So, I was asked today, “Do you believe in individual election for salvation?” After talking with many people, I know that this often comes with much baggage and often a hidden agenda. The context is that this was asked in a very public and online social scene. There were also many other issues that were present. Usually I do not answer in the public forum, usually due to the fact that I do not have enough time to adequately and rightly (best of my understanding) answer, but also because God is most often not glorified in the discussion, thereby causing much confusion to the unbeliever. I usually ask that if they are serious, to contact me privately. Keep in mind, there are various issues at hand. My response is below.
I will try to be brief and hope it makes sense. Difficult to talk about these things over the internet and yet demonstrate true love, humility, grace, and a contrite heart, yet I will do my best. It is equally difficult to respond even to this one point, yet several are in our midst.
I do understand, in some measure, what you are talking about in relation to the elect of God being the children of Israel. Although we must remember, in regards to the elect, Paul brings out for us in Rom. 9 that “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.” (vs. 6) and just who the ‘elected’ by God are and His ‘fairness’ regarding the issue. We must also remember that, we gentiles, have been adopted as sons “according to the purposes of His will.” In Rom. 2 we find the ‘true’ Jew is one who is circumcised of the heart. Having considered this, and what I will be saying (not to mention many more passages and even John’s letter to “the elect lady” of 2 John), the elect seems as if is larger than just those of Israel.
I know that there is no way that I believed upon Christ if the Father had not of drawn me (John 6:44). This I can attest to in reality of my conversion, by grace through faith alone, and the powerful new life God worked in me. For me, I can clearly see nothing, no work, no first faith or belief that caused me to be saved, but that Christ first loved me (1 John 4:19). For any boasting that I came to Christ on my own would be to rob Christ of His work on Calvary. Now, we can split hairs to figure out what came first, my faith or God’s calling, but for me clearly, God’s calling demanded my response, and in the case of my life story, I responded to the Father in faith. “Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (my testimony: http://www.jeremybstrang.com/story
I believe that there is very clearly a “book of life” (Rev. 13:8, 17:8, etc) that was written before the “foundation of the world.” And considering both the “book of life” and the that of just Rom 9, I must say it is difficult to say that God is not sovereign and in total control; and therefore to say that He has not selected the elect, whether they be only Israel (which not all of which were or are saved), or that too includes me, it honestly does not change the fact that I have been justified and am being sanctified by Him Who having first loved me and drawn me for His purposes. For my focus is not that I am a particular definition of English word, but that I have believed unto repentance, am believing and obeying the Word and the Spirit, my focus is upon Christ as a reality and I am authentically walking with God, in humility, prayer, contrite of heart, with a longing to know Him more and more (John 17:3). For I only want my boast, not to be of “deep” doctrine and theology, nor my efforts for Him, nor my Christian divisions (denomination), but that it would be that I know Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24). For if this is not my boast, because of true reality and regeneration, then I stand to fulfill Jesus’ prophecy of Matthew 7:21-23. What better is their to talk of than Jesus Christ, His true grace, His mercies, His love, His taking on the wrath that I deserved? For nothing is greater than Christ Himself!
Now, having said this, let me say, just because God has a book of life, God is sovereign, God draws men to Christ, in no way excuses me from my personal responsibility to witness and share the Gospel with all people. For there is no one able to open the book except the Lamb of God, therefore, no man knows for certain who has been, who is and who will be saved. We must keep in mind though the opposite extreme danger of thinking we can somehow thwart the eternal plans of God. (Let us always keep in mind, there is evidence that we can “know them by their fruits” [Matt. 7:15-17]).
Moving further, I believe we (by we I include myself), should be cautious, unless given clear evidence and not the splitting of hairs and doctrinal misunderstandings, not to be too quick to call a man a false prophet. For if we call a man a fool, and we are indeed wrong, we ourselves will be liable to hell (Matt. 5:22). For if even just the purposes of our own salvation, we ought not to call men such things unless they are truly marked by obvious signs of a false prophet and God has truly called us to declare these things. For the markings of a false prophet are chiefly, but not completely, two-fold. 1. They, in the midst of their, messages and ministries do not propel and encourage a person to behold Jesus Christ as all supreme, Lord and Savior, making Him the precious chief end of all ends; that He ought to be our great desire. 2. They tell the people what they want to hear. They esteem men, cater to their sinful appetites lifting up gifts, blessings, prosperity, and etc, good things, above the supremacy of Christ. They run from talk of personal repentance, godliness, holiness, and self-control. Church discipline does not exist. These two things make for an obvious false prophet.
Furthermore, if a sinless man can be found, then I say let us see him. For what would happen if someone took a picture of me during a day when I am struggling, weak, tired, would that picture be representative of my entire life? Or my faith? Or representative of Jesus Christ? No. We are all in a process of sanctification. I have seen over and over, I myself have had much repentance in this as well, that when a person is saved and they begin to hunger theology and doctrinal understanding, there is very much the danger of religious pride and a legalism of personal convictions applied to others, yet we forget that the very same grace that saved us, is saving other people. We forget, I believe, just where we were at. I wonder what some people, people who were saved longer than me, thought about me the first days, months, even years into my sanctification? I am thankful that there were older, more mature brothers, brothers who knew doctrine, continued to search the Scripture, were being convicted and growing in personal piety, who had the fruits of the Spirit, especially love and patience with me.
Last thought, (and chiefly why I tend not to discuss such in open public view) is because Christians who consistently tear each other down in the public spot light are not glorifying God and are shaming the name of Christ far more than the unconverted sinner who has yet to experience the grace of God.
If you wish to talk to me further, I would be happy. Please contact me so that we can exchange emails or such. https://desiringtowalkwithgod.com/contact/
In no way am I defending any man, but my desire is to see the lost saved, the true church edified and encouraged unto an authentic focus and walk with Christ. I do like Piper in this regard, the Lord has used Him, in what messages I have heard, further unto my God, not away from Him in the argument of the flesh. If the Lord has not used him for you in this way, then I would say, don’t listen to him. To call a man as such a false prophet will be a serious offense, quite possibly, at the great white thrown judgment – then it will be far too late to repent.
I end this by continuing in preaching to myself:
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47
“If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” 1 Corinthians 8:2
Peace and blessings!