Like Button

Thursday, September 27, 2012


In a discussion recently I was asked, "How can you know you're one of the elect?" A valid question worth exploring. The proof that you can't know was that even those who believe in election have a hard time with the question. Well, I'd prefer not to use contemporaries as the formation of my beliefs, so let's see what we can find in Scripture.

First, anyone who denies that the doctrine of election is a biblical doctrine is simply not reading their Bible.
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15:16).

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:4).

God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thess 2:13).
Lest you think that's all there is, just look up the explicit word (and concept) of "the elect" or "the chosen" or "chosen of God" and you will be inundated (e.g., Matt 22:14; 24:22, 24, 31; Luke 18:7; John 13:18; Rom 8:33; ll:5, 7; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 1:4; Titus 1:1; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9; Rev 17:14). My point is not that my view of election is correct and those who disagree are wrong. My point is that election -- God's choosing of the saved -- is biblical and unimpeachable. We can discuss how God chooses or when God chooses or why God chooses, but the fact that God chooses cannot be discarded. It was the story from the beginning. God chose Noah and God chose Abraham and God chose Israel and so on. God has made a career (so to speak) of choosing a few out of the masses, and denying it would eliminate a good portion of Scripture.

It is, therefore, a given that some are "elect", "chosen of God". How, when, why, these are in question perhaps, but not that they are. So the question remains, "How can you know you're one of the elect?" What has changed, however, is who is being asked. The original question implied was, "How can those of you who believe in election know you're one of the elect?" It has to be "How can anyone who is a Christian know that he or she is one of the elect?" By definition those who are in Christ are "the elect".

Lots of people, in fact, aren't sure. Lot's of people question their "election" or their salvation (because, in the final analysis, these two concepts turn out to be the same). Can we even know? I think that the Bible is clear that we can. Paul wrote, "We know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you" (1 Thess 1:4). While some (most?) of us may question our election, Paul believed he could know. How about us? Can we?

Well, Paul offers suggestions as to how he knew that the Christians in Thessalonica were chosen by God. He started with "remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 1:3). The elect, the chosen, those who are in Christ, have a definite response. There is work and labor and steadfastness. There is love and hope. Paul went on to say that he knew God chose them "because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1 Thess 1:5). Their response to the gospel wasn't academic. It was powerful. It was convicting. It had an impact on their lives.

This is the same sort of method that John uses in his first epistle. Read it sometime looking for the "if's" in the text. They are questions you can ask yourself. He specifies, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). And be aware that "these things" are not simply matters of faith. Geniune believers -- people made new in Christ -- have genuine responses. Changed hearts make changed lives.

Peter, too, believed that you could know if you were one of the elect. In 2 Peter 1 he lists a series of linked attributes (2 Peter 1:5-7) that believers ought to have and ought to add. He says, "If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:8), and if you lack them you're blind. He goes on to say, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall" (2 Peter 1:10).

Assurance is a comforting attribute of a believer. It doesn't come easy. If there is a Christian out there who has not questioned his or her salvation, I would be concerned. Being right with God is something of absolute importance to any genuine believer, and none of us have arrived at perfection. We are painfully aware of sin in our lives. But Scripture repeatedly tells us that we can know. We can know if we are chosen, one of the elect, saved. Whether you believe that God chooses based on Himself or that He chooses based on your right choices, all of us need to know that we can know if we are chosen, and that knowledge is a great comfort.

No comments: