ELECTION — the gracious and free act of God by which He calls those who become part of His kingdom and special beneficiaries of His love and blessings. The Bible describes the concept of election in three distinct ways. Election sometimes refers to the choice of Israel and the church as a people for special service and privileges. Election may also refer to the choice of a specific individual to some office or to perform some special service. Still other passages of the Bible refer to the election of individuals to be children of God and heirs of eternal life. Throughout the history of redemption, election has characterized God’s saving activity. He chose and called Abraham from Ur to Canaan, making an everlasting covenant with him and his offspring (Gen. 11:31–12:7; Neh. 9:7; Is. 41:8). God also called Moses to lead His people out of bondage (Ex. 2:24–3:10; Deut. 6:21–23; Ps. 105). He chose Israel from among the nations of the world to be His special covenant people (Deut. 4:37; 7:6–7; Is. 44:1–2). Election to salvation takes place “in Christ” (Eph. 1:4; 2:10) as a part of God’s purpose for the human race. As part of His eternal plan, God allows us to use our freedom to rebel against Him. Thus it is gracious of God to save those who find salvation through Jesus Christ. It is not unjust of Him not to save everyone, since no one deserves to be saved (Matt. 20:14; Rom. 1:18; 9:15). Election is gracious; it is also unconditional and unmerited (Acts 13:48; Rom. 9:11; 1 Pet. 1:2). It is an expression of the eternal, sovereign will of God who cannot change (Rom. 8:29; 2 Thess. 2:13). Therefore the salvation of the elect is certain (Rom. 8:28, 33). Election is a necessary condition for salvation; faith is the sufficient condition. The elect inevitably believe, but they do not believe against their will. They have a God-given desire and ability to trust in Christ for salvation (Acts 13:48; 1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 1:29; 2:13). The elect choose God because He effectively calls them through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ; they choose Him because He first chose and called them to Himself (Rom. 8:28). That initiating love of God is reflected in Jesus’ statement, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). A careful study of the Bible’s doctrine of man cures any romantic notion of a human will that is free to choose for or against God. Those who are slaves to sin and its power (Rom. 6:6) neither understand nor seek after God in and of themselves (Rom. 3:11; John 14:17; 1 Cor. 2:14). Outside of Christ, people are spiritually dead rebels who neither desire to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ nor are able to. Apart from God’s gracious, free, eternal, and sovereign choice of sinners to become His children, none would be saved but would remain forever under His wrath (Rom. 1:18). Election is not to be a source of complacency (2 Pet. 1:12) or presumption (Rom. 11:19–22) on the part of Christians. They are to make their calling and election certain by growing in godliness (2 Pet. 1:2–11) as they respond with gratitude to God’s electing love (Col. 3:12–17). God has chosen Christians to bear the image and glory of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Thess. 2:14). They have been elected to be holy in conduct, like Christ (Eph. 1:4). Like Him, they are also to be glorified in their whole being in the life to come (2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21). The ultimate goal of our election is that we might bring praise and glory to God (Eph. 1:6; Rom. 11:33; 2 Thess. 2:13). Youngblood, Ronald F., General Editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Consulting Editors, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995.