Unless you have been living under a rock or coach the University of South Carolina football team (just google Will Muschamp and election), you are probably aware that Election Day was this past Tuesday. I am glad that as citizens of this great country we are given the right and responsibility to freely elect leaders at all levels of government. However, I am even happier that this season of strife is over, for a little while at least. The constant TV commercials, harassing phone calls, unsolicited campaign mailers, and social media squabbling among different parties and platforms is wearisome to me. I suppose many of you may share the same disgust I have expressed over the last several months during this democratic process. Before you stop reading, I promise (I am not a politician, I keep my word) I am not going to try and convince you to vote or support any candidate or platform. No, my task in this article is to discuss something that is much more important than anything that happens in Washington D.C., a state legislature, or your local courthouse.
I want to discuss the term election as it is used in the New Testament. The treatment in this article will be brief, but I can point you in the direction of additional resources if you wish to delve more deeply into this subject. In 1 Thessalonians 1:4, we read: “knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.” This verse is part of the salutation given by the apostle to the Christians in Thessalonica and is used by Paul to describe the condition or state they were then presently enjoying. Another familiar passage that uses this word comes from the pen of Peter, who after discussing the characteristics necessary for the Christian to add to his/her faith, exhorted: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10).
Election is a word and concept that has been badly abused for more than four centuries. Without getting overly technical, some have asserted that the word references the notion of God arbitrarily selecting or predestining some to be saved and others to be lost before creation and without factoring in any choice on the part of the one saved (elected) or the one lost (condemned). Such a doctrine finds no support in the Word of God. Ephesians 1:4 is a passage cited to supposedly give credence to this notion: “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.” The word chose carries basically the same meaning as the word election in the passages cited previously.
A balanced and thorough look at all the New Testament teaches contextually on the matter of election will reveal that election relates to the willingness of people to be chosen. But, what do I mean by that? According to 2 Thessalonians 2:14, God calls people by the Gospel, which is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 teaches. When confronted with the facts of the Gospel, which includes the realization that as a sinner mankind is separated from God, each person is presented with a choice as to whether they will or will not respond, just as we see in Acts 2:37-41. Those that make the decision to volitionally act in faithful obedience to the terms of the Gospel receive salvation and forgiveness of sins and are thus elected or chosen by God, because they have complied with the terms God instituted in His own mind before the world began and made known through the Gospel!
Paul rejoices that the Christians in the church at Thessalonica had rendered obedience to the terms of the Gospel, and they were now properly described as enjoying election by God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:4). On a very serious tone, Peter warns his readers, and us as well, that continued devotion and faithfulness to the Word of God is expected even after becoming a Christian in order to ensure our salvation or election. This, along with many other passages, clearly refutes the false notion promulgated by many that a Christian cannot lose his/her salvation. We will have to save a discussion of that matter for another article.
Yes, I am glad that the election season is over. I am sure candidates and commercials will soon begin appearing in anticipation of the 2020 election season. Your election by God is up to you. Someone once noted: God has voted for you, Satan has voted against you, but you have the deciding vote in your hand. Will you obey the Lord and enjoy His election by submitting to the terms of the Gospel? I pray that you will. If you would like to discuss these matters further, please contact us and we will be glad to assist!