“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering”
“as the elect of God”
The first title to which God appeals to live the Christian life is “elect of God.” We are God’s elect. This is one of the greatest titles conferred upon the child of God.
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?” (Rom. 8:33).
“Knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God” (I Th. 1:4).
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Tim. 2:10).
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:” (I Pet. 1:2).
“Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness” (Titus 1:1).
Election has to do with the plan of God. As long as a believer is alive on earth he is in the plan of God. There is no way for us to get out of the plan of God. We can lose the benefits of God’s plan by stepping out of fellowship with God but we cannot get out of the plan of God. God thinks of us in terms of billions of years.
“Election” is a doctrine many people dislike and some even hate. Can you imagine a Christian hating a Christian doctrine! This is because man is so proud. He wants to totally understand all of God’s working. He hates mystery. He refuses to grant God the privilege of selection. The Bible teaches election as plain as our face (as disconcerting as that may be)!. It makes no difference whether we understand election or not, the Bible teaches it. Whether we can harmonize or synchronize election with free will is irrelevant, inconsequential and insignificant; it is true just the same. If we knew everything about anything God teaches then we would be as smart as God.
We cannot get on our theological high horse and say, “I do not believe it.” If we say that, then we are saying that we do not believe the Bible. We cannot pick and choose what we want to believe about the Bible. If any part of the Bible is suspect, then it is all suspect. We cannot say “I will believe this about the Bible but not believe that.” We believe it all or we believe none of it.
The believer shares the election of Christ. When we learn about our status before God we can then “put on” certain virtues. All believers, good, bad or indifferent are elect. Whether we are spiritual or carnal, mature or immature, God views us as elect.
If you commit some terrible sin, God still views you as elect. You are in the plan of God. Our guilt will tell us that we are no longer a part of the plan of God. The way back into fellowship with God is not through guilt but through understanding our position before God in Christ. An attitude defeated by guilt will not dynamically live the Christian life.
Although we need conviction for our sin, guilt is not the answer to get back into fellowship with God. We need to understand that we are elect, holy and beloved. If we get back into fellowship by what we do, we tend to put our nose in the air and self-righteously parade our own effort. We yield to approbation lust.
God appeals for us to live the Christian life on the basis of our election.
Some people feel that elect, holy and beloved do not refer to every believer. “That cannot refer to the carnal crowd.” No, this is not an appeal to great believers. Every believer is elect, holy and beloved. You may be the worst believer who ever lived. You may be the most carnal Christian imaginable. You may have committed sins that shock both yourself and the Christian community. You may have violated all ten commandments. Yet you, in God’s eyes, are elect, holy and beloved.
The Bible teaches both the election of God and the free will of man. We cannot harmonize these two doctrines in our finite mind. If we cripple one of these doctrines by the other we have error. If we believe in the election to the exclusion of evangelism, missions and whosoever may come, that is error. That is fatalism. On the other hand, if we believe in the free will of man to the exclusion of election, that is error. God expects us to accept both doctrines at face value. We must believe both equally. To believe one without the other is to become lopsided. Bible balance is to believe both. Almost every Bible doctrine has two sides — the divine and the human. We go on a tangent if we emphasize one without the other.
Election is a vital doctrine for Christian living as we shall see in successive studies.