How Do I Know If I’m One of the Elect?

We confirm that God called and elected us by cultivating the virtues listed in 1:5–7. We must be continually growing in those virtues. We must persevere in faith and good works until the end. Consequently, God will richly welcome us into his eternal kingdom (1:11)—like how the King richly welcomes Christian into the Celestial City at the end of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Election is not an excuse for lawlessness or laziness. We must put off sin and put on virtues (see Col. 3:1–4:1). 

You Are at War

Election is terrifying for some people. “Am I chosen by God? How can I know for sure? And what about ______ [my spouse, my child, my parent, my neighbor, or my friend]?” Election may be alarming because it means that God the Creator is supremely sovereign and that we the creatures are not. We prefer to be in control. But what God has revealed about election should be encouraging, comforting, humbling, exhilarating, and motivating.

If you follow Christ and are struggling with whether you are elect, you are at war. You are fighting a scheme of the devil (Eph. 6:11–12). That is why Martin Luther asserts, “When man is assailed by thoughts regarding his election, he is being assailed by hell.”1 So how do we know if God has elected an individual? Cornelis Venema explains, “The warrant for the assurance of election is the same as the warrant for the assurance of salvation.”2

Calling and Justification Are Evidence of Election

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Paul supports those comforting words with four proofs (Rom. 8:29–30):

  1. God predestined (or elected) those whom he foreknew.
  2. God called those whom he predestined.
  3. God justified those whom he called.
  4. God glorified those whom he justified.

This five-link chain of God’s actions is unbreakable: foreknowledge, predestination (or election), calling, justification, and glorification. Every human is either the object of all five of those actions or none of them. If God has called you, then he has enabled you to believe the gospel and thus has judicially declared you to be righteous. Faith is the means of justification, and faith is also an evidence of election. Jesus says, “All that the Father gives me will come to [i.e., believe in] me” (John 6:37).

If you are the object of God’s calling and justification, then you are also the object of God’s predestination. In other words, if God has effectively called you (which means that God has regenerated you and enabled you to repent and believe), then you are elect. If you are justified (which is a result of God-enabled faith), then you are elect. Your calling and justification are evidence of your election.

Following Jesus the Shepherd Is Evidence of Election

Jesus’s sheep are the elect. Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Do you listen to Jesus and follow him? Then what Jesus says next is a precious assurance for you: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29; cf. 6:37–40).

A Transformed Life Is Evidence of Election

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you [your election (KJV)], because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

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