Election: No. 4

2 Thessalonians 2:13‑14  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 7
We now turn to the word of God, and our inquiry is this: To what hath the Father in eternity chosen us in Christ? To what is the church elected? That the election of the church was in the beginning in eternity is most certain from scripture. " But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thess. 2:13, 1413But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13‑14).)
Thus the ultimate purpose of God was, that these chosen ones should obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a salvation! What a purpose!
Chosen from the beginning. The Holy Ghost, the blessed One by which they were sanctified, as to the new birth, separation to God, and growth in grace—" Through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth."
It may be asked, How could the apostle thus give thanks for these Thessalonian believers? How did he know their election of God? He tells us, " 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.....And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost." (1 Thess. 1:5, 65For 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. 6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: (1 Thessalonians 1:5‑6).) Further marks of their election of God were found in that the word of the Lord was spread abroad by them, and they were turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven. Here were the proofs of their election of God. Beloved reader, can you say it is so with you? Has the gospel that Paul preached ever come with power to your soul? You will find the gospel that he preached to them in Acts 17:2-42And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. (Acts 17:2‑4). Has the Holy Ghost ever made known to you the deep need of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus? the blessed news that through Him is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins- that all who believe God are justified from all things? Have you received the word with joy of the Holy Ghost? Have you cast in your lot with the Lord's people, following the Lord as they did? Is that word of the Lord so precious to you, that it is your delight to be making it known all around? Have you been turned to God from all the idols to which your heart once clung, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven? If you can say, through the amazing grace of God, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, all this is true of you, then these are the same marks as those by which Paul knew their election of God.
All this is so entirely contrary to the natural man, that it must be of God. You would, like the world around, have refused to have received the love of the truth, that you might be saved, if God had not from the beginning chosen you to salvation. To God be all the praise; to you rest and peace. Before we look at the purpose of God expressly as to the church, we will turn to another scripture that may give strength and comfort to the individual believer.
We will take a scripture in that epistle which describes man's utterly lost and guilty condition before God, and also treats especially of the righteousness of God in the sinner's redemption through the blood of Jesus, and His complete justification by His resurrection from the dead.
Here it is found that man is saved and justified on the ground of the free favor of God. Now, from such a company, where all were alike guilty, what a revelation of infinite grace is this! "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren." This was the predestined thought of God—I will have a company out of that world of vile sinners, who shall be like my Son. He shall be the firstborn among them; yes, they shall be conformed to the image of my Son! (See Horn. viii. 29-39.) And let it not be surmised that this means that God predestined them after they believed the call, or because they believed it. No, that would be no predestination, as is further shown in the next verse, that the predestination surely was before the call. " Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Now bear in mind, that if God had dealt in righteousness personally with every one of these, they must, as enemies, ungodly, and despisers of God, have perished everlastingly. All, therefore, was pure grace to these. "He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy." " What shall we say to these things; if God be for us, who can be against us?" Yes, if such a God as this be for us—" He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.... who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?
It is Christ that died," &c. Let us pause, and contemplate God predestinating poor ungodly sinners to be conformed to the image of His Son—even now accounted righteous before Him without condemnation. To accomplish this in righteousness, He spared not His own Son. Nothing can separate us from such love as this. Shall we say it is dangerous for the believer to be acquainted with all this?
We will now turn to another epistle, where the church of God is especially revealed; and that, not only what it will be, but what it is even now, seen in its heavenly character. " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Eph. 1:33Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3).) What a rebuke to unbelief is this statement! How clear, present, and certain! What a bright contrast with the dark human thought that we shall only get to know at the day of judgment whether we shall obtain such heavenly blessings! Yes, it is all ours now. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath blessed us thus in the heavenlies in Him. And mark, all this is according to plan and purpose. " According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." Have you ever thought of these words? How far do they take us back? Are we chosen in Christ because of something in our own history or circumstances? No, farther back. Were we chosen in Him before the formation of this world in its present state, and before the introduction of sin? Farther back still. When were the foundations of the world laid? We read, " In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." What vast ages this may have been before the six days' formation of this earth for man, we know not. Men, with all their learning, can only measure time; they have no language to explain eternity: that laying of the foundations—that creation of the heaven and the earth- in that vast unknown, " in the beginning." Yet the heavenly blessing of the church is, " according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." Men love to speculate about past ages, but here is no room for speculation, but the distinct revelation, that the church, that we who have redemption in Christ through His blood, were chosen in Him before those ages began.
Further, notice, this is not so much a question of the election of persons, though it surely is that, for what would the church, the body of Christ, be, without persons, individual members of that one body? But this wondrous epistle reveals what God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in eternity chose us to and for.
" That we should be holy, and without blame before him in love," none but God could have conceived such a thought, yet was it His pleasure in eternity! How soon will it be realized in all its fullness by us, even as we are seen by Him now in the Beloved! " Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself." Surely every sentence is full of infinite love. What a contrast to the blessing of Israel as a nation on earth! We were thus predestinated to the higher relationship "of children." Do our souls enter into this, that God would have us in the blessed relationship of children, and " according to the good pleasure of his will." How sweet it was to Jesus to reveal the Father's joy in receiving His long-lost son, in that precious parable of the prodigal son! Oh, that this short paper may be used to lead the "children" to meditate on every sentence of this chapter. Think that the place given us is "to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
Yes, when God is known, then we see how suited to Him is the infinite extent of His grace. The free favor of God, in every sense, is altogether beyond all human thought. We can only understand it by seeing where Christ is, and what is His future glory; and then the overwhelming thought that we are in Him, and all is ours. Yes, all is so suited, so worthy of God. " Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Tim. 1:99Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Timothy 1:9).) Oh, do we believe these weighty, soul-sustaining words? Let not Satan be listened to for a moment, that if we believe these plain statements of God's blessed word that we have been predestinated to such unspeakable blessings in Christ before the world began, then it implies that others have been predestinated to be damned. No, no, there is not such a thought in the holy word of God: we have seen that their everlasting judgment is "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." This is as clear as that our salvation, vast and wonderful as it is, is "because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation." (2 Thess. 2:10-1310And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thessalonians 2:10‑13).)
Oh, how sad that so many should deny the grace of God, the free unmerited favor of God, in thus choosing us in Christ from eternity! Be it remembered, that if He had left us to our own free choice, all must have been lost, since all in their natural state reject the grace of God. Man in his natural unbelief will seek to be saved by his own works, will gladly accept any false religion of ritualism and ceremonies. He will seek and go about to establish his own righteousness when he has none. But if the writer of the letter, or the reader of this paper, has been led, as a lost and guilty sinner, to accept Christ, and to believe God, who raised Him from among the dead, then rest assured that you were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy, and without blame before Him in love. Thus may our hearts rest in the eternal love of God in Christ, from which nothing can separate us.