Last Sunday, I preached a message on Titus 1:1-4 and discussed the doctrine of election. As I mentioned this doctrine, I knew that there wasn’t enough time to unpack it in a 40-45 minute sermon but I knew it was worth further discussing. Paul says, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth which affords with godliness (Titus 1:1).” Without preaching every point that I made, I’ll dive right into what “God’s elect” is and what is a brief explanation of this glorious doctrine.
God decided to choose us to be saved before the foundation of the world not because He saw something in us but for His own sovereign purposes and pleasure. He applied salvation to us prior to Christ dying on the cross. It is God’s 1st steps towards redeeming us. When we think of salvation we typically think of our response to the gospel but something happened prior to responding to the gospel… Acts 13:48 – “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Other verses that define election for us are – Eph.1:4-6; 1:12; 1 Thess.1:4-5; and 2 Thess 2:13.
As I was studying election it humbly reminded me and led me to repent of living like I had anything to do with my salvation. This eliminates any credit to me and turns my heart to praise God as the true hero (Eph.1:12). Salvation is a work of grace, not a work of man (Eph.2:8-10).
Common Disagreements about Election
The argument against election for those who hear the word election and comprehend the definition are real. For starters, there’s a word called “fatalism” that says that human choices and decisions don’t make any difference. No matter what we do, things are going to turn out the way they were ordained by God. Therefore, why bother with responding to God because he’s already determined everything.
There’s also an argument for declaring that we are no more than robots. It says that we live in an impersonal world that has been determined by an impersonal force and humans just robotically live in accordance to pre-determined plans of the force. But on the contrary, God loved us and thus chose us to come to himself (Eph.1:5). We are human beings with the capacity to make choices and accept or reject the gospel. We aren’t “I-Robots,” we are personal humans with free wills.
Another argument against election is that God’s foreknowledge of our willingness to place our faith in Jesus was the clincher for his electing us. If he sees that the person isn’t going to come to Christ by faith then God wouldn’t elect him or her. However, the Scriptures teach that salvation had nothing to do with us but everything to do with God (Rom.8:29). Scripture never claims that our faith was God’s prerequisite for choosing us. He chose us according to the purpose of His will (Eph.1:5-6).
There are some that seek to claim God’s election of believers is due to some “good” in us, which is a salvation by merit perspective. The persons who think this, hold dear to the faulty reality that we deserve “election” credit because we are “good.” But again, Scripture teaches that we are rebellious sinners deserving of Hell but have been saved by God’s glorious grace. This tends to lead to a belief that God’s election is conditional upon us. But election is unconditional because He chooses us in spite of us.
Others would say that “election isn’t fair.” How is it that God choses some and not others? Doesn’t that mean that he’s condemning people without their ability to respond by faith?” Listen to me… It would be perfectly fair for God not to save a soul. He doesn’t owe wicked sinners anything but eternal judgement and torment. If God didn’t spare angels why should he spare us? Wayne Grudem puts it this way, “Paul raises this objection in Romans 9. After saying that God ‘has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills’ (Rom.9:18), Paul then raises this precise objection: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?'” (Rom.9:19) If God is calling the shots for heaven and hell, how can this be fair? Here’s the short answer – Who are we to question the justice of God. He can do anything according to his sovereign will. But why would God save some and not all? Intuitively that just doesn’t seem right or fair… equality is how we live life in our world. But who are we to impose our intuitive grids upon our infinitely wise God. It is his sovereign choice and we simply must submit to it.
God still desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) but we just don’t know what God knows… who will be saved and who will not. However, here’s my last thought on this… God is more concerned with His own glory than answering our limited thoughts of “injustice.”
What are your views and questions about election? Please share them with us as we seek to humbly engage around the Scriptures.