The term, “Election” means:
election, choice a.the act of picking out, choosing: Acts 9:15 b.the thing or person chosen: Rom 11:7 (from Thayer's Greek Lexicon)
In Acts 9:15 the term “election” is used of the act of choosing.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
And in Rom 11:7 the term “election” is used of the person chosen.
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
God runs this election (not like a human election) – no corruption (no bought votes), no politics (no sweetheart deals), no disenfranchisement (equal opportunity)
An old-timer was asked about “election” as used in the Bible and he said, “God votes for you, and the devil votes against you, and you cast the deciding ballot.” That is an oversimplification, but there is truth in it. The devil was the original root cause of man’s problem – so he’s certainly against us. God elects those to be saved who are of a disposition to respond to the gospel. And if we are of a responsive disposition – we come to God
We are elected, chosen of God, to salvation – God does the choosing.
1 Thess 1:4
4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 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:
And after being elected, we are spoken of as being the elect -- the chosen ones of God.
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election [those who were chosen, NASB] hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering:
1 Peter 2:9
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Paul greatly desired that all men be saved, and expressed this desire fervently for his kinsmen, the Israelites.
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
And Paul explains that just because the Israelites were the children of Abraham after the flesh did not make them the children of God after the Spirit. God elected and decreed who would be his children.
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
We see God’s election at work in the case of Abraham -- God elected, decreed that only through Sarah giving birth to Isaac would come the great nation of Israel (and eventually the Christ) – even though Abraham had other children (through Hagar and Keturah)
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
And Abraham even pleaded with God that Ishmael be the chosen one, “Oh that Ishmael might live before thee” (Gen 17:18), but instead God said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Gen 21:12). And so we see as Creator it is God’s sovereign right to elect, choose whom He pleases.
He also shows this in the case of Jacob and Esau. God elected, chose that the elder (nationally) would serve the younger, and made the choice before either were born or had done any works, good or bad.
23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy [Rebecca] womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
God’s purposes, His elections, His choices, are made before we ever come on the scene.
1 Peter 1:2
2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
2 Tim 1:8-9
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Therefore, His purposes, His elections, His choices, cannot be based on the works of man because they pre-date man. God id not impressed with the “grandiose works” of men. He never was and never will be (example of the tower of Babel).
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
And God is not impressed with the “many wonderful works” that men may conceive of and do in the name of religion.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
God doesn’t have to wait until man does something, and then react to that, and make a trial and error judgment as to what is to be considered as good or evil, and then make decisions as to who should be saved or lost. He had all that that planned out from eternity.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
God made the choice long ago as to whom he would show mercy, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. He is the Creator and the Potter and has the sovereign right to do that.
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Well, then who did God purpose to choose and elect to be saved? Did he really make a choice before the world began concerning those who would be saved? The Bible says He certainly did! From the very start of Jesus’ ministry, he pointed out what God had planned and wanted to see in man that he might be saved.
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
So God purposed before the worlds began to show mercy on the merciful! He purposed to save those like Jesus described!
The Lord predestinated that the meek would be saved – so in order to be saved, we need to demonstrate meekness (have a humble, submissive, obedient attitude)
8 Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
8 Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, 9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.
6 The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
What does God want to see in us? God is not looking so much for a dress up on the outside. He wants to see us dress up and give him our best on the inside (the hidden man of the heart).
1 Peter 3:3-4
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
The gospel is for all – and we are to preach it unto all – but all obviously do not respond
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
But Jesus summed up concerning those who would be disposed (by God’s design) to respond to the gospel
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The gospel is hid from the wise and prudent (the proud and haughty) and is revealed unto babes (the meek and humble).
1 Cor 1:18-21
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
And that is why we do not see many that are rich and in high places respond to the gospel – they generally do not fit the mold of those who have the meek, humble attitude that is necessary to be drawn to Jesus. God has elected, chosen beforehand what He wants in us.
1 Cor 1:26-29
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
God calls us by the gospel of Christ, the power of God unto salvation. He chooses us to this salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
2 Thess 2:13-14
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Spirit of God is the revealer of God’s word, which has the power to sanctify (set us apart) to salvation and service of God, and which has the power to cause us to believe.
1 Peter 1:12
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
And if we humbly submit to God’s word, then we will be saved. We will be among God’s chosen, the elect of God, and He knows those that are His.
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Receive with meekness (humility, submissiveness) the word of God, and be the elect of God.
One last thought. Is the condition of the elect as the Calvinists say it is? Is the number of the elect is “so certain and definite that it cannot either be increased or decreased” (Westminster confession of faith, chapter III)? Definitely not! Look at what Paul said in Romans.
1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Notice very carefully. The people under consideration are the Israelites, Israel after the flesh. Paul says there is a remnant, “the election” (the elect, NKJV, NIV, etc.; those who were chosen, NASV; the chosen, YLT), that have obtained the blessings of God, but that “the rest” were blinded or hardened. Thus, in Israel, Paul says that there were two groups, “the elect” and “the rest.” Now, what did Paul say was to happen to “the rest”?
11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
Notice carefully in Romans 1-15:
The election (elect, elected ones) obtained God’s blessings (vs. 7)
The rest were blinded, hardened (vs. 7)
God gave them a spirit of stupor (vs. 8)
David said let their eyes be darkened (vs. 10)
Paul said they fell (vs. 11-12)
But would you believe -- that Paul was hoping that the entrance of the Gentiles into the kingdom would cause the “rest” to have a change of heart, and that he “might save some of them” (vs. 11-14).
According to the theories of men, Paul would be wasting his time -- this would be an impossibility! According to the theories, “the number of the elect is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or decreased.” Paul definitely never went to the Calvinistic schools of theology!
Paul certainly did not entertain the idea of the fixity of the number of the elect. Paul was thankful to God for the salvation of “the elect,” but he was still working feverously on “the rest” to try to get them to have a change of attitude and to bring them into the fold. It was up to them.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Now, what about the elect among the Gentiles that Paul says had obtained God’s blessing of salvation? Could they have a change of heart and be lost? Paul warns that it is a possibility through carelessness and high-mindedness.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Thus, the Bible teaches that the doctrine of the fixity of the number of the elect is not of God but is of men. The doctrine of “Once saved, always saved” is shown to be false by Paul’s argumentation. Those not elected can become elected through belief, and those elected can become unelected (loose their election, be impeached) through unbelief.
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
2 Peter 1:10-11
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.