Unconditional Election means that God chose to save us based solely on His own choice apart from any action or condition on our part. In our muddied thinking we believe that there was some goodness or inkling of altruism that motivated God to choose us. As discussed previously in the post on total depravity there was never anything in us that would cause God to elect us based on our merit.
In wrestling with this concept most make the assumption that God knew that we would choose Him beforehand which is why He predestined us to salvation. This would mean that God is not ultimately sovereign in what He does. His decision would be a reaction to our choosing rather than God making the initial choice. Ephesians 1:4 indicates that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” Before time began God chose; the deliberate action is with God not with us. In response to this incorrect understanding Sproul writes,
“On the basis of this prior knowledge of those who will meet the condition for salvation—that is, expressing faith or belief in Christ—He elects to save them. This is conditional election, which means that God distributes His electing grace on the basis of some foreseen condition that human beings meet themselves.”The gut reaction we have to this is that it’s not fair. Though life isn’t fair we want our God to be fair. Sproul explains this way, “If God chooses sovereignly to bestow His grace on some sinners and withhold His grace from other sinners, is there any violation of justice in this? Do those who do not receive this gift receive something they do not deserve? Of course not. If God allows these sinners to perish, is He treating them unjustly? Of course not. One group receives grace; the other receives justice. No one receives injustice. Paul anticipates this protest: “Is there injustice on God’s part?” (Romans 9:14 and following) He answers it with the most emphatic response he can muster. I prefer the translation, “God forbid” (v. 14b). Then he goes on to amplify this response: “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’” (v. 15). Here the Apostle is reminding his reader of what Moses declared centuries before; namely, that it is God’s divine right to execute clemency when and where He desires. He says from the beginning, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” It is not on those who meet some conditions, but on those whom He is pleased to bestow the benefit.”
I find great assurance in the principle of Unconditional Election. Since God chose me apart from my works then my works will not undo that choosing. Since He predestined me to adoption my sonship is irrevocable. As His calling is from “before the foundation of the world,” I rest in his choice of me (apart from anything in myself) and in the eternality of the decision. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Stay tuned Thursday when I discuss Limited Atonement.