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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Elect on What Basis

Elder Vernon Johnson


In this essay we will consider on what basis God foreknew or chose a people to be his covenant people.

   One idea is that God looked down through the annals of time and saw who would do good or who would accept him or seek after him and thus chose them on that basis. God did indeed look down from heaven, but what he saw is recorded for us in Ps. 14:2, 3 and Ps. 53:2, 3 as follows: "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Ps. 14:2, 3) The fact is that because of the total depravity of man there is none that had the capability of doing good or of seeking after God until God imparts a new spiritual nature within in the new birth. Thus we see that of all mankind there was none that understood, or that sought after God or that did good. Thus God's choice of a people could not be on the basis of their understanding and seeking God or of their doing something good.

   Furthermore, that God's choice of a people is not of works is further illustrated for us in Rom. 9:9 13, "For this is the word of promise, At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this;
but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Based on this passage we make the following observations:

1. God's choice of Jacob over Esau was according to God's purpose of election.
2. God's election is not based on works, either good or evil.
3. God's choice was made before the children were capable of doing any works.

   Again in Rom. 11:5, 6 we are told that God's choosing of a people is not based on works as follows: "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." Thus we are told that God's choice of a people is by grace and not works. Furthermore, we see the impossibility of mixing grace and work in this choice. It is not part grace and part work. It is either all grace or all works and he tells us plainly that it is all grace.

   Now grace is defined as the "unmerited favor of God." Thus those chosen have done nothing to merit God's choosing them! Finally we are told in Rom. 9:14 16 that God's choice of a people is not based on man's will (choice) or man's efforts: "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."

   From this passage we draw the following conclusions:
1. God's choice of a people manifests God's sovereignty.
2. God's choice of a people is pure and simply mercy and compassion toward them.
3. God's choice of a people is not based on their will or choice.
4. God's choice of a people is not based on their efforts (running).
5. It is not unrighteous for God to make a choice based on his sovereign will.

   In conclusion, God's choice of a people is by grace (unmerited favor) alone. God was under no obligation to choose any one, but he did and we should be extremely thankful that he did.

   Next we will look at how the elect were given to Christ and when and for what purpose they were given to Christ.