Years ago, I attended a Baptist history conference where the pastor preached against election. He said that every time the word “elect” was used in the Bible, it was referring to the Jews. He made a pretty good case for it, too. In fact, I was convinced. I am blessed to have a husband who is a pastor. He mentioned to me quietly, “What about 2 Timothy 2:10?” That verse states: Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Clearly, this verse is speaking of those who will be saved – those who are elect. The pastor conveniently left this verse out of his rather long list. I’m not sure if it was an oversight or intentional, but either way, it was misleading.
So what is election? This is the “U” in the “TULIP”. In that acrostic, the “U” stands for “Unconditional Election”. This is the belief that we do not in any way, shape, or form earn God’s favor. Some believe that this makes God out to be a terrible monster. I’ve been told, “God wouldn’t do that! He wouldn’t create people just to destroy them!” My first thought is, “Amen, that’s right!” My second thought is a little stronger, for it is from the Word of God:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. ~ Isaiah 55:58
Who am I to declare what God will or will not; can or cannot do? I’m nobody, that’s who!
I grew up believing that “election” meant that God knew the future; He knew who would trust Him, and those people were the “elect”. This sounds pretty good. But, doesn’t that mean God saw some good in us, and saved us based on that “good”? The good being our faith? Then, doesn’t that mean it’s no longer “unmerited favor” but rather, “merited”? We earned His salvation through our decision? How can you believe in salvation by grace and also by the exercise of your own will? Did your will save you? Or did the power of God? If it was your will, then doesn’t that mean your salvation depends on you to some degree? Most of my peers would scream “NO!” But yet, they don’t want to believe God chose a people to be saved from before the foundation of the world, either. Perhaps they are afraid of being called a Calvinist? Fear should never prevent us from believing and proclaiming the truth.
But, for sake of argument, let’s follow their line of thinking for a moment: God saw in the future, before He framed the world or any of its contents, that Valerie Courtney would decide to trust in His Son and be saved on June 12, 1993. He also saw that John Doe would hear the Gospel that same day in Missouri, but would not trust in Christ for salvation. In fact, John Doe would die that very day and go to Hell. Why did God bother to create John Doe just to watch him face eternity in Hell?
We seem to have the same outcome either way.
Whether God saw your faith and saved you because of your decision, or whether He chose you for salvation unconditionally in eternity past, we are left with this undeniable fact: Some people are going to Hell, and God knows Who they are yet created them anyway.
I don’t understand grace at all. I don’t know why He saves anyone. Yet I have to believe in unconditional election, because I don’t believe God saved me because I merited His favor in any way. I wasn’t smart enough to choose Him, He chose me. (1 John 4:19) He saw no good in me, or in any of mankind as Romans 3 so clearly outlines. And friend, if you have repented of your own self-righteousness and are trusting in Christ alone to save you, then you are elect.
God didn’t set apart a people for Heaven and a people for Hell. We are all Hell-bound. Everyone. The fact He chose to save one single person is known as grace.
People have asked me, “Which of your children are elect, Valerie?” My answer is this: I pray every day for their salvation, because God is the only One Who can save them from sin. But even if you believe that it is your will, or your choice, that saves you, then I now ask you, which of your children will choose Him? Do you know?
I once heard this illustration of election: Election is a door. On the outside it says, “Whosoever will”; once you pass under that door, the other side says, “Chosen before the foundation of the world.”
That is election according to God’s Word.
Thanks for reading,