accepting it for what it is.
May we not try to "water it down" nor ignore the subject. Rather, simply believe it and teach it whenever we come to it in the Scriptures, as we would the subject of "free will."
2. Be humble before God.
Realize that we had nothing to offer Him, and had nothing to do
with salvation, other than to respond to the gospel as the Holy Spirit directed
us and empowered us. We need to remember that if we had not be elected, then we
would have not believed.
3. Preach the gospel and try to persuade men and women everywhere to make a decision for Christ.
Some may say, "If God only elects some to be saved and they will
believe, leaving all the rest in unbelief, then why bother to witness?" There is
only one reason to--God said to go into all the world and preach the Good News
to all peoples. (Matthew 28). God commands us to try to convince people to
4. Be thankful to God for His grace and wisdom to save some.
Try to yield our lives, by the power of His Spirit, to do
whatever tasks or calling He has for us.
5. Be compassionate to the unbeliever
For some unbelievers are blind and will never see the truth of
the gospel, and the others are blind only until God calls them and makes their
Remember that election cannot be blended fully with man's free will, but that it must be treated as a separate entity. If we try blending the two together, then we will in the end destroy both doctrines. God only knows how they fit together. Trust Him.
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