GENERAL REMARKS TO DISARM PREJUDICE
There is no doctrine so grossly misrepresented. Brother A.S. Pettie's complaint against The enemies of total depravity is equally applicable here, when he says, "From hostile lips a fair and correct statement of the doctrine is never heard". The treatment that the doctrine of election receives from the hands of its enemies is very much like that received by the primitive Christians from pagan Roman Emperors. The ancient Christians were often clothed in the skins of slain animals and then subjected to attack by ferocious wild beasts. So the doctrine of election is clothed in an ugly garb and held up to ridicule and sport. We will now try to strip this glorious truth of its false and vicious garment with which enemy hands have robed it, and put upon it the garments of holiness and wisdom.
1. Election is not salvation but is unto salvation.
"What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election (elect) hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded" (Rom. 11:7). "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation" (2 Thess. 2:13). Now then, if the elect obtain salvation, and if election is to salvation, election must precede salvation. Men are saved when they believe on Christ not when they are elected. Roosevelt was not president when he was elected, but when he was inaugurated. There was not only an election to, but an induction into the office. God's elect are inducted into the position of saintship by the effectual call, (the quickening work of the Holy Spirit) through which they become believers in the Gospel. See:
1 Cor 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
2 Thess 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Election is not the cause of anybody going to hell, for election is unto salvation.
Neither is non-election responsible for the damnation of sinners. SIN is the thing that sends men to hell, and all men are sinners by nature and practice -- sinners altogether apart from election and non-election. It does not follow that because election is unto salvation that non-election is unto damnation. SIN is the damning element in human life. ELECTION HARMS NOBODY.
3. Election belongs to the system of grace.
In Paul's day there was a remnant among the Jews who were saved according to the election of grace (Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.). The attitude of men towards election is the acid test of their belief in grace. Those who oppose election cannot consistently claim to believe in salvation by grace. This is seen in the creeds of Christendom. Those denominations that believe in salvation by works have no place for the doctrine of election in their confessions of faith; those that believe in salvation by grace, apart from human merit, have not failed to include election in their written creed. One group is headed by the Roman Catholics, the other group is headed by the Baptists.
4. Election does not prevent the salvation of anybody who wants to be saved.
But the distinction needs to be made between a mere desire to escape hell and the desire to be saved from sin. The desire to be saved from hell is a natural desire -- nobody wants to burn. The desire to be saved from sin is a spiritual desire resulting from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, and God's electing grace is the very mother of this desire. To represent election by saying that God has spread the Gospel feast, and a man comes to the table hungering for the bread of life; but God says "No, this is not for you, you are not one of my elect", is to misrepresent the Holy Doctrine. Here is the truth -- God has spread the feast but the fact is nobody wants to come to the table. "They all with one consent began to make excuse". God knew just how fallen nature would act, and He took no chance on His table being filled, so, He tells His servant to go out and compel them to come (Luke 14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.). Were it not for the redemptive work of Christ there would be no Gospel feast; were it not for the compelling work of the Holy Spirit there would be no guests at the table. A mere invitation brings nobody to the table.
5. Election means that the destiny of men is in the hands of God.
Many of us have regarded as an axiom the statement that every man's destiny is in his own hands. But this is to deny the whole tenor of Scripture. At no time is the destiny of the saint in his own hands, either before or after he is saved. Was my destiny in my own hands before I was saved? If so, I regenerated myself; I resurrected, by my own power, myself out of a state of sin and death; I am my own benefactor and have nobody to thank but myself for being alive and saved. Perish such a thought! By the grace of God I am what I am.
John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Eph 2:1-10 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Is my destiny in my own hands now? Then I will either keep myself saved or I will lose my salvation. The Bible says we are kept by the power of God through Faith.
1 Pet 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
Psa 37:28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
If my destiny is not safe in my own hands after I am saved then how could it be thought to be safe in my own hands before my conversion?
The saint dies, his body is consigned to the grave and becomes a dust-heap. Is his destiny in his own hands then? If so, what hope has he of ever coming out of the grave with an immortal and incorruptible body? None at all if his destiny is in his own hands.
Such a theory, that the destiny of the saint is or ever has been in his own hands, reverses the very laws of nature and implies that water can rise above the level of its source; that man can lift himself into the attic by his boot-straps; that the Ethiopian can change his colour, and the leopard can remove his spots; that death can beget life; that evolution is true and God is a liar. The theory that one's destiny is in his own hands begets self-confidence and self-righteousness; the belief that destiny is in the hands of God begets SELF-ABNEGATION AND FAITH IN GOD.
6. Election stands or falls with the doctrine of God's sovereignty and man's depravity.
If God is sovereign and man is depraved, then it follows as a natural consequence that some will be saved, none will be saved or, all will be saved. The practical results of election are that some, yea many, will be saved. Election is not a plan to save a mere handful of folk. Christ gave Himself a ransom for many.
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Rev 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
God's sovereignty involves His pleasure
John 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
Mat 11:25-27 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Job 23:13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.
Jer 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
And His mercy.
Rom 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
7. The elect are manifested in repentance and faith and good works.
These graces, being God-wrought in man, are not the cause but the evidences of election.
1 Thess 1:3-10 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 9 For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
2 Pet 1:5-10 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
Phil 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Luke 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
The man who doesn't pray, who has not repented of his sins and trusted Christ, and who does not engage in good works has no right to claim that he is one of God's elect.