Election unto salvation, rather than abolishing second causes, establishes them, and magnifies the Lord thereby. God, Who chose His people before the foundation of the world, “Appointed them not to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:9). He (God) Who appointed this great and glorious end for His people, has also determined or appointed the means thereunto, and His sovereignty in the decree of election is as much honored by the ordination of the means to that exalted end and their sure subservience, as the end itself. Election is of God, and the means thereunto are no less of God. Salvation is of the Lord, but so is the gospel (Jonah 2:9; Romans 1:1).
Calling by the Holy Spirit-wielded gospel, justification, sanctification, and glorification are inherent and integral parts of the decree of election, and are the Divine underpinnings guaranteeing a heavenly destiny for all the Father gave the Son in the covenant of election. Based upon this God-exalting truth, Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, said: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). The giving of the elect by the Father unto the Son antedates time, and there is no power that can pluck them out of the hand of sovereign and triune faithfulness (John 10:28-30).
The covenant of election is not a contract or agreement between God and man, but it is a Kingly manifesto, emanating from the unimpeachable and omnipotent throne of God. It is based on this great truth that God says unto Jeremiah: “… I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). It is through the atoning blood of the “everlasting covenant” that Christ is made the great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20).
However, we need to know and ever remember that the covenant of election is not fatalistic in any sense or degree. Fatalism denies the death of Christ, and substitutes fate for Divine providence. The Koran is the Bible of fatalism, and “It denies the death of Christ and sees no need of atonement”. (A. H. Strong – SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, Pages 186, 427)
The fruit of eternal and unconditional election is judicial blamelessness and personal holiness (Ephesians 1:4). But to say this and no more is to leave this great truth shrouded in impenetrable darkness. So, Paul, the fervent and God-fearing Apostle, by Divine inspiration sheds much light on the subject, whereby the gospel of Christ is given its place and significance in the covenant of redemption. Paul, speaking of Christ, said to the Ephesian saints: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). In the regenerative experience nothing precedes or preempts a hearing and a believing of the glorious gospel of Christ.
While the gospel cannot regenerate, it has pleased God to make it the power whereby He calls His elect out of their spiritual darkness, into the glorious light of the eternal and living WORD, from Whom redemption comes, and in Whom there is no variableness. To highlight the divinely-ordained necessity of the gospel in regeneration of God’s elect, Paul said: “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (II Corinthians 4:3).
While the gospel is on one hand bitterness to some, it is on the other hand made sweeter than honey to those effectually called by it. While on one hand it is as a millstone around the neck of the self-righteous, dragging them constantly downward unto the blackness and darkness of the bottomless pit, it is on the other hand a divinely appointed means to lift up God’s elect from their fallen state, and cause them to sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, their Saviour and Lord (Ephesians 2:5, 6). The true gospel is a terror to the reprobate, and a source of unceasing comfort to the elect of God.
God’s elect, like all of Adam’s children, stand equally guilty and condemned before God. They are by nature desperately wicked and there is no fear of God before their eyes (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:18-19). The elect of God are by their natural birth as much filled with enmity against God as the vilest reprobate, and their love for this present evil world leaves no room or time for God (Romans 8:7; I John 2:15). These truths are hard on the flesh, for the natural man thinks in his flesh there dwelleth every good thing, and in his dark and deceived heart, he says: “I will not have Christ to reign over me” (Luke 19:14). But all that man is by nature, and all that he does and says, points up his critical need of the new birth. It was to an extremely religious man, and a “master of Israel”, that Christ said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh … Ye must be born again” (John 3:6-7).
“The ministry of the word is the vehicle in which the Spirit of God conveys Himself and His grace into the hearts of men; which is done when the word comes not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost: and works effectually, and is the power of God unto salvation … God the Father, Who is the Father of Christ; He as such begets men again according to His abundant mercy, (I Peter 1:3), and as the Father of lights, of His own sovereign will and pleasure regenerates with the word of truth … which He sheds abundantly through Christ the Saviour, that He saves His elect.” (John Gill – BODY OF DIVINITY, Pages 532-534)
No doctrine in the New Testament is more plainly and abundantly set forth than the teaching of salvation by faith in the crucified, buried, risen, and glorified Christ. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). The fruit of salvational faith is:
Justification (Romans 5:1),
Preservation (I Peter 1:5),
Perseverance of sanctification (II Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20; Jude 1).
And all whom God justified by faith, shall be glorified by the same faith (Romans 8:30). All this is the profit of God-given faith which comes by effectually hearing the gospel (Hebrews 4:2).
But whence cometh this all glorious faith? This is a profound question, and the interrogator should not be and cannot be satisfied with anything less than a divinely-inspired answer, and so it is we turn to the pages of Holy Writ and there we find the God-given, plain and incontestable reply, i.e. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Regeneration and salvational faith are the immediate or direct effect of hearing and believing the gospel of Christ, and faith being a constituent element of regeneration, bespeaks an eternal union of the two. Simply stated, he that is regenerated has faith, and vice versa.
The Lord, speaking of Paul, said: “I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). The sufferings of this dedicated saint were manifold and exceedingly bitter (II Corinthians 11:23-27), but he remained faithful to his heavenly calling (Galatians 1:15-6). He wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith, saying, “I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Timothy 2:10).
Paul knew God had His eternal and infinite host of elect people, and he also knew God had appointed the glorious gospel of His Son, as a means whereby they would be saved (Romans 1:16). Speaking of Corinth, the Lord said unto Paul: “I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:10). This “much people” were the Lord’s before the foundation of the world, and that by elective decree, but they were not as yet regenerated. Thus it is the Lord said unto Paul: “… Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: … And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:9-11).
Near the end of his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul reminded them that he had preached Christ unto them during his eighteen months with them, saying: “MOREOVER, (emphasis OBM) brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” (I Corinthians 15:1-2). Earlier in this same letter, Paul emphatically declares: “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (I Corinthians 4:15). Paul knew there could never be a need for re-regeneration, but he also knew that a reiteration of the glorious gospel of the Son of God can and often does reinvigorate the weary saint.