Who Are God’s Elect?

15 01 2014

“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” (Titus 1:1)


The doctrine of election standing alone is in no way controversial. Many believers are unnecessarily afraid of the doctrine which causes them to refuse this very Biblical concept and they often find no joy in being God’s elect, being chosen, or any such thing. I recall about two years ago one of my favorite preachers evangelist Benny Beckum preached in my church and encouraged us to rejoice in being chosen since the foundation of the world. He urged us not to be afraid of the term, after all it is in the Bible. I have had several people in my life who have been so much against God’s sovereignty that the term election really troubled them. They were regularly on witch hunts to “get me” even though they themselves held heretical views that they refused to be questioned on.

Some within my own church a few years back gossiped about me, slandered me, and regularly looked for ways to attack me for this very doctrine. They never asked me to explain it and never cared to understand what the Bible taught. I don’t fear the doctrine of election because in and of itself it’s nothing to fear. I only fear it’s opponents who would be the first to burn me at the stake were it legal. Even though in writing this I will say nothing unBiblical, I’m sure they will examine every word, and if one “i” is dotted in a weird or misunderstood way then they will run to my pastor screaming “heretic.”

Why election is important?:

Why is this doctrine so important? Well, I think it’s important because it’s Biblical. The New Testament alone references the elect 13 times. It’s important because Luke 18:7 tells us God will avenge His elect. We see in Romans 8:33 that no one can lay any charge to God’s elect. These are groups that I want to be a part of. The problem is that those who are afraid of it are so fierce in their opposition to it (such opposition is mostly out of ignorance) that people like me who love and embrace it in a Biblical sense cannot (at least out loud) appreciate this doctrine of the Bible. We need to embrace what the Bible embraces, that is why it’s so important.

Two opposing in depth views:

There are two opposing views that seem to clash. The first group believes that God chose to save people based upon His knowledge in advance that they would believe. They believe that no one can believe unless aided by the Holy Spirit and that those who are saved may of their own free will choose to walk away from Christ and thereby be lost again.

There is another group who believes that God chose in advance those who would believe not based on anything they did. They believe that no one can be saved without the aid of the Holy Spirit and that those whom God has chosen cannot be unchosen by walking away. They maintain that all who come to faith are secure in their salvation.

There are also multitudes who take a little from both of those groups to form their own beliefs.

Who does the Bible call elect?:

The Bible calls Israel God’s elect: “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” (Isaiah 45:4)

The Bible calls Jesus elect: “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” (1 Peter 2:6)

The Bible calls Angels elect: ” I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” (1 Timothy 5:21)

The Bible calls Believers elect: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” (Titus 1:1)

What does elect mean?:

The word “elect” means “picked out or chosen.” Let’s go through the Scriptures and see what God says about choosing or picking out.

The Angels:

Concerning angels let me say that the Bible teaches that Satan led a rebellion against God where he drew multitudes of angels away. The Bible describes these in Jude 1:6, ” And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” So many chose to follow Satan, these we would call fallen angels, demons, or devils. The angels who stood faithful to the Lord on the other hand would be the elect angels.


While the nation of Israel is called God’s elect Paul later reveals that not all who are ethnically of Israel are part of true Israel. The Jews believed that by being born Jewish they were entitled to God’s salvation but Paul said, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29) The Jews in Bible times were saying that God’s promise to the fathers had failed but Paul disagreed, “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Romans 9:6-8)

Would this make God unrighteous? Paul says it would not: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Romans 9:14-15) So not all who are born as Jews will be saved, but there is a promised day coming when all of the ethnic seed of Abraham will be saved, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:25-26)


Why is Jesus called the elect? Well there are several reasons given to us in Scripture. The first has to do with the title. He is the chosen Messiah and redeemer, is being chosen makes Him the elect Savior of the world. The second is that He is the figure of the true which means everything else points to Him as their ultimate fulfillment. Believers are called the elect and we are His body, or you could say He is the fulfillment of what we are only a shadow of. Israel is called elect and He is the embodiment of true Israel. In other words Jesus is the true elect of God and all the other elects simply point back to Him in one all glorifying way.

Election through Scripture:

We see election throughout Scripture. God chose to give Adam and Eve dominion. God chose the offering of Abel over that of Cain. God chose to save the family of Noah through the flood. God chose to save Lot and his family out of Sodom. God chose Abraham when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees. Even though the blessing should have fallen to the firstborn son Ishmael God chose Isaac instead. When Esau should have been the heir God chose Jacob. When it seemed logical to use the tribe of the priesthood to bring the Messiah God chose Judah instead. When Saul’s son should have taken the throne in succession God chose to give it to David as well. Of all the nations of the world to put His blessing God chose Israel. Of all the cities to put His name God chose Jerusalem. We are told that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.

So with election so prevalent throughout the Bible we come now to the New Testament. The elect Messiah has died for sin and the elect Jewish nation is temporarily blinded. Why were they blinded? “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.” (Romans 11:28) They were blinded because God chose or elected to add another group to true Israel or His elect people. “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” (Ephesians 2:11-16)

Election of Believers:

Just as God chose to put His name in Jerusalem so He chooses to put His name and dwelling on anyone who becomes part of His Son. Believers are called the elect of God. God chose us from the foundation of the world to be in Christ, to be conformed to the image of His Son. I am one of God’s elect today. In saying that, I am saying that I believe upon the true Israel, the true elect of God, Jesus Christ. All who become partakers in Him are elect, and precious and shall never be put to shame. We find our identity in Christ and our election. Paul repeats this several times. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) Our righteousness, wisdom, and sanctification come not of ourselves but our identification with Christ. Paul says in Romans that our protection from the judgment of God comes from our identity in His elect, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) We are His elect because we are part of the true elect. Those who are partakers of  the promise to Abraham do so not because they are of Israel according to the flesh but those who accept true Israel Jesus Christ.

Many groups hate the doctrine of election because they are trying to pay for their own sins through prayers, beads, good works, giving money, praying to the dead, and following a religious system. They have rejected the true elect Jesus Christ. Their hatred flows from their rejection. They reject the one way of salvation and think they can through good works pay for their own sins. They hate those who find their rest and acceptance in the Beloved of God, the Elect of God, the true Sabbath rest.

For those who are saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ we need to stop the bickering. Whether you call yourselves by nickname Calvinist (although the doctrine existed before John Calvin) or whether by nickname you call yourself Arminian (although the doctrine existed before Jacob Arminius) let us call each other by the grand old nickname given in Scripture: Christian.

What About Head Coverings?

19 12 2013

I wanted to teach a detailed lesson on the subject of headcoverings but I found one by my favorite preacher H.A. Ironside and I thought it would be a bigger help to present his teaching on the subject:


“In order to understand this portion properly we need to try to visualize conditions existing in those distant days. Corinth was a loose, dissolute city. I question if any of the other great cities in which the apostle preached the gospel were worse in character. We are rapidly getting into the same condition, for we are living in a day when everything like purity and chastity is looked on as a joke, and people are utterly cynical and indifferent in regard to personal morality. The literature of our day reeks with filth, pictures are vile and lewd, and plays and movies are just as bad. Low standards of behavior are prevalent. But Corinth was even worse.

Therefore the apostle desired that Christian women especially not do anything that would cast the least cloud on their reputation for purity. Loose women in those days went about bareheaded and were found in the streets unblushingly seeking those who might be companions with them in their sin and wickedness. Women who sought to live in chastity and purity were very particular never to appear in public unveiled. The unveiled woman was the careless woman, the immoral woman; the veiled woman was the careful wife or mother who was concerned about her character and her reputation.

It seems that after Christianity came to Corinth and converted women rejoiced in a liberty they had never known in the old pagan days, some of them were inclined to be rather careless and indifferent about the customs of the day. They perhaps were saying, “We are all one in Christ; Paul himself has taught us that in the new creation there is neither male nor female, and so there is no reason now why Christian women should be subject to any of the conventionalities of the day. We can go unveiled and bareheaded in public places, and we need not be concerned about it.”

The Corinthians wrote to Paul to get his judgment in this matter and he introduced his answer with this comment: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” In other words, “I am about to give you instruction, instruction that I have a right to give as a divinely appointed apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I seek in all things to be subject to Christ. When He speaks, I endeavor to obey. Now I trust that you will have the same spirit in regard to the guidance I am about to give you, that you will seek to follow me, to be led by me just as I seek to be led by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Then Paul praised the Corinthians for their obedience to instructions he had given them in the past. “I praise you, brethren,” he said, “that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” He was the one who under God had founded the church at Corinth, and before leaving them he had taught them what they needed to know to carry on. Now he had to approach a rather delicate subject and give them directions that some might resent, but first he gave them credit for all their past cooperation.

When Paul used the word “ordinances,” he was not referring simply to the two Christian ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper, though these would certainly be included. It is unthinkable that any Christian should ever set them to one side, but the word here has a much wider meaning. It refers to the instruction given to the Corinthians regarding a great many things that have to do with the happy fellowship of saints. A little while ago these people had been idolaters, led by Satan, captive at his will; now they were redeemed and seeking to walk together as Christians.

They needed to subject themselves to the revealed will of God if they were to have joyful fellowship in the church. As we study Paul’s teaching here about woman’s place in nature and in the church, I wish you would bear in mind that he was not speaking, as he does elsewhere, of woman’s place in the new creation. In the new creation, as already intimated, there are no distinctions. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). We were all sinners alike; we have all been redeemed alike; we are all indwelt by the Holy Ghost alike; we have all been baptized into one body alike. All distinctions vanish as we think of one another as members of Christ. We are all one in Christ.

But this does not alter the fact that we still have our natural place, which we must maintain. The Christian is not to be careless as to his responsibilities and you will see how important this is if I illustrate it as follows: According to the Word of God I am a heavenly citizen, but if I say, “Since I am a heavenly citizen, I have no responsibilities to any country here on earth,” I will soon have to reckon with the tax collector and other authorities. The governors of this world will soon teach me that I have earthly relationships that must be maintained. Likewise, although there is neither male nor female in the new creation, we have our distinct places to fill in nature and in the church.

“I would have you know,” Paul wrote, “that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Someone may ask, “But is not Christ the Head of every woman?” Yes, in the new creation Christ is the Head, and men and women are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, but here Paul was speaking of creation, not the new creation.

In creation the Head of every man is Christ. When God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26), He had Christ in view, and when the first man came into the world, he came as the type of Him who was to come. And so the Head of every man is Christ, and man is to be subject to Christ and to represent Christ. But God did not leave man alone in the world. He said, “I will make him an help meet for him” (2:18), and He created woman. “Thy desire,” He said to the woman, “shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (3:16). When God gave Eve to Adam, she saw Adam as her head, and that relationship still exists: “The head of the woman is the man.”

I suspect there are some modern women who resent that; they would like to make the woman the head of the man. They resent the thought that God has given to woman anything that looks like an inferior place, but let us put aside any suggestion of inferiority. The point is that it is the responsibility of the husband to care for and to protect the wife—the husband “giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).

When a woman marries and agrees to take her husband’s name, she tacitly consents to Paul’s teaching. Some women do refuse to take their husbands’ names. They say, “We will not subject ourselves in any way, and in taking our husbands’ names, we would be subjecting ourselves.” I believe that a woman should not marry a man until she is willing to accept him as her head and assume his name. If she is not willing, it would be far better for her to remain single so she can run things to suit herself.

If a woman had said to Paul, “I refuse to take that place of subjection,” he would have replied, “The Head of Christ is God.” In other words, “Remember, the Lord Jesus took the place of subjection. He humbled Himself, but it is His glory to be in that place. When the Son of God became man, He assumed that position and He will keep it for all eternity.”

Paul continued, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoured! his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoured! her head.” If a man should stand up in public to pray or to preach (the word translated “prophesieth” here really means “preach”) wearing a covering on his head, he would be dishonoring his Head—not that which is above his neck, but his Head who is Christ. If I stood in this pulpit preaching with my hat on, every one of you would rightfully say, “Has he no respect for the Master whom he professes to serve?” When I come into the presence of God and Christ and the angels who are learning the wisdom of God in the church, I remove my hat.

For the same reason when a woman comes into the church, she keeps her hat (or head covering) on to honor her head. Who is her head? The man. To uncover her head would be to show that she wants to be like the man. She dishonors her head if she says, “I am not going to be subject to such a rule; I have as much right to have my head uncovered in a public meeting as a man has.” Paul did not say that she dishonors the Lord Jesus Christ. She may be quite unconscious of dishonoring anyone, but I am telling you what the Word of God says. Concerning this and other matters it has well been said, “Some things are commanded because they are right; other things are right because they are commanded.” “Thou shalt not steal” is an example of the former. The commandment did not make it wrong to steal; it was always wrong to steal. “Let her be covered,” on the other hand, is right because it is commanded. God has spoken and it is often in little things like this that our state of mind is revealed—either our self-will is still at work or we are ready to be subject to the Word of God.

In that pagan city of Corinth it would have been a great shame and disgrace for a woman to appear in public with her head uncovered; it would have marked her out as an immoral person. Of course we must recognize that customs change, but the principle of this chapter remains the same. God is calling Christian women to modesty of deportment so that they may be distinguished from worldly women.

Paul emphasized his point by saying, “If the woman be not covered [veiled], let her also be shorn.” In other words, “If she does not have a covering over her hair, let her really be like a man. Let her go to a barbershop and have her beautiful locks cut off.” I do not understand why a woman would want to be so manlike anyway; a womanly woman is one of the sweetest creatures God ever made. I like a womanly woman and a manly man, and I wonder if anyone really admires a manly woman or a womanly man. Let each one keep his proper place in God’s creation.

The apostle went on to explain: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” She is superior to the man in so many ways that she lowers herself when she gets out of her own sphere and tries to take the place of the man. I wonder sometimes whether women have any idea how even worldly men express their disgust at the manlike behavior of women in public places these days.

When a woman takes out a cigarette and begins to smoke, I hear even unsaved men say, “What are we coming to? I am glad I did not have a mother like that.” Men hate to see women aping men, and Christian women should be absolutely above reproach. The woman was taken from man—“The man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.” An old writer said, “When God created man, He made him of the dust of the ground; when He created woman, he took her from the man. He did not take her from his head in order that she might lord it over him; He did not take her from his feet that he might trample on her; He took her from his side, close to his heart, in order that she might be his companion and that he might love and care for her.”

And so we read, “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man… Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man [through creation], even so is the man also by the woman [through birth]; but all things of God.” So everyone has his place to fill in creation and none can take the place of the other.

We have skipped over 11:10, which comes in parenthetically: “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” Admittedly this is a somewhat difficult verse. A marginal note in some Bibles reads, “Power—in sign that she is under the power or authority of her husband.” I think that marginal note was probably inserted by some worthy brother in years gone by who may have had a little difficulty in maintaining his position as head of the house! I question that this is what “power” means here. You see, if a woman in a city like Corinth appeared in a public place with her head uncovered, she would at once be exposed to insults. But if when going shopping or visiting friends or going to the Christian services, she put a veil over her head, she walked down the street unmolested. Her covering was her power.

I spent the first six years of my Christian experience as an officer in The Salvation Army. In those days I often had occasion to see how that beautiful little blue bonnet was the power of the Salvation Army lassie. One day when I was seeking the lost in a saloon on the Barbary Coast in San Francisco, two of our Salvation Army lassies appeared and I noticed that everyone treated them respectfully except for one man, a half-drunken sailor. When the Salvation Army girl approached him with a tract, he turned toward her and made a movement as though he would have kissed her. As she drew back, five of those ungodly men immediately sprang to their feet, knocked the sailor down, thrashed him within an inch of his life, and threw him out into the gutter for the police to pick up. Her bonnet was “power on her head.”

Lots of other girls were in that saloon—God help them—whom nobody would have fought for or protected. There they were with their brazen faces and uncovered heads, lacking the lassie’s power, and proving the apostle right. So Paul was saying, “Women, you are not belittling yourselves when you show proper respect by appearing in public places with your heads covered. You are simply availing yourself of that which is your protection against insult.”

But what does the expression “because of the angels” mean? It is a little difficult to know nineteen centuries later just what was in the mind of the apostle. Many think he meant that whenever Christians are gathered together, God’s holy angels in Heaven are looking down with delight on the scene; that the angels note with approval everything that savors of subjection and obedience to the Word of God; and that they also observe with disapproval everything that savors of self-will and insubordination. However, since we are told that angels are learning the wisdom of God in the church, the apostle may have been saying, “Let the angel hosts see in Christian women a reverence, a modesty, and a respect for holy things that are not found in the women of the world.” If that is the meaning of Paul’s words, it is very beautiful.

Isaiah 6:2 refers to a class of holy angels called the seraphim, each of which “had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.” The apostle may have been picturing these angels, who cover their faces in the presence of God, looking down to see the covered women sitting in reverence and modesty in the presence of God. That may be the meaning of “because of the angels.”

William Thompson had another suggestion. In his work The Land and the Book he pointed out that from the days of the apostle John the word “angel” was used for the minister in a church. Dr. Thompson said that no one who has not seen for himself the conditions under which the ministers in eastern churches worked can understand why the apostle told Christian women that they should keep their faces veiled “because of the angels.” Until recent times in oriental lands the women and men were segregated as they gathered together so that there would be nothing to disturb the equanimity of the men, but the “angel” or minister stood on a platform and saw both groups. Probably he had never looked at the uncovered face of a woman other than his mother or sister or other near relative, and therefore if the women were not veiled, he would be so disconcerted by looking into all those unveiled faces that he might not be able to keep his mind on his message!

Moving on in the passage we read, “Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?” Paul was saying, “Should she not take a reverent attitude? It is perfectly right for me to pray with my head uncovered, but a woman is to cover her head as a sign of reverent subjection.” Going back to nature the apostle said, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”

Someone may say, “That settles the question. Her hair is her covering.” But the apostle said earlier that if she does not cover her hair, she is to let it be cut short. She has that natural covering which distinguishes her from man and over that she is to put a veil. Why? Because a woman’s hair is her glory. Is not that most striking? In the presence of God she is to cover her chief beauty so that no mind may be turned from Christ to her beautiful hair. It is precious to think of Mary of Bethany and of the poor woman in Luke 7 who anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with their hair. They cast their glory at His feet.

Closing this passage, Paul wrote, “If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” He was saying, “If people are going to make a fuss about a matter of this kind, all I have to say is that we have no such custom. If women will persist in being disorderly in this way, you cannot discipline them; you cannot put them out of the church. I have laid down God’s Word. Now let the women settle it themselves; let them decide how far they will subject themselves to the Word of the living God.”

What is the real importance of head coverings? It is the test of whether our wills are subject to God or whether we are going to be subject to the fashions and customs of the day in which we live. The Christian is one who has forsaken the world for Christ’s sake; he has turned his back on “the fashion of this world [that] passeth away” (7:31) so that he may subject himself to another, even the Lord from Heaven. I beg of you, my brother and sister, remember Romans 14:22: “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” Settle with God just how far a passage like this, having to do with customs of long ago, has authority over your conscience at the present time, but do not go beyond conscience. In all things seek to be obedient to the Word of the living God, for this is the path of blessing. “

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