One of the major doctrines in the Bible is election whereby God beforehand chose those who would spend eternity with Him. Perhaps the clearest Scripture relative to election is found in the Epistle to the church at Ephesus.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself…In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…” Ephesians 1:3-13
The Apostle Paul also explained this great truth to young Timothy.
“…share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us…Not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…” 2 Timothy 1:8-9
Therefore, the doctrine of election is presented very clearly in the Scriptures. Does the doctrine of election override man’s freedom to choose his own destiny?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
There is no conflict with these Scriptures. In fact, they complement each other.
The salvation process begins before the foundation of the world with God’s election of individuals and writing their names in His Book of Life.
Then when Jesus began His earthly ministry He knew His mission included paying the sin debt for all whose names the Father had chosen at the foundation of the world.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” John 6:44
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37
Jesus then proclaimed that every one whose name is written in the Book of Life would indeed come to Him and could subsequently never lose their promise of eternal life.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” John 10:27-30
Another wonderful aspect of God’s gift of salvation is the method God uses to get a person’s attention so they would realize their lost condition and cry out for God’s mercy. This is done through the Holy Spirit, who quickens, or makes alive lost sinners and unites them with Christ.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:6
Two subtle but key words in the above passage are ‘with’ and ‘together.’ The Greek basis for these words means a close connection, in union with, and in like manner.
The Apostle Paul didn’t know who the elect were; therefore, he labored tirelessly to present the gospel to all men.
“Therefore, I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus…” 2 Timothy 2:10
Thus the salvation process is accomplished in three steps, i.e. God in His absolute sovereignty chose those who would inherit eternal life before the foundation of the world. Then the Holy Spirit quickened (made alive) the spirit of all those who God chose and initiated in them a spiritual rebirth. Jesus then paid the sin debt for all those who God chose, or elected.
Each individual then exercises their free will to choose life but only after the Holy Spirit prompted them of their condition and need.
Therefore, while God’s election and man’s free choice of his destiny are totally compatible, salvation always begins with God lest anyone should boast.