Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as exiles, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen. (1 Peter 1:1)
The nature of election is this: God has chosen a people to belong to Him, and we are that people.
In John 15:16, Jesus says this to His disciples: “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would abide, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
And again He says in John 17:9, addressing the Father, “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours.”
The Father chose us and gave us to Christ. And His choice was completely free, as Paul explains in Romans 9. God decided to love Jacob and hate Esau before they were born. And Paul says,
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”
On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? Will the thing molded say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this”? Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (Romans 9:18-21)
God has just as much right to display His wrath against the ungodly as He does to display His grace, love and mercy to the elect. Don’t argue with Him.
So we see that all who are saved are saved through the direct choice of God. And when did this choice happen? Look at Ephesians 1:3-4:
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 would be holy and blameless before Him in love.
When were we chosen? Before we were born. Before anybody was born. Before there was a world, we were chosen. That’s mind-boggling. Look at another passage:
Therefore do not be ashamed of either the witness about our Lord or me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of 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 from all eternity. (2 Timothy 1:8-9)
God has known that we were the elect from all eternity. And our salvation is all according to His plan and His purpose and His grace, and not us. Remarkable. As long as God has existed, He has predetermined to love us and to make us like His Son.
Now, it isn’t natural for us to believe this in our fallen state. Something in us struggles with the idea that God is the ultimate controller of all things, including our salvation. But it’s true:
And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can strike against His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?” (Daniel 4:35)
God fulfills all of His purposes. He is the heavenly potter who takes the lump of clay, fallen humanity, and fashions it the way He wants. He is the decider and the determiner of the destiny of every person. He is the controller of every detail in every individual’s life, which is simply another way of saying that God is God.
So, the nature of election is that God’s divine will selects some for salvation.
I believe this with all my heart, because the Bible teaches it. And for me, there is something pretty thrilling about believing this. At the same time, it is immensely humbling. I mean, it literally destroys pride. What responsibility can we claim for our own salvation? None.
The doctrine of election tells us two things. One, God is in charge. Two, He is so gracious to those of us who could never have earned salvation; therefore, we ought to spend our eternity praising His glorious name.
The doctrine of election was not given to confuse us. It was given to devastate our pride and elicit our praise. And we’re going to find out more about this doctrine next time.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1988, titled “Chosen by God, Part 1.”
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