The first presidential election in America took place in 1788–89. The polls opened on December 15, 1788, and closed on January 10, 1789. In this election, George Washington was chosen as the first president of the United States of America. Arguably the most popular president in American history, Washington is the only president ever elected with one hundred percent of the Electoral College. Thus, the process of electing our presidents was established.
For many, the ballot box is what makes America a great place. We elect our officials. Being chosen for such an honor as the presidency should be a humbling experience. If this is true in regard to the choice of a president, how much more should it be true in regard to God and the choices He makes?
When God does the choosing, the Bible refers to this as “election” as well. However, while we elect our representatives based on the potential for good in them, God’s election is based solely on His good and sovereign pleasure. Election is the sovereign, merciful act of God before creation in which He chose some to be saved solely on the basis of His good and loving will (Rom. 9:11; Eph. 1:4).
This election, according to Peter, is for the sprinkling of sinners with Christ’s blood. He refers to Christians as “those who are elect . . . according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:1–2).
“Elect” is a term of loving endearment. When you read the Bible, particularly the New Testament, God’s people are consistently referred to as the elect or chosen (Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Peter 2:9). This is one of the favorite ways in which the New Testament writers are moved to refer to God’s people. It is the loving purpose of a triune God.
We are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. The idea of God’s foreknowledge is not just that God knows of us before we know of Him (Ps. 139); rather, it is also that what God foreknows, He foreordains. Romans 8:29 reminds us that those whom God foreknows He also predestines or predetermines to be made over in the image of Christ.
We are elect in the sanctification of the Spirit. Here we see that the loving goal of our sanctification is that the Spirit would change us. God is making us new. Yet, as we all know, often before you can make something new you have to tear down the old. As God is making us new, He is also tearing down the old, and it does not always feel good. New mind. New affections. New priorities. New conversation. As Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
We are elect for obedience to Jesus Christ. A joyful obedience is the only faithful response to the gospel, the right response to election. The Bible reminds us that our obedience is an obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). It is the necessary and faithful consequence of the love of God in choosing sinners to be saved in Christ Jesus. If we love Christ, we joyfully obey Him (John. 14:15).
We are elect for sprinkling with His blood. Here we see the blood of Christ confirming the covenantal work of God on behalf of His people. It harkens back to the days of the nation of Israel as they were gathered at Mount Sinai. Having been redeemed from Egypt by God’s gracious, might y hand and having received God’s law through Moses, the people of Israel assembled to hear the Word of God. The Bible says that Moses “took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words’” (Ex. 24:7–8).
The elect or chosen of God have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ unto the forgiveness of their sin and the confirmation that they are the people of God. If the blood of oxen proved sufficient to confirm the election of Old Testament Israel, how much more does the blood of Christ sprinkled on His New Testament church confirm its election as well?
God has elected a people for His own possession. Unfortunately in our fallible system of election, there come times when recounts and runoffs are necessary. This is not so with the Lord, however. Thankfully, His electing grace is not in accordance with the human ballot box but in accordance with His own blood.