II Thess. 2:13-14
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Will Rogers once said: "The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected." Again he said, "On account of us being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does." And one last Rogers quote, "The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office."
The campaign to elect the next President of the United States has already begun. The other day I was listening to the BBC analysis of this campaign. The British commentator expressed astonishment at the length of the American Presidential campaign—eighteen months. The commentator said that neither the British public nor British politicians would stand for such a long ordeal. I have heard the same observation from other folks. We have people who spend more time running for office than they spend in office after they are elected, and they are no sooner elected than they start running for office again. That is weird.
Today I want to talk about another kind of election. We do not vote in this election, only God gets a vote. Election is an old doctrine that describes God’s choice of his family. Unconditional election says that before God created the world, God chose to save some people according to his own purposes and apart from any conditions related to those people. Election is one aspect of predestination in which God elects certain individuals to be saved. The elect receive mercy, while those not elected, who are called the reprobate, receive justice. This election is called "unconditional" because God’s choice to save someone does not hinge on anything inherent in the person or on any act that the person performs or on any belief that person exercises.
Another related doctrine is called “Total Depravity” or “Total Inability.” Total Depravity says that sin has so corrupted human nature that no one is able to come to God unless God first gives them the Holy Spirit, which produces a love for God in their hearts. Hence, the believer choses God only because God has already chosen, or elected, that believer. Hence, God’s choice in election is based solely on God's own independent and sovereign will and not upon the foreseen actions of people.
Unconditional Election derives ultimately from the love of God. There were no conditions or circumstances or abilities in us which deserved salvation, but God saved us anyway. God loved us so much that he would not give us up.
Thus Jesus says in John 15:16: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
Again in Romans 9, the Apostle Paul writes: “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
And then we have this passage from 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. Notice, first of all, that in v13, the Apostle Paul is giving thanks. He is not praising the Christians at Thessalonica for being Christians. He is praising God that God has chosen them to be Christians. He calls them “ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ Κυρίου,” “beloved of the Lord,” or “beloved by the Lord.” The apostle says, the Lord loves you. How do you know that? How do you know that the Lord loves you? He has chosen you. The Greek reads, “ὅτι εἵλετο ὑμᾶς ὁ Θεὸς.” The verb “εἵλετο”—which translates as “he chose”—has a little extra meaning. It means he chose for himself. You are beloved of God and you know that because God has chosen you to be his personal possession.
The verse continues, saying that God chose us “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” we are made holy through the Holy Spirit, and through faith. That is, God calls us by his Spirit and leads us into the truth of the gospel that we might have the same glory as the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is a wonderful blessing for the elect. That is something to be happy about. But some folks, hearing this doctrine, protest that it is not fair for God to choose some and not to choose others.
Let me reply in this way: If I asked you here today, “Do you want to be saved?” You would reply, “Of course I do.” But, for many people not in church today, their reply is “No, I do not want to be saved.” They do not actually say that, but effectually that is their reply. They are indifferent to the gospel. They do not care about God. Why should God care about them? They did not want to be chosen anyway. Why should they complain if they are not chosen? If you love the gospel, God has chosen for you to have that love. If you do not, why should you say that God ought to have given you what you do not want anyway?
Suppose I have in my hand something which you regard as totally worthless, and I give it to another person. You have no right to complain that I did not give it to you. You did not want it anyway.
This is the way salvation works. If you seek after salvation, it is there for you. God gives to all who ask, but only those who have the Holy Spirit ask. If you love the Lord and the promises of the gospel, then God has elected you to receive those promises, and you will have them; but if you never had a care for the things of God, why should you find fault with God that you do not have those things.
Again, some critics would say, that it is not right for God to predestine some to go to hell. But realize that all who are going to hell have chosen that way. They want to go to hell. They prove that by not believing in Jesus, by despising the church and all the things of God. They do not want to have anything to do with God so they go on to where God is not. That is only right and just. If in God’s mercy, God has chosen to save a remnant for his special possession, what is that to them? They want to go in another way, and so God lets them go.
I know that what I am saying is the opposite to what most people say. Most people say that God looks down from heaven and chooses people because they are good. God chooses his people on account of their good works or their good character. Therefore, people save themselves—by their good works, by their good character. But the Bible says that no one is saved by works or character because no one is that good.
Again some would teach that people are saved by their faith. They had faith; God saw that they had faith, and therefore God saved them. But again this makes faith a work that I do. I have faith and God saves me because of something I do.
This is a misunderstanding of faith. Faith is a gift of God. The only reason we have faith is because the Holy Spirit leads us to believe. Therefore, faith does not cause God to accept us, because it is not from us. Therefore, our only hope, our only plea, is not from anything within us. We cast ourselves entirely upon the love of God that we find in Jesus.
The sacrament of baptism is an excellent illustration of Unconditional Election. What has little Grant Lawrence Corde’ ever done to deserve to be saved? Nothing. He has not had any good thoughts, not said any good words, not done any good deeds. Of course not, he is a baby. We baptize babies as a sign and seal of the covenant of grace. We come before God as babies, having done nothing to deserve salvation. And God in his love saves us anyway.
So let me conclude all this. You should love the doctrine of Unconditional Election. The apostle Paul does. He is rejoicing in a salvation based entirely on God’s choice. But first of all, we have to admit the justice of it. As sinners, we are condemned, we are lost, and that is what we deserve. I sometimes hear people talk about getting their just deserts. If we get our just deserts as sinners before an angry God, we are sentenced to hell. That is right. That is justice. We cannot make any progress in salvation until we realize that.
I do not deserve to be saved. If someone else is saved, I still have no complaint, because I do not deserve it. If God decides to cast me into hell, I deserve it; and if God saves another person, god have every right to do that, and I have not been cheated in any way, because I got what I deserved. That is the only proper attitude that we can have.
But anyone who has that attitude already has the spirit of God. The unrepentant sinner, the reprobate, does not think anything like that. They do not say God is just to condemn me. They scramble around looking for some good in themselves so that they can claim heaven.
But it is a mark of the Holy Spirit, that we know that we cannot justly claim heaven. When we honestly say that, from the heart, we are not far from the kingdom of heaven. We are brought to where we ought to be, where the Spirit wants us to be.
Then, at that crucial point in our lives, instead of demanding justice, we desperately cling to any hope of mercy. We are not saying, “God let me into heaven because I am this or that,” we are saying, “Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me of my sins. Have mercy on me.” And the same spirit that led us to confess our sins then gives us an assurance that we are indeed forgiven, that we are indeed pardoned.
The Lord Jesus died on the cross to obtain forgiveness for us, for you and me. That is the source of Christian joy. That is the source of Christian comfort. Jesus has obtained forgiveness for me. Praise God. Jesus has obtained heaven for me. Praise God
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
Praise God. Amen.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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