Let’s talk about how the Elect are Elected:
“He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 2Th 2:14
The Bible teaches that God calls the elect. It also teaches that God has a variety of ways to call. One of those ways, as shown in our focus verse, is through the Word of God directly. By the preaching of the gospel (Rom 10:14-16). This is one reason why it's important to get the Bible into all the countries on Earth.
Some, such as Augustus Strong, will say that our focus verse lends support to the idea that there is a Special, Efficacious (1) call of the Holy Spirit to the elect. We mentioned this last week with regard to Irresistible Grace. That God’s call to salvation for the elect is irresistible.
But where does scripture explicitly state that there is a different call for the elect than God’s general call for all to come to repentance (Isa 45:22, Mat 11:28)? At least one place that seems to support this idea is when the Lord said,
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” - Mat 22:44
Are there conditions that prompts God to choose the elect? Or are we chosen arbitrarily? Or perhaps, God, by His own counsel, pre-established a plan involving “conditions for election” which some people, whom God foreknew, would meet and so chose them.
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” - Eph 1:11
Is there a way for us to know what these “conditions for election” could be?
The Bible seems to teach that to obey is simply to not resist someone’s command. How do we not allow Sin to reign in our members (Rom 6:12)? By resisting it.
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” - Jam 4:7b
This is the same thing we do when we fail to obey God. We actively fail to obey God by resisting Him.
““You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” - Act 7:51
If disobedience is active resistance then what does obedience look like?
“Submit yourselves, then, to God.” - Jam 4:7a
By submitting. Giving up. We obey when we stop resisting. And that’s why we are exhorted to submit to God and to resist the devil. Prior to our conversion, however, it’s impossible for us to resist the devil because we are slaves to Sin. It is only possible to resist God in varying degrees. So, we are not chosen by God because we choose to resist the devil. Because we can’t resist the devil until after we have been born again. We are chosen by God because we stop resisting the Holy Spirit sufficiently to meet God’s pre-established conditions for election. In Gen 32, Jacob never completely stopped resisting God. But he did submit.
Therefore, God’s general call for salvation is the same as His effectual call to salvation. The elect are chosen because we stop resisting God's general call to a point that God chose to be acceptable to receive salvation. I think that’s the point of the Lord’s Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Mat 22.
This is one way to understand the Biblical teaching on election that makes it clear that salvation is God’s work, that His purpose will be accomplished, and that His promise to bless all nations will be fulfilled. And I think it works pretty well. But it’s not a hill that I’d die on. What do you think about Election? Let us know!
By “Efficacious” they mean that God’s special call to the elect infallibly accomplishes its purpose of leading the sinner to the acceptance of salvation.
Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Pg. 350). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951.
Strong, Augustus. Systematic Theology (Complete - Volume 1, 2 & 3 of 3) (p. 467, 468). BZ editores. Kindle Edition.
Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology 3rd Edition (pg. 861-862). BakerAcademic.
Schreiner, T.R.. Election. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (p. 450-454). Inter-Varsity Press.