Election And Predestination
These subjects should certainly be of deepest interest to the hearts of those who have known the redeeming grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many diverse thoughts about them, so it is earnestly pressed upon every reader that he examine every occasion on which such words occur in Scripture, and the context of them. This will surely be a great help in clearing his thoughts about them. Such a search will be greatly simplified by consulting a Greek concordance, such as Wigram's which lists every occurrence of the original Greek word from which these works are derived. Vine's Dictionary will be found helpful in this also.
The word 'eklektos,' usually translated 'elect,' but sometimes 'chosen,' occurs 22 times, three of those times speaking of Christ, once of angels, three times of specific individuals, eight or possibly nine times in connection with subjects of the Kingdom, and nine or ten times (including the above mentioned individuals) in connection with saints of our present dispensation of grace.
The word itself means 'chosen, or picked out,' and does not in itself indicate what is in view in this election, so that this can only be decided in the context, if indeed the context enables this. But it will be found that in almost every occurrence of the word in the New Testament, there is nothing added to explain it. The emphasis is rather on the precious fact of being elect or chosen of God. The first occurrence of the word is in Matthew 20:16 (repeated also in Mt. 22:14): 'Many are called, but few are chosen.' Is the believer not here intended to realize the unspeakable sweetness and comfort of knowing that he is not merely a subject who was able to slip inside the sphere of God's blessing, but that he is very definitely chosen of God, and valuable in His sight? This is true whether it is the elect spoken of in the present age of grace, or of those passing through the tribulation, though one is destined for heavenly blessing, the other for blessing on earth. Just as an adopted child finds a sense of precious security and comfort in knowing that his adoptive parents have specially chosen him, so the believer finds a much greater blessedness in knowing his particular election of God.
There is one Scripture, however, that does add some explanation in connection with the elect. This is 1 Peter 1:2, 'Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.' This verse therefore requires careful consideration.
First, this election is not merely arbitrary, as though God was choosing one to be blessed, another to be cursed, without proper knowledge of all the issues involved. For it is 'according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.' Election is not merely foreknowledge, but it is consistent with the fact of God's foreknowledge. Does this not involve His previous knowledge of the entire future, of the persons so chosen, and of everything concerning them? We have no such knowledge, and we must give Him credit for a wisdom and love that has taken into full consideration all of these things beforehand, so that there is no possibility of mistake. It is not therefore any matter of heartless ignoring of those who are not among the elect. For the message of Divine grace is sent in good faith to all mankind: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' John 3:16. There is no right reason why every soul under Heaven should not repent and believe the Gospel. One cannot dare to say that because he was not one of the elect, therefore he could not repent: for the real fact is, not that men could not repent, but that they would not. Consider Matthew 23:27.
Secondly, our election is 'through sanctification of the Spirit.' Here is a real setting apart from all others those who are elect, by the precious energy of the Spirit of God. This is not said of 'the elect' who pass through the tribulation, for our election in the day of grace is given fullest, confirmation by the present indwelling of the Spirit of God; it is the fullest proof that we are indeed elect, His own chosen possession.
Thirdly, we are elect, not unto salvation, nor even unto heavenly blessings, but 'unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.' Election has in view therefore the same willing obedience that is found in the Lord Jesus, as is more decidedly clear in the New Translation - 'unto the obedience,' etc. God desired souls who would have the same blessed character as His elect 'Living Stone,' whose obedience was that of pure delight (Ps. 40:8), and not in any sense enforced. But added to this is 'sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,' for it is necessary that everything in our lives that is inconsistent with this obedience should be cleansed by His own precious blood, the permanent value of which is the portion of those characterized by this precious obedience of faith, that is, the elect. This is indeed a blessed object of election.
In all of the occurrences of the noun 'eklektos,' not once does the context indicate the time of this election. There is however a verb 'eklego,' used variously for the choosing of people or things, and only once used of God's choosing of the saints of this present day of grace. This is in Ephesians 1:4; 'Chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world.' How long before we are not told; but the verse seems in designed contrast to Matthew 25:34: 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' Since these nations of Matthew 25 have an earthly inheritance, its preparation goes back only to 'the foundation of the world.' The saints of the present age, however, have a heavenly inheritance, and for this they were chosen in Christ 'from before the foundation of the world.' But as we have seen, the noun 'elect' may be used of either of these, for both are definitely chosen of God, though destined to different spheres of blessing.
It may be remarked as well that the Greek word 'ekloge,' translated usually 'election,' is found seven times in the New Testament, and of these Romans 1:5 is interesting in its adding a lovely word, 'the election of grace,' which of course shows this to be the pure favour of God apart from any human merit. Also, Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians declares that their election was a matter of knowledge to the apostles: 'knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God' (1 Thess. 1:4). And 2 Peter 1:10 urges others 'to make your calling and election sure.' This is certainly not to make God choose them, but to make sure God has chosen them. One should never rest until he is absolutely certain of this matter on the authority of Scripture.
If however, election specially emphasizes the blessedness of being personally chosen of God, predestination emphasizes rather the side of the blessing for which the person is destined. The Greek word 'proorizo' is usually translated 'predestine,' but also 'determined before' in Acts 4:28, and ordained before' in 1 Corinthians 2:7. The New Translation uses the expression 'marked out beforehand.' Romans 8:29 has a close connection with what Peter says of election: 'For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.'
Again, it was not merely an arbitrary predestining of one for blessing, another for cursing: rather it was 'whom he did foreknow' that He marked out to be conformed to the image of His Son. With full previous knowledge of the individual, and certainly therefore of everything concerning him, the whole future taken into consideration, as only a Sovereign God can do, He marked him out beforehand for this unspeakably blessed dignity. No one can rightly claim that because he was not marked out for this, therefore it was impossible for him to be saved; for it is because of his own willing rejection of God's grace that he has no part in that grace.
1 Corinthians 2:7 indicates too that God's hidden wisdom was predestined before the world unto our glory; wisdom that involves all the blessing that the cross of Christ has introduced, and all that the Spirit of God today reveals of God's counsels cantered in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Ephesians 1:5 speaks of God's having 'predestined us unto adoption,' and this is closely connected with His having 'chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,' of which we have spoken. Adoption is one of the objects in view therefore in predestination. This is the precious truth of believers being now given the position of sons of God, a place of dignity, liberty, and trust, such as could not be until the Son of God Himself had by death redeemed those who were under the law (Gal. 4:1-7). And while this is fully true now for every believer, yet there is another sense in which adoption is considered in Romans 8:23; 'We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.' This will be the full manifestation of the sons of God, the bodily entering into the liberty and dignity of that position which is now spiritually ours, at the coming of the Lord. It may be that Ephesians 1:5 implies both aspects of adoption; but at any rate, the emphasis of predestination is here also the blessing in view. This is also said to be 'according to the good pleasure of his will.' And in verse 11 we are seen to be predestined to obtain an inheritance in Christ, 'according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.' It is not said, 'The eternal purpose,' as is the case in Ephesians 3:11, though it may possibly be implied. As to election, however, the writer is not aware of any Scripture that speaks of this as 'according to the purpose of him;' but 'according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.' No doubt Scripture has reasons for all of these exact expressions, and it is wiser that we do not go beyond them. Yet may we have grace to know the preciousness of both being 'the elect of God,' and being 'predestined' to such matchless blessings that grace has introduced to us.