“Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”2 Timothy 2:10
Simply put, the “elect of God” are those whom God has predestined to salvation. They are called the “elect” because that word denotes the concept of choosing. Every four years in the U.S., we "elect" a President—i.e., we choose who will serve in that office. The same goes for God and those who will be saved; God chooses some but not all those who will be saved. These are the elect of God.
As it stands, the concept of God electing those who will be saved isn’t controversial. What is controversial is how and in what manner God chooses those who will be saved. Throughout church history, there have been two main views on the doctrine of election (or predestination). One view, which we will call the prescient or foreknowledge view, teaches that God, through His omniscience, knows those who will in the course of time choose of their own free will to place their faith and trust in Jesus the Christ for their salvation. On the basis of this divine foreknowledge, God elects these individuals “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). This view is held by the majority of American evangelicals.
The second main view is the Augustinian view, which essentially teaches that God not only divinely elects those who will have faith in Jesus, but also divinely elects to grant to these individuals the faith to believe in Christ. In other words, God’s election unto salvation is not based on a foreknowledge of an individual’s faith, but is based on the free, sovereign grace of Almighty God. God elects people to salvation, and in time these people will come to faith in Christ because God has elected them.
As already mentioned, there are other passages that talk to a lesser extent on the topic of God’s elect (John 6:37-45 and Ephesians 1:3-14, to name a couple). The point is that God has ordained to redeem a remnant of humanity to salvation. These elect individuals were chosen before the creation of the world, and their salvation is complete in Christ.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 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.” Romans 8:29-30
While there are numerous ideas of precisely what election means in regards to salvation, the fact that believers are elect is indisputable (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:4). Simply put, the doctrine of election is that God chooses/determines/elects/predestines who will be saved. It is not within the scope of this article to determine how election works. Rather, the question is “How can I know if I am one of the elect?” The answer is exceedingly simple: believe!
The Bible nowhere instructs us to be concerned regarding our status of elect vs. non-elect. Rather, God calls us to believe, to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). If a person truly trusts in Jesus alone for salvation, that person is one of the elect. Whether belief secures election, or election causes belief – that is another debate. But what is sure is that belief is evidence of election. No one can receive Jesus as Savior unless God draws him or her (John 6:44). God calls/draws those whom He has predestined/elected (Romans 8:29-30). Saving faith is not possible without divine election. Therefore, saving faith is evidence of election.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
The idea of a person wanting to be saved but being unable to, due to not being one of the elect, is absolutely foreign to the Bible. No one seeks after God’s plan of salvation on his own accord (Romans 3:10-18). Those without Christ are blind to their need for salvation (2 Corinthians 4:4). This only changes when God begins drawing a person to Himself. It is God who opens eyes and enlightens minds to the need for Jesus the Christ as Savior. A person cannot repent (change the mind about sin and the need for salvation) unless God grants repentance (Acts 11:18). Therefore, if you understand God’s plan of salvation, recognize your need for it, and feel compelled to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, then believe, and you are saved.
If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, trusting Him alone for salvation, believing that His sacrifice is the full payment for your sins – you are one of the elect.