Related: Predestination, Foreknowledge, Corporate Election
Election. Election is the truth that believers in Christ were elected, or chosen, by God for blessing. “According as he has chosen us in him before the world’s foundation” (Eph. 1:4). Election is the choice of one out of many. God’s sovereign choice was made “before the world’s foundation”, and therefore it has nothing to do with works. The truth of election is not intuitive. If God had not revealed it to us, we would never know. From man’s perspective, we choose God. But when we learn more about our salvation, we discover that He chose us! We see this in John 1:45 and 48, where Philip told Nathanael “We have found him, etc.” (John 1:45). In their experience, it was they that had found Christ. But later Jesus revealed that, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John 1:45). If we refuse to see things from God’s perspective, we will not understand the truth of election. Election is a truth that we should not ordinarily proclaim in preaching the Gospel. It is intended for the believer’s security and enjoyment; a family secret. In the gospel we ought to emphasize man’s responsibility and the sinner’s need. It has been explained like this: a sinner approaches the doorway of salvation; and above it he reads, “Whosoever will may come”, but when he gets through and looks back, the other side reads, “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world”.
Election, Predestination, and Foreknowledge. Election, predestination, and foreknowledge are not the same. Election has to do with the person, predestination has to do with the place, and foreknowledge has to do with the relationship intended. A jeweler chooses a rough diamond (election), before all the cutting and polishing has occurred, but all the while he has the final product in mind (predestination). God has a purpose in election. Therefore, election is not arbitrary. God is not capricious. We were chosen purposefully, not as a replacement for something that did not work out. His purpose, from a past eternity, was to conform us to the image of His Son! Foreknowledge is the advanced knowledge of those whom God has specially chosen for blessing, and it implies a unique relationship intended. Peter could say, "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Pet. 1:2). God chose us according to the Divine foreknowledge by which He anticipated a relationship with us.