Can mankind really choose to be saved (i.e., accept Jesus as personal Savior) in and of his/her own independent choice apart from God’s intervention? Or, can man choose any number of other things in and of himself/herself?
Let’s allow God’s Word to answer these questions for us!
Foreknowledge and Foreknow (Gk. “prognosis” and “proginosko”).
- On page 693 of The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, by Dr. Colin Brown, it states that “foreknow” in Romans 8:29 and 11:2 means “to choose beforehand”.
- On pages 1025 and 1026 of The New Bible Dictionary by Dr. J.D. Douglas, it states that “foreknowledge” is equated with fore-ordination (Acts 2:23), and that those people elected by God for salvation can only respond to the gospel because of the saving grace God gives them from eternity past, which is based on God’s choice alone and nothing to do with man or anything about the man.
- On page 35 of Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 3, “Vocabulary”, Dr. Kenneth Wuest states that “foreknowledge”, when used of God, signifies more than merely the fact of knowing something beforehand, but of determining the destiny of someone (Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29; 11:2; 1 Pet. 1:2).
- On page 345 of The New Analytical Greek Lexicon by Dr. W.J. Perschbacher, it states that “foreknowledge” in Rom. 8:29 and 11:2 means “to appoint as the subjects of future privileges.”
- On page 538 of Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, it states that “foreknowledge” means “prearrangement”.
- On page 183 of the Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Dr. F. Wilbur Gingrich, it states that “foreknowledge” means to “choose beforehand” (Rom. 8:29; 11:2).
- On page 342 of The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised by H.K. Moulton, it states that “foreknowledge” in Rom. 8:29 and 11:2 means “to appoint as the subjects of future privileges.”
Rom. 8:29 What did God do to those He foreknew (i.e., knew from eternity with distinguishing affection and delight as the objects of His choice for a family relationship; adopted)?
Have you been foreknown by God? How do you know?
Rom. 11:2 What has God done to His people (i.e., Israel as a whole) whom He foreknew (peculiarly loved, chose beforehand or adopted, and thus distinguished from all other nations, Rom. 11:25-26)?
How does knowing this about God make you feel about God, and why?
Foreknowledge (Gk. “progno”).
Acts 2:22-23 What was done by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (from eternity past God arranged all to happen in His counsel)?
Could Judas really have done anything other than betray Jesus (Acts 1:16 with Psa. 41:9; Jn. 13:2, 10, 18, 21, 27; 17:12; Lk. 22:21-22)?
1 Pet. 1:1-2 What happened according to the foreknowledge (eternal will and prearrangement) of God the Father?
Are you chosen by God (for salvation)? On what basis?
How do you know (clue in Eph. 2:8-9)?
Foreordain (Gk. “progin”).
1 Pet. 1:19-21 Who was foreknown (chosen beforehand/predetermined to have a place as Messiah in the eternal counsel of God) before the foundation of the world?
Do you think mankind’s fall into sin took God by surprise? Why?
Predestinate (Gk. “proorizo”).
“Comes from the Greek words “horizo” meaning “to divide or separate from, as a border or boundary, to mark out boundaries, to mark out, to determine, appoint”; and “pro” meaning “before”. Thus, the compound word means “to determine or appoint beforehand, to divide or separate from a border or boundary beforehand.”
“The genius (distinctive characteristic) of the word is that of placing limitations upon someone or something beforehand, these limitations bringing that person or thing within the sphere of a certain future or destiny. Thus the “predestined” ones have limitations put around them which bring them within the sphere of becoming God’s children by adoption (Eph. 1:5), and of being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus (Rom. 8:29)” – Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 3, “Vocabulary”, p. 34.
“Proorizo” which the New Testament uses only with God as subject, expresses the thought of appointing a situation for a person, or a person for a situation, in advance.
“The Old Testament lacks words for expressing the idea of predestination in an abstract or generalized form, but it often speaks of God purposing, ordaining, or determining particular things, in contexts which call attention to the absolute priority and independence of His purposing in relation to the existence or occurrence of the thing purposed (Psa. 139:16; Isa. 14:24-27; 19:17; 46:9-11; Jer. 49:20; Dan. 4:24f).”
“As God’s power is unlimited, so His purposes are certain of fulfillment (Psa. 33:10f; Isa. 14:27; 43:13; Job 9:12; 23:13-16; Dan. 4:35).”
“He is Lord of every situation, ordering and directing everything towards the end for which He made it (Prov. 16:4), and determining every event, great or small, from the thoughts of kings (Prov. 21:1) and the premeditated words and deeds of men (Prov. 16:1, 9) to the seemingly random fall of a lot (Prov. 16:33).”
“God planned present and future happenings long ago, from the beginning (Isa. 22:11; 37:26; 44:6-8; 46:10f), and that, just because it is He, and no one else, who orders all events (Isa. 44:7), nothing can prevent the occurrence of the events that He has predicted (Isa. 14:24-27; 44:24 – 45:25; 1 Kings 22:17-31; Psa. 33:10f; Prov. 19:21; 21:30).”
“Sometimes God is pictured as reacting to developing situations in a way that might seem to imply that He had not anticipated them (i.e., when He repents and reverses the prior action, Gen. 6:6; Jer. 18:8, 10; 26:3, 13; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). But in their biblical context, it is clear that the purpose and point of these anthropomorphisms is simply to emphasize that Israel’s God is really personal, and not to throw doubt on whether He really foreordains and controls human affairs.
That God governs human history to bring about His own predestined purpose is made clear as early as Gen. 3:15 with the prediction of Christ’s death and Satan’s defeat at the cross, and the promise to Abraham in Gen. 12:3. The theme develops through the wilderness promises of prosperity and protection in Canaan (Deut. 28:1-14) and the prophetic pictures of the Messianic glory which would succeed God’s work of judgment (Isa. 9:1ff; 11:1ff; Jer. 23:5ff; Ezek. 34:20ff; 37:21ff; Hosea 3:4f), and it reaches its climax in Daniel’s vision of God over-ruling the rise and fall of pagan world-empires in order to set up the rule of the Son of Man – Christ (Dan. 7, 8; 2:31-45).
God chose Israel to be His covenant people as the object and instrument of His saving work. This choice was unmerited (Deut. 7:6f; Ezek. 16:1ff) and wholly gracious. It was for the time exclusive. The selection of Israel meant the deliberate passing-by of the rest of the nations (Deut. 7:6; Psa. 147:19f; Amos 3:2; Rom. 9:4; Eph. 2:11f).”
The New Testament writers take for granted the Old Testament belief that God is the sovereign Lord of events, and rules history for the fulfilling of His purposes. Their uniform insistence that Christ’s ministry and the Christian dispensation represented the fulfillment of biblical prophecies, given centuries before(Matt. 1:22; 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17ff; Jn. 7:38ff; 19:24, 28, 36; Acts 2:17ff; 3:22ff; 4:25ff, 8:30ff; 10:43; 13:27ff; 15:15ff; Gal. 3:8; Heb. 5:6; 8:8ff; 1 Pet. 1:10ff; etc.), and that God’s ultimate aim in inspiring the Hebrew Scriptures was to instruct Christian believers (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15ff), is proof enough of this. (Both convictions, be it noted, derive from our Lord Himself; cf. Lk. 18:31ff; 24:24ff; 44ff; Jn. 5:39).”
The New Bible Dictionary, p. 1025.
Predestinate; Determine (Gk. “proorizo”).
Rom. 8:29-30 What did God predestine (determine or appoint beforehand) to those whom He foreknew?
If this is the case, and it is, then is it possible for someone who is foreknown and predestined to become anything other than conformed to Christ’s image?
Why (Dan. 4:35; Isa. 14:27)?
Eph. 1:4-5 In love, what did God predestine these Ephesians to?
According to what?
Is this the basis you thought that God predestined people (determined in advance who would be saved), and why?
Eph. 1:11, 14 What had these Ephesians obtained, having been predestined?
And what were they predestined according to?
Does this sound like the Ephesians had anything to do with their being predestined to adoption as sons and obtaining salvation and heaven, and why (Eph. 1:4, 11)?
Acts 4:27-28 Who was gathered against Jesus to do whatever God’s hand and God’s purpose predestined (determined beforehand) to occur?
If these people did whatever God had predestined or determined for them to do ahead of time, then was there any choice in the matter as to what they could have done other than what they did?
Any free will in their choice?
1 Cor. 2:2, 7-8 When was God’s hidden wisdom (Jesus’ Messiahship) predestined?
For what purpose was this predestined?
Will you receive this glory? How do you know?
Acts 13:48 Who believed (in Jesus Christ as their Savior)?
“The word “call” is used in Scripture with the following significations: (1) In the sense of “to name,” “to designate” (Gen. 16:11; Deut. 25:10), and in the sense of “to be, ” e.g., “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor” (Isa. 9:6); i.e., He will be wonderful and so acknowledged. (2) In the designation of individuals to some special office or work, as the call of Bezalel (Ex. 31:2), of judges, prophets, apostles, etc. (Isa. 22:20; Acts 13:2); of nations to certain functions, privileges, or punishments (Lam. 2:22; Isa. 5:26); particularly of Israel (Deut. 7:6-8; Isa. 41:9; 42:6; Hosea 11:1). (3) A condition of life, “Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called” (1 Cor. 7:20). (4) Call to salvation. “To call” signifies to invite to the blessings of the Gospel, to offer salvation through Christ. There is likewise a calling by the Spirit which is not resisted and clearly described as an efficacious (effective in producing the desired result) calling. The efficacious calling of God is tantamount/equivalent to His sovereign (independent of all others) choice. There are now two elect companies in the world – Israel and the Church. Both alike appear in Scripture as called by God. Israel’s calling is national, while the calling of those who comprise the Church is individual. It is wholly within the bounds of the efficacious calling that believers are termed the called ones. The efficacious call is the work of God in behalf of each elect person under grace. They are referred to as “those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). The Apostle goes on to declare that “whom He foreknew, He also predestined … and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29, 30). Calling, then, is that choice on the part of God of an individual through an efficacious(effective in producing the desired result) working in his mind and heart by the Holy Spirit so that the will of the one who is called operates by its own (God-influenced) determination in the exercise of saving faith. In this way two great necessities are provided; namely, only those are called whom God has predestined to be justified and glorified and those who are thus called, choose from their own (God-influenced) hearts and minds to accept Christ as Savior – Unger’s Bible Dictionary, pp. 167, 168.
(a) Paul uses the words kaleo (29 times), klesis (8 times) and kletos (7 times) almost always with the sense of divine calling. Paul understands calling as the process by which God calls those, whom he has already elected and appointed, out of their bondage to this world, so that He may justify and sanctify them (Rom. 8:29f), and bring them into His service. This means that the call is part of God’s work of reconciliation and peace (1 Cor. 7:15). It reaches a man only through the love of Christ directed towards him and seeking him (Gal. 1:6, 15). When Paul says that God’s decision is not dependent on man’s works but solely on Him who calls (Rom. 9:11), he is stressing the unfettered (free from restraint) choice of God, which is not influenced by human preconditions. It alone brings men to faith and is able to preserve them in it. Paul’s language stresses this divine initiative in its participial constructions(cf. 1 Thes. 2:12 kalountos, “who calls”; Gal. 1:6 kalesantos, “who called”; cf. also 1 Pet. 1:15 ton kalesanta, “who called”). In addition, Rom. 4:17 shows that God’s call means a new existence, equivalent to a new creation.
(b) Paul addresses church members as kletoi, called ones (Rom. 1:6f; 8:28; and 1 Cor. 1:2, 24). In Rom. 1:7 and 1 Cor. 1:2 he addresses the kletoi hagioi, those called as saints. He desires to stress that both the existence of the church and individual membership in it are based solely on the will and work of God.
Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1, pp. 275, 276.
(Gk. “kaleo”) – to call anyone, invite, summon (i.e., Matt. 20:8; 25:14). It is used particularly of the Divine call to partake of the blessings of redemption.
Rom. 8:30 Whom has God called (effectually called; summoned to partake of salvation)?
On what basis were you called (to become a born-again Christian), if in fact you have been called?
Why that basis?
Rom. 9:23-24 What is said about those whom God has called (effectually called to salvation; chosen; selected) from among both Jew and Gentile?
How does knowing this make you feel? Why?
Rom. 9:10-12 Not because of man’s works but because of God who calls (chooses), what was said to Rebekah?
How else is this same line of reasoning stated as to why the older will serve the younger in Rom. 9:11?
Does this sound like man has a free will?
1 Cor. 1:9 Through whom were these Corinthians called into fellowship with His Son?
Through whom or what were you called (summoned to partake of redemption) into fellowship with Christ?
How do you know?
1 Thes. 2:10-12 Into what did God call these Thessalonians?
Into what have you been called?
How does knowing this make you feel about God?
Heb. 9:14-15 What will these who have been called receive?
Are you planning on receiving this? Why?
A calling (Gk. “klesis”) – It is always used in the New Testament of that “kaleo” calling, the origin, nature, and destiny of which are heavenly (the idea of invitation being implied); it is used especially of God’s invitation/summons to man to accept the benefits of salvation.
Rom. 11:28-29 What does this passage teach about the gifts and calling of God?
Does this sound like you have a choice as to whether God calls you or not?
And if He does call you, whether you can change His mind?
Are you glad He’s planned it this way?
1 Cor. 1:26 God didn’t call (summon to salvation) too many of what kind or category of Corinthian people?
[“wise” – worldly wise] [“mighty” – having power and authority] [“noble” – high rank in society]
What category person are you? And have you been called by God?
Eph. 1:18 What does Paul pray for these Ephesians regarding their calling?
Do you (fully, really) know what the hope of God’s calling is for you, if you’ve been called, that is?
If so, what?
2 Thes. 1:11 What does Paul pray that God may count on regarding these Thessalonian Christians?
Will God be able to count you worthy of His calling you?
How do you know?
2 Pet. 1:5-10 What are these Christians (and us, for that matter) to be all the more diligent about?
How would they be able to do this?
Are you certain about God’s calling of you? How do you know?
2 Tim. 1:8-9 How had and how hadn’t God called these (Christians) people to salvation?
On what basis do you think you were called?
Called; Invited (Gk. “kletos”) – Used of an effectual (effective in producing the desired result) call, in the following passages:
Rom. 1:4-7 Among whom were these Roman Christians also the called (effectually called, which is the work of the Spirit of God in efficacious grace whereby saving faith toward Christ is created in the individual) of Jesus Christ?
How does Paul describe these in Rome, who are called (so influenced by God as to become saints, Christians; it expressed their vocation) as saints?
Are you beloved by God and called as a saint? How do you know?
Rom. 8:28 What does it say about those who love God and are called (effectually called; their salvation is traced entirely to God) according to God’s purpose?
How does knowing this affect you, and why?
1 Cor. 1:2 What is Christ to the called, of both Jew and Gentile?
1 Cor. 1:23-24 What is Christ to the called, of both Jew and Gentile?
What is Christ to you?
Jude 1:1 What does it say about those who are the called?
From this passage as well as Rom. 1:6-7 and 1 Cor. 1:2, who are “the called” always referring to?
So, if someone is called, what does that mean will happen to him or her?
– Used of an appointment to apostleship (Rom. 1:1).
Election (Gk. “eklego”).
It expresses that a part has been claimed from a greater quantity, by an independent act of decision for a particular purpose, and that the remainder has been passed over.
It denotes a picking out, selection, that which is chosen.
Divine election refers to the act of God in which He chooses out certain from among mankind for salvation. The main import is that of appointment (for a certain object or goal – Jn. 15:16, 19; Eph. 1:4).
Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 1, “Ephesians”, pp. 29, 30.
A new development, however, is that the idea of election, now applied, not to national Israel, but to Christian believers, is consistently individualized (cf. Psa. 65:4) and given a pre-temporal (before the world) reference. The Old Testament assimilates/compares election to God’s historical “calling” (cf. Neh. 9:7), but the New Testament distinguishes the two things (pre-creation and a point in history) sharply, by representing election as God’s act of predestinating sinners to salvation in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4; cf. Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 1:9); an act correlative (mutually related) to His foreknowing Christ before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20). The uniform New Testament conception is that all saving grace given to men in time (knowledge of the gospel, understanding of it and power to respond to it, preservation, and final glory) flows from divine election in eternity.
Luke’s language in the narrative of Acts bears striking witness to his belief, not merely that Christ was foreordained to die, rise, and reign (Acts 2:23, 30f; 3:20; 4:27f), but that salvation is the fruit of prevenient (preceding human action) grace – Acts 2:47; 11:18, 21-23; 14:27; 15:7ff; 16:14; 18:27 – given in accordance with divine foreordination (Acts 13:48; 18:10).
In John’s Gospel, Christ says that He has been sent to save a number of particular individuals whom His Father has “given” Him (Jn. 6:37ff; 17:2, 6, 9, 24; 18:9). These are His “sheep”, His “own” (Jn. 10:14, 26ff; 13:1). It was for them specifically that He prayed (Jn. 17:20). He undertakes to “draw” them to Himself by His Spirit (Jn. 12:32; cf. 6:44; 10:16, 27; 16:8ff); to give them eternal life, in fellowship with Himself and the Father (Jn. 10:28; cf. 5:21; 6:40; 17:2; Matt. 11:27); to keep them, losing none (Jn. 6:39; 10:28f; cf. 17:11, 15; 18:9); to bring them to His glory (Jn. 14:2f; cf. Jn. 12:24), and to raise their bodies at the last day (Jn. 6:39f; cf. Jn. 5:28f). The principle that those who enjoy salvation do so by reason of divine predestination is here made explicit.
The fullest elucidation/explanation of this principle is found in the writings of Paul. From all eternity, Paul declares, God has had a purpose/plan (Gk. “prothesis”) to save a Church, though in earlier times it was not fully made known (Eph. 3:3-11). The aim of the purpose/plan is that men should be made God’s adopted sons and be renewed in the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), and that the Church, the company of those so renewed, should grow to the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Believers may rejoice in the certainty that as part of His plan God predestinated them personally to share in this destiny (Rom. 8:28ff; Eph. 1:3ff; 2 Thes. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; cf. 1 Pet. 1:1f). The choice was wholly of grace (2 Tim. 1:9), having no regard to desert/merit – being made, indeed, in defiance of foreseen ill-desert/unmerit (cf. Jn. 15:19; Eph. 2:1ff). Because God is sovereign, His predestinating choice guarantees salvation. From it flows an effectual “calling” which elicits/draws the response of faith which it commands (Rom. 8:28ff; cf. 9:23f; 1 Cor. 1:26ff; Eph. 1:13; 2 Thes. 2:14); justification (Rom. 8:30); sanctification (1 Thes. 2:13); and glorification (Rom. 8:30, where the past tense implies certainty of accomplishment; 2 Thes. 2:14). Paul gives this teaching to Christians, persons who were themselves “called” in order to assure them of their present security and final salvation, and to make them realize the extent of their debt to God’s mercy. The “elect” to whom, and of whom, he speaks in each Epistle are himself and/or the believers to whom he addresses it (“you”, “us”).
It has been argued that God’s foreknowledge (choosing beforehand) is not foreordination (predetermination), and that personal election in the New Testament is grounded upon God’s foresight that the persons chosen will respond to the gospel of themselves. The difficulties in this view seem to be: (1) this asserts, in effect, election according to works and desert/merit; whereas, Scripture asserts election to be of grace (Rom. 9:11; 2 Tim. 1:9), and grace excludes all regard to what a man does for himself (Rom. 4:4; 11:6; Eph. 2:8f; Titus 3:5); (2) if election is unto faith (2 Thes. 2:13) and good works (Eph. 2:10), it cannot rest upon foresight of these things; (3) on this view, Paul ought to be pointing, not to God’s election, but to the Christian’s own faith, as the ground of his assurance of final salvation; (4) Scripture does appear to equate foreknowledge with foreordination (cf. Acts 2:23).
ELECTION AND REPROBATION
“Reprobate” appears first in Jer. 6:30 (cf. Isa. 1:22), in a metaphor taken from metal refining. The thought is of something that, by reason of its corrupt condition, does not pass God’s test, and which He therefore rejects. The metaphor reappears in the New Testament. It is used of the Gentile world (Rom. 1:28) and of professing Christians (1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor. 13:5f; cf. 2 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:16). Christian theology since (A.D. 400) Augustine has, however, spoken of reprobation, not as God’s rejection of particular sinners in history, but as that which (it is held) lies behind it – God’s resolve/decision, free from all eternity, to pass them by, and not to give them His saving grace (cf. 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 1:4). It has thus become common to define predestination as consisting of election and reprobation together.
The New Bible Dictionary, p. 1025.
The act of choice whereby God picks an individual or group out of a larger company for a purpose or destiny of His own appointment.
THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The complete theological development of the idea of election is found in Paul’s Epistles (see especially Rom. 8:28 – 11:36; Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Thes. 1:2-10; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). Paul presents divine election as God’s gracious, sovereign, eternal choice of individual sinners to be saved and glorified in and through Christ.
A. Election is a gracious choice. “The election of grace” (Rom. 11:5; cf. 2 Tim. 1:9) is an act of undeserved favor freely shown towards members of a fallen race to which God owed nothing but wrath (Rom. 1:18ff). And not only does God choose sinners to save (cf. Rom. 4:5; 5:6-8; Eph. 2:1-9), but He chooses to save them in a way which exalts His grace by magnifying their sinfulness. He shuts up His elect, both Jew and Gentile, in a state of disobedience and unbelief, so that they display their true character as sinners, and stand out in history confessed as unbelievers, before He shows them His mercy [Rom. 11:30-32: the Gentiles, Rom. 9:30; 10:20; the Jews, Rom. 10:19, 21; 11:11, 25f (the word “so”/“thus” in verse 26 means “through the, full number of the, coming in of the Gentiles”, for salvation, vs. 25)]. Thus, the outworking of election further exhibits the gratuitousness/freeness of grace.
B. Election is a sovereign choice, prompted by God’s own good pleasure alone (Eph. 1:5, 9), and not by any works of man, either accomplished or foreseen (Rom. 9:11), or any human efforts to win God’s favor (Rom. 9:15-18). Such efforts would in any case be vain, for however high sinners aspire and however fast they run, they still in reality only sin (Rom. 8:7f). God in sovereign (full control and uninfluenced) freedom treats some sinners as they deserve, hardening (Rom. 9:18; 11:7-10, cf. 1:28; 1 Thes. 2:15f) and destroying them (Rom. 9:21f); but He selects others to be “vessels of mercy” receiving “the riches of His glory” (Rom. 9:23). This discrimination or differentiation involves no injustice, for the Creator owes mercy to none, and has a right to do as He pleases with His rebellious creatures (Rom. 9:14-21). The wonder is not that He withholds mercy from some, but that He should be gracious to any. God’s purpose of sovereign discrimination between sinner and sinner appeared as early as His limitation of the Abrahamic promise to Isaac’s line and His setting of Jacob over Esau (Rom. 9:7-13). It was true from the first that “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6), and that those Israelites who actually enjoyed the salvation promised to the chosen people were only “a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5; 9:27-29). And it remains true, according to Paul, that it is God’s sovereign election alone that explains why when the gospel is preached, some do in fact respond to it. The unbelief of the rest requires no special explanation, for no sinner, left to himself, can believe (1 Cor. 2:14); but the phenomenon of faith needs explaining. Paul’s explanation is that God by His Spirit causes the elect to believe, so that when men come to a true and active faith in Christ it proves their election to be a reality (1 Pet. 1:3; 1 Thes. 1:4ff; Tit. 1:1; cf. Acts 13:48).
C. Election is an eternal choice. God chose us, says Paul, “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thes. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9). This choice was an act of predestination (Eph. 1:5, 11), a part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 1:9), an exercise of loving foreknowledge whereby God determined to save those whom He foreknew (Rom. 8:29f; cf. 1 Pet. 1:2). Whereas the Old Testament, dealing with the national election to privilege, equated God’s choosing with His calling, Paul, dealing with personal election to salvation, distinguishes the choice from the call, and speaks of God’s calling (by which he means, a summons to faith which effectively evokes a response) as a stage in the temporal execution of an eternal purpose of love (Rom. 8:30; 9:23f; 2 Thes. 2:13f; 2 Tim. 1:9). Paul stresses that election is eternal in order to assure his readers that it is immutable/unchangeable, and nothing that happens in time can shake God’s resolve to save them.
D. Election is God’s choice of individual sinners to be saved in and through Christ. Election is “in Christ” (see Eph. 1:4), the incarnate Son, whose historical appearing and mediation were themselves included in God’s eternal plan (1 Pet. 1:20; Acts 2:23). Election in Christ means, first, that the goal of election is that God’s chosen should bear Christ’s image and share His glory (Rom. 8:29, cf. verse 17; 2 Thes. 2:14). They are chosen for holiness (which means Christ-likeness in all their conduct) in this life (Eph. 1:4), and glorification (which means Christ-likeness in all their being, cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21) in the life to come. Election in Christ means, second, that the elect are to be redeemed by Christ from the guilt and stain of sin, through His atoning death and the gift of His Spirit (Eph. 5:25-27; 2 Thes. 2:13; cf. 1 Pet. 2:2). As He Himself said, the Father has given Him a certain number of persons to save, and He has undertaken to do everything necessary to bring them all to eternal glory (Jn. 6:37-45; 10:14-16, 27-30; 17:2, 6, 9ff, 24). Election in Christ means, third, that the means whereby the blessings of election are brought to the elect is in union with Christ – His union with them representatively, as the last Adam, and vitally, as the life-giver, indwelling them by His Spirit, and their union with Him by faith.
SIGNIFICANCE OF ELECTION FOR THE BELIEVER
Paul finds in the believer’s knowledge of his election a threefold religious significance.
A. It shows him that his salvation, from beginning to end, is all of God, a fruit of sovereign discriminating/selective mercy. The redemption which he finds in Christ alone and receives by faith alone has its source, not in any personal qualification, but in grace/undeserved favor alone – the grace of election. Every spiritual blessing flows to him from God’s electing decree (Eph. 1:3ff). The knowledge of his election, therefore, should teach him to glory/boast in God, and God only (1 Cor. 1:31), and to give Him the praise that is His due (Rom. 11:36). The ultimate end of election is that God should be praised (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14), and the thought of election should drive ransomed sinners to incessant doxologies/praises and thanksgivings, as it does Paul (Rom. 11:33ff; Eph. 1:3ff; 1 Thes. 1:3ff; 2 Thes. 2:13ff). What God has revealed about election is to Paul a theme, not for argument, but for worship.
B. It assures the believer of his eternal security, and removes all grounds for fear and despondency. If he is in grace now, he is in grace/undeserved favor forever. Nothing can affect his justified/declared righteous status (Rom. 8:33f); nothing can cut him off from God’s love in Christ (Rom. 8:35-39). He will never be safer than he is, for he is already as safe as he can be. This is precious knowledge; hence the desirability of making sure that one’s election is a fact (cf. 2 Pet. 1:10).
C. It spurs the believer to ethical endeavor. So far from sanctioning license/sin (cf. Eph. 5:5f) or presumption/pride (cf. Rom. 11:19-22), the knowledge of one’s election and the benefits that flow from it is the supreme incentive to humble, joyful, thankful love, the mainspring of sanctifying/holy gratitude(Col. 3:12-17).
The New Bible Dictionary, pp. 357-361.
ELECT AND ELECTION
Chosen, Choice (Heb. “bachir”) – Isa. 42:1; 45:4; 65:9, 22.
Laid out, Chosen, Choice (Gk. “eklektos”).
Matt. 24:22 What will happen during the tribulation of the end time (the seven years before Christ’s Second Coming, Dan. 9:27, especially the last 42 months, Rev. 11:2; 12:6; 13:5) for the sake of the elect (those chosen by God to be saved, given eternal life, before they were ever born, and caused by the Holy Spirit to believe in Christ for salvation – Acts 13:48; 2 Thes. 2:13; Eph. 1:4-6; 2:8; Rom. 9:11, 16)?
How do you feel about God doing this for the elect? Why?
Matt. 24:23-24 What will happen so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect?
Do you have the discernment and knowledge of the Bible so as not be fooled?
If you’re not sure or your answer is no, what could you do so as to be able to say yes?
Matt. 24:29-31 What will God send forth His angels to do after the tribulation?
What do you visualize as you dwell on what this may look like?
Rom. 8:31-34 Why is the question of, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect” seen as having no account or merit?
If you are one of God’s elect, how does knowing this make you feel, and why?
Chosen (Gk. “eklegomai”).
Comes from the Greek words “lego” meaning “to choose” and “ek” meaning “out from”. Thus, the compound word means “to pick, single out, or to choose out.” The genius (distinguishing characteristic) of the word has in it the idea of not merely choosing, but that of choosing out from a number.
The adjective “eklektos” comes from “eklegomai” and is translated by the words “chosen” and “elect”. The elect are the chosen-out ones.
Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 3, “Vocabulary”, p. 34.
Chosen (Heb. from “bachur”; Gk. “eklektos”) means –
Singled out from others for some special service or station. “Warriors”, Ex. 15:4; Judges 20:16; “Israelites”, a chosen people, God having set them apart to receive His word and maintain His worship, Psa. 105:43; Deut. 7:6-7; “Christ”, Isa. 42:1, to be the Savior of mankind; “the apostles”, to be witnesses of the resurrection, Acts 10:41.
Accepted (Matt. 20:16; 22:14) – Unger’s Bible Dictionary.
Choose (Gk. “haireo”) – taking for oneself (2 Thes. 2:13); (Gk. “hairetizo”) – chosen by reason of suitability (Matt. 12:18).
(Gk. “eklektos” – verb).
Matt. 22:14 Though many are called (invited to salvation upon hearing the gospel message, but who don’t respond), how many are chosen (picked from eternity to inherit life everlasting or salvation not based on human accomplishment or free choice, but on God’s sovereign grace and selection – Eph. 1:4; John 6:39, 44, 65; Rom. 9:11, 16)?
Are you among these few?
How do you know?
Col. 3:12 How are these Christians at Colossae described?
How does God think of you?
2 Tim. 2:10 For whom does Paul endure all things (suffering hardship)?
For whom are you willing to endure hardship, and why?
Titus 1:1 For what was Paul a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ?
For what are you a bond-servant? And why?
1 Pet. 1:1-2 What happened according to the foreknowledge (the eternal will and choice) of God the Father?
According to what and by what were you chosen?
How do you know?
1 Pet. 2:9 For what were these Christians chosen?
Are you doing this? Why?
(Gk. “eklektos” – adjective) – meaning eminent (Rom. 16:13).
– meaning selected to persevere and remain standing; not fall to sin – Jude 1:6 (1 Tim. 5:21).
(Gk. “eklege” – noun) – choice, selection.
Acts 9:15 For what was Paul a chosen (selected for special service) instrument of Jesus?
Are you a chosen instrument of God? If so, in what way or for what?
Rom. 9:11-12 When and what was said to Rebekah, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand?
Have you come to the conclusion that God desires to be recognized for what happens in this world as being a result of His choice rather than ours?
Rom. 11:5 What had come to be at their present time (at the time Paul wrote this letter), according to God’s gracious choice?
Do you view God’s choice as being gracious or as being unfair? Why?
Rom. 11:6-8 Who obtained salvation?
What does it say about Israel?
Does this sound like those who weren’t chosen had any chance or choice of their own to obtain salvation?
Rom. 11:25-30 What has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles (the full number of non-Jews that God wants saved, Acts 15:14-17) has come in?
From the standpoint of God’s choice, how does He view Israel, and why?
Does this sound like we or they can change what God has planned or decided from the past ages?
Why (Dan. 4:35; Job 42:2; Isa. 14:27; 46:10-11)?
1 Thes. 1:2-4 What do Paul, Silvanus and Timothy know about these Thessalonians and so give thanks?
Do you give thanks for those whom God has chosen for salvation, and why?
2 Pet. 1:5-10 Why were they to make certain about God’s calling (being invited to participate in salvation) and choosing (picking certain ones out for salvation) them?
Are you making certain of this for your life? What have you decided?
What motivates and determines God’s actions in this world? After each passage below, list what motivates and/or determines God’s actions in this world, and among them the fortunes and destiny which He brings upon peoples.
Acts 2:23 –
Acts 4:27-28 –
Eph. 1:5, 9, 11 –
Heb. 6:17-18 –
Rom. 9:11, 18-23 –
Heb. 2:4 –
James 1:18 –
Col. 1:25-27 –
Matt. 11:25-26 –
Luke 12:32 –
Gal. 1:15-16 –
Col. 1:19 –
Prov. 16:4 –
Isa. 46:10 –