Unconditional Election?

This is one of various articles in our Discipleship Series. You may read the other articles here .

In pasts months we have studied about God’s omniscience and foreknowledge. Having developed this, we now understand that “All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13) We learned that according to the Bible, God has all knowledge. He cannot learn because there is nothing unknown to Him. The fact that God knows everything from before creation is a source of great comfort for those who understand this great truth.

We now understand that God knows the end from the beginning. Therefore we understand He did not create man to find that a plan of redemption would later be needed, but in fact planned redemption as part of His creation. Nothing was an after-thought and nothing took Him by surprise. It is therefore comforting to know that the plan from the beginning was to redeem us unto Himself, a people for His good pleasure, and to whom He would bestow grace and eternal life.

Following the study on foreknowledge we examined the doctrine of “Total Depravity.” This study put the hopelessly lost condition of man in perspective. We now understand that apart from God’s saving grace, we are without hope. We learned that all people are by nature sinful and separated from God. We now understand that all people are responsible for their own sin. We understand that man, in and of himself, has nothing to offer God in exchange for his soul. He will spend eternity in hell should he reject the provisions provided for him in Jesus. We can now say, “Praise the Lord! Salvation is freely offered to all through the grace of God, by faith alone, in our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Additionally, we now understand that salvation is not granted by any human merit or offering of good works. All sinful men are invited into life everlasting through the love of God and the merciful work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We now know that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” (Titus 2:11) All we can do is surrender to God’s grace and celebrate the work of regeneration provided us in Jesus Christ alone.

This brings us to a simple clarification on the subject of election. Some have misunderstood the doctrine and assumed that the teaching of election declares that God has elected some men to salvation and intentionally damned others without offering them any hope of everlasting life. This view is certainly not what the Bible teaches.

Who is the Elect

According to the Bible, Jesus is the elect of God. Additionally, there are at least 5 distinguishable groups who have been called the elect. They are; the elect angels – apparently those who remained faithful to the Lord, the nation of Israel, the believing remnant of Israel – those from the nation of Israel who were faithful to God, believers in the church age (The Church), and those who come to Christ during (and who endure) the Tribulation Period. All these groups were known to the Lord prior to creation and are called in Scripture “the elect.”

It is impossible for God to have “discovered” those He calls the elect because God cannot learn and cannot be surprised. He knows all things from before the foundations of the world. We therefore comfortably embrace promises and blessings that plainly declare the doctrine of election as occurring in the eternal knowledge of God before time began.

However, the Bible does not teach that God is a respecter of persons, shows partiality, or that He elects some to heaven and others to hell without offering the opportunity to all men, everywhere, to repent and believe the good news of the Gospel. (See Acts 17:30)

Some Difficult Passages

It is true that there are some difficult passages that seem to offer support for the opposing views, but a careful look at context and intended meaning clears up all misunderstandings. For example: There is some confusion about God choosing Jacob and rejecting Esau. However, it we study the entire account carefully we discover that God is making known His desire to use sinful men, make His grace known through and toward them, and that His focused dealings were with nations – not individuals. Genesis 25:23 says, “And the LORD said to her (Rebecca): “Two nations (Jacob and Esau) are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.”

Another difficult passage is found in Romans 9:16. Paul said, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” What Paul is making clear is the simple fact that if God were not to show us mercy, none would be saved. We could work all we want, will all we want, run all we want…but if God had not chosen to save us…none would be saved.

Space limits a thorough examination of subject texts but for the sake of clarity I will include one more difficult passage. 2 Tim. 2:10 “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Many have assumed this to reflect a view of those who are the elect and who were yet to be saved. However, a careful examination of the Greek word “tugchano”, translated “obtain” shows that it may appropriately mean, “to make sure, secure, enjoy or refresh.” So this verse may appropriately read, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may be secure, enjoy, and be refreshed in the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Biblical context clearly describes the hardship Paul was enduring for the sake of the body of Christ. He references this is 2 Corinthians as well as in Galatians.

It should be noted that the nation of Israel, called the elect and chosen of God, exercised rebellion toward the known will of God. Because of this rebellion, many of those offered the blessing of eternal life perished in their sin. The angels who were created in Heaven as sinless and “very good”, left their first estate and were drawn into darkness by the great Dragon (Lucifer) and are without hope of re-instatement to holiness. Adam and Eve, who were created in the image of God and chosen to be the first sinless individuals, rebelled against the Lord and forfeited their righteous condition. Both Adam and Eve suffered physical and spiritual death as a result. God knew all this before creation. Nothing takes Him by surprise. However, God nonetheless allowed these to resist instruction and suffer the consequences.

First Reference

The first reference to the elect in Scripture applies to Jesus alone. “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 42:1)

The Believers

It is noteworthy to recognize that those who are believers in Christ are the elect and chosen of God. This is clearly supported in Ephesians 1. Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6) Note that this was done before the foundations of the world. One cannot avoid the fact that this act pre-supposes foreknowledge – as it occurred before time began. Secondly, Paul goes on to say that the chosen ones are those who trusted in Christ after they heard the truth of the Gospel and believed. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed (past tense), you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13) It is therefore appropriate to suggest that you may trust the Lord – even today, and be the chosen and elect of God as well. God draws all men to Himself and desires all to be saved. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

God – No Respecter of Persons

God is no respecter of persons. “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.” (Acts 10:34) Paul said, “For there is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11) James said, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17) Paul told Timothy, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.” (1 Tim. 5:21) Pray tell, does God ask us to do what He is unwilling to do?

Therefore we conclude; God calls, chooses, and elects, according to His great foreknowledge, through faith in Jesus. Put your faith in Jesus Christ today and enjoy the blessing of being the elect of God, chosen in Him, before the foundations of the world.

Blessings upon you all,

Pastor Paul