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How do we know whether or not we've been chosen?

So let's begin at the starting point, and that would be the character of God, and how He feels toward the lost:

6 The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, 7 keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children's children, to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7).

31 Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no delight in the death of anyone, declares the sovereign Lord. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:31-32)

8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it? 9 Then when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God's angels over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:8-10).

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

1 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, 4 since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

The Scriptures are clear that our God is a God who is merciful, and thus delights to forgive sins, but whose righteousness also necessitates the condemnation of the guilty.

Second, we should observe that were salvation left to us no one would ever come to faith.

9 What then? Are we better off? Certainly not, for we have already charged that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin, 10 just as it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one, 11 there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:9-18, emphasis mine).

1 And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you formerly lived according to this world's present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest… 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you are saved! - 6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:1-9).

5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God's wrath. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? (Romans 5:5-10)

3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).

Third, the only one who can save sinners – God – chooses (elects) those whom He will make alive, giving them salvation. God must choose those whom He will save because no one would have chosen Him. And He does this as an act of sovereign grace.

“Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away” (John 6:37).

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

So Jesus added, “Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come” (John 6:65).

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you” (John 15:16).

When the Gentiles heard this, they began to rejoice and praise the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearing woman, listened to us. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying (Acts 16:14).

6 It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, 7 nor are all the children Abraham's true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” 8 This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. 9 For this is what the promise declared: “About a year from now I will return and Sarah will have a son.” 10 Not only that, but when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our ancestor Isaac - 11 even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling) - 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger,” 13 just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then, God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?” 20 But who indeed are you - a mere human being - to talk back to God? Does what is molded say to the molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy that he has prepared beforehand for glory - 24 even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:6-24)

4 For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. 5 He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will - 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son (Ephesians 1:4-6).

Fourth, while God sovereignly chooses those whom He will save, men are also called to believe in Jesus and are held accountable for their decision. We are assured that anyone who comes to Jesus for salvation will not be turned away.

30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

37 “Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away” (John 6:37).

11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:11-13).

So, we know that God chooses some (in spite of their rebellious nature – enemies, dead in sin) to salvation, while others persist in their rebellion, destined for eternal judgment. Your question is, “How do I know that I am one of the elect?” I believe the answer is clear in Scripture:

“Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away” (John 6:37).

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

So Jesus added, “Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come” (John 6:65).

26 “But you refuse to believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from my Father's hand” (John 10:6-29).

Those who are not chosen don't believe in Jesus and don't follow Him – and don't want to. Those who do believe in Jesus know His voice and they follow Him. If you were not chosen you would not delight in God's Word, and you would not be concerned about your salvation. Those who call upon Jesus for salvation – all of them – He receives, and does not turn away, and gives them salvation. And that salvation is eternal and secure: “No one can snatch them from my Father's hand” (John 10:29; see also 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Just as it is true that no one can come to faith in Jesus unless he or she is chosen by God, it is likewise true that we are not saved unless we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Both are true. Thus, God chooses the elect, proclaims the good news to all, and saves those who believe (who are also those He has chosen) are saved.

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation), Assurance, Election