“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:”
The previous verse described the addressees of I Peter by their geographical address. This verse describes them according to their spiritual address.
“Election” is to special privilege. Often, as here, the New Testament uses election of salvation. It means election to eternal life. “Election” is a title of dignity. That title applies only to the Christian. The preeminent thought in election is privilege, not deliverance from judgment.
The word “elect” means to pick out or choose out of a number. It means to select out of a number. It was used in Greek literature to select a gray hair out of a number of black hairs. In other ancient literature, it was used for “picked troops.” Some soldiers were chosen over others because of their unusual gifts in the art of war. They were crack troops. They were handpicked men.
God handpicked the believers scattered over Asia Minor. In an election, we chose out a given candidate from a slate of candidates. God is the one who makes the selection. Both God’s selection and our decision are involved in the process. Both election and free will are equally taught in Scripture. They are the corresponding halves of the doctrine of salvation. Election is the Godward side and free will is the manward side.
Election is one of the greatly misunderstood subjects of the Word of God. Around this doctrine, a great mirage of doubt and pride has arisen. On one side of the issue, a perversion of the doctrine of election leads to fatalism. Election does not mean that God chose some to the saved or others lost. The Scripture clearly teaches that all men are lost and need to be saved.
On the other hand, we often hear people say that they “found the Savior.” The Savior was never lost. We have it backward; he found us. We did not choose him; he chose us first.
It is amazing that God chose us knowing what we knew about us. Of all the creatures on this earth, he chose us. He knew everything about us. He knew our sin. We were undeserving, yet he selected us. He watched over us so that we would not die before we came to know Christ. He sent ministering angels to watch over our salvation (Heb. 1:14). Everyone elect will come to him (John 6:37).
The test of whether we are elect is whether we come to Christ (Jn. 6:37). Steel always attracts a magnet. The elect always attracts to Christ.
None of this lessens our responsibility to make a decision for Christ. The Bible also teaches the freedom of the will.
John 1:11-13, ”He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John 5:40 “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
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.”
Rev. 22:17 ”And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
Scripture teaches both sovereign election and free will.
The Bible teaches both the sovereign election of God and the free agency of man. Man, however, is free only in a relative sense else we would be billions of semi-gods. God would no longer be the first cause of all things. Therefore, we are only free to choose within the framework God has set up for us.
We may illustrate this by an architect who draws plans for a building. The architect draws up the plans but there is latitude. When the carpenter builds the building he follows generally the plan of the architect. The architect does not plan how the carpenter should drive each nail, lay each board. He leaves that to the choice of the carpenter.
God has elected some to be saved, but he has given to each person a human will to choose to be saved or not.