Election is Personal and it is From Eternity
These two are put together here for they are often joined together in Scripture. It is not all of mankind that was the object of God's election. Election was not, as some would have us believe, a decree to elect such and such of mankind who should happen to be qualified in such and such a way, filling such and such condition. Rather, certain individuals were chosen by name, singled out from among the rest, and ordained to eternal life.
Our Savior styles these "...the men which thou gavest me out of the world;..." John 17:6. They were given Him by the Father and they were given Him by name as well as by number and it is by these names that He knows them and calls them and they follow Him. This is recorded in John 10:3 and 14, "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." Verse 14, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."
Why does He know our names? It is a token of the special regard that he has for His people for He certainly knows us, name or not. But remember what He said to Moses in Exodus 33:17, "And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou has spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name."
Let no man doubt that God knows the name of every man who has ever lived and who will ever live but knowing and calling His people by their names is a special token of grace that we have found in His sight. That grace is not because of any works of righteousness which we have done but it is according to His mercy.
The use of the names of His elect is also an appropriating action on the part of God for Isa. 43:1, speaking of Jacob says, "But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. Sometimes when He calls one of His own who is very special to him He will double the name by repetition, as when He was speaking to His friend Abraham in Gen. 22:11. "And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said Abraham, Abraham: and he said. Here am I."
Also, in Exodus 3:4 when He spoke to His servant Moses, "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I."
This was a very rare occurrence. This happened only in special circumstances. It was a very special mark and it was not a light matter. And it is no light matter that the elect were chosen by name, and their names are written in heaven in the Lamb's book of life. Nor is it a light matter that this was transacted in eternity, and this is evident from John 17:22, 23 and 24, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
The love of the Father for the Son is here established from before the foundation of the world but note that the Son says to the Father, "...and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." As the Father loved the Son so He loved His elect and this from before the foundation of the world. So, election of those whom the Father loved as He loved the Son must then of necessity have taken place from eternity.
This concept is also stated point blank in Eph. 1:4, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love...".
We also have Rev. 13:8 where the non-elect are said to worship Him even though they are not found in the book of life; And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." There are several other passages we could look to but I believe that these will establish that election is from eternity. (Note by Bro. Burke: This verse was speaking of the Beast, however this does not detract from the authorís meaning).
Let us look into the personality of election with its eternity by arguing from the example of Christ's election.
Messiah was not to be some accidental person. He was not to be just a good man who could teach the Jewish people what God wanted them to hear. The Messiah had to be a very special person, He must be both human and divine. He must be a man without sin and only God is without sin and so the Messiah had to be both God and man, the Second Person of the trinity in human nature, and this capacity He sustained from everlasting. There is a long passage in Proverbs 8 that sustains this statement. Verses 23 through 31 state, "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set fountains of the deep: when he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth; Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him: Rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men."
Then in the New Testament we have 1 Peter 1:20, "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity was foreordained from the foundation of the world to His work, and the same stands for us, chosen from the foundation of the world and loved as the Son was loved by the Father, we are chosen to our work. This stands for the Word tells in Eph. 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Even our good works have been foreordained from before the foundation of the world.
The elect are elect for a special purpose just at the Lord Jesus Christ was elect for a special and specific purpose.
Consider the body He inhabited, it was not just any body, it is not an accident that He was the son of Mary, it was not an accident that He was born in Bethlehem, nor that He lived in Nazareth, nor that His mother and the man that stood as His earthly father took Him to Egypt. The Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, had a body that was prepared particularly for him. Hebrews 10:5 is definite about this; "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me...".
And the person of this body was loved of the Father from before the foundation of the world. Again look at John 17:24, which has been quoted before. It is Jesus praying for His disciples, "Father I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
It is interesting and important to note how very particular the decree concerning Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, was: that decree made it necessary that Jesus be the stock of Abraham and of the tribe of Judah. He had to be of the lineage of David so that he might have a legal claim to the throne of David. He had to be conceived and born of a virgin and delivered in Bethlehem, and all this when the scepter had departed from Judah for there had not been a king from the tribe of Judah or the line of David for almost 500 years.
The decree of God concerning Jesus included the fact that He had to go to Egypt for safety until Herod was dead, that He would grow up as the son of a carpenter, that He would have a ministry of three and a half years and then be buffeted, scourged, spit upon, hanged on a tree. His hands and His feet were to be pierced with nails. He was to be crowned with thorns, He was to be given vinegar and gall to drink, but not one bone of Him was to be broken, and this, while on both sides of Him the two thieves had their legs broken. It was decreed that His garments should be parted and lots cast for them. But also, in that decree He was given power to rise from the dead. He was given the power to overcome death. The decree of God concerning Jesus, the Messiah, also stated that the resurrection would be on the third day so that His body would never see corruption.
We know that all these things were decreed of God for they all appeared in the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him, which is how the decree of God was made known to man. It is said very specifically in Psalm 2:7, "I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me. Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." The word "Lord" here is the Hebrew original "Jehovah," and so it is God the Father speaking concerning His Son.
Now let us consider this, if the election of the Head was personal and from eternity, why not those that would make up the body since they did exist then as real as the human nature of Jesus Christ existed? It is only right that He and they should be appointed together for he could not be The Head without a body. Psa. 139:16 expressly tells us that this body was specifically determined for it says, "...In thy book were all my members written, when as yet there was none of them." If you say, "That was meant of David's members," then I say, that if God thought the members of an earthly body worthy of registering, He could not be less particular and exact about the body of His Son, Jesus the Christ. Besides, David was one who typified Christ in the Old Testament.
Christ was also ordained to be Savior by His death and this "before the foundation of the world". This we find in 1 Pet. 1:18 - 20, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you...".
When it was ordained that the Second Person of the Trinity would be the Savior, then it must be determined and foreordained how many and who in particular should have this salvation that he would purchase with His blood. He was not to die for Himself for there was no need for Him to pay the price of sin for He was and would always be personally without sin. He would die for those whose security He was undertaking.
Our Lord and Savior did not make His soul an offering for somebody's sin but uncertain as to whose and how many. Aaron knew whose trespasses he offered for their names were graven on his breastplate and it was not their national name or qualification such as "Israelite" or "believer", but their personal names; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, etc. So our personal names had to be known to our Great High Priest or He could not have made atonement for us. He knew us for as we have already read in Rev. 13:8, there is a book of life and there are people whose names are not found written there. This is "the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world". So there are those whose names are written in that book and those whose names are not written in that book. It is Rev. 20:15 where we find the destiny of those who are not found written in that book, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." In the passage from Rev. 13, the term, "...from the foundation of the world," refers to the time of the writing of the particular names in the book as well as the Lamb's being slain as is evident in Rev. 17:8, "....whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world,...".
Our Lord knew the names of those whom He came here to die for. He knew whose sins He would take in His own body on that tree. Just as there were those who were not found written in the book from the foundation of the world there were those who were, those chosen unto salvation by the Father from the beginning, 2 Thess. 2:13 states, "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth;...".
Argument 2: When I made a will I identified those to whom my possessions would go. When someone gives a dinner they make out an invitation list. All of us like to decide those we want to have around us. God did the same thing. The gift of life that was God's to give was given to those whom He wanted to give it to. He was giving His only Son to die for these people in order that they might have life and so it was His right to choose whom He would. If Christ had died without having done it for any specified inheritors then it would have been uncertain if any one at all would ever receive the gift that was to be given.
What would have been accomplished if Christ came and died and no one ever accepted the fact that He might have done it for them? Nothing! All mankind would have to then be condemned to eternal punishment.
But on the other hand if, Christ died and He died for specific people, named by name, then this would have to be decreed for without an absolute decree it could never be certain that anyone would come to the knowledge of what He had done.
So if it was decreed that some should believe, it was also decreed that they should have faith for faith is the gift of God, and it could not be foreordained in any but those to whom God had decreed to give it. And so it is, that just as it was decreed that Christ should die for some, it was also decreed who that "some" were for whom He should die. Both His death and those for whom He would die were foreordained.
Argument 3: The absolute design of God in the death of Christ could not have been secured without the election of those who would benefit by that death. Had the design been to purchase salvation for believers without ascertaining the persons that would believe, it would have been uncertain whether or not any man or woman would be saved because if left up to man, who can say if anyone would have believed. Man is said to be dead in his trespasses and sins, dead spiritually and since this is so, the Word of God says it is, then how can man understand spiritual things? Again, the Word tells us that it takes spiritual man to understand spiritual things. And so we are left to understand that it is possible that no man would be saved were it not for the election of God unto salvation for those whom He would show mercy.
This certainty then must be decreed and if it was decreed that some should be saved, then it must of necessity be decreed who would be saved and by name for faith is a gift of God. And this is the best demonstration that those Christ should die for were pre-ordained by name as well as that He should die that some might be saved.
In order for His death to serve the desired purpose God had to decree not only the purpose by those who would fulfill that purpose and that they should not be an unknown factor but known by their very names, even as God had decreed a work by Cyrus in Isaiah, so He has decreed that His Son should die so that some men might be saved, and He has decreed not only that some should be saved but has called them by their names and decreed the time and place of their salvation.
Another argument can be based on the fact that the Father prepared a kingdom. In Psalm 102:25, God is said to have laid the foundation of the world and that the heavens are the work of His hands and so God created the heavens and the earth.
One of the main subjects of the New Testament is the Kingdom of Heaven, the place where God is King. Also, we have a statement in Heb. 11:10 where God tells us through Paul that Abraham looked for a city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Jesus was going to build a city-state known as the New Jerusalem and Jesus, when He was to die, told His disciples that He was going to prepare this place for them. Where was He going to do the building of that New Jerusalem? In heaven. After His death he would spend time in heaven building that great city, the city that would be the home of His Church, His Bride and the Apostles were the very first building blocks of that Church. The saints of that Church will abide in that city either on the earth or very close to it for Heaven is not our home. The earth was made for man.
In order to consider this thought properly, think of the order in which God prepared for the fulfillment of His plan and Purpose. The lower things first. He created the earth but certainly He did not create it in vain, that is, to stand empty and void as it was when it was first created. Nor did He leave it to be inhabited by man where and when he pleased or for as long as they desired but "...the Most High divided the nations their inheritance,..." Deut. 32:8. In other words, He set the bounds of their habitations Acts 17:26b, "...and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation ...". Some of these divisions are given in the Word such as Mount Seir, it was given to Esau and Ar to the children of Lot, this from Deut. 2:5 and 9. Each nation had its limits staked out, and this from the earliest days of time. And since we are speaking of God preparing all things from before the foundation of the world, then it must be true that He prepared from ancient time to create and furnish those parts of the world which each people would inhabit. For their very existence was part of His scheme of things, they were part of history, His history. Every nation played or is playing its part in His plan and purpose.
Looking on this we are bound to think that if particular nations were afore-appointed to exist in a particular sphere of the earth, then it is only natural that where heavenly mansions are concerned that they should be foreordained or designed before the world began for particular individuals. If either were appointed first it would certainly have been the particular persons for we read that things were made for man and not man made for those things, such as where the Word says, "the Sabbath was made for man, and, not man for the Sabbath." The heavens were made at the beginning of the world, but election was before that time, it was from before the foundation of the world.
In the Old Testament those who served in God's House were members of a sacred tribe. They were that tribe that furnished not only the High Priest and the regular priests but also all who were allowed to be in God's Holy Temple. Each individual person had his place and his apartment or place of abode set out for him. Those places were not prepared for unknown persons but were prepared for particular persons, persons chosen by God and God alone.
So it will be in that New Jerusalem, God's place of glory, where those who live there are to be people of a sacred and holy kingdom, an Order of kings and Lords (not gods). Each individual person will have his appointed apartment just as the servants of the Jerusalem Temple had, and those places were appointed to that individual for a specified length of time, for not all of them served their whole life. But just as the place was appointed to a particular person so are the abodes in the New Jerusalem appointed to one particular, chosen person for a specified length of time, eternity.
The twelve apostles shall have their twelve thrones, and each throne is specifically for a particular apostle. They will occupy their own throne. This is evident by our Savior's answer to the mother of Zebedee's children in Matt. 20:23b, "...but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." The very thrones are designated to a particular individual. The scope of this answer was not to show that the places requested could not be assigned to just any person for some indefinite time but they had been designated to a particular person from the moment election was decreed by the Father, note Matt. 25:34, "Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand. Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:...".