Why the Doctrine of Election is So Precious to Me
It was a joy to be back in the pulpit this Sunday after our vacation and begin a new sermon series through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I’ve longed to preach Ephesians for some time now. It is a rich letter written to encourage a church that faced divisions over various significant matters. Clearly, it is a message for our present moment because Paul confronts the Ephesians' divisions with the glories of the doctrine of union with Christ. In chapters 1-3, Paul lays the gospel foundation of our union with Christ. In chapters 4-6, Paul fleshes out the implications of our union with Christ and how that should inform how we live in this world and in the church.
In chapter 1, Paul begins by drawing our attention to the glorious grace of our heavenly Father, leading us to praise him. Interestingly, he begins by pointing us to the doctrine of divine election. God chose us in Christ before creation, not based on anything good or bad in us, but solely on his good pleasure. That is good news! At least it should be. I understand that for some the doctrine of election (God’s free and sovereign decision to choose a people for salvation from the foundation of the world—Ephesians 1:3-6) is a frightening idea, and for others, it’s an abominable thought. Still, we find this truth taught throughout Scripture, not just in Ephesians. So, rather than avoid it, let’s reflect on this precious doctrine because I am convinced that a clear understanding of the doctrine of election should produce hope and assurance, rather than fear and contempt. Allow me to share some of the reasons why the doctrine of election is so precious to me.
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it is biblical. In a display of the Father’s love for the Son, he gives a specific people to the Son (John 6:37). This truth is evident in the testimony of the book of Revelation when it declares that the only ones entering the eternal heaven are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). John further testifies in Revelation 13:8, that these names were written in this book before the foundation of the world. In other words, one fruit of the Father’s love for Jesus, is our salvation. The Father made a free and sovereign decision to save a people as a gift for the Son and for His own glory from the foundation of the world (see also John 8:47; John 10:26-29; Romans 9:10-16).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it secures my salvation. Jesus declared that all that the Father gave Him would come to Him and that He would never cast out any who came to Him (John 6:37). Jesus delights in receiving and keeping those whom the Father gives him because he came to do the Father’s will (John 6:38-40), and the Father’s will is that Jesus not lose any of the ones that the Father has given him but that he raise them all up on the last day (John 6:39).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it encourages me to pursue holiness. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that "God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13, ESV). The Bible assures us that even though we are only gradually being conformed to the image of Christ now (2 Corinthians 3:18), we will be completely conformed to the image of Christ at glorification (Rom. 8:29). God chose us in Christ, that we would be holy, blameless, and loving (Ephesians 1:4) – that is, that we would look like Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it is the basis for my assurance of salvation. Because God gives a people to the Son, and because the Son receives that people and keeps them, I am assured that I will never be cast out (John 6:37), nor perish, nor be snatched out of Jesus’ hand (John 10:28). Can you imagine such assurance? The God who predestines us for salvation (election) will ensure that all whom He calls to salvation will ultimately be glorified (Romans 8:30).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it encourages me to share the gospel and gives me hope for fruit in evangelism and missions. Not only does the Father give a people to the Son (John 6:37), and not only does the Son receive these people and keep them (John 6:37-39), but the Father also assures that those whom he gives to the Son will come to the Son. It is the Father’s will that everyone believing in the Son have eternal life (John 6:40), and these who believe can only come at the Father’s drawing (John 6:44, 65). Therefore, if the Father gives a people to the Son, and he assures that these people come to the Son, then we can be assured that evangelism and missions will bear fruit (Acts 13:48). We find encouragement in our Lord’s words to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9-10, ESV).
Finally, the doctrine of election is precious to me because it moves me to make much of God through Christ (true worship) and little of myself (humility). We cannot make much of ourselves and make much of God at the same time. The doctrine of election reminds us that God’s choice of us was unconditional – not based on anything in us good or bad. Therefore, all boasting is nullified. We have no reason for arrogance. May we understand election, and may it strip us of personal pride and, instead, move us to worship the Sovereign Lord in all his glory and grace.
Oh didn't know I can post comments.
I find this to be a very difficult truth, as you stated. I'm not sure how to answer people who say that God can't be loving if He would choose people to suffer in the pit. You've done a beautiful job of explaining why some are chosen to live, how do I respond to the other side of this? Is there another side of this?
Thank you and God bless.
Great question. I recommend reading R. C. Sproul’s book, “Chosen by God.” It’s helpful in answering your questions.
https://www.amazon.com/Chosen-God-R-C-Sproul/dp/0842313354/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=chosen by god r.c. sproul&qid=1599080425&sprefix=chosen by God&sr=8-3