The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Election and “The Elect”

Without a doubt, “election” is a Christian doctrine.  The question is, what is election, and how is one elected?

Are Calvinists correct to say that God pre-ordains some particular men to be His “elect”, and other particular men to be damned, regardless of any foreknowledge God has of whether or not these men will choose to do right or wrong?

Or am I correct, when I say that God pre-ordained a particular class of men to be His elect, and this class is open to all who come to Jesus and abide in Jesus. This class contains those men found to be in Christ at the end of their lives, or at His coming, whichever comes first.  God also pre-ordained a particular class of men to be damned, which class is also open to all who persist in rebellion. And that class of men includes all who are not found in Christ at the end of their lives, or at His coming, whichever comes first.

The statement in bold type above is my thesis, and I will return to it.

If I understand the Calvinist position correctly, they believe no person can come to Jesus unless that person was first “elected” by God, and then given to Jesus, based on John 6:37 (which passage, by the way, does not use the word “elect,” nor does it even refer to election as far as I can see.) It says,

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

So it would seem, if this verse is wrested from its context, that no one can come to Jesus except by the Father.

I recall that Jesus said the opposite, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)  He claimed to be “the Way” to the Father.

So how are we to understand that no one comes to the Father but through Jesus, yet no one comes to Jesus but by the Father?  Either there is a contradiction, or one or both of these verses are not being properly understood.

I am completely unwilling to contradict Jesus in either case, so I seek to understand what He meant in both cases.

John 14:6 can really only be taken one way.  NO ONE can come to the Father except by Jesus Christ.  He is the ONLY mediator between men and God.  Salvation is fixed firmly in this, that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.  Salvation must always be Christ-centered.

So what do we do with John 6:37?  I contend that the context of Jesus’ words sheds light on what He meant—and He was not referring to “election,” but rather to the fact that truly God-fearing people would be led by God to Jesus Christ. A perfect example of this is Cornelius, a man who “feared God” but did not know Christ until Peter preached the gospel of Christ to him, after which he was saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 10)

The Pharisees, to whom Jesus was speaking in John 6, were not men who “feared God.”  They were hypocrites who only pretended to fear God, and Jesus was exposing their hypocrisy by proving the fact that they didn’t really belong to God. If they truly feared God, they would come to Jesus, God’s only way to the Father, as did Cornelius.  (Please see All That the Father Gives Me Will Come to Me.)

I hope you can see that the way in which I’ve interpreted these 2 passages leaves no contradiction—the way to be reconciled to God is by Jesus Christ, but only a God-fearing man will come to Jesus Christ. The enemies of God will reject the messengers of God, including Jesus. But the way in which the Calvinist interprets the John 6 passage introduces a terrible contradiction, not to mention a slander on the character of God—for they assert that God holds back the majority of people from ever coming to Jesus for salvation, and then punishes them in eternal fire for doing what He made them do!

Back to my thesis, we are elect when we properly identify with the Son of God, Jesus Christ–that is, we repent of our sins as commanded and place a submissive and obedient faith in Christ. All who are found in Jesus at the end of their lives or at the coming of Jesus are God’s elect.  God has pre-determined that every person who properly identifies with Jesus (and endures to the end in such a state—Matt. 10:22) will be saved. These are His elect, whom He will gather from the four winds at His appearing (Matt. 24:31).

The key here is understanding that there is ONE QUALIFICATION for God’s elect. They must be found in Jesus, because Jesus IS God’s elect. Thus we see that Jesus truly is The Way, and no man comes to God but by Him.

Jesus IS God’s elect:

Isa 42:1 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.

I Peter 2:6 …Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.

Other verses which refer to God’s elect are referring to those who are in Christ, including Matt. 24:22, 24; Luke 18:7; Rom. 8:33, 11:7; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; I Peter 1:2, 5:13; and 2 John 1:1, 13.

I Peter 1:2 tells us something important about the elect:

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…

God knows all things, past, present and future. His foreknowledge does not indicate that there is a pre-written script.  He exists outside of time. Thus He knows the future as well as the present.  He knows who will be found in Christ Jesus and saved. Notice in the verse that those called “elect” are those being sanctified and sprinkled by Jesus’ blood.  They are “in Christ.”  The verse does not tell us that unsaved people are arbitrarily elected to salvation. It tells us that those God foreknew would be in Christ are elected to salvation.  This is because Jesus is THE Elect One. This truth is evident from other Scriptures, which must also be taken into account.

God adopts all who are in Christ:

Anyone who has the Son has the Father also. I Jn. 2:24.

Those found in Christ are adopted as sons by the Father. Rom 8:15.

Rom 8:29 For whom He did foreknow (have knowledge of beforehand), he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Those whom God foreknows will identify with His Son, He also predestinates to be like His Son, and to be adopted into His family.)

Eph 1:4-6 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Please notice that we are “chosen” in Christ. (Christ is the Chosen one.)

Notice that we are predestinated for adoption by Jesus Christ.

Notice we are accepted IN Jesus Christ (the Beloved.)

The person who is IN Christ is therefore chosen, predestinated for adoption, and accepted—because they are in Christ.

Jesus is the Chosen one.

Matt 12:18 Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!…

Luke 23:35 …Let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.

I Peter 2:4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.

If we are In Christ, we too are chosen:

Eph 1:4 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.

Please notice we are chosen IN HIM!  This is because HE is THE CHOSEN ONE.

Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Rev. 13:8. This does not mean all people from the beginning of time are saved automatically. Nor does Eph 1:4 mean that individuals were singled out as “chosen” no matter what their own choices might be.

Jesus is the one chosen and slain before the foundation of the world. And God has ordained that all who are found in Him are chosen with Him.  This is why we must abide in Him if we want to live and be fruitful! (John 15)

God gives choice to all men and commands repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ. He enables all men to respond in faith; He has initiated salvation for every man, but all men have not met His conditions.  Only those who are found IN HIM can be called chosen, because God CHOSE before the foundation of the world to elect all persons who are IN CHRIST to be saved.

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