“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” Titus 1:1–2 It is impossible for someone to be saved without being elected by God to salvation. Many people, the first time they encounter the doctrine of election, are upset by what seems to them to be a horribly unfair arrangement. Unfortunately, that is where many people end the discussion. A proper biblical view of election, however, leads to the conclusion that God’s choice in predestination is a loving act. We are all sinners, and left to ourselves, we would never choose God. Our initial response to God is to rebel against Him and His sovereignty. We do not seek Him. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10–12
We do not want God to tell us what to do. If we are ever to turn from our sin in repentance and faith, God alone must initiate the process. “Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” John 6:43-45.
In other words, no one can be saved unless they are elected. It is also true that, in order to be saved, a person must make the choice to believe. Most believers can point to a time in which they considered the claims of Christ and surrendered to Him. Those who chose to surrender in faith; if they had not chosen to do so, could not be saved. However, examining Scripture and looking back on the process of salvation, we recognize God’s hand at work all along the way—we see the conviction of the Holy Spirit; we see how God was changing our unregenerate hearts to enable us to believe; we see the series of events that God orchestrated so that we could hear the gospel.
We have a relationship with God because God chose to pursue a relationship with us. Some believe that God does not do this with everyone. “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
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36
if this were the case, then the reason some people believe and others don’t is that some were more genuine, spiritually attuned, or morally sensitive. That would mean that some measure of innate human goodness enables some people to believe. If people contribute of their own goodness to salvation, we have a logical problem. More importantly, we have a biblical problem. Scripture teaches that God has chosen to save some people, and He chose them based on His own purposes, not some innate goodness on the part of the people being saved. Nor was His choice based on His advance knowledge of what decisions they would make. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:4–6
Paul explains how God’s choice and our faith work together: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11–14
The whole plan is for God’s glory and for the good of those whom He has chosen to save. Contrary to much popular teaching, the plan of salvation is not about us; it is about God. The doctrine of election is clearly taught in Scripture. The Bible even speaks of those who belong to God who have not yet believed in Him. God has chosen them, and they belong to Him, even though they have yet to come to the faith. To the unbelieving religious leaders, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” John 10:26
Notice the cause and effect in His statement. He does not say, “You are not my sheep because you do not believe”; rather, He says, “You do not believe because you are not my sheep.” Jesus speaks of other sheep who will believe once they hear His voice. Those who are predestined to be saved will be saved. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16
In Corinth, there were only a handful of believers, and Paul was facing persecution, but Jesus appeared to him in a vision: “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Acts 18:9–10 Corinth was not full of believers at the time, but it was full of the elect—people whom God had chosen and who would come to faith when they heard the message.
The preaching of the gospel is the way God has chosen to save the elect. Writing from a Roman prison and awaiting execution, Paul explains to Timothy why he is willing to endure hardship for the gospel: “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 No one is saved without the election and predestination of God. If there were no election and predestination, the entire human race would be eternally lost.