Chosen from the Beginning

Posted on July 29, 2010

When one is regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto salvation, they are made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and as such are no longer citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven. This citizenship cannot be revoked.

In 1 Peter 1:1-2, Christians are called the elect, the chosen, according to the prearrangement (G4268) of God. We are, in fact, aliens sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, for obedience to God’s Son and the work He prepared for us beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).

Romans 8:28-30 further explains God’s sovereign role in our salvation:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

The idea that God would choose some but not all is perhaps the most controversial doctrine of Christianity. Yet Scripture is clear that God will have mercy and compassion on whom He pleases (Romans 9:14-24).

Volumes upon volumes of books can and have been written on the sovereignty of God in salvation and it remains controversial, so this short post will not come close to solving this centuries-old debate.

By taking a look at a few of the words in Romans 8:28-30 we get a clearer picture of how salvation is for the glory of God alone:

Called: Many have been called or invited, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Not everyone who hears the voice of God through the Gospel will respond to the calling. But those who are called according to His purpose, will indeed have ears to hear and be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

Foreknew: This is Strong’s #4267. It means to have knowledge before or to foreknow. In context, it means to foreknow of those whom God elected to salvation or for whom He predestined. It is the same word used in 1 Peter 1:20 where Jesus was foreordained before the foundations of the world to fulfill the will of His Father. Another form of this word is found in 1 Peter 1:2 and has the context of prearrangement, or to arrange in advance. We see that this foreknowledge is not merely having knowledge of something beforehand (in this case, who will be saved). But even if that is the case, this foreknowledge was reinforced by predestination.

Predestined: This is Strong’s #4309. It means to predetermine or decide and appoint beforehand. This allows for no room that God’s foreknowledge is restricted to only having knowledge of those who will respond to the calling of salvation in the future. No, God has not only called us to salvation, He has also chosen an elect for salvation, and it is for His good pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11).

Conformed: God appointed His elect to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. God will fashion His children to the glorious image of His Son by the working of the Holy Spirit. We become conformed to Christ by transformation through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It is a supernatural act of God that our minds are renewed.

Justified: Those who God has predestined for salvation are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is a legal transaction whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed, or attributed to, those who have responded to the calling by faith. No one is righteous in all the earth because we have all broken God’s Law. It is impossible for any lawbreaker, any sinner, to be considered justified before God on the day of judgment. Thus, Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead has been considered payment in full by God. Because we have no means to make ourselves justified, Christ’s payment is attributed to our deficient account, and through the blood of Christ we can be justified, or made righteous, before the throne of God.

Glory: Lastly, the glory of God is imparted to the born again believer through the Son. It is for the very glory of God that we are saved. Everything God does is for His glory, and it is why He has chosen a people for Himself. 2 Peter 1:3

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

By God’s abundant mercy and grace He has called and chosen His elect so that His name will be glorified. The glory of God in salvation is of utmost importance to understand as relegating the work of salvation to man has resulted in a form of easy-believism that has given far too many a false sense of security in salvation. Man’s responsibility in salvation is to respond to the calling, yet all who are called according to His purpose will indeed respond by faith. John 6:37:

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Furthermore, because we were dead in our transgressions (Ephesians 2:5), it is only by His grace that He grants us repentance to respond by faith and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 2 Timothy 3:25

…correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

True repentance is only found through godly sorrow by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Here is the result in 2 Corinthians 7:10

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Any other form of sorrow is of the world and leaves a state of hopelessness as the person, though they are striving to please God, miserably fails because they have trusted in themselves alone to please God. Without this godly remorse, the unrepentant sinner will continue down this path of condemnation. It is only when they have been broken by their sins against God that they will be led to salvation through repentance produced by godly sorrow. The trust in themselves for salvation is transferred to Jesus Christ alone.

To those who have been chosen by the mercy of God, His grace will yield in His children hope, peace, joy, patience, longsuffering, kindness, humility, gentleness, self-control, and a selfless love found only through the Lord Jesus Christ. The born again Christian is given a new nature by which he will overcome the world and the things of the world because of the work of the Holy Spirit within him. He is no longer controlled by the works of the flesh, but faithfully walks according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1). This same Spirit has sealed the born again believer as a deposit to guarantee our inheritance of eternal life (Ephesians 1:14). Because we are now God’s possession, we who have been bought for the price of Jesus’ precious blood, we are eternally secure in this salvation.

As such, salvation is a sovereign act of God that He will see through completion. Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). If a professed Christian stops believing, stops trusting, stops repenting, stops confessing and reverts back to a lifestyle of sin, darkness, and habitual carnality, it is evidence that they were never saved. Those who are in the Vine will abide (continue) in the Vine (John 14:16). Therefore, we are instructed to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith. This will give us assurance that Christ is within us, unless of course we fail the test (2 Corinthians 13:5). 2 Peter 1:10-11,

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And how do we make our calling and election sure? Peter makes this clear in the previous verses,

5…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

The consequence of not growing in the faith you possess will prohibit you from having genuine assurance of your salvation. Not growing in your faith will lead to doubt. Not examining yourself by the Word of God to see if you are growing in your faith could be evidence that there is no Hope within you except the false hope in which you profess. This should give rise to work out your salvation with fear and trembling before a Holy God. For if the fear of the Lord is not within you, God may not be working in you at all (Philippians 2:12-13).

In conclusion, every born again believer has been chosen by God. Salvation is a sovereign act of the Lord performed for His glory alone through Jesus Christ. God draws the sinner to repentance, which leads to faith, which leads to justification, which leads to sanctification. Sanctification is not an option for the born again believer. Like salvation, sanctification is the glorious work of God through the Holy Spirit. Everyone who names the name of Christ must depart from sin (2 Timothy 2:19). And by His grace, the child of God will do just that as they are no longer a slave of disobedience, but a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:1-23). Because the born again believer has been washed, justified, and sanctified (positionally made pure), he has been perfected forever in the eyes of God (Hebrews 10:14). This means he cannot lose his salvation because salvation is not a work of man, but a work of God alone for His glory alone.

Why has God decided to have mercy and compassion on some but not all? I don’t know. Who am I to question the Potter? But let us give thanks to Him who chose us from the beginning, let us make our calling and election sure, and let us obey the command of God to preach the Gospel to every creature. Who will He choose? I don’t know that either, but whoever He chooses, He will not cast out.

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,  to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.- 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14