Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

The Blessing of Election

Written by Rev. G. Procee
The doctrine of God's free and sovereign election has been misunderstood by many. Some are afraid of the decree of God's election. In reality, however, election is a most blessed and comforting doctrine. The Canons of Dordt describe election as follows:

"Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, Whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the Foundation of Salvation" (Chapter 1, Article 7).

The Source of Election
The source of this gracious election is not the actions or qualities of man, but the good pleasure of God. The cause of one's salvation lies in God alone, while the cause of sin and unbelief lies in man alone.

It is noteworthy to realize that the Lord Jesus did not earn the election of sinners. The Lord Jesus earned forgiveness, salvation and a full redemption for sinners. But the election of sinners took place in eternity. Before the foundation of the world, God was moved by love to choose a certain people from the whole human race. Because of this decree of election the Son of God came down to earth to merit salvation for these elect people. Because of the decree of election God the Holy Spirit came down to apply this salvation to the hearts of the elect.

The Lord Jesus did not earn election. Election is God's sovereign, one-sided love to choose a certain people to life everlasting.

Election is a Most Comforting Doctrine
Many people view election as a fatalistic destiny that can never be escaped. Others simply deny that election is God's free and sovereign choice of sinners. They interpret election as the foreknowledge of God. They reason that God knows who will do their best to obtain salvation; they are the ones who are the elect. God chooses those who do their best.

All this is heresy. In reality, the doctrine of election is a most comforting and encouraging doctrine. God's children find comfort in their election in Christ. The cause of their salvation lies outside of themselves in the unchanging God. On the contrary, those who fear that they are not one of the elect have no reason to doubt at all. God offers life and salvation to all. He promises that life and salvation will be applied to the hearts of all who flee to the Lord Jesus Christ. A sinner who is in need of grace should never despair when he hears of God's election, but should plead the promises of God's Word. God comes to sinners with His rich promise of salvation. He promises life and forgiveness to all who come to Him.

He offers life and salvation freely to all; all are invited. When God offers to man the application and presentation of salvation, He never starts with election but He always begins with calling. Throughout God's Word sinners are called to come to Him. It starts in Genesis 3, where the Lord calls Adam and Eve, and ends in Revelation 22, where God again calls needy and thirsty people to come to Him. From God's side the beginning of His dealings with man is election and His sovereign good pleasure, but from man's side the Lord starts with His earnest and sincere call to salvation.

This Doctrine Requires Humility
We need much humility and carefulness when speaking of election. This doctrine has been called the inner sanctuary of God's revelation. At the outset of spiritual life God's election can be hidden in darkness and there can be a lack of clarity. But as spiritual life matures, more light is given and comfort is derived from the blessing of God's election. We should never try to reason about election but learn to rejoice in it and sing about it.

Distinctions between General and Special Election.
We read in Psalm 147:19-20, "He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation and as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD." Israel was an elect people. This was a general election. They were chosen by God to be His people and they were chosen to receive His revelation.

There is also a special election. Israel as a nation was chosen according to GodÕs general election to be God's people. But that does not mean that therefore every Israelite was a true child of God. Romans 9:6 tells us, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: There are two kinds of covenant people.

The same also holds for the nations that were given the light of God's Word after the outpouring of God's Spirit. They are called according to God's general election, but not every individual is chosen according to His special election.

Yet there is a great advantage and also a great responsibility to be the recipient of God's general election. In a general sense we are all elect. That should give us reason and cause to rejoice in the goodness of God towards us. What a blessing! God has chosen us to hear His Word. We should never despise GodÕs general election for it is the gateway to salvation. It gives a great responsibility.

The Elect are Given to Christ.
The elect have been given to Christ in eternity, according to John 6:39: "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." Yet they really and actually became Christ's possession in the way of His passion, suffering and dying on the cross and by the applicatory work of the Holy Spirit. The way of the cross is the way by which election is realized. The Lord did not only choose His people, but He also ordained the means and the ways to actually bring them to salvation.

The Way in which Election is Personally Manifested.
The way in which God's election is personally manifested is through His WordÑby the preaching of Christ as Saviour of sinners. God preaches life to us. We are invited to call upon the Name of the Lord and therefore we have a great responsibility to go the way of the Lord. We are to use the means of grace He has given.

We may never reason that if God wants me to be saved, He will lay hold of me. We are to faithfully use the means of grace, knowing that God has promised to bless these means. We are never to use election as a barrier on the way of salvation. GodÕs way of salvation is displayed by the calling of sinners to come unto Him. He promises in John 6:37 that "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." The idea is not to first find out whether you have been given to the Son by the Father, but your duty is to come.

Therefore, the means of grace are not conditions that man must fulfil, but they are actually fruits of election. Faith, prayer, embracing the promises and studying God's Word are the results of God's election. These means of grace do not lead to election but to the assurance of election.

Man's Responsibility
Election and responsibility are closely linked. You never read that Esau was kept out of Jacob's tent. He lived under the offer of God's grace and lovingkindness. He was a covenant child, but Esau sold his birthright for a pot of stew. He married heathen women and was indifferent to the things of God.

Esau did not use the means of grace; he despised them. We see, therefore, that reprobation has everything to do with not using the means of grace. On the other hand we must also say that election is not earned or received by using the means of grace. It is all grace.

But what if you are not elect? That is a thought that can take hold of us. Then we reason: even if you pray your whole life, it will not help; you are either elect or you are not. Such people say, it is not fair of God to choose some and to cast others away. That doesnÕt give people an equal chance. Simply stated: if you are not elect, you are lost, no matter what you do!

Many people think this way. Yet it is a misrepresentation of the certain and blessed truth of election. The Canons of Dordt in Article I, 6 state that such people have Òperverse, impure and unstable minds [who] wrest the Word of God,Ó meaning that they change and misrepresent the Word of God Òto their own destruction.Ó The Scriptural teaching is that the doctrine of election gives to Òholy and pious souls unspeakable consolation.Ó

Election is not to be viewed as a fatalistic destiny to make us afraid and which bars the entrance to heaven. Election is a gateway to heaven. If God did not elect, no one would be saved. Election is not a narrowing of the way to salvation but a widening of the way. Call therefore upon His name, because He is the electing God and therefore you can be saved. "And it shall come to pass, whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).

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