God Made a Choice: The Doctrine of Election
A participant asked the leader of an evangelism seminar, “Do you believe in election?” Without hesitation, the leader answered in the affirmative. “I believe in election,” he said. “As we go door to door, we choose who will be saved.” This statement turns election on its head. It turns man into God. The concept is blasphemous.
Election is divine election. It is sovereign election. It is also an election worked out in human lives. The seminar leader apparently wanted to take election out of the theoretical realm and make it practical, but the biblical doctrine already is. Efforts to make election practical only pervert it.
For example, when Paul and his missionary band entered upon their second journey, “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7). This is quite amazing. God forbade the preaching of the Word in certain regions. This was God’s sovereign choice.
Prior to the second journey, the apostles gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the work of God among the Gentiles. James reminded the assembly that Peter had the privilege of being the first to preach the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. Look at what he says, “Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). Election is the biblical doctrine that God, out of His mere good pleasure, took a people for Himself out of the mass of fallen humanity. At the same time, He passed by others. When Peter proclaimed the gospel at the house of Cornelius, God gathered people from among the Gentiles. At the same time, God passed by others.
Peter detailed his preaching mission at Cornelius’ house before the church at Jerusalem. Acts 11:18 says, “When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.'” God granted repentance. As James said, God here “concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). The King James Version says God “did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.” God visited His grace upon certain people. It was God’s sovereign choice to do so. This was practical and personal.
The apostle Paul tells us that God’s sovereign decree lies behind this practical work of taking people for Himself from the mass of fallen humanity. “He [God] chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). So the work of God in the world is based upon God’s eternal plan (Ephesians 1:11).
Are you a Christian? On a personal and practical level you can attribute this to at least the following: You live in an area of the world and in a period of time not denied the Word of God. This was God’s sovereign choice. God gave you the gift of repentance. This too was God’s sovereign choice. This means that God took you from among other “Gentiles” in order to add you to the company of His people (Acts 2:41 and 13:48). This in turn shows you that God chose you for this before the foundation of the world. This is not a divine election that is only theoretical. This is divine election worked out in your life. It is divine election which is practical, powerful, and personal. It is divine election in which you find rest for your soul.