What is God’s Purpose in Election?

Election is for the Salvation of the World

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 Tim. 2:10-11

The doctrine of election is controversial, misunderstood and strangely comforting. The doctrine of election teaches that before you were ever born, going back in time before the creation of the world, you were chosen in God’s heart to be saved from the sin that binds you (Eph. 1:4-5). The why (divine fiat or foreknowledge), when (before or after the Fall) and how (God’s sovereign choice or our cooperating free will) of election is debated by Wesleyan, Calvinist, and Roman Catholic theologians.

Several things we do know: God chose us, we did not choose him (John 15:16). He chose out of grace not based on any accomplishments of our own (2 Thes. 2:13) . God’s choosing means that we are loved and that he will not give up on us (John 6:37). In turn, our election means that we have a divine call to spread the good news that Christ has died and risen again for us (James 1:18).

And while the ultimate mystery of election remains, one can see that the principle of election is the only principle congruous with the nature of God’s redemptive purpose. And we can also see that wherever the missionary character of the doctrine of election is forgotten; wherever it is forgotten that we are chosen in order to be sent; wherever the minds of believers are concerned more to probe backwards from their election into the reasons for it in the secret counsel of God than to press forwards from their election to the purpose of it, which is that they should be Christ’s ambassadors and witnesses to the ends of the earth; wherever men think that the purpose of election is their own salvation rather than the salvation of the world: then God’s people have betrayed their trust.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Household Of God: Lectures on the Nature of the Church (London: SCM Press, 1953), 55.

They [i.e., Christians] are chosen not for themselves, not to be the exclusive beneficiaries of God’s saving work, but to be bearers of the secret of his saving work for the sake of all. They are chosen to go and bear fruit.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), 86.