Through the centuries, some of the doctrines of God’s grace have been set forth by the acronym “TULIP”, which stands for
Perseverance of the Saints
Last week we gave a brief account of “Total Depravity”. This biblical truth leaves all of humanity in a desperate situation—unable to themselves from their fallen condition. Not only that, because of their fallen condition, they can not understand the things of God, and they will not seek after God. Man, left to himself, is in a tragic condition--spiritually dead. Paul has made this clear: “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.(Romans 3:11). Now we come to the good part, God’s unconditional election!
According to scripture, it was the purpose, and plan of the God-head to save His people from their sins, ”And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”(Mat. 1:21). If you will notice, the angel said, “His People”, not “all people”. If God had wanted to save “all people”, we must believe He could have done just that.(See John 17:2) “His people” represent the elect.
Romans 9:11 tells us that this choice was not made because of any foreseen good in the sinner. Nor were any rejected because of any foreseen evil. They were simply chosen because God loved them. What better reason could we ask for! “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth”(Romans 9:11). If you want to understand election, just dial 911!
As a result of God’s election, He places His spirit within His people. He changes them. This is done when He calls them. He makes them new creatures. God’s call is the result of His election. It is then, and only then, that any person can understand the things of God. Only after God visits His people, and changes them can they believe, and appreciate the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how we know their election, because the name of Jesus is precious to them.
Listen to Paul’s words to the Christians at Thessalonica, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”(1 Thes 1:4-5). Paul didn’t say that the gospel made them God’s elect. He said it identified them as the elect. To the non-elect the gospel is only words. But to the elect the gospel is powerful, and assuring.
This brings us to our next point. When did God elect His people? Does He elect them when they make a decision for Christ? Does He elect them when they go through a church ordinance? Does he elect them when they become members of the church? According to the scriptures, God chose His people before the foundation of the world, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” (Eph. 1:4). This not only tells us when, it also tells us why. He chose them in love.
Some seem to think the doctrine of election, though thoroughly taught in the Bible, is unfair. We do not have the space in this limited article to answer all of the arguments. But we can say that any person who wants to be one of God’s elect must already be one or they would be at war with Him. The fact that they love God, and want to live with Him in glory is evidence that He has called them, changed their heart, and placed His love within them which has, in turn, given them a love for Him, “We love Him because He first loved us.” Election puts God first. It elevates Jesus as the only savior of sinners. It magnifies His grace to undeserving sinners!–Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor, Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, Donaldson, AR. (Visit us at HYPERLINK "http://www.harmonypbchurch.org" www.harmonypbchurch.org)