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The Election of Grace

As we approach the election of 2004, perhaps it’s an appropriate time to consider the election of grace. The scriptures depict a sovereign God making several choices before the foundation of the world for which he neither required nor solicited input outside of himself. These divine “elections” are weightier by far than those conducted by governments. When interpreted within the contexts crafted by the inspired writers, they enable us to understand God’s redemptive plan, and provide a source of rejoicing and comfort for believers.

Any meaningful study of election must begin with the Elect One, the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter identifies the One to whom believers have come as “a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious” (1 Peter 2:4). He then cites Isaiah 28:16 as validation: “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious” (2:6). The fact that God Incarnate—who needed no saving but was rather the Saviour—was the cardinal object of divine election confirms that the doctrine has nothing to do with the personal salvation of sinners but rather everything to do with the unique positions, roles, and privileges bestowed by God upon those elected. In the case of Christ, he was chosen to be the One and Only Redeemer of lost sinners, which accounts for both his personal preciousness and that of his blood shed for their sins!

The nation Israel was and is an object of divine election. The Lord refers to his people as “mine elect” (Isaiah 42:1, 4; 65:9, 22). In Romans 9:4-5, Paul identifies several of the roles and privileges with which God endowed them by virtue of his sovereign choice: “Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” By virtue of physical birth and subsequent national membership, every Jewish child obtained an elect status, and assumed a responsibility to fulfill the God-ordained roles and privileges inherent in that election.

Therefore the purpose of God according to election (9:11) was to bring the elected Lord Jesus into this world through the elected Israel through the lines of second-born Isaac and second-born Jacob. By his sovereign choice, the Lord denied this privilege to first-borns Ishmael and Esau—an election that had nothing whatsoever to do with the personal salvation of these four men.

Paul is careful to point out that being an elect one in the physical and national realms was no guarantee of personal salvation in the spiritual realm. He affirms: “For they are not all Israel [spiritual seed], which are of Israel [physical seed] (9:6). What we have is an election within an election, so that every born again Jew can claim to be twice elected by God. John expressed it in these terms: “He came unto his own [Israel as the elect nation], and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God [the elect within the elect nation], even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12). So the single differentiating factor between a lost elected Jew and a twice-elected Jew is faith in Christ Jesus!

In Romans 11:1-9, Paul further expounds on this theme: “Even so at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (11:5). Paul segued into that conclusion based on Elijah’s experience. In his intercession, Elijah complained of being “left alone” as a hunted man. But God reminded him that he had reserved to himself seven thousand men that had not bowed their knees to the image of Baal (i.e., a trait that was indicative of steadfast faith). In like manner, there is today a body of believers that God has reserved to himself, and endowed with an elect status. It is contingent upon grace as opposed to works. And since Paul so painstakingly excluded faith from the works category as the companion of grace (4:13-16), it can be said with confidence that the election of grace is an election of grace through faith. The believer who affirms that he or she was saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) may affirm with equal certitude that his or her election was obtained by grace through faith.

Israel as a whole did not obtain the righteousness he was seeking, because he sought it by works rather than faith (10:2-3; 11:7). But the election obtained it. In the context, the election is that born-again body of believing Jews, who, as John said, received the Lord Jesus Christ. The rest were blinded because they rejected the light Jesus gave them (John 12:35-41). Currently, that body consists of both Jewish and Gentile believers whom God has both justified and elected by grace through faith. It is therefore biblically illiterate to say that the elect “shall” obtain it, for the scriptures reveal that God’s elect, at any given moment in time, already have a righteous standing before God…which is why nothing can be laid to their charge (8:33).

The election of 2004 is perhaps the most critical election our nation has faced. As believers, we have both a civic and moral obligation to vote for those individuals who best line up with the Word of God. But as you walk into your voting station, take a moment to reflect upon the election of grace that has secured your eternal destiny apart from the workings of government and its elective outcomes.


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