Signs of an election

4 Dec

A Christian is a Christian, a true believer, because of what has happened for him and to him objectively.  God has set his affection upon him from eternity past, before the foundation of the world was laid (the bible calls that “election”).  God has forgiven him by attributing to him a righteousness that was not his own, but belonged to Christ Jesus, the Second Adam, who knew no sin but became sin for us so that we might become the children of God.  God has acquitted him, by punishing, sacrificing Jesus in his place, by laying upon Jesus the iniquities of the sinner and having Jesus make atonement for those sins.  And God has made the believer alive in Christ through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, opening his eyes to the truth of the gospel and the beauty of Christ, something that he could not see before as spiritually dead using with only natural eyes.  Then God makes the believer begin to conform to the image of Christ through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, who has taken up residency in the heart of the believer, preparing and perfecting him gradually, a work not to be fully complete until sin is made no more in the age to come.  So God saves in three steps: He removes the penalty of sin by His redemptive work through Jesus in the past (we get his perfect life attributed to us; he got our sin and guilt, attributed to Him: no greater love has any man shown!).  He removes the power of sin by God’s sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the present life of the believer.  And in the future, He will remove the presence of sin through the glorifying work of God in the life of the believer when Jesus returns making all things new.

How do we respond to this truth?  The Apostle Peter tells us: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10).

So what, then, would be the “signs” that these works of salvation, done objectively for and to the believer, are being applied to the believer and subjectively made known to him?  In short, how may we know that we are the beneficiaries of God’s gracious election?  A.W. Pink (1886-1952) answers:

How may I know I have understood the gospel and that I am elect? First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced. Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition. Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope. Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me – a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it. Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God’s Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness. Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative. 
A .W. Pink

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