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Theology > Salvation > Sovereignty in Salvation > God's Election


God’s election is sovereign, eternal, gracious, personal, and saving.

God’s election is Sovereign. Election is the doing of God, the God who is Sovereign (see: God is Sovereign); it is totally of God—it is His election. It is consistent with His determination, His good purpose, and in no way is election conditioned by the will or act of man, who is merely the recipient of election and who is completely passive.

The explanation of election is within the hidden council of God, one of the deep inscrutabilities of God—unknown because it is unrevealed. Of course, the fact of election is revealed but the why is concealed within the essence of God. Because God’s election is identical with His essence, His election is unchanging; it is immutable. It is certain and it is incomprehensible.

Theistic Election is known because of Revelation; without His Revelation election would not be known. This affirms that election is a theological concept, a concept related to God, not a philosophical concept, a concept related to man. Therefore, the concept must be discussed in terms of the Scriptures not in terms of man’s reasoning. The study of election is an attempt to understand the mind and act of God; the study can never be a critique by man of the concept from the parameters established by man that are then used to judge the doings of God.

Notions and terminology from humanistic religions should not and cannot be employed to discuss this Biblical Truth. By virtue of this basic consideration such terms as Fate, chance, luck, karma, and similar terminology are invalidated. To discuss election the discussion must be limited to the teaching of the Bible, and those writings that seek properly to elucidate its teachings. It is understood that only the Scriptures themselves are normative and absolute.

God’s election is Eternal. It is according to His holy and eternal will. Since God is from everlasting to everlasting, His election is from eternity to eternity. Forever there has been God, without beginning, and so has His election been with Him; and forever there will be God, without ending, and so will His election be with Him. God and God’s election cannot be separated. Where there is God there is election, and where there is election there is God.

Election was in the mind of God in eternity before it became a process operating in time; therefore, the functioning of election in time is the invasion of eternity into the historical. The cosmos is not a closed system without outside input or determination. The sphere of man cannot be divorced from the sphere of God. The two—God and man—are separated with a separation that cannot be overcome, and the two are so related that they cannot be separated.

The Scriptures teach that God’s election was before all things: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4); “God from the beginning chose you for salvation” (II Thess. 2:13); and we are saved “according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (II Tim. 1:9). Before Creation and before his personal birth, the believer was known by God and was the object of God’s favor.

God’s election is Gracious. Election is of grace, not of works, meaning that it is of God not man. Election is unconditional, not related to man in any sense, not to man’s choice or decision; it is totally God’s favor given to man.

God is gracious; this is one of His attributes—He is the God of grace. Out of His essence He manifests favor to man, because gracious is what He is.

Election must be understood in terms of God’s will, a will that is gracious; Paul writes that we are predestined “according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5), that we receive forgiveness “according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7), and that His revelation to us is “according to His good pleasure” (Eph. 1:9).

God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (II Tim. 1:9).  

God’s election is Personal. It is for and relates to individuals. Personal means that God’s election is of persons, of individuals, not only of classes or groups. It is the destiny of persons that is the focus of God’s election. God, the one and only eternal or uncreated Being made man, the created being, for fellowship with Him; and God’s election gives to the ones He chooses the privilege of fellowship with Him. To elect means to choose.  In the Scriptures often God’s people are simple referred to as the “elect” or the “chosen”:

“elect”: Matt. 24:22, 24, 31; Mk. 13:20, 22, 27; Lu. 18:7; Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; II Tim. 2:10; Tit. 1:1; I Pet. 1:2; 2 Jo. 1, 13;

“chosen”: Matt. 20:16; 22:14; Rom. 16:13; I Pet. 2:9; Rev. 17:14.

Election is an election of persons, meaning that it is particular and definite. The words “elect” and “chosen” are not nebulous terms without specificity; they refer to all of those individuals on whom God has set His favor. The words are detailed and unambiguous. The fact that they are elect implies that they are part of an elect group. Whether used individually or corporately, the words speak of those who belong uniquely to the Lord.

His election bestows His favor on certain individuals and not on others; there are two types of individuals: elect and reprobate, individuals not elected; every individual is in one group or the other. In these terms election is related to destiny; consider the Potter and the clay (Rom. 9:22-23; see: Rom. 9:17-22; 11:17; I Pet. 2:8; Jude 14; Matt. 11:25-26).

We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each person. For all are not created in equal conditions; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or to death (Calvin, Institutes, 3.21.5).

God’s election is Saving. Saving means that election is soteriological, and for election to be soteriological it is of necessity centered in Christ; therefore, election is Christological. By eternal decree the Son is synonymous with the election to salvation. Election is related to Christ and is centered in Christ and is for the purpose of providing Him as salvation for man.

In numerous way many different Scriptures associate salvation with God’s determination to save, that is, His election:

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me (Jo. 6:37);

This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day (Jo. 6:39);

I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father (Jo. 6:65);

My Father who has given them to Me (Jo. 10:29);

And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48);

Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (Rom. 8:30);

So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy (Rom. 9:16);

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 (Eph. 1:4-5);

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11);

God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (II Thess. 2:13);

God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (II Tim. 1:9);

But you are a chosen generation (I Pet. 2:9).

God’s election
and saving.

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