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The Elect:

The Only Ones to be "Saved"
The Firstfruits of a Greater Harvest to Come

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, ...
Deut 30:19-20 NIV
In the book of Romans, Paul makes clear that Esau was hated by God before his soul made any choices as Esau. He was setup and molded by God to be an example of His judgment.

It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
Rom 9:6

In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son."

Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
Rom 9:8-15

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Rom 9:21

Since the life of Esau was predestined to be an example of living outside the blessings of God, is this fair to the soul God created who would become Esau? On the surface this appears not to be the case, and so it has given rise to great controversy within Christianity. This case appears to be at odds with the belief in free will and God's calling for us to choose life, as stated above in Deuteronomy 30.

In considering this case, some take it at face value, and perhaps out of context, saying that God creates some souls for destruction and some souls for salvation, and those chosen for salvation are God's "elect". God is sovereign and can do as He pleases, so our destiny for destruction or salvation was decided by God at the beginning.

Others maintain the greater context of the Bible, that it is our central challenge to choose. Further, God will not interfere with that sovereign right. Those who argue this view may appear to be ignoring this part of scripture, so controversy continues. Which is the greater principle, free will or God's sovereignty? Those who stand on God's sovereignty appear ready to give up the principle of free will. Which is right or is this a false dichotomy? Is there an underlying assumption which needs to be questioned? Is there some context in which both are true?

Let's start by taking a closer look at the "elect" and see how the Bible defines this group of people:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Isa 42:1 KJV

Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, ...
For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, ...
Isa 45:1, 4 KJV

Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.
Isa 65: 8-9 KJV

... we ought to give thanks to God for you always, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth.
2 Thess 2:13 NAB

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Eph 1:11-12

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Eph 2:13, 18, 22

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
      To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
      Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Pet 1:1-2

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Pet 1:3-11

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Rom 8:22-23

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Mt 24:30-31

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
Rev 14:1, 4-5

The great calling of the Lord God Almighty to all souls is to choose life, to choose righteousness, to choose to walk in the way of the Messiah, the anointed son. Children mature to be sons and daughters of the Most High when they willingly choose the path of love. But choosing the path of righteousness is not a matter of your own will. If it were, we could boast, but we cannot. God is always calling all His children. God is sovereign and has given us free will, which he will not violate. Therefore, we must choose to ask God’s Spirit, the Spirit of Love, to come into and transform our hearts from stone to flesh. It is only in this marriage of self with God, a partnership of us and God, in which we then can actually walk the path of righteousness. Once we are able to walk as Christ, it is not to brag either, for it is only accomplished when we are led by the Spirit of Faith.

However, Peter warns that even after we circumcise our hearts to the Lord, it is possible to stumble and fall. If our election is not sure, then it depends on the choices we make. Since God calls all to come into a covenant relationship with Him, and since the elect are the firstfruits of more to come, then the elect are those who choose to answer God’s call early. This would suggest they are not known as individuals but that God will guarantee that a certain number will be ready for the first harvest. That number is stated in the book of Revelation as 144,000.

Peter directly addresses God’s elect in his first epistle. He states that they are chosen through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and the sprinkling of our Lord’s blood. These verbs are present tense and clarify the ongoing nature of the work of God’s Spirit. The process of sanctification is the process of maturing in the way of the Lord. The ongoing sprinkling of our Lord’s blood is a reference to the use of our Lord’s blood in the context of the going daily sacrifice, as explained by this web site.

As we grow and mature in the Spirit, we may still stumble and sin. When we do, we are expected to approach our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary through prayer and make our sin offering. This is the spirit of following the law of the daily sacrifice. When we confess before our High Priest and truly repent, then Jesus will sprinkle his blood, by faith, on the ark of the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf, thereby meeting the ransom demanded by the law. His one sacrifice provided the blood that will continue to cleanse our conscience, if applied in earnest (Heb 1:3, 9:14).

In Romans 10, Paul reminds us and makes clear that it is confession upon which your salvation depends. In verse 10:9 we are told to confess the name, that Jesus is Lord, and to belief that God raised him from the dead. This states and establishes that you are in a covenant relationship with God. In the next verse he further emphasizes that belief is of the heart, but it is with the mouth that one confesses and is saved. Paul is not simply restating the prior verse. This verse is reminding one of the complete process, for confessing the name is merely the start of the process. The faithful can only offer sacrifice where there is God’s name, so confessing the name given our Lord by the Father is the way to validate our confession that is to follow. The verbs referring to the application of Jesus’ blood for the forgiveness of our sins are present tense and thereby apply in the context of confession (Heb 9:14; Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 1:1-2; 1 Jn 1:7). For when we sin, there is need for sacrifice (Heb 10:18; 1 Jn 1:8-9) and confession is the only way to keep in a right relationship with the Father. The children of God mature when they willingly obey God’s commands, but also if they are willing to admit when they are wrong.

Those who are ready to embrace a full covenant relationship with God when the latter rain of the Holy Spirit is poured out on the planet will become the firstfruits of mankind and God’s elect. Since they are the firstfruits, this implies that there is a greater harvest yet to come, which we get a glimpse of, again, in the book of Revelation.

Returning to our consideration of Jacob and Esau, Paul emphasizes that God has mercy on whom he has mercy. This quote comes from Exodus 33:19 and in this discussion between Moses and God, the Lord makes clear that while he has compassion, the guilty will not go unpunished (34:5-7). Paul also references Hosea, whose main call to Israel is that they must repent and return to the Lord. The Lord has not forgotten his people and is calling them to repentance. Clearly, we are expected to make a choice.

Paul warns that the Israelites have been blinded to the full Gospel but God has not forgotten them (Rom 11:28-32). There will be a future time where they recognize the one they have pierced and come to fully embrace Jesus as the Messiah (Zech 12:10-14).

Since the lives for Jacob and Esau were set up as examples of one receiving blessing and the other receiving cursing before they were born, this appears unfair in that they are not allowed a choice. This cannot be true, so some underlying assumption must be false. That assumption is the typical Western view of one lifetime. When we appreciate the larger view of the cycle of life, then only from the perspective of Easu having a previous life of unrighteousness and being subject to judgment and destruction, can we see a context in which the Sovereign Lord Almighty is being fair and showing mercy. Perhaps we may perceive that we don’t know all the factors involved in God coming to His judgments, therefore we must trust his Sovereignty and continue to strive to be His sons and daughters.

Some false beliefs have entered God’s church, as the Gentiles have allowed foreign gods into their worship, just as the ancient Israelites did. This resulted in a temporary blinding of ancient Israel and Paul warns the same may happen of the Gentiles if they don’t continue in the Lord’s kindness (Rom 11:17-24). In taking the book of Revelation literally, the elect will be composed of only Israelites. Therefore, one may conclude that only those who know the law and Scriptures well, and aren’t polluted with Paganism, will be able and equipped to fully understand God’s complete covenant when His Spirit is poured out on the planet and we enter the period of final preparation for the return of our Lord and King, Yahshua haMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).

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©2008 Collins Hamblen
First Posted: 4/07/08