A number of years ago, I preached a sermon Titus 1:1. In that passage, Paul says, he is “an apostle Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth.” In that sermon it would be impossible and unfaithful to ignore the word “elect” (eklekton) and the way in which Paul labored for the faith of the elect.
And yet, despite the clear presence of the word in the text and its relationship to faith, truth, and Paul’s gospel ministry, my exposition initiated a cascade of events that resulted in my eventual resignation from my pastoral office. Such is the antagonism against the doctrine of election, which has often been flown under the banner of Calvinism.
In more recent days, I preached a series of messages from John 6, a passage that also touches the doctrine of election. And in these messages, preached in a church where the doctrines of grace are not eschewed but embraced, I was able to show from Scripture what Jesus says about God’s sovereignty in salvation.
In what follows, I want to bullet point some of the key truths uncovered in John 6 with respect to the doctrine of election. In many other articles, I have written how evangelism and election relate, what Scripture says about election, and what hyper-Calvinism really is. In this article, however, I want to stick to Jesus’s words in John 6—a passage where our Lord teaches about the ways God brings salvation to his elect, while passing over others.
Admittedly, this passage is a hard saying (v. 60) and election is a hard doctrine, but it is a true doctrine and one worth pondering. So, with the goal of understanding what Jesus says in John 6, let me offer nine truths about the doctrine of election.
Nine Truths about the Doctrine of Election
Before getting into the text, here is an outline of the nine points. Because what follows is rather long, you might consider picking which point is most interesting (or troubling) and starting there.
- Election depends on the God who selects, not mankind who seeks.
- Election is ordained in eternity and revealed in time.
- Election in time mirrors God’s election in eternity.
- God’s election results in faith, not the reverse.
- Election does not deny the universal offer of Christ; it secures a positive response.
- Election depends on the will of God, not the will of man.
- The election of God’s people ensures that he will bring the gospel to them.
- Election directs Jesus’s ministry, and ours.
- Election is for the glory of God, not the glory of man.