WHO ARE GOD'S ELECT? I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Without question the Word of God teaches that before the world began God sovereignty chose a people whom he loved and determined to save by the substitutionary death of his own Son and the irresistible grace of his Spirit (John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Rom. 9: 11-23; Eph. 1:4-6; II Tim. 1:9). The purpose of God in election must stand. It cannot be frustrated, defeated, or altered in any way. All of those who were chosen by the Father were redeemed by the Son, and shall be regenerated and called by the Spirit. GOD'S ELECT SHALL BE ETERNALLY SAVED, AND NO ONE ELSE. Realizing that fact, this question should be of interest to us - Who are God's elect? Or, to make it more personal - How can I know that I am one of God's elect?
You cannot know who the elect are by the way they dress. One of the Lord's chosen ones was a king, who wore a crown, jewels, and royal attire. Another was a prophet who wore a garment made of camel's hair. One of God's elect shaved his head. Another was commanded never to cut his hair. You cannot determine who God's elect are by what they know. Judas was not elected, but he knew a great measure of gospel truth. The dying thief was elected, though he knew very little. You cannot know who God's elect are by where they go. A Pharisee, who never was chosen of God, went up to the temple to pray. Judah, who was chosen of God, went on one occasion into a harlot's house. And you cannot determine who God's elect are by isolated acts of their lives, either good or bad. The rich young ruler lived a morally good life. He never did those things that men call "sin". But the rich young ruler was a lost man. Election had not set him apart as an object of grace. David, on the other hand, was chosen of God, loved, redeemed, and accepted in Christ, though many self-righteous people would look upon him with scorn, and say, "No true child of God would do what he did. No true believer could commit adultery, plot out and execute murder." The fact is, there is no evil of which God's children are not capable and would readily commit if left to themselves. Our standing and our acceptance before God is not in what we do, but in what our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. OUR SALVATION IS ALTOGETHER THE WORK OF DIVINE GRACE BESTOWED UPON US THROUGH THE MERITS OF CHRISTS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SHED BLOOD.
Yet, the Apostle Paul assured the believers at Thessalonica that they were numbered among God's elect. He said, "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." Then he listed five characteristics of God's elect, five identifying marks of election.
(1). GOD'S ELECT HEAR THE GOSPEL AND RECEIVE IT IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. All who are chosen of God will hear the gospel of God's free and sovereign grace; and it will be brought home to their hearts by the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit, so that they are compelled to believe - "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."
(2). GOD'S ELECT BECOME FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. "Ye became followers of the Lord." Their hearts and lives are radically changed by the gospel. Our Lord said, "My sheep (my elect) hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Those who are born of God follow the example of Christ in faith, love, and hope.
(3). GOD'S ELECT ARE A PEOPLE COMMITTED TO THE GOSPEL. Paul knew that the Thessalonians were truly elect people because they became "examples to all that believe''. From them the Word of the Lord was sounded out in every place; and their "faith to God-ward was spread abroad". These men and women were devoted to the furtherance of the gospel. They did not have to be primed and pumped, week after week, to get them to perform their religious works. The love of Christ and the grace of God had gotten hold of their hearts.
(4). GOD'S ELECT EXPERIENCE GENUINE CONVERSION. "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." Conversion is a change, a turning of the heart. It is a change of mind, a change of masters, and a change of motives. In the general tenor of their lives, they live toward God. And
(5). GOD'S ELECT ARE WAITING FOR HIS SON FROM HEAVEN. Those who are born of God live in the anticipation of Christ's glorious advent.