The Bible uses the word “elect’ and “election”, but what does this exactly mean? According to the Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the term “elect” is described as “to pick out, select,” means, in the Middle Voice, “to choose for oneself,” not necessarily implying the rejection of what is not chosen, but “choosing” with the subsidiary ideas of kindness or favor or love,”
The KJV Dictionary Definition says, “In theology, chosen as the object of mercy; chosen, selected or designated to eternal life; predestinated in the divine counsels.”
In essence, the term “elect” means “to choose”. “Election” is a constant theme throughout the Bible and is where God has chosen all who will be saved from eternity past. None of it depends on man’s work but wholly depends on God’s eternal grace and mercy. Romans 9:16 says, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” In other words, God has predestined or determined beforehand who will be saved, and these people are the “elect” of God. For example, Ephesians 1:4 says, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
Salvation is a gift given to those who are elected, and this grace includes the faith for someone to receive this gift. This doctrine of election ultimately reveals that we cannot save ourselves or even choose Christ as our Saviour and Lord (Romans 3:9-20). It must entirely be a work of God; otherwise, it is impossible to be saved. Some try to explain that our election is due to God’s foreknowledge of the future, seeing that someone chooses Christ out of their own will, so God chooses them. The passage to support this thinking is from 1 Peter 1:2, saying, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
Notice the foreknowledge that Peter refers to must not be confused with foresight. In other words, God can see into the future where someone responds to the salvation call and based on this action, and God calls them the elect based on their decision in the future. This is to make God respond to man’s decision in the future, making God the chosen one and people sovereign over their decision rather than God. This type of reasoning is due to a misunderstanding of the term foreknowledge. Further down in 1 Peter 1:20, Peter uses the verb form of the same word (prognosis – in Greek) to refer to Christ. In this case, the same concept of foreknowledge includes the idea of a deliberate choice. We can then conclude that the same is true when Peter applied the word to believers in places such as 1 Peter 1:2.
So, those who come to faith in Christ do so because God draws them to hear the gospel and give faith to receive the gift of salvation. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” Also, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Notice, in all of this; we must understand that sinners are still responsible to God for their sinfulness. Those who reject God do so because of their heart condition. God will judge sinners for their sin and rejection of the gospel message. Anyone saved is only because of God’s electing grace, and the whole salvation process is God’s doing. Romans 8:28-30 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
In conclusion, the elect are those God has chosen to redeem for salvation even before the foundation of the world, and their salvation is a complete work of Christ, from beginning to end. The doctrine of election is found explicitly in the Bible, and there are many passages from Genesis to Revelation supporting God’s sovereignty in salvation. Those who are the elect are an outcome of God’s unconditional, irresistible, and irrevocable grace. The elect will always seek to glorify God in all they do because of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and their love for God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Amen!