There is a 10,000-pound elephant in the room and it has nothing to do with Republicans. It is a theological pachyderm with a collar tag that says “election.”
At this moment, there is a little man in my brain who is standing upon a heap of rubble waving a red flag, saying “Danger, danger, go another direction!”
The doctrine of divine election has to do with God sovereignly choosing who will be saved. This goes against the sensibilities of many, especially Americans, who feel that a man-initiated choice was a part of salvation. And over the years, theologians have used quite a lot of ink and paper to reconcile these ideas.
Whereas I very comfortably fall out well to one side of center on this doctrine, I have no desire to battle with those, even at TSF, who fall toward the opposite direction. Not that I’ve never debated this issue.
In one such encounter, the person said, “I don’t believe election is biblical and that it happens at all.”
Well, you can’t have that view. The Bible says in various places that election, which means choosing, is something that God did. One of those passages in our text for today where it says “you are a chosen people.” This issue has to do with what is the basis of God’s choosing, and then we get into definitions of foreknowledge and all sorts of deeper waters.
But today, let’s rejoice in the big idea of it all — the wonderful grace and love of God in granting salvation. To the living stones of God’s spiritual temple, Peter writes …
2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Recall again that the bulk of Peter’s readers are Gentile peoples scattered over a wide area. Their history would have been (apart from a very few who became converts to Judaism) those who were entirely estranged from God and from truth. God was working through the nation of Israel.
But with the death and resurrection of Christ and the new institution of grace abounding in the church age, those who were far away have been graciously targeted to be brought now into a new and living organism, the church of Jesus Christ.
That this is a wonderfully new and expansive work of God is seen in the wording of these verses. Compare them to the familiar Jewish text in Exodus 19 that talked about Moses at Mt. Sinai …
Exodus 19:3 — Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Here is the main point for today: However you define it, if you have trusted in Christ, you have been chosen by him through God’s magnanimous grace and love. In the words of the text, you are chosen, special, called … you were specifically desired by God. And we know from plenty of other texts that God’s choosing was not based upon our goodness or merit, quite the opposite. When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, etc. We were truly in darkness, and the light has come to us.
The result is that we should be, by life and speech, those who proclaim his praises. We’re part of his body, his temple, his spiritual house. We don’t just come to it once a week or whenever it is convenient. We are his temple, and that is pretty special.