Election is a major New Testament doctrine. “Elect,” “elected,” and “election” appear 23 times in the New Testament. “Elect” is one of the chief terms for the saved. It is a synonym for salvation. The saved are the elect, and the elect are the saved. “Elect” is eklogé, which is also translated “chosen” (Joh. 15:16, 19; Ac. 9:15; 1 Co. 1:27; Eph. 1:4). The term “chosen” is also used for God’s election (Mt. 20:16; 22:14; Joh. 15:19; Eph. 1:4; 2 Th. 2:13; 1 Pe. 2:9; Re. 17:14).
The doctrine of election is intended to be an encouragement to every born again believer. As taught in Scripture, election is not something to puzzle over and be confused about. It is something to be instructed by, edified by, comforted by, established by, strengthened by. We can’t understand everything about election at this present time, since everything is not revealed, but that which is taught in Scripture can be understood by God’s Spirit and is to be studied and believed.
The doctrine of election has been corrupted and confused by false teaching. “Sovereign election.” was promoted by the heretic Augustine and popularized by John Calvin. It is the doctrine that God chose some sinners for salvation and for them only Christ died and they alone can be saved. According to sovereign election, God’s choice has nothing to do with His foreknowledge of who will believe. The sovereignly elect are irresistibly drawn and given faith as a gift. The “non-elect” are left in their sins and there is nothing they can do to be saved. This is a slander on God’s character. It is refuted by the clear teaching of hundreds of individual passages and by the whole tenor of Scripture. Though we do not know everything about election and we cannot fathom all of its details, we know what is revealed and by that we know that the love of God and the salvation of God is for the whole world. Consider the following fundamental passage on salvation:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Joh. 3:16-18).
God loved the world and sent His Son to save the world. The term “world,” which is used three times here, is never used for the elect. The “world” here is the whole world of lost sinners. God loved them, all of them, and gave His only begotten Son to save those who believe. If I am in the world, salvation was provided for me and I can be saved. Any sinner in the world can believe and be saved. Salvation is a “whosoever” offer, and God is not playing games. “Whosoever” does not mean whosoever of the elect. John 3:16-18 teaches that the elect are those who believe in Christ. That is a fundamental doctrine of election. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any sinner can be saved and can be the elect of God. When the Bible says that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Pe. 1:2), it is referring to God’s foreknowledge of who will believe. That much is clear. If God’s election means more than this, and there are hints in Scripture that it might mean more than this (e.g., Joh. 6:37; Ac. 13:48), we are not told at this time what more it might mean, and we will learn about that only when it pleases God to give more revelation. But we know that election cannot mean that God has pre-elected only a certain number of sinners irregardless of their faith and that only those can be saved, because this is so plainly refuted by Scripture. Whatever election means, it means that God wants all sinners to be saved, Christ died to make it possible for all sinners to be saved, and all sinners can be saved.
1 Peter 1:2-5
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
“Elect” is eklektos, which is translated “chosen” in 1 Pe. 2:9 (as well as in Mt. 20:16; 22:14; Ro. 16:13; Re. 17:14). It is often used as a description of the saved (Mt. 24:22, 24, 31; Lu. 18:7; Ro. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2 Ti. 2:10; Tit. 1:1; Re. 17:14).
Election is one of the most amazing revelations of Scripture. It should be an ever-increasing source of encouragement and delight for every born again child of God, but the issue is fraught with danger for those who are not content with exactly what the Bible says. Election is not something that the finite human mind can comprehend with any fullness, and there are a thousand questions that cannot be answered. God has told us everything He wants us to know for now, and what He has revealed we have the capacity to understand. Beyond that, we must heed Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
We must also obey the Bible and mark and avoid heretics (Ro. 16:17; 2 Ti. 2:16), and Augustine and John Calvin were most definitely heretics. These are the men most responsible for the doctrine of “sovereign election,” whereby God allegedly pre-determines who will be saved.
John Calvin expressed the doctrine of unconditional election in these words: “Predestination we call the decree of God, by which He has determined in himself, what he would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death. … we assert that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, chap. 21).
Augustine sovereign election like this: “The elect of God are chosen by Him to be His children, in order that they might be made to believe, not because He foresaw that they would believe” (cited by Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 1932, p. 101).
Both men held to baptismal regeneration and progressive salvation, which is a false gospel, a fundamental and damnable heresy.
Calvin taught that salvation is a process, but this is false. Though a process of hearing the gospel, conviction, and spiritual enlightenment precedes it, salvation itself is a birth (Joh. 3:3). It is to be made alive from spiritual death (Eph. 2:1). It is to be delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). No other type of salvation is described in the book of Acts. We think of the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost, the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul, Cornelius, Lydia, and the Philippian jailer. But John Calvin had no such conversion experience. He taught that “as the efficacy of baptism does not depend upon the person who administers it, we confess that those baptized in it [the Roman Catholic Church] do not need a second baptism” (Gallican Confession, 1559, Art. 28). Thus he continued to trust in baptismal regeneration as taught by Rome.
In the only mention of conversion in all of his extant writings, Calvin wrote, “God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame” (preface of his Commentary on the Book of Psalms (1557). Dr. David Beale says, “Such conversion sounds to me like a mere intellectual enlightenment. ... by equating the terms conversion, repentance, and regeneration, Calvin clearly teaches progressive salvation. Calvin speaks of a ‘commencement of conversion,’ whereby ‘God begins his good work in us’ (Institutes of the Christian Religion 2.3.6). ‘The whole of conversion,’ says Calvin, is understood under the term repentance’ (Calvin, Institutes, 3.3.5.). ‘In one word, then, by repentance I understand regeneration.’ To those professing Christ, ‘God assigns repentance as the goal towards which they must keep running during the whole course of their lives’ (Calvin, Institutes, 3.3.9.).
Calvin’s doctrine that salvation is progressive was strongly influenced by Augustine’s life and works. Calvin said, “Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so ... out of his writings” (Calvin, “A Treatise on the Eternal Predestination of God,” trans. by Henry Cole, Calvin’s Calvinism, Grandville, MI: Reformed Free Publishing, 1987, p. 38).
“Augustine describes his so-called ‘garden experience’ and water baptism as initial stages of a lifelong, progressive conversion” (See David Beale, “Augustine: His Life and Influence,” Historical Theology In-Depth, 2013, 1:334-50).
The basis of election (“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” 1 Pe. 1:2).
- The basis is God’s “foreknowledge,” which is the Greek prognosis, a compound of two words, pro (before) gnosis (know). Prognosis is used in medical practice to forecast the outcome of a disease. To give a prognosis requires knowledge of how a disease progresses and what the patient will experience.
- We see the same basis of election in Romans 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate...” Here, foreknow is proginosko, which is a combination of pro (before) and ginosko (to know). God knows and declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10).
- In Acts 2:23, prognosis or foreknowledge is clearly distinguished from God’s “determinate counsel.” That God knows all things and works all things together within His eternal plans is not the same as God determining all things. Yet Calvinism confuses these two things and defines foreknowledge as foreordination. John Calvin commented on 1 Peter 1:2 as follows, “God knew before the world was created whom he had elected for salvation. ... Hence, when Peter calls them elect according to the precognition of God, he intimates that the cause of it depends on nothing else but on God alone, for he of his own free will has chosen us.” When Calvin says election depends on nothing but God alone, he is saying that election has nothing to do with man’s faith in the gospel. He is saying that a sinner believes because of election and that he is not elect because he believes. Calvin comments on Romans 8:29 as follows, “It hence follows, that this knowledge is connected with God’s good pleasure; for he foreknew nothing out of himself, in adopting those whom he was pleased to adopt; but only marked out those whom he had purposed to elect.” Again, Calvin defines foreknowledge in such a way that he changes it to foreordination, but there is no authority for Calvin’s doctrine in the text itself. Neither Paul nor Peter say that God’s foreknowledge depends on nothing but Himself; neither of them define election as “sovereign.” To the contrary, in both of these major passages on election, we are taught that election begins with God’s foreknowledge, not with His foreordination. Calvin would have Paul saying, “For whom he did sovereignly predestinate, he also did predestinate,” and Peter saying, “Elect according to the sovereign foreordination of God...” Calvin reads Augustinian theology into Scripture. As we have seen, Calvin stated that his theology on election was from Augustine. Calvinism adds such terms as “sovereign” and “determinate will” to God’s election, but this is based on human reasoning. Consider this comment by Thomas Constable: “Election originates in the eternal will and purpose of God the Father. ... God’s foreknowledge has an element of determinism in it because whatever really happens that God knows beforehand exists or takes place because of His sovereign will. Therefore when Peter wrote that God chose according to His foreknowledge he did not mean that God chose the elect because He knew beforehand they would believe the gospel (the Arminian position). God chose them because He determined beforehand that they would believe the gospel (the Calvinist position).” Note the human reasoning here: “because whatever really happens that God knows beforehand exists or takes place because of His sovereign will.” What is the biblical authority for that? There is none. Everything that happens is not God’s sovereign will. Sin and rebellion are not God’s sovereign will; they are the acts of creatures who have been given a choice. It is God’s express will that all men be saved, but all men are not saved, and that is because God has given them a choice in the matter. Peter simply says that election is “according to the foreknowledge of God,” and he doesn’t define foreknowledge as God’s sovereign choice. Constable cites Ro. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:3-6; 1 Th. 1:4; 1 Pe. 5:13, but none of those passages tell us that God’s foreknowledge is God’s “sovereign choice” or that God’s election has nothing to do with man’s faith. All of this is read into the Scripture from human theology. The Bible student is not required to make a choice between Arminianism and Calvinism. The sound Bible student is a Biblicist. He is only required to believe God’s Word. Every Calvinist believes he has the right to reject or modify some parts of, or conclusions of, Calvin. I agree with that 100%, and I say, further, that I also have the right to reject the entire Calvinist system of theology if I am convinced that it is not supported by Scripture!
- When we let the Bible speak for itself on this subject, the confusion disappears, because the confusion is caused by a theological system that adds to the Scripture. If election is based on God’s foreknowledge, which it plainly and emphatically is, then there is no contradiction between God’s election and man’s choice as described in the “whosoever” passages (e.g., Mt. 11:28; Mr. 16:15-16; Joh. 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:40; 7:37-38; 11:26; 12:46; 20:30-31; Ac. 10:43; 16:31; Ro. 1:16; 3:22-26; 9:33; 10:10-13, 32; 1 Pe. 2:6; 1 Jo. 4:14; Re. 22:17). In these passages we find the answer to the question, “What does God foreknow?” The answer is that He foreknows who will believe the gospel. We see this in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. God’s choosing is through belief of the gospel. He chooses those who believe the gospel through the sanctifying ministry of the Spirit (enlightening, convicting, drawing). We see this in Titus 1:1. God’s elect are those who have faith and acknowledge the truth of the gospel. Calvinism says the elect will believe; the Bible says those who believe are elect. If there is more to God’s election than this, and there certainly might be, the Bible does not reveal it, so it is not our concern. One preacher described salvation as a door, and on the outside are the words “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish,” and on the inside are the words “chosen before the foundation of the world.” (For more on this, see The Calvinism Debate, available as a free eBook from www.wayoflife.org.)
- Election is described in Christ’s parable of the wedding banquet (Mt. 22:1-14). The king’s servants are sent “out into the highways” to gather guests for the wedding. This represents the worldwide preaching of the gospel (Mr. 16:15). A man was found in attendance without a wedding garment and was cast into outer darkness. This represents someone who professes Christ but isn’t born again or clothed in the righteousness of the justified. The parable ends, “For many are called, but few are chosen [eklektos]” (Mt. 22:14). The many who are called are those who hear the gospel; the chosen are those who respond in repentance and faith.
- God’s foreknowledge of Christ is different from His foreknowledge of the elect. 1 Peter 1:20 says Christ “was foreordained before the foundation of the world. Here “foreordained” is proginosko, which is the same word used in Romans 8:29 for the election of the believer. But the translators of the King James Bible translated it “foreknow” in Romans 8:29 and “foreordain” in 1 Pe. 1:20, because God’s proginosko of Christ is different than merely knowing. It involves God’s appointment of Christ to be the Saviour, the sending of Him into the world, the timing of His coming, and all of the events of His coming.
The method or means of election (“through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” 1 Pe. 1:2)
- The means of election is “through sanctification of the Spirit.” It is the Spirit of God who brings the sinner into the practical reality of election. The Spirit sanctifies the sinner, which means He sets the sinner apart for God. This is further stated in 1 Pe. 1:22, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit...” See also 2 Th. 2:13 and 1 Co. 6:11. The sinner comes to salvation by the Spirit. He does not come to God on his own. The Spirit of God reproves the sinner of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Joh. 16:7-11), draws him (Joh. 12:32), enlightens him (Joh. 1:9), and calls him to repentance and faith (Ac. 11:18; 20:21; 2 Pe. 3:9). All of this is accomplished by the preaching of the gospel. Where there is no proclamation of the gospel, there is no calling. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Th. 2:14). It is by the preaching of the gospel by the believers that the Spirit witnesses of Christ (Ac. 1:8). It was by the preaching of the gospel on the day of Pentecost that the hearers were pricked in their hearts and repented and believed (Ac. 2:37-41). It was by the preaching of the gospel that the Spirit of God opened Lydia’s heart (Ac. 16:13-15). Salvation is always the product of the sanctification of the Spirit. Men preach the gospel, but men cannot do the work of salvation in sinner’s hearts. Sinners cannot enlighten themselves, open their own hearts, convict themselves, or regenerate themselves. All of this is the work of the Spirit. Consider the following explanation by J. Frank Norris: “Every time you go into a home, every time you talk to a man on the street car, or in the shops, or factories, you have the absolute assurance that there is another One also witnessing. And that is God Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit! ... Everywhere Barnabas and Saul went the Holy Spirit was there waiting for them. ... The same Divine Spirit that called and separated Barnabas and Saul was by the river and opened the heart of Lydia while Paul witnessed to her--‘whose heart the Lord opened ... that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul’ (Acts 16:14). There you have the whole thing in a nutshell. God’s side of the witnessing and man’s side. Therefore, every time you go forth on your personal visitation for Jesus Christ, to tell of His salvation, you have the absolute assurance that the Holy Spirit precedes you, goes with you, talks with you, walks with you, and opens the hearts of all you talk to. ... This was the greatest truth that ever came into my life next to my salvation. Do you want a holy boldness in your testimony? then go forth and testify of Christ. Suppose you don’t feel like it. Go anyway. The Word does not say that God gives the Holy Spirit to them that feel like it. But He gives the Holy Spirit to them that ‘obey Him’ (Acts 5:32)” (The Inside Story of First Baptist Church).
- The means of election is “unto obedience.” This is not obedience in Christian living; it is obedience in believing the gospel. It is not the obedience of works; it is the obedience of faith. “... my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ ... made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Ro. 16:25-26). Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (Joh. 6:29). Compare Ro. 3:24-25; 4:2-8; Eph. 2:8-10. Years earlier, Peter had come to understand that salvation is by faith, both for Jews and Gentiles, as he said in the Jerusalem Council, “God ... put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Ac. 15:9). In the second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul said the same thing. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Th. 2:13). The truth here is the gospel of Christ, which “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Ro. 1:16). The method of election, then, is the Spirit’s work in the sinner’s heart and soul and conscience to bring him to faith in the gospel. This work of God’s love and grace by His Spirit is bestowed upon all who hear the gospel, for the gospel is to be preached to all (Mr. 16:15). All men are enlightened (Joh. 1:9); all are drawn (Joh. 12:32). But this work of the Spirit is not “irresistible.” We see it resisted throughout the books of Acts and the entire church age. “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Ac. 7:51).
- The means of election is the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pe. 1:2). The sprinkling of the blood refers to the application of the blood of the Levitical sacrifices to Israel under the Old Covenant. The sprinkling of the blood is mentioned 26 times in Leviticus. The blood was sprinkled on the altar (Le. 1:5), before the veil (Le. 4:6), on Aaron and his sons at their anointing (Le. 8:30), on the leper when he is healed (Le. 14:7), on the leper house (Le. 14:51), and on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat (Le. 16:14). Christ is the fulfillment of these sacrifices, and His blood is “sprinkled” in the sense of being put to the account of believing sinners. So in 1 Peter 1:2, we see that the Spirit of God brings the sinner to repentance and faith which results in the application of the blood of Christ. The blood is the price of redemption. Christ gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Ti. 2:6 Jo. 2:2), but the ransom is applied only to those who believe. The application of the blood is to have one’s name written in the Lamb’s book of life (Php. 4:3). This is portrayed in the Passover. The Lamb’s blood was shed for all, but it had to be individually applied (Ex. 12:6-7, 13). The angel of judgment only passed over those houses upon which the blood was applied.
The God of election (1 Pe. 1:2-6)
- Peter’s teaching on election emphasizes the God of election and thanksgiving to Him (“blessed be the God,” 1 Pe. 1:3). Sinners are the benefactors of election, but all the glory belongs to God. He conceived of and accomplished salvation by Himself. He is worthy to receive eternal blessing from His creatures.
- The God of election is the Triune God (“God the father ... the Spirit ... Jesus Christ”). Peter doesn’t argue for the Trinity or explain the Trinity; he simply states the Trinity as a reality. He speaks of God as Father, Son, and Spirit. He repeats this in verses 2 and 3. The Father is God, but Jesus is Lord, which is the same thing as God. God is a Father and a Son. Peter teaches us that the Triune God is united in the work of election and that each Person of the Godhead has an individual role. The Father foreknew the elect, has abundant mercy toward the elect, and regenerates the elect to a living hope. The Son accomplished the atoning sacrifice by His blood and death, which infers His incarnation by the virgin birth. The Spirit brings sinners to the obedience of faith by His manifold operations.
- Let every elect soul follow Peter’s example and bless God continually. We must not allow the trials of this present time to cause us to focus on ourselves. The focus must be God, always God, His highness, His goodness, His worthiness, His glory, His plan, His will.
The price of election (“the blood of Jesus Christ,” 1 Pe. 1:2)
- The price of election is the blood of Christ. It is called “precious” in 1 Pe. 1:19, meaning valuable. It is the Greek timlos, which is used of a precious stone (1 Co. 3:12; Re. 21:19). The value of Christ’s blood cannot be measured. It was so valuable that it was sufficient to redeem all of mankind (“gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Ti. 2:6). See also 1 Jo. 2:2. The blood of Christ as the price of election is emphasized everywhere in Scripture. See Ex. 12:13; Ac. 20:28; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:14). “and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pe. 1:18-19). “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Re. 1:5). “for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Re. 5:9).
The security of election (1 Pe. 1:2-5)
- The main purpose of this revelation is to encourage the believer in his standing with God. That I am elect of God, foreknown of God, is a teaching that is glorious beyond comprehension in its practical application. I am the object of God’s saving love. The eternal Triune God knew me before the world was made. He loved me; He included me in His eternal plan; He made me in the womb according to His blueprint (Ps. 139:13-16); He controlled the details of my birth and life to bring me to salvation and to prepare me for His will; His Spirit sanctified me by reproving me of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Joh. 16:7-11), drawing me (Joh. 12:32), witnessing to me of Christ (Ac. 1:8), and calling me to repentance and faith (Ac. 11:18; 20:21; 2 Pe. 3:9). When Christ died on the cross He had me in mind. Every believer can say with Paul that Christ “loved me, and gave himself for me” (Ga. 2:20). Every believer can say with David that God’s thoughts toward me are without number (Ps. 139:17-18). As a believer, I can consider myself and know that God formed me in the womb as His elect. I can look back at my whole life and see that God led me all the way as His elect. In Romans 8:28-29, foreknowledge and predestination (or election) are connected with God working all things together for good to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose. This is not wishful thinking or blind mysticism; it is the teaching of God’s infallible Word. Every born again believer can delight in the fact that he is the elect of God.
- Election promises the security of the believer. We have touched on some of these things already, but here we want to bring together all of the elements of security that are mentioned in this passage.
- The believer is secure because he is elect (1 Pe. 1:2). No matter how you define the basis of election, the fact remains that the believer is elect of God. It is plainly stated in Scripture, which cannot be broken. The believer has been the object of God’s saving grace from eternity.
- The believer is secure because of the sanctification of the Spirit (1 Pe. 1:2). He that was foreknown by the Father has been brought to saving faith by the Spirit.
- The believer is secure because of the blood of Christ. As we have seen, the blood of Christ is precious, valuable The price of the sinner’s redemption is perfectly sufficient to take away all sin.
- The believer is secure because of the multiplication of grace and peace (1 Pe. 1:2). In the very heart of his teaching about election, Peter pronounces, “Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” If grace and peace are multiplied to me by God, then I am secure! The term “multiplied” emphasizes the greatness of the grace and peace that I possess. It is God’s will that the conscious, experiential blessing of salvation increase throughout my earthly sojourn (and forever), and not merely by addition, but by multiplication! “Multiplied” is the Greek plethuno, meaning “to be multiplied, increased in number, in magnitude, extent” (Complete Word Study Dictionary). It is translated “abound” (Mt. 24:12), Grace is God’s unmerited favor; it is the opposite of something that is earned or deserved (Ro. 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9). Peace is the product of being reconciled to God. Before salvation, I am at enmity with God, but because of salvation I am at peace with Him. If I have God’s grace and peace, I don’t need anything else. I am perfectly secure. As Paul says in Romans 8, since God has justified us by Christ’s atonement, who can condemn us? “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Ro. 8:31-32).
- The believer is secure because of God’s “abundant mercy” (1 Pe. 1:3). Man’s sin is great, but God’s mercy in Christ is greater. It is abundant, super-abounding, multiplied. “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Ro. 5:20).
- The believer is secure because salvation is “a lively hope” (1 Pe. 1:3). The believer’s hope is a living, sure, confident hope. Compare Heb. 6:19, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast...” It is hope unclouded by doubt.
- The believer is secure because of “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pe. 1:3). The resurrection proved that God accepted Christ’s offering for sin and guarantees that sin has been put away. “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Ro. 4:25).
- The believer is secure because he has “an inheritance” that is reserved in heaven for him (1 Pe. 1:4). Salvation is a very big thing. It is a finished thing, not a preliminary thing. It is a possession, not a possibility. It is a fully paid for thing. It is receiving the purchased gift of an eternal inheritance. Every believer can say, “I am a joint-heir with Christ, and my great inheritance is already in heaven and is reserved for me.” How secure! We will look at this inheritance under the next point in these studies on election.
- The believer is secure because he is “kept by the power of God” (1 Pe. 1:5). The keeping of the believer is God’s work. The word “kept” is the Greek phroureo, which is a military word meaning “to guard.” See 2 Co. 11:32, where a garrison of Roman soldiers guarded a city. It refers to a strong and alert sentinel, and in this case, the sentinel is almighty God! I am not saved by my work, and I cannot keep myself by my work. It is all God’s power, and it is all by faith. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Ro. 1:17).
The inheritance of election (1 Pe. 1:4)
- The salvation of the church-age believer is a very great thing!
- The inheritance is illustrated by Rebekah who was called to be Isaac’s bride in Genesis 24. Suddenly she was looking at the prospect of being the bride of Isaac, the inheritor of all of Abraham’s riches. Now she was totally interested in Isaac and the Promised Land and Isaac’s inheritance, both spiritual and physical.
- The inheritance is vaguely like a poor individual in a third world nation being adopted by Bill Gates to be his son and an American citizen. Normally, if such a person heard about Bill Gates and America, he would be only mildly interested, at the most, in learning about these things. But if he were notified that he had been adopted by Gates, he would suddenly be extremely interested in everything about Gates and his possessions and about America. Likewise, those who read the Bible but aren’t saved, aren’t very interested. But those who are adopted by God and are citizens of heaven and joint heirs with Christ are exceedingly interested in these things. In addition to 1 Pe. 1:3-4, see Ro. 8:14-17; Php. 3:20-21; Col. 3:1-4.
- The inheritance is all of the spiritual blessings in Christ. This is described in Ephesians 1-3. “who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in “ (1:3), “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (1:4), “adoption of children” (1:5), “accepted” (1:6), “redemption” (1:7), “forgiveness of sins” (1:7), “abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (1:8), “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (1:13), “quickened us together with Christ” (2:5), “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ” (2:6), “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (2:10), “made nigh” (2:13), “fellowcitizens with the saints” (2:19). We have these blessings today, but we also have sin and trials that hinder our enjoyment of them.
- The greatest part of the inheritance is Christ Himself and to be in a position to know Him intimately. Salvation is to know Christ (Joh. 17:3). It is to come to Him and learn of Him (Mt. 11:28-30). Salvation is to “joy in God” (Ro. 5:11). This is the last of six blessings of salvation that Paul lists in Romans 5:1-11, but it is not the least blessing; it is the chief. The inheritance is Hannah singing, “My heart rejoiceth in the LORD; mine horn is exalted in the LORD” (1 Sa. 2:1). The occasion was God’s answer to prayer in giving her a son, but her rejoicing was first and foremost in God Himself. The inheritance is Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and hearing His word (Lu. 10:39). The inheritance is David saying, “God is my exceeding joy” (Ps. 43:4) and “my meditation of him shall be sweet” (Ps. 104:34). It is John lying on Jesus’ bosom (Joh. 13:23). It is the disciples eating breakfast with Jesus (Joh. 21:12-13). As soon as they knew it was Jesus, they forgot their fishing and immediately went to Him. It is Paul saying that he turned his back on everything he once valued, “That I may know him” (Php. 3:10). To know Christ is to know Him as everything He is, and the Bible is written to reveal Him. The main thing to see in Scripture is Christ. He is the eternal Son of God. He was forever with the Father (Joh. 1:1-2; 17:5). He is Almighty. He is the Creator of all things (Joh. 1:3). He is the God of Genesis 1. He is omnipotent. There is nothing He cannot do. He is omniscient. All treasures of wisdom are hid in Him (Col. 2:3; Da. 2:20, 22; Pr. 8:16-17). There is nothing He does not know. He is the Creator of life and the sustainer of life. He is the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God, the High Priest, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Head of the Church, the Alpha and Omega, and a thousand other things. He is the Author of history (Da. 2:21). He is the God who made Adam and the world for Adam, the God who judged Adam, the God who clothed Adam, the God who sent Adam out of the garden, the God who called Noah and destroyed the world with a flood, the God who confounded the languages at Babel, the God who called Abraham and led Abraham and walked with him and protected him through his wanderings, the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, the God who created Israel from the sons of Jacob, the God who took Israel into Egypt, the God who brought Israel out of Egypt, the God who gave Israel the Promised Land, the God who kept Israel during the time of the judges, the God who kept Israel during the time of the kings, etc. To know this God in Christ is the inheritance.
- The inheritance is to be glorified with Christ in His millennial kingdom. See Ro. 8:17-18; Col. 3:4; 2 Th. 2:14; 1 Pe. 4:13; 5:1. Christ will come in glory and sit upon a throne of glory (Mt. 19:28; 25:31). To understand the believer’s inheritance in Christ requires understanding glory. “Glory” has many meanings in Scripture, but here it is the splendor, beauty, wealth, power of Christ’s millennial kingdom. It is illustrated by “Solomon in all his glory” (Mt. 6:29). Solomon’s kingdom was the richest that has existed on earth. Silver was counted as nothing (1 Ki. 10:21). From far-flung places, gold and every sort of desirable goods were brought to Solomon, which he used to glorify his kingdom (1 Ki. 10:10-12, 14-27). Solomon’s kingdom was so glorious that the queen of Sheba nearly fainted when she saw it (1 Ki. 10:4-8), and she was a fabulously wealthy ruler in her own right. The glory of Christ’s kingdom was prefigured by the transfiguration of Christ. On that occasion, Peter said they “were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pe. 1:16). Luke says, “... the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering ... in glory” (Lu. 9:29-31), and Matthew says, “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Mt. 17:2). This is the glory of God that was veiled in Christ’s earthly sojourn. It is the glory of the angels. “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them” (Lu. 2:9); “I saw another angel come down from heaven ... and the earth was lightened with his glory” (Re. 18:1). In Christ’s kingdom, the glory of the angels will be unveiled.
- The inheritance is to live in palaces (Ps. 45:8, 15). This is a Psalm about the king (Ps. 45:1). Hebrews 1:8-9 explains that in Psalm 45, God the Father is contemplating the Son and His eternal kingdom. The king is the fairest of men (Ps. 45:2). Grace is poured into His lips (Ps. 45:2). It was said of Jesus, “Never man spake like this man” (Joh. 7:46). The citizens of Nazareth “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Lu. 4:22). The king is most mighty (Ps. 45:3). He will ride in majesty (Ps. 45: 4). He will be prosperous (Ps. 45:4). He will wield the sword and overthrow His enemies (Ps. 45:4-5). He will establish truth, meekness, and righteousness (Ps. 45:4). Contrast the lies, pride, and unrighteousness that characterize this present world. He is God (Ps. 45:6). His throne is eternal (Ps. 45:6). He loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Ps. 45:7). He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows (Ps. 45:7). He lives in ivory palaces (Ps. 45:8). His garment smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia (Ps. 45:8). He is glad (Ps. 45:8). He has a queen dressed in gold (Ps. 45:9). The queen is exhorted to forget her own people (Ps. 45:10). He is the queen’s Lord (Ps. 45:11). He is the queen’s Father (Ps. 45:13). The rich of the world will bring gifts (Ps. 45:12). He will be praised forever (Ps. 45:17).
- The inheritance is to live in the glorified Jerusalem, which is a major theme of Messianic prophecy. Jerusalem will be “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” (Ps. 48:1). Isaiah sees Jerusalem built with fair colors, her foundations with sapphires, her windows of agates, her gates of carbuncles, and her borders of pleasant stones (Isa. 54:11-12). The glory of God (Eze. 43:2-5) will shine through and be reflected by the precious stones that compose the city’s buildings and walls. The Gentile nations will bring their wealth to Israel to beautify the city. See Ps. 68:29; Isa. 23:18; 45:14; 49:23; 60:10-17; 61:5-6. The Millennial Temple, which will reside within an outer court about a mile square, will sit at the top of a mountain north of Jerusalem (Eze. 43:12). Splendid in composition, it will be filled with Christ’s glory (Eze. 44:4). Christ will enter the eastern gate in His glory on the cherubims (Eze. 43:1-4; 44:4). Ezekiel says that Christ’s entrance into the Temple from the east will be according to the vision that is described in the early chapters of his book. From a distance, the coming of Christ toward His Temple will appear like this: “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire” (Eze. 1:4). In the midst of this great cloud of fiery glory are Christ’s cherubims, with their wheels and rings as described in Ezekiel 1. Above the cherubims and the wheels is a firmament on which Christ sits on His throne of glory. The firmament is described as something that is “upon their heads” and “stretched forth over their heads,” and it is the color of crystal (Eze. 1:22, 26; 10:1). The throne is “like the appearance of a sapphire stone ... as it were the body of heaven in clearness” (Eze. 1:26; 24:10). Thus the throne of God is crystal clear with a deep bluish tint. A bright rainbow surrounds it (Eze. 1:28). Beneath the throne is a firmament or platform of some substance “the colour of the terrible crystal” (Eze. 1:22). It is perfectly dazzling in its appearance and brightness. From Christ’s beautiful Temple will flow a crystal clear river of water that will flow east and south through the land and heal the desolate places. On both sides of the river are groves of trees (Eze. 47:7, 12). The leaves will be for healing and the fruit will be for food. The trees will bear fruit continually, year round. The appearance of this healing river will doubtless be like a beautiful park with the crystal clear water, the beautiful trees, the fragrant flowers, and the delicious fruit. The waters flow toward the desert and wilderness to the east and heal the land as well as the Salt Sea (Eze. 47:8-9). The whole world will be glorified as a suitable dwelling place for the Creator. It will exceed Eden. The waste places will become paradise (Isaiah 35). The glories of this present world, which are great, will seem as nothing in comparison. In Christ’s kingdom, angels in their glory will be everyday sights (Mt. 16:27; 2 Th. 1:7). The loving, reverent, joyful, intelligent, mighty angels will minister to the saints (Heb. 1:14).
- The inheritance is to live in mansions in heaven (Joh. 14:1-3). Heaven is called “my Father’s house.” It is where God’s throne resides. It is called “paradise” (Lu. 23:43; 2 Co. 12:4; Re. 2:7). This is the Greek paradeisos, which was borrowed from the Persians and referred to delightful royal parks. “Socrates said that the king of Persia took particular care, wherever he was, to have gardens or enclosures full of every beautiful and good thing the earth could produce” (Complete Word Study Bible). At His ascension, Jesus went to prepare a place for His bride. By Jewish custom, after the engagement, the bridegroom built an apartment onto his father’s house, then he returned at the wedding to fetch her. The departure of the bridegroom and his return is described in Christ’s Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt. 25:1-6). “Mansion” is the Greek mone, a dwelling. It is translated “abode” in Joh. 14:23. The English “mansion” is from the Latin mansiones. The word mone itself does not mean a splendid dwelling, but the context demands it. Christ promised to return and “receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” This will occur at the Rapture, when Christ will resurrect the dead saints and transform the living ones. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4:16-17). John 14 tells us that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation, because at Christ’s coming after the Tribulation, He will ride with the armies of heaven, defeat the antichrist armies, and descend to the Mt. of Olives (Zec. 14:3-4; Re. 19:11-21), rather than catch away His bride to the Father’s house.
- The inheritance is to rule with Christ. See Lu. 22:30; Re. 1:6; 3:21; 5:10. The redeemed saints will govern the world under Christ’s direction. They will be appointed as rulers over territories. They will rule with a rod of iron. They will rule in justice. See The Future According to the Bible, available from www.wayoflife.org.
- The inheritance is the resurrection body. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. ... Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. ... waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Ro. 8:18, 19, 21, 23). The resurrection body is a body of glory (1 Co. 15:43). This refers to splendor, honor, beauty, power, majesty. The glorious resurrection body “shall be adapted to a world of glory; and everything which here rendered it vile, valueless, cumbersome, offensive, or degraded, shall be there removed” (Barnes). The resurrection body is raised in power (1 Co. 15:43). Like Jesus, in the resurrection we will be above the angels, and they are exceedingly powerful (Heb. 2:7-9). In Christ, all things will be put under our feet. We will not be subject to any infirmity and fatigue and pain and weakness and lack. The resurrection body is incorruptible (1 Co. 15:42), meaning that it is incapable of corruption, incapable of injury and sickness and disease and infirmity and aging and death. The resurrected saint will be forever immune to such things; he can never return to such a state. The resurrection body is a spiritual body (1 Co. 15:44-46). It is a spiritual body in the sense that it is not a natural body, but it is still a real body. The resurrection body is not a body of flesh and blood, but it is a body of flesh and bones (Lu. 24:36-43). It is a spiritual and not a natural body in that the life of the resurrection body will not depend upon the natural functions of the mortal body nor will it be limited by them, such as breathing, eating, sleeping, resting, and exercising. Jesus could eat when He wanted to (Lu. 21:41-43) and He will eat in His kingdom (Lu. 22:16), but He doesn’t have to eat to maintain His bodily life as we do in our mortal bodies. The resurrection body is a spiritual and not a natural body, perhaps, in that the life of the resurrection body is in the spirit and not the blood. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50 and Leviticus 17:11. It is a spiritual body and not a natural body because it is a body made to be controlled by the spirit and not limited by or hampered by the soul and the flesh. After His resurrection Jesus was not limited by physical time and space. He could walk through walls and appear and disappear at will (Lu. 24:30-31; Joh. 20:19). Apparently the believer’s spiritual body will share these attributes, because “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jo. 3:2). The resurrection body is a heavenly body (1 Co. 15:47-49). The resurrection body is designed to dwell in the heavens and not merely on earth. It is capable of dwelling on earth, as we see in the fact that Jesus dwelt on earth for many days after His resurrection, but the resurrection body is not limited to earth and is not designed strictly for earth-dwelling. It is made of heavenly elements and not earthly. The natural body is literally made up of the elements of this world. The name “Adam” means “red earth” and refers to the fact that the first man was fashioned out of the dust of the ground (Ge. 2:7). In contrast, the resurrection body is a heavenly body that is fashioned out of different elements. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul describes the resurrection body as “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” and “our house which is from heaven” (2 Co. 5:1, 2).
- The inheritance is to experience pleasure forever at Christ’s right hand (Ps. 16:11). “Pleasures for evermore” speaks of life in a paradise fit for a glorified people and a glorified people fit for paradise. The senses of the glorified body will doubtless be enhanced over the natural body, and only the Lord knows what other senses will be given to man. Psalm 36:8 says, “thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” What a powerful metaphor! The pleasures God has ordained for the redeemed saints are likened to drinking from an infinite, ever-flowing river. Christ is the God who made Eden for man’s delight. He is the God who “giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Ti. 6:17). He is the One who came that the redeemed “might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Joh. 10:10).
- The inheritance is eternal joy. “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away,” Isa. 51:11). This is a description of the redeemed of Israel, but it also describes the experience of all the redeemed. The sorrow and mourning and sighing, which is such a large part of life in this present age, will flee away like a bad dream and be replaced with continual happiness. No type of labor will be tedious, because it will be permeated with the joy of the Lord. See Ps. 16:11; 149:2, 4-5; Isa. 12:3; 29:19; 35:10; 49:13; 51:3; 55:12; 60:15; 61:3, 7, 10; 65:18-19; Jer. 30:19; 31:12; 33:10-11; Zep. 3:19; Zec. 2:10; 10:7; Joh. 16:22; Re. 21:4.
- The inheritance is to dwell forever with Christ and the saints in the New Jerusalem (Re. 21-22). It is a cube of 1,342 miles (Re. 21:16). The city is made of pure gold like unto clear glass (Re. 21:18). And the city is “like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Re. 21:11). The jasper that is used to describe the overall appearance of the city is like our diamond. It is a brilliant clear stone which reflects light and through which light passes. The entire city sparkles like a massive diamond! The city is surrounded by a wall made of jasper 216 feet high (Re. 21:17), with 12 foundations, each garnished with precious stones (Re. 21:14, 19-20). Obviously they are exceedingly beautiful, bathed in the light of the glory of God. There are 12 gates through the wall, each made of a single pearl, with an angel standing at each gate (Re. 21:12-13, 21, 25). The street of the city is made of pure gold, as it were transparent glass (Re. 21:21). The river of the water of life flows through the city, emanating from God’s throne, perhaps flowing through each level of the city in some manner (Re. 21:1). In the midst of the street and on the banks of the river stands the amazing tree of life. This apparently refers to the tree of life not as a single tree but as a species of tree, and there are many specimens of this kind of tree beautifying the city (Re. 22:2). Few things are more lovely than a magnificent tree, and certainly no tree is as magnificent as the tree of life. The tree itself, with its glorious bark and habit (shape) and leaves and fruit, is doubtless breathtakingly lovely, and its setting beside the crystal clear flowing river will be perfectly fitting, designed by the same God who made the beautiful rivers and streams and dales of this world. What a lovely place is the New Jerusalem! It is paradise regained. The tree of life bears 12 manner of fruit. It is thus obvious that the saints will continue to eat and drink in the New Jerusalem and throughout eternity. Doubtless the taste of this tree’s fruit will be glorious, and there will be 12 varieties to enjoy. The city is lightened by the glory of God (Re. 21:23). God’s glorious throne will be there, and His servants will see His face and serve Him and reign forever and ever (Re. 22:3-5). This is the inheritance of the elect of God!
The evidence of election
- First, the evidence of election is faith (“unto obedience,” 1 Pe. 1:2). As we have seen, the obedience of verse 2 is the obedience of faith. This is the only “work” that can save, as Jesus makes perfectly clear in John 6:28-29. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Any other work would be contrary to salvation by grace (Ro. 11:6). It is through faith in Christ that the sinner is elect, and it is faith that is the evidence of election. Faith is mentioned five times in 1 Peter (1:5, 7, 9, 21; 5:9). Faith is the evidence of election. How do I know that I am elect? I know because I have believed in Christ by trusting Him 100% as Saviour. This is biblical, saving faith.
- Second, the evidence of election is regeneration (“begotten us again,” 1 Pe. 1:3). The evidence of election is saving faith that results in the new birth. This is what Jesus taught in John 3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The evidence of election is this new life in the Spirit. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Co. 5:17). The evidence of election is a spiritual conversion that produces a changed life. It is to be made alive from the dead spiritually. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). See also Ro. 6:3-4. The new birth produces a new way of thinking, new desires, new attitudes, new motivations. This is what we see everywhere in the New Testament. It is what we see in the Samaritan woman (John 4:39-42), the Jews on Pentecost (Ac. 2:41-42), the Samaritans (Ac. 8:5-8), the Ethiopian eunuch (Ac. 8:36-39), Lydia (Ac. 16:13-15), the Philippian jailer (Ac. 16:29-34), the Antiochans (Ac. 11:21).
The rejoicing of election (“Wherein ye greatly rejoice,” 1 Pe. 1:6)
- The believer greatly rejoices at all of the things described in the previous verses: his election by God the Father, the work of the Spirit, the application of Christ’s blood, the multiplication of grace and peace, God’s abundant mercy, the new birth, the living hope, the eternal inheritance, and God’s keeping power.
- “Greatly rejoice” is the Greek agalliao, which is from agan (much) and hallomai (to leap for joy). It is translated “exceeding glad” (Mt. 5:12). It describes the joy of Mary (Lu. 1:47), Jesus (Lu. 10:21), David (Ac. 2:26), Abraham (Joh. 8:56), the Philippian jailer (Ac. 16:34), and the saints at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Re. 19:7).
- The rejoicing comes by believing (1 Pe. 1:8). The stronger the faith, the greater the rejoicing!
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