Make Certain His Calling and Choosing You|
This fall, voters in this country will be going to the polls to elect their leaders. City, county, state, and federal representatives, judges, and executives will be selected by people across the nation through a democratic process. The ideal purpose of this process is for the people to make certain that their interests are being correctly represented in the government that rules them. Those leaders who do a poor job of serving the people’s interests are unlikely to be chosen again when the process is repeated at the next election cycle.
While we elect our political leaders from year to year, God elected His people long ago. Regarding God’s election or choosing of Christians, Paul wrote:
“(God) chose us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” (Eph. 1:4-5)
By this, we see that God determined the election of His children even before He made the world. Unlike our political elections, God’s election is not a process that will be repeated. His election is settled, and there is no changing it.
No one can deny that the Scriptures show that God has elected His people, but there is a debate about how that election was made. Calvinists teach that God predetermined each individual’s eternal destiny without conditions before the world was made. In other words, Calvinists believe that God arbitrarily chose some individuals for salvation and other individuals for condemnation before He made the world. If this is true, then the final outcome of each individual’s life is unchangeable, regardless of what he may do. The Calvinist doctrine is contradicted by others who believe that God’s election was not for individuals, but rather it was for a group of people who would conform to certain conditions determined by God before He made the world. In this case, each individual can affect his own eternal destination by conforming himself to those conditions.
To settle the debate, let us consult the Scriptures. First, let us again notice the passage from Ephesians quoted above. The emphasis in the first three chapters of Ephesians is the blessedness of being in Christ. Phrases like “in Christ Jesus,” “in Him,” and “through Jesus Christ” are found throughout these chapters to demonstrate the blessings found only in Christ. In this context, the meaning of Ephesians 1:4-5 is that those who are in Christ are blessed because they were chosen by God to be holy and blameless and to be adopted as His children. So then, the practical matter for us is not whether God chose us before the foundation of the world, but rather it is whether we are in Christ Jesus. Thankfully, being in Christ is a matter which we can affect, for we may enter Christ through faith and obedience to His gospel (Acts 2:38-41; Rom. 1:16; 10:8-10; Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 2:8-10; Col. 1:21-23).
Next, let us consider Romans 8:28-30. This passage tells us that God foreknew His elect, but it also tells us the nature of that foreknowledge. It was not that God predestined salvation only for certain individuals, but rather He predestined salvation for every individual who would become conformed to the image of His Son. To facilitate this, God calls those who would conform to Christ’s image (through the gospel – 2Thess. 2:13), justifies them through Christ’s sacrifice (Rom. 3:23-26), and glorifies them (they become like Christ now and more so in eternity – 1John 3:1-2). Thankfully, God has given all of us the ability to hear the gospel call by which we may believe (Rom. 10:17) and obey unto conformity with the image of Christ. Once again, we see that we can affect our own destiny.
Finally, let us notice 2Peter 1:10. Peter’s writing tells us to add Christ-like traits to our character, which God has placed within our ability to do. With this instruction, he says, “Be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…” By this, we see clearly that our own characteristics have a great effect upon our election. These traits are all matters of conformity to Christ’s glorious image. The choice that God has presented to us is to become like Jesus and thus become part of the elect or to remain sinful and be excluded from His choosing.
By no means is this all that the Scripture says about the matter of election, but it is sufficient to demonstrate that our destiny is dependent upon the free-will choices that God has placed before us. In His foreknowledge, God has predestined the type of person whom He will save, and He has given us the opportunity to be that type of people. Just as voters predetermine the kind of person who should fill a political office and then they elect such a person, so also God predetermined the kind of person who shall be saved and then He elects such people. Therefore, if we would be elected by God, then let us conform to the image of His blessed Son and make certain about His calling and choosing of us.
Stacey E. Durham
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