The decisive reason why any person is saved from their sins and born of the Holy Spirit, is not because of the works they do, or because of any quality that may be in them, or any apparently noble disposition, but because of the election of God. Salvation is by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8, 9)! Jesus said the following to His disciples: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16 NKJV). When Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, about 2000 years ago, he mentioned the reasons why God chose them to be His children, “.for you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (I Corinthians 1:26-29). God is passionate about receiving the glory for any person’s salvation!
Years ago, a mission leader in a particular church told me that a person is saved by God because of their own choice. He said: “you choose yourself to be in the kingdom of God!” That is definitely not what the Bible teaches! When Paul writes about election, about the fact that God doesn’t choose everybody to be saved, he says the following: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So, then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:14-16). And in Romans 8:29-30 Paul explains how God saves people: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).
It is very clearly taught in Scripture that God has predestined some people to be saved from their sins, and not all people (Ephesians 1:3-5; Acts 13:48). It is very important to know that God has predestined people according to His foreknowledge, as the apostle Peter wrote when he addressed the believers: “..elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:2). This foreknowledge doesn’t mean that God saw in the future who would choose Him and believe in His Son, and on that basis, He decided to choose them! If that were true, then people would be saved by works and not by grace! However, the Bible makes clear that believers are saved by the grace of God! Grace means unmerited favor. We cannot achieve salvation! When it comes to the salvation of sinners, all the glory belongs to God (Romans 3:27, 28)! When the Bible says that some people are predestined according to foreknowledge, it means that God had knowledge of some people before they were born, even before time began (2 Timothy 1:9), and because He set His love on specific persons (John 10:27, 28) and because of His ultimate freedom to choose, and because of His own glory (Romans 11:36), He chose some to salvation and not others.
When we speak about the election of God, we must realise that we will never completely understand why God chose some and not all people to be saved. It is, in a sense, a mystery to us. As Deuteronomy 29:29 says: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever”. And when Paul concludes his revelation on the election of God, he says: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). What we should hold on to is this: the decisive reason why anyone gets into the kingdom of God is because of God’s predestination and election. People repent of their sins and believe in Christ Jesus because God grants them faith in Christ Jesus, and repentance towards God (Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:25)! Faith and repentance are gifts from God to those whom God elected before time began (Ephesians 1:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:9).
And the decisive reason why some go to hell for all eternity is because of their own rebellion and sin and their own unwillingness to believe in Christ Jesus as Lord, Savior and Righteousness! The Bible is clear that people go to hell and will suffer everlasting punishment because of unbelief and their personal sin (John 3:36; Revelation 21:8, 27). Yes, God did not choose all to salvation, but the rebellious and unbelieving will have only themselves to blame when they open their eyes in hell. God’s justice will be unleashed upon sinners in hell and even there the glory of God’s justice will shine brightly and be evident for all to see.
Scripture to consider: John 1:12, 13 declare: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Read: Ephesians 2:8,9; John 15:16; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29; Romans 9:14-16; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-5; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 1:2; Romans 3:27,28; 2 Timothy 1:9; John 10:27,28; Romans 11:36; Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 11:33; 2 Timothy 2:25; John 3:36; Revelation 21:8,27; John 1:12,13.