Have you ever been chosen for something? Maybe you can think of the time when your husband asked you to be his wife and chose you. Possibly you were chosen for a job you didn’t think you had a chance at or for a fraternity or sports team. The doctrine of election is the act of God choosing you to be part of his family, not because of any good within you, but simply because he wanted to.
There are numerous places in the Bible that speak to this (Acts 13.48, Romans 8.28, John 15.16, Romans 9, Ephesians 1.4-6, John 6.44, Ephesians 2.8-9, John 10.26), but there are many out there, including myself for most of my life, that feel uncomfortable with this doctrine. What this actually ultimately stems from is pride. We want to think that in some way we earned at least a little part of our salvation, even if that little part is our choosing of him. But this is just not the case.
The theological view that is opposed to what is called election is known as arminianism, which was founded by Jacob Arminius. Those that hold this view would say that God looks forward into our lives to see who would profess him as God and make a decision to become a Christian. God would in turn choose or elect those individuals who choose him for salvation. The problem with this view is that it makes the ultimate decision as to whether or not we are saved on our shoulders, and according to the verses above this just is not the case.
There are however some verses that do say that we choose him. The most famous verse is John 3.16, which states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 1.12 also says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”.
So which one is it? The answer is both. We are choosing what we most want. God does predestine us and elect us before the world was created, but as my friend pastor Harvey Turner would say, “he also chooses our chooser” so that we voluntarily decide to choose what we most want to do. This is not some type of robot manipulation, but a loving God choosing to save some as his kids. Below I have a link to an article that pastor John Piper wrote that has the best explanation I have come across.
By far, the doctrine that I have had to wrestle with the most that is just there in the Scriptures is the doctrine of reprobation. Dr. Wayne Grudem defines this as, “The sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice.” Some verses that support this doctrine are, 1 Peter 2.8, Romans 9.17-22 and Jude 4. When those in the Bible asked why is was, the apostle Paul’s reply was,
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
If you are like me and scream that this isn’t fair, you have to consider what fairness really is. If God were to be fair than he would save absolutely no one and we would all be damned. There are many things that we do not understand here on this earth, but ultimately we have to trust that God is good, and as Ezekiel 33.11 says, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”
So this week, if you are a Christian, thank God that he did decide to choose you apart from any thing that you could do. And if you are wrestling with whether or not you are one of those that he has chosen, then believe in Jesus and tell him sorry for your sins. If you have done that, and truly believe, than you are elect and you can believe God when he says, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
Here is also the best explanation of the doctrine of election by Dr. John Piper:
Are Thre Two Wills of God?
Here is a great video about the difficult doctrine of reprobation, or double election, followed by a short video about predestination.