A Practical View of Biblical Election

Posted on September 28, 2015

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By David Ettinger

What It Means

silver cross“Election” is a theological term Christians often hear, but are unsure of its meaning. Simply put, “election” means that individuals are “pre-chosen” by God long before birth to be believers in Jesus Christ. This definition is derived from Ephesians 1:4-5: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (italics added). Verse 11 adds: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (italics added).

The New Testament is filled with “election”-type verses which show that God “chooses” believers. A few examples (italics added):

* Matthew 11:27: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

* John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them…”

* John 6:65: “He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’”

* John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you …”

* Acts 13:48: “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”

Issues Associated With Election
For the first two years after coming to Christ, I struggled with the doctrine of election. I had two primary questions. One, is it possible to not be elected and yet, upon hearing the Gospel, make a conscious decision to accept Christ? Two, is it possible to be elected and not be saved? After two years of studying, and still 27 years later, I believe the answer to both questions is no. If you are not elected, you won’t be saved; if you are elected you will be saved.

Return of ChristA few years ago, I shared this with a “Young Professionals” (ages 22-29) Sunday school class I was teaching, and one perceptive young woman commented, “I can’t believe there are people born who cannot be saved.” I agreed with her, but pointed out that election is the work of an “infinite” God and that we as “finite” creatures cannot always grasp His workings. Isaiah 55:9 confirms this: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Despite this, seven truths stand:

  1. It is impossible for individuals to “choose” election.
  2. Election is solely the work of God.
  3. No individual “deserves” to be elected.
  4. Those who are not elected will not (as opposed to “cannot”) be saved.
  5. Those who are elected will be saved.
  6. Man has freewill to choose to accept Christ as His Lord and Savior or to reject Him.
  7. To the human mind, number 6 is diametrically opposed to numbers 4 and 5, and yet all three are true, as per Isaiah 55:9.

And there is one other issue that many have added – number 8 ­– based primarily on numbers 4 and 5: Because election and non-election are “done deals,” witnessing is a waste of time. Those not destined to be saved will not accept Gospel preaching anyway, so why bother? Those elected will be saved no matter what, so why bother?

I reject “number 8” because it misses the point. During my newspaper days, I once witnessed to a sportswriter who politely, but decisively, rejected the Gospel. He said, “I appreciate what you said and that you believe it, but I don’t.” I felt led by the Lord to warmly reply, “I understand, but one day when this life is over you will go before God and He will tell you, ‘I am sorry, but you rejected the message. On October 18, 1998, you heard a clear presentation of the Gospel, and said no.” Not all witnessing leads to acceptance, but this is not always God’s intent. Sometimes He may want us to share the Gospel so that when the unsaved appear before Him in the final “Great White Throne” judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), they will be without excuse.

A Practical Way to View Election
victory-1-1184167So, how should we apply election to ourselves?

Regarding yourself, your attitude should be: “I understand that God chose me and I am totally unworthy of it. I don’t deserve to be chosen; rather, I am a sinner and deserve only death. Because of this, Lord – because You chose me and saved me from spiritual death – I will dedicate by every waking second to You. I will serve you with all of my heart!”

In regard to others, simply act as if election doesn’t exist. When the opportunity comes to share the Gospel, don’t waste time wondering if this person is elected or not. Simply accept the fact that God has brought them into your life, and take it from there. Clear and simple!

Cultivate a positive view of election. Knowing that God has chosen you to be His should impact your life in marvelous and triumphant ways!

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