We cannot know in advance of our coming to believe in Christ whether God has elected us to salvation or not. Some people are so troubled by this fact, that they are immobilised by their perplexity, and they cannot bring themselves to believe the gospel.
They are occupied by thoughts like these: “What if I am not elect? If I am not one of the elect, and I trust and hope in the great gospel promise that ‘whosoever believeth in him [God’s only begotten Son] should not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3.16), what then? Will God keep this promise to me—and save someone whom he didn’t elect to salvation? Or will I not be saved because I am not elect—in which case God will not have kept this gospel promise?”
Such questions sometimes come from those who have no gracious work of God in their souls, whom God is not drawing to Christ. They use these questions as arguments against turning to God for salvation.
Our answer will not help these people. But the following two truths are a great encouragement to those who are coming to Christ:
Firstly, no person who is not chosen by God will come to the Lord Jesus Christ—the true Christ of the Bible. Such is fallen man’s spiritual deadness, that only those whom God enables to believe the gospel will believe it. In other words—to quote the unambiguous words of Jesus himself: “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6.44; see also 6.65).
Secondly, no elect person will fail to come to Christ. Again, to quote Christ’s unambiguous words: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me”—and to these words he immediately makes this promise: “and him that cometh to me I shall in no wise cast out” (John 6.37).
We must also point out that the Biblical doctrine of unconditional election promotes humility, not pride, despite what some people claim.
We know that we are not in the least part worthy of salvation. We know, therefore, that we should always praise God alone—soli Deo gloria—for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins, for drawing us to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and for causing us to believe the gospel.
Our salvation was not accomplished by our own works, and it was not accomplished by our own decision to believe in Christ. Therefore, we have no reason to boast at all.
Therefore, we come to appreciate that the Biblical doctrine of unconditional election gives the greatest comfort to the saved soul. Indeed, we understand that it is part of the foundation upon which our whole faith is built and upon which all our hope rests.
We know ourselves to be unstable, mutable, and (while we remain in the world) too often burdened down with our continuing sins. We are without strength in and of ourselves to resist the world, the flesh and the devil. Therefore, if even the smallest part of our salvation depended upon something contributed by us (whether good works or faith), then perhaps tomorrow we could lose our salvation and condemn ourselves to Hell.
Ah, no: it’s not that we could lose our salvation; for we know ourselves—we know that if our salvation were dependent upon ourselves in any part, then we would lose our salvation!
But if our salvation is all the work of God from beginning to end (including our unconditional election, and all of God’s marks of grace1 in our souls), then no amount of temptation, distraction, memory lapse, coercion, torture, psychological manipulation, persuasion, affliction, brain damage, dementia or anything else that may happen can cause us to lose our salvation.
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8.38-39).