The “Elect” Strive With God
With “This Ship Has Sailed” post in mind, we proceed. While we would not have chosen Jacob from our limited view, God’s view has no such restrictions. “He that searches the heart (inward spirit) of man knows the intent of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints (the pure or morally blameless) according to the Will of God.” (Romans 8:27) I know your translation only says “Saints,” but the word is hagios which means, “pure or morally blameless.” In other words, a Saint doesn’t just behave according to the Manual, their thoughts must also align. This is an important clarification for our discussion. In Part 1, we talked about Moral Conviction and Moral Conscience; now, we have Moral Blame or the lack there of. It really seems to become undeniable that God considers the thoughts, the inward spirit, the choice, behind the acts. God, from His perspective, saw Jacob and Esau “before Creation” and He saw them from beyond the limits of time. From that view, God’s Providence was clear. The heart of Esau would never become humble, pure, or morally blameless and choose God over everything else. Jacob’s heart, buried deep inside that trickster, would, and, one day, he would accept God for who He was above all else. With the Wisdom of that Providence (God’s Wisdom), God chose Israel… the man of God, Jacob would choose to become.
This brings us to another important lesson from Jacob/Israel from Genesis 32. I recommend you read the chapter and even go on to chapters 33-35 to get the details. Here is “the short” of what I get out of it. Jacob feared the world represented by Esau. From this “great fear and distress” of the world, Jacob attempted to protect his worldly things by “splitting them in two.” Then, in a continued act of fear, he pleaded with God to fulfill His promise: “Please deliver me from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid that he may come and attack me and the mothers and children with me. But You have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, too numerous to count.’” (Genesis 32:11-12)
As we progress through these events, we see Jacob continuing to fear Esau/the world, thinking, “I will appease Esau… After that I can face him, and perhaps he will accept me.” (ever had a thought like that?)
Then, when night fell, Jacob was on his own until he found himself wrestling with a man. When dawn came, neither Jacob nor the man had been victorious. Then, the man reached out his hand and “touched” Jacob’s hip, dislocating it. Then the man said, “Release me.” Jacob responded, “Not unless you bless me.” And the man asked Jacob, “What is your name?” Remember, in that time, a person’s “name” represented their character, who they were. This is why it is blasphemy to “use the Lord’s name in vain.” So, Jacob answered, “Jacob.” The man effectively answered: “You will no longer be known as ‘trickery and deceit,’” but, because “as a prince you have the power of God to overcome man, prevailing morally, you will be known as Israel, the man who strives with God.” Then Jacob said, “OK, but who are you?” To which the man responded with a familiar answer, “Why do you ask my name?” In other words, “Why do you ask what you already know?” To which Jacob declared, “I have seen God face to face.”
As I said, there is a lot more to the story and you should take time to read it, but we have what we need for our discussion. The “elect” are the “sands of the sea,” God’s “chosen” people, in this case, the descendants of Israel. Those who have access to “the power of God to overcome man, prevailing morally.” As we know, there have been many of the “stars” of Abraham that chose to reject God. (Genesis 22:17) As brothers, Esau and Jacob were each one of those stars, but they were not both one of the elect. Only Jacob was “chosen” because God knew in His Providence that Jacob would one day choose Him and Esau would not. Which brings us to the brink of controversy. It seems to be commonly accepted that all of Israel were and are God’s “chosen” people. It was what I learned growing up. But that is… and isn’t what it says. While God chose Israel, all of Israel has not chosen God. Therefore, all of Israel are not His “elect.” God chose Jacob to become Israel, who, through the “sands” of his descendants, would produce the bloodline that led to Christ. So, yes, Israel as a people were chosen to be the bloodline of Christ. However, just as all of the “stars” promised to Abraham would not choose to follow the Living God and, therefore, would not be part of the chosen/elect flock, not all of the “sands” of Jacob would either. In fact, one day some of those “stars/sands” would deny and kill Christ. (“…Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” John 8:37-47) Again we see that man’s default perspective is physical, but God’s is Spiritual. The Stars, The Sands, The Elect that descend from Abraham, Israel, David, etc. They are of God’s Spiritual Family, Abraham and Jacobs spiritual lineage, those who choose to live in obedience to God.
Well, we just time-jumped right into the New Testament! So, (spoiler alert) “if we deny Him, He will also deny us.” If we will not choose Him, He will not choose us, we will not be one of “the elect.”
As I said, understanding what we discussed in “This Ship Has Sailed” is essential to understanding our discussion here. So, if you haven’t yet, click-n-read now.
Which brings us to Romans 8:29&30:
“For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,… And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.”
And to Ephesians 1:4-6:
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace…”
Next, Matthew 22:14:
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
And the final piece, Ephesians 1:13&14:
“And in Him, having heard and believed the word of truth—the gospel of your salvation—you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His glory.”
I admit that I quote John 16 a lot. Because, that is where Christ says He will send back the Holy Spirit who will teach us all things, all Truth. So, we take Ephesians 1 and we tie it to this from John 16 and we say, “After Christ returned to heaven, He sent back the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guarantee our salvation… it is by this that we are sealed, elect.” But… that is not all John 16 says about what the Holy Spirit does when He is sent. Christ also says, “…when He comes, will convict the world regarding sin, and righteousness, and judgment…” (John 16:8) What does this mean? “I, the LORD, search the heart (inward spirit), and I examine the mind/thoughts, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10) (See also: Psalm 9:1-10 & Colossians 3:23) “Well, that just means He will convict the sinner.” The word is, elegchō, which means, “admonish: – convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.” So, what Christ actually says is, “I will send the Holy Spirit who will judge the sincerity of your spirit, to see if you believe the word of Truth, to evaluate your commitment to the Father. If He finds you lacking, you will be rebuked, admonished and convicted. If you are sincere, 100% committed to who He says He is, then you will be deemed righteous and your salvation will be guaranteed, you will be declared God’s elect.”
So, who are the elect? Those He foreknew, from the Power of His Providence, would choose Him before the foundation of the world. The few out of the many called, Jew & Gentile, who Hear His Voice and whom He knows will accept The Offer and choose in spirit and in deed to serve Him as adopted sons and daughters are the chosen, the elect.
This is where those who claim the safety of the elect often go off course and will ultimately not find safety but shipwreck. The elect are those who have “heard and believed the word of Truth” – not the altered or amended word, which is no longer Truth, but the word of Truth as presented by Paul and the others, which is “the gospel of our Salvation.” As promised back in Part 2, we will also address, “no one can take them from my Father’s hand.” Many who claim to be the “safe elect” point to this and our last quote as proof they are safe… Our Salvation is Sealed, Our Inheritance is Pledged, No one can take us from our Father’s hand. All of these are true. Our Salvation, our Election, is guaranteed… and is, and always has been conditional:
“The LORD your God commands you this day to follow these statutes and ordinances. You must be careful to follow them with all your heart (Spiritual self) and with all your soul (physical self). Today you have proclaimed that the LORD is your God and that you will walk in His ways, keep His statutes and commandments and ordinances, and listen to His voice. And today the LORD has proclaimed that you are His people and treasured possession as He promised, that you are to keep all His commandments, that He will set you high in praise and name and honor above all the nations He has made, and that you will be a holy people to the LORD your God, as He has promised.” Deuteronomy 26:16-19
(see also: The “Salvation” Myth) If… we Believe in the Word of Truth and Walk in that Truth showing True Faith, then we have accepted The Offer, our Eternal Safety is Guaranteed, we are His Adopted Children, His Possession, His People, and No One can Take us from His Hand! From His view He knows who will fulfill this commitment, and those who will He chose before the Creation of the world.
OK, let’s tie this to Grace. The elect are the sons and daughters of Israel, those who serve Jacob’s God. According to the Manual, these servants were chosen by Christ before Creation as those who “strive with God,” the meaning of “Israel.” In the Old Testament, these were the Israelites, the Jews, or the “Flock.” Then, “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David…” (an Israelite, an elect, 2 Timothy 2:8) brought the Offer of adoption into the Flock. We go into this in great detail in Forgotten Hope; here are the highlights. Christ sent Paul and others to Offer both Jew and Gentile the opportunity to join the chosen and become sons and daughters of the Living God, to join the “Fold,” to become one of the Flock. (John 10:16) This adoption cannot be earned or taken; this adoption into God’s family can only come from an Offer of God, a Gift of God, an “Act of God’s Grace (see Grace Is for more). While the Gift can and is guaranteed by the One who Offers it, God, the Offer, the Gift, must be accepted by us who would receive it. Then, we must embrace the Gift and hold it tight. Because, like any gift, those who receive it can stick it in the back of the closet, give it back, or throw it out. None of these choices are God’s desire, but the ability to make them is another Act of Grace, another Gift.
Still not sure the elect have to choose God or that those “called” can be out of “God’s Favor” (Grace)? By the way, remember back in Part 2 to whom Christ was talking in John 10:28? Unbelieving descendants of God’s servant, God’s elect, Israel. Saul was also a devout Jew, an enforcer of Jewish law, a servant of Jacob’s God. But, by his own representation, his Moral Compass was broken until the day Christ “chose” Saul and Christ’s cup overflowed on the road to Damascus. At that point, like Jacob, he was renamed as God’s servant Paul. Saul was a Jew, but Paul, like Israel, was one of the “elect.” This brings us back to the disciples, the servants of God, who initially followed the teachings of Christ but, “deviated from the Truth” like “Hymenaeus and Philetus.” We’ve discussed this before. Judas made all the proclamations of an elect. He was one of the “sands” that descended from Israel, and I’m sure he was confident that he was safe… then he turned against Christ. That’s Judas, he could never have done that if he ever truly believed! Peter, an “elect,” denied Christ three times… As I said, we have discussed this before. No one today would claim that Peter was not one of the elect, either before he denied Christ or after he repented. But in between? I would not have wanted to have been relying on his navigation. But God knew before Creation that Peter would deny Him… and He knew that he would repent for it and choose to serve Him. Because He knew this, God chose Peter. But what arrogance would Peter have to have had to claim confidence in his safety while denying Truth?
Before I conclude, I want to make this point: “Remind the believers of these things, charging them before God to avoid quarreling over words, which succeeds only in leading the listeners to ruin.” (2 Timothy 2:14) I am not against the “elect” reference as we just showed its Scriptural pedigree. I am, as always, against any “cherry-picking” or misunderstanding of the Manual. There are many doctrines that sincere Christians can disagree on, but… no doctrine can disagree, even slightly, with the Manual. And when it does, we are directed to follow in the original Fixer’s footsteps and love our brother enough to correct the error, even if it means we have to patiently endure their rebellion.
To sum-up. If you believe your course doesn’t matter, that you can “tweak” the Charts because your safety is guaranteed… there are deadly rocks in your future, you are not fighting the good fight, you have let go of your faith and a good moral conscience. Because you have rejected these things, you have thereby shipwrecked your faith.
Or as Paul also said:
“This is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with Him,
we will also live with Him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him,
He will also deny us;
if we are faithless,
He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13
© Scott A Caughel 3/27/2021
photo by: Jamie Morrison