Election. Every man that shall enter glory was elected of God to that blessed state, and because of such election is prepared by the Holy Spirit for its enjoyment. No elect person can be kept out of heaven.
When men repent and put their trust in Jesus they are “called according to God’s purpose,” Rom. 8:28, – that is, according to his plan of election, or they would never turn to the Saviour. Hence Paul says, “Who naketh thee to differ?” – 1 Cor. 4:7. “By the grace of God, I am what I am” 1 Cor. 15:10. The electing grace of Jehovah has placed every believer in saved relations with the Lamb.
The entire elect were given to Christ to redeem, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,” Gal. 3:13, to intercede for, “I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me, for they are thine.” John 17:9, to bring safely to heaven, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand” John 10:27-28.
God’s election of believers took place in eternity, “According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” Eph. 1:4. Before the existence of the earth, the fall was foreseen, and the salvation of the elect gloriously provided for.
Divine election in the Scriptures has to do exclusively with individuals. Paul speaks of those that love God as persons “called according to his purpose;” all men brought to embrace Jesus are drawn to him according to God’s electing purpose. Saul himself, rushing with cruel baste to Damascus, “breathing out threaten ings and slaughter” against the saints of Jesus and their Master, is called into the saved family. One moment he is a blind bigot full of murder, and the next, solely through God’s call, he is a trembling penitent, crying for mercy. No one, when the Saviour found him, heard the voice of Jesus but himself. It is addressed to him alone, ” Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Acts 9:4. And when Ananias, who, by divine appointment, visited him a few days later, objected to call upon him on account of his persecuting reputation, the Lord said to him, “Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. “Acts 9:15. Paul was an elect man, he was chosen and called as an individual. And so are all Christ’s saints. Zaccheus was called by name out of the boughs of the tree, and found salvation that day, and this was according to God’s purpose of election. Luke 19:5. An angel commanded Philip “to go unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza,” and seeing the eunuch, the Holy Spirit said unto Philip, ‘Go, man, and join thyself to this chariot.'” Acts 8:26-29. The eunuch hears the Word of life from Philip, and is saved and baptized. But an angel sends him to the road where he would find this solitary traveler; the Spirit orders him directly to the man, and the treasurer receives an individual call, according to God’s purpose, for that purpose is the election of individuals to eternal life. At Antioch it is said, “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” not a soul besides. The election of God had decreed the salvation of a number of persons who heard Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, and the elect ones only, received Jesus. The individual feature of election is strongly presented by the Saviour, where he says to his disciples, “Rejoice not, that the spirits (demons) are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20. Election performed its work before the foundation of the world; the names of the saints were enrolled among the coining citizens of heaven before the birth of earthly ages, and the elect in God’s great scheme of salvation are as much individualized as the legatees of a will. Eternal and personal election is the undoubted teaching of the sacred volume. When Moses in ancient times read the law to Israel, he took blood and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled the book and all the people with blood. Heb. 9:19. The Father, before suns sent forth light, prepared the Lamb’s book of life, with the linger of everlasting love he wrote in it the names of all elect men and women, and youths and maidens; in the fullness of time the Saviour sprinkled the book and every name in it with his own blood, and now there is neither condemnation nor accusation for a single one of them in this or in any other world.
Men are elected that they may be made holy. Some have dreamt that they were chosen because they should become saints. This doctrine is like the baseless fabric of a vision. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.” 2 Thess. 2:13. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Eph. 1:4. The cause of election was not the prospective holiness of the chosen, but the unparalleled love of God; and the chief object of election is to make men holy.
Men are elected to salvation. There is an “election of grace’ but none to perdition. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Rom. 8:29-30. Predestination in this connection is the equivalent of election. And its first purpose is to make men like Christ, that he may be at the head, not of a handful of brethren, but of a multitude, and its other purpose is to call, justify, and invest with heavenly glory the Father’s chosen hosts. There is no election to destruction; men are chosen to celestial crowns.
Election works in perfect harmony with the human will. Jehovah elected Saul king of Israel, and Samuel anointed him to the office. No descendant of Jacob, except Samuel and Saul, knew about God’s choice, and yet all Israel convened and elected Saul their first king. The people were conscious of no interference with their will, and there was none, but, notwithstanding this, they simply ratified the appointment of Jehovah. So when God calls an elect one to repentance and faith he is made willing by matchless grace and by the mighty Spirit, and he feels a burning earnestness in his soul to follow Jesus Christ, though he would have fled from him forever if he had not given him a new heart.
“Chosen of him ere time began
We choose him in return.”
The evidences of election in a believer’s heart make him brave. Cromwell’s warriors, consciously chosen to heavenly joys, were fitted for earthly victories, and filled Europe with enthusiastic admiration for their fearless valor; knowing themselves to be the elect of God, they feared nothing human or diabolical. A consciousness of election makes the Christian feel a burning gratitude in his heart for him that planned his salvation before stars twinkled in the heavens. An intelligent faith in election and in one’s own choice of God leads to heroic works and sacrifices. A saved electionisfc knows that God has a people in the world, that this people in process of time, and in millennial days, will embrace the family of Adam, that God’s whole power will be used to render the means successful to bring these hidden jewels of heaven into gospel light, and that instead of earthly uncertainties he has God’s promises that his word shall not return unto him void, and he labors with untiring perseverance, confident of success. The greatest workers in Christ’s vineyard have received the Scripture doctrine of election. Paul, Augustine of Hippo, Calvin, Cranmer, John Knox, Whitefield, the Evangelical Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, the men who have made this country what it is, who have given Britain most of her greatness, and Continental European Protestantism much of its glory were firm believers in election. This Bible doctrine will yet bless the whole Christian family on earth with its light. Among the elect angels in heaven, the elect believers before the throne, and the elect infants in Paradise, from every land and age, it is a crowning joy.
*The Baptist Encyclopedia: Edited by William Cathcart. (1883) pp 364-5.