We must begin with the understanding that election cannot be understood apart from Christ. Christ is the Elect One, and all those whom God choose to give to Him are therefore elect in Him.
Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles (Is. 42:1). The New Testament contains this same truth.
Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6). He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you . . . (1 Peter 1:20)
Our election and Christ’s election are also seen together.
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24).
The biblical answer to this question is unambiguous. Before the world was created, before eternal times, God picked out a people for Himself. For those who honor Scripture, there can be no real debate about when God’s election of His people occurred.
. . . who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began . . . (2 Tim. 1:9)
Two more should suffice. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world . . . (Matt. 25:34) And of course, . . . just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love . . . (Eph. 1:4)
For those who believe the Bible, this is really the heart of the debate. There is really no honest way to evade the force of the Bible’s teaching on when election occurs. Therefore, those who dispute this truth do it by seeking to modify the nature of this election.
The biblical position is that God made this choice according to His good pleasure. The more popular view is that He made His choice on account of foreseen faith.
First, the Bible excludes human choice as the basis of God’s choice:
. . .for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls . . . So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy . . .Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens (Rom. 9:11,16,18).
But what about . . .?
. . . elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied (1 Peter 1:2).
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29).
There are two important things to note in the Romans passage. One is the object of the verb, and the second is the nature of the verb. The object consists of persons, not actions. The verb refers to love, not cognition.
When this doctrine is understood and affirmed, there are practical consequences.
· Confidence: Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies (Rom. 8:33).
· Tenderness: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, kindness, longsuffering . . . (Col. 3:12).