What Baptists Believe About God’s Purpose of Grace

Text: Ephesians 1:4

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

Introduction: The following statement of faith concerning God’s Purpose of Grace comes from the Baptist Faith and Message. This statement has been modified from the New Hampshire Confession of Faith.

“Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the cause of Christ, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”


I. The Sovereign. “According as he”

A. God is the Sovereign who did the electing:

1. God elects individuals to salvation, but never to damnation. The sinner is condemned already to damnation, (John 3:18)
2. In electing individuals to salvation man’s will is never coerced, forced, or violated in any way. If man is left entirely alone he would never choose God. (John 5:40 & Matthew 23:37) But the gospel is designed to appeal to man’s whole nature. The result of being chosen from the beginning is that the elect are called by the gospel. (Matthew 11:28-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Philippians 2:13; Psalms 110:3; John 1:12-13)
3. God also elects the means that he uses to bring about the desired end. (Romans 8:28-30) Example: preaching, teaching, evangelism, missions, outreach, witnessing, soul-winning are all a vital part of election.

B. God’s election is not unjust, but it is an act of mercy:

1. The same Bible that teaches election also states that God is just. (Isaiah 45:21)
2. God can do what he wants with his own. (Matthew 20:1-16 [v15])
3. God has the right to show mercy to whom he desires. (Romans 9:11-24)

II. The Selection. “hath chosen”

A. Election is an act of choice whereby God selects an individual from a larger company for a destiny or purpose which he has predetermined.

B. Election in the Bible:

1. The word “election” is used in the Scriptures six times.
2. The word “elected” is used once.
3. The word “elect” twenty-two times.
4. The word “chosen” is used at least twenty-one times.

C. Election simply defined:

1. The word election means chosen or selected.
2. The word chosen means to select out from a greater mass. (Mark 13:20, Deut.10:14-15, Psalm 33:12, 1 Peter 1:2, Acts13:48, 2 Thessalonians 2:13)

D. Election is not salvation only the means to salvation.

III. The Subjects. “us

A. Election is used in three different ways in the Bible:

1. It is used to appoint to an office. (Acts 9:15 & John 15:16)
2. It is used to include all of God’s children. Israel is called an elect nation. Peter says that Christians are a chosen generation. (1 Peter 2:9)
3. It refers to individuals chosen to salvation. (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 28:31; Rom. 9:9-13; Rom. 11:5; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:20; 2 Tim. 1:9; James 1:18)

B. He chooses us to salvation because he wills to do so. (Ephesians 1:5, John 6:37, John 6:44, Acts 13:48)

IV. The Savior. “in him”

A. Apart from Christ there could be no election or salvation. We are chosen in Christ.

B. Jesus came to save his people from their sins, speaking of his elect. (Matthew 1:21)

C. Jesus died for his people, he justified many. (Isaiah 53:10-11)

V. The Sphere. “before the foundation of the world”

A. Our salvation was planned in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, it was not an afterthought of God. It was determined in eternity past. (Revelation 13:8 & 17:8)

B. Before the foundation of the world, God chose individuals unto salvation. His selection was not based upon any foreseen faith or act performed by those chosen. Faith and good works are the result, not the cause of God’s choice or selection. (Romans 9:11 & 2 Timothy 1:9)

1. To say that God chose his people because he foresaw that they would believe, is to say that man is sovereign in salvation rather than God. John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (Romans 9:11-13 & 16)
2. To believe that God chose his people based on what he saw the sinner would do is to say that man can take credit for his own salvation. This would mean God would have to share his glory with the sinner and undermine the teaching found in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (1 Corinthians 1:29-31)

VI. The Standard. “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”

A. Those whom he chose will be holy. (II Corinthians 5:17)

B. Those whom he chose will be without blame. (Romans 8:1)

C. Election is the foundation of the security of the believer; for there is a certain providence that watches over the elect which will also see to it that the believers perseveres to the end.

1. The Preserving Power of the Sovereign. (Philippians 1:6; John 10:28-29; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12)
2. The Perseverance of the Saints. (1 John 2:6-10)