A few weeks ago, my friend Gary led our discussion on Sunday morning. We were talking about election and predestination.
Gary led us through several passages of Scripture that indicate that God’s children or chosen, elect, or predestined. Often, a phrase such as “from the foundation of the world” is added. The fact that God chooses some to be his children seems clear from Scripture.
Gary also led us through several passages of Scripture in which people are exhorted to choose, believe, trust, repent, receive, and accept. We could sum up these passages with Paul quotation from the OT: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” From these passages, it is clear that God saves those who choose him.
In fact, we agree with both parts – God sovereignly chooses and people are responsible for choosing. While it seems contradictory to us, it is obviously not contradictory to God… or to Paul, or Peter, or James, or many of the other authors of Scriptures where both ideas are prominently found.
But, Gary did not end our discussion at this point. God chooses… so what? How does understanding election or predestination help us as God’s children? We talked about several points: the comfort, peace, hope, etc. that we have because God has chosen us.
Then, Gary brought up another point – a point that I had never associated with the idea of election. What point is that? Mission. He pointed us to this statement that Paul wrote to Timothy:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:8-10 ESV)
Paul writes that his work at proclaiming the gospel was “for the sake of the elect” (that is, for those who are chosen by God). Paul’s understanding of election did not drive him away from mission, but toward mission – running full speed toward mission.
As my 16 year old son, Jeremy, said that evening when we were talking about this as a family: “Didn’t Paul write many of the statements about election that we read? And, wasn’t Paul known as a great missionary? That alone should tell us that if we understood election the way that Paul understood it, we would me missionaries also!”
And, Jeremy is right. We are chosen from the foundation of the world. Yes, we are chosen to be God’s children and chosen for eternal life. But, we are also chosen to carry out God’s mission while we are still in the world. We do this for God and for the sake of other people who are elect, so that (as Paul said) that also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.
Do you believe that God has chosen you as his child? Then, according to Paul, you are also chosen for mission.