Election Is Clearly Taught in Scripture

Election Is Clearly Taught in Scripture

Section 6: Salvation — Part 1

Week 2: Election: God Chose Us before the Foundation of the World

Day 1: Election Is Clearly Taught in Scripture

Rom. 8:28-30

Last week we looked at salvation in general terms. In the upcoming weeks we’ll examine various aspects of salvation more closely. This week we are going to explore the doctrine of election. Election refers to God’s determination before the creation of the world who would be saved.[i] In the section on divine providence, we noted everything that happens in the world unfolds exactly according to God’s plan. Election is one part of that larger providential plan.

As you might imagine, this is a controversial issue. Did God really determine who would be saved and who wouldn’t before any of us were even born? Some argue that can’t be true because it means some people never had a chance and that doesn’t seem fair. Before we get into those controversial aspects, it’s important to recognize election is clearly taught in Scripture. We can argue over what election means precisely, but we can’t dispute it’s there.  Take these passages for example:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit (John 15:15-16).

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:28-30).

Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac.  Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls-she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:11-13).

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, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory (Eph. 1:11-12).


Reread the above passages slowly.

Reflection Questions:

As you think of election, what comes to mind?  Does it comfort or upset you?  What questions does it raise for you?

[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House (1994), 670.


  1. Steve Peterson

    More than anything in the Bible, I struggle with the concept of election. I feel like it is so outside the nature of God. In the back of my Bible I have listed so many verses that talk about anyone and everyone and that he is not willing that any should perish. I can’t stand the thought that one of my children or grandchildren would not be in heaven with me because God elected them not to be there. It’s not necessarily that I won’t believe in it but it’s more that I can’t believe in it.

    • Phil Schomber Author

      Thank you for clearly expressing the tension most of us feel when we consider election. As you note, the Bible unambiguously declares that God desires that none should perish (2 Pet. 3:9). Yet the Bible also makes clear that not everyone is saved. How do we explain that tragic fact? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Although God does not want anyone to perish, when we take into account that the Bible teaches that not everyone will be saved, we’re forced to admit that for some reason God chooses not to save everyone. Some explain this by appealing to free will. God doesn’t want us to perish, but he leaves the choice up to us. On the surface, that feels like a satisfying explanation. However, as Wayne Grudem points out in the chapter on election in his Systematic Theology, we’re still forced to admit there is something God values more than saving everyone – in this case free will. So even here God is making a choice, and that choice results in some not being saved from judgment. The issue gets even more complicated when we ask whether any of us can turn to Christ in faith on our own. As I said, there are no easy answers. I think, in the end, no matter where we come down on the issue, we ultimately need to rely on God’s inherent goodness, trusting that he is working in all things to bring about his perfect will.

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