How the doctrine of election fuelled Jesus’ work

  • Hannah Ploegstra
  • 2 November 2015

The New Testament unanimously presents the doctrine of election as a glad and glorious reality of the gospel. The staggering news that God has loved Christ’s people from before the foundation of the world, creating us for mercy, blessing and joy, offers much-needed confidence and security as we walk by faith in the weakness of the flesh.

No one understood the power of the doctrine of election better than Jesus, God’s chosen one (Luke 9:35). He understood his position was secure by God’s declaration, and that God would bring him to glory because he had loved him before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). Jesus understood this: to be chosen by God is to be precious and loved with an everlasting love (1 Pet 2:4). Knowing that his person and work were a part of God’s infallible plan fueled everything Jesus did. 

  • Election gave Jesus clarity and purpose in his mission. He understood his work because he knew the people for whom his work was intended (John 17:6, 20). It wasn’t a random, potential group of people, like the people who might come through the door during the grand opening of your pie shop. No, the group of people Jesus came to save are much more to him like the list of children in your family. Names. Faces. His to rescue and to love.
  • Election gave Jesus courage for obedience. He could face the cross because he knew it was the means by which God would secure his elect (John 6:37, 39). The sureness of God’s purpose for his people propelled Jesus into agony, knowing there was victory on the other side.
  • Election gave Jesus joy in suffering. Even in his hour of greatest dread, he could speak of joy because he knew that God had ordained him for blessing and honor:
    You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you... In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:22, 33).
    It was for this very joy that he—and we in him—are chosen (John 17:5, 22-24; Rom 8:28-30).

While Jesus deserved to be God’s “chosen and precious” (1 Pet 2:4), we do not merit such honor. God chose Jesus based on his outstanding self; we are chosen solely by grace, because he has created us “in Christ Jesus” for the very purpose of becoming like him (Rom 8:29). Because he is God’s chosen and precious, we who are “in him” are God’s chosen and precious (Eph 1:4).

Being chosen in him means that our lives and mission will mimic his. The Bible’s glad doctrine of election should give us the same courage, clarity, and joy that it gave to Jesus in the work he has left us to do. (John 17:18-19; 1 Pet 2:4-5, 9-10)

  • Election gives us clarity and purpose as we bring the gospel to the world. We know that when those chosen for salvation hear the voice of the one they were created to love, they will, by God’s grace and resurrection power, recognize its sound and gladly come (John 10:3-4). When he tells us to “make disciples” he is simply inviting us to participate in a work that is sure, lasting, and perfectly successful.
  • Election gives us courage and joy as we face trials of various kinds. (1 Pet 1:3-7) Who wants to face trials? It’s not the greatest selling point... unless you’re in on the fact that God has chosen you for ultimate joy. Trials assure us that we are following in Jesus’ footsteps, headed straight for the joy he pursued and gained. And that path is sure—you really will get to the end of it—because getting to the end is the purpose for which God created you (Rom 8:31-39).

Jesus knew the power of God’s electing love better than anyone else. He banked his life on it and, because of him, so can you.