Summary & Conclusions
This discussion of divine election aimed to demonstrate that there is no tension between this notion in Scripture and the love of God.
Israel was God’s chosen people, elect for the purpose of showing God’s love to the world. The church, made up of Jews and gentiles in Christ, is God’s chosen people, elect for the same purpose. Divine election, then, shapes the identity and mission of the people of God. God sets his love upon a particular people from eternity past so that through them God might draw even more people into his love.
Divine election always has this outward focus. It does not appear in Scripture to emphasize God’s preference for certain people over others. Misconstruing election leads to an insular mindset that is inappropriate among God’s people. It is ungodly since it does not reflect God’s love for the other. Divine election flows from God’s salvation program which has a universal scope. He chooses a particular people to be the agents of his saving pursuit of the world.
Divine election appears in Scripture to emphasize that salvation flows from God’s mercy. It is not anyone’s birthright. No one has an inside track with God based on ethnicity or achievement. Salvation flows from God’s grace and is available to anyone and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.
Double-predestination is not taught in Scripture. It is not the case that in eternity past God chose some for salvation and others for damnation. That is a theological move that Scripture does not make. Double-predestination only makes sense once election is removed from its biblical context and set into some other context. The tension between election and God’s love emerges only when we take election out of its biblical setting and draw conclusions that Scripture does not. Such theological moves may seem to “make sense” or appear to be logical corollaries, but they only pervert divine election. The tension is relieved once we understand divine election in its biblical context.
The alternative group to the elect in Romans 9-11 is unbelieving Israel. They are not part of God’s saving righteousness because of their unfaithfulness. It is not the case that they were predestined to reject the gospel. God has hardened them in their rejection because they have become obstacles to God’s mission of saving the nations. And God has done this in the hope of eventually restoring unbelieving Israel.
Paul’s point in Romans 9-11 is that God is so committed to saving the nations that he will set aside his chosen people for a time if they fail to be agents of his love to others. Israel has failed to be a light to the nations, perverting their identity and rejecting their mission, so God is saving the nations in Christ with the hope of eventually saving Israel, too.
This becomes a warning to the church that it not become arrogant or complacent (Rom. 11:17-32). The people of God must take seriously the universal scope of God’s redemptive mission. If they do not, they run the risk of failing in their identity as God’s elect. God remains passionately committed to saving humanity and transforming them into agents of his love to even more people.
There is no tension, then, between God’s love and God’s purposes in election. Divine election flows from God’s love for all of God’s creation.
Further, divine election is completely compatible with the universal scope of salvation. Anyone and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. All those in Christ can celebrate that they are those whom God has loved in eternity past.