God Decides 2008!- What Happens to the Elect?

October 2, 2008

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” -Ephesians 1.3-5

Building upon the conclusion that we made last time, that there is some group of people set apart by God as “the elect,” it is now time that we delve into the question of what happens to the elect?, i.e. if they are elect then elect to what? Is this just a name or does it imply something more?

There are many places I think we can look for this, and so the first place I would like to take on is the opening passage of 1 Peter. Here is what it says:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion . . . . Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1.1a, 3-5)

This passage begins with Peter making the salutations and naming the people to whom he wishes to address with this letter, namely “the elect exiles of the dispersion.” So, this group which Peter is talking to is a group of the elect. And what does he say to them? He immediately goes into an exposition of the mercies of God who “caused us to be born again” and who is “guard[ing] [us] through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Then, it would appear that, whoever these elect are, one thing Peter associates with them is a shared redemption and salvation through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Without pushing it too far, I think that we may make the assumption that Peter believes at least these members of the elect to be saved. However, I feel that if we look further we can see that Scripture gives argument to the fact that all of the elect are saved.

Before that, however, I want to point out another portion of the elect who we are told have received salvation, and they most assuredly separate from the group Peter is addressing. This passage is found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans and occurs in a section where he is addressing the question of whether all of the Jews have been lost with the coming of Christ. Paul speaks saying, “at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (v.5) and then continues to answer the question: “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened” (v.7). Here again we find an apostle referring to a gathering of the elect, all of whom have “obtained” salvation.

This leads us to an earlier portion of Paul’s Roman letter, chapter 8 to be exact, where I believe the solid evidence is that proves once for all that this elect, a group of people we have already shown is set apart specifically by God, is a gathering of people who are all saved (or to be saved, but that argument comes later):

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (vv.28-30)

This predestined, which is another naming for the elect, are such that they have been called, justified, and glorified. Now, without getting into too much theology of what all of this means, we can at least say for sure that justification is the act by which we are counted righteous, innocent, before God, and thus are cleared to stand in his presence, which is essentially the essence of salvation (see Revelation 21 for our final relation to God). Thus, all those predestined, those elect, are also all justified, saved.

Of course, if this is not convincing enough for one, look a few verses farther to verse 33 which says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” This verse, again speaking to the issue of justification which is central to salvation, says (or implies in the context) that no one is capable of accusing the elect for they are justified by God and there is none more powerful than him who could sway his decision elsewise. Once more, the salvation of all the elect is upheld.

Therefore, to conclude this question, we find first that there is a group of people who are set apart by God known as the elect, and second, that these elect are sure to be saved. In the next question we must take up the inquiry of whether the elect, all of whom are saved, are thus the elect because knowledge of their impending salvation was held by God, or if their salvation was effected because they were first chosen as the elect; or, as I will phrase it, which came first, salvation or election?