The word elect sounds cold and doctrinal, and it certainly has been used that way. The way some people use the term it refers to those few, happy, dare I say lucky souls who have been arbitrarily picked by God for salvation based on absolutely nothing in their lives. Those who teach this type of election say it is a wonderfully comforting doctrine that assures the elect that they did nothing to earn their salvation. But the picture of God it presents is very different from the Person we see when we look at Jesus or listen to His passionate calls to come to Him to be saved. The God He shows us is a loving God who longs to save all who will come to Him.
Today, from a passage containing many important theological terms, were going to look at two: well focus on the word which is translated here as elect, and then on the word called. When were done well find a beautiful and remarkable picture of God emergesnot a God who arbitrarily chooses to save one and ignore another, but a great saving, promise-keeping God who loved us before the worlds were made.
Read: DBS, Romans 8:33 (Monday & Tuesday)
To be chosen means to receive special treatment which is undeserved, and that sounds very unfair until we understand why God chooses a person and that being chosen does not mean a person is saved, that is, not until we become chosen in Christ.
When I am chosen I partake in someone elses blessing. The nation of Israel was chosen because they inherited Abrahams blessing: Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 9:4-6; 10:12-15.
God promised Abraham and Sarah He would bless their children and He keeps His promises to a 1,000 generations of those that love Him (Ro 9:6-8; 11:1-10, remnant). This principle is still at work today:
Many grow up in a blessing they have done nothing to deserve
Grow up in a church
Live in a Christian society
This does not mean a person is saved, but the gospel is easily accessible to them:
They are accustomed to Gods care
They have experienced His protection, provision, etc.
They have been taught much truth about God
Those who are chosen have a great advantage over most of the world. Not that God doesnt equally love the rest of the world, but He has a greater opportunity to reveal Himself to those who grow up in such an environment and inherit great promises.
However, with this advantage comes greater responsibility. Those who are chosen cannot claim to be ignorant of Gods call.
Jesus tells a parable which explains the difference between those who are chosen and those who are called. He says the gospel came first to the chosen because the Messiah was born into their nation as promised. They were the first invited to the wedding feast, but He says the wedding hall will largely be filled with the called (Mt 22:1-14; Lk 14:15-24).
Notice why the chosen reject the invitation to the wedding. They are indifferent to it because their heart is focused on the activities of this world. Or, theyre hostile to the Kings claim of lordship over them, and they attack his servants.
But the King is determined to have his wedding hall filled with dinner guests so he sends his servants to the streets and lanes to bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame, in other words, the outcast of Israel. But there was still room! So he sent out to the highways and along the hedges and they were to earnestly persuade them to come in. These are the nations of the world down to the poorest of the poor who find shelter under the hedges.
Jesus concluding words are a prophetic warning and a great invitation:
For many are called, but few are chosen.
So, what kind of people respond to Gods call?
Listen to Paul
When Paul uses the word called hes talking about those whove said yes to Gods summons in the gospel. In his first letter to the Corinthians he tells us what kind of people were coming to Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:22-31
The called have come to God on His terms, not theirs. They have humbled themselves and trusted Him like a child. This is a threshold too low for most people. Most want respect not mercy, approval not grace.
Listen to James (Jas 2:1-9)
...God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him (v5)
Listen to Jesus (Mt 11:20, 25-30)
I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well pleasing in Your sight. (vs25-26)
Chosen in Christ (Ro 8:33)
So, Paul didnt ask, Who will bring a charge against Gods elect? He asked, Who will bring a charge against Gods chosen? He applies to the church this beautiful term which had for centuries been applied to Israel because we too partake of someone elses blessing. We who have come to Jesus Christ live in a blessing we have done nothing to deserve. By faith we have been joined to Him and inherit with Him as fellow heirs (Ro 8:17) all the spiritual blessings that God has given Him because of His obedience that led Him to the cross. Listen to Pauls words to the church in Ephesus: Ephesians 1:3-11, 18, 19.
The chosen Paul speaks of here are those who have responded to the Fathers invitation to come to His Sons wedding feast. They are those who are repentant, humble, those willing to leave the things of the world, to let Jesus be Lord of their lives and trust Him like a child to give them eternal life. Is there anyone today willing to say yes to that call?
1) Do you have family or friends who prayed for you to come to Christ? Did you grow up in church and hear the gospel often? How did that effect you? When did you say yes? Why did you say yes?
2) Did you grow up outside the Christian community, having no one praying for you or teaching you the Bible? Who presented the gospel to you? When did you say yes? Why did you say yes?