How do I know I am chosen?

Because I identify myself on social media as a “chosen follower of Jesus Christ, a friend recently asked me, how do you know you are chosen, and that you will endure to the end?” This was my answer.

________, what a great question! I appreciate you taking the time to ask.

First of all, in general, I believe that all believers are chosen because of the testimony of Scripture that says we are (Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 8:29; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).

But I think your question is more personal: How do I know that I have been chosen? And then consequently, how do I know that I will endure to the end?

I cannot say it any better than what was stated in the Canons of Dort on this very question: “The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves, with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure, the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God – such as a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.” (First Head of Doctrine, Article 12)

In other words, rather than wringing my hands wondering, wondering, wondering, am I elect, am I elect?, the “fruits of election” testify and bring assurance and help me to “confirm my calling and election” (2 Peter 1:5-10). The more I see growth in grace and sanctification and holiness, the more I am confirmed that I belong to Christ.

As I walk with Christ these many years, there is also the inner confirmation of the Holy Spirit, as “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” This Spirit does this through various means such as through the promises in the Word, the convicting voice when I sin, and the reassuring hope that when I do sin, I have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 Jn. 2:1).

As for knowing if I will endure to the end, there too I cling to God’s promises, knowing that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). Now it is true that I must endure, working out my own salvation with fear and trembling. But I do so on the foundation that it is God who works in me, “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

It is my constant prayer that in the end I be found faithful, that I endure to the end. Not because I think a true Christian can undo God’s work and become unsaved again. True believers endure to the end (see Heb. 3:14 and take note of the verb tenses). I do not want to be found after all this, to have been a false believer.

“I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to protect what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).

Love’s Redeeming Work

I’ve hinted that I am working on a new book, and the time has come to reveal a working title, the theme, and little bit of cover art.

Once again, I am compelled to write on theology. My passion is to study God’s Word, to live it out as best I can, and to teach it to others (Ezra 7:10).

In that vein, I have taken to writing a theological treatise on salvation, the so-called ordo salutis in particular. The ordo salutis is the “order of salvation” as described by theologians. How is salvation applied to an individual, and is there an “order” (chronological or logical) by which we may understand the application of redemption? This is the topic covered in the “Applied” half of John Murray’s 1955 work, Redemption Accomplished and Applied.

My working title is Love’s Redeeming Work, and the subtitle is Treasuring Our Savior and His Great Salvation. There’s also a sub-sub-title: The Ordo Salutis for Everyone. My goal is to make the various elements of our salvation understandable to the everyday reader.

The ordo salutis (order of salvation) is a recounting of the steps by which God saves a sinner. In the classic Reformed sense, the order follows this sequence: Election, Calling, Regeneration, Conversion (Faith and Repentance), Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, Perseverance, Glorification. These topics are massive and weighty and worthy of our study.

My purpose is not merely the didactic, the teaching of doctrine. Beyond that, a deeper understanding of the doctrines ought to ignite a fire within us. A fire that causes us to treasure and savor all that God has done to apply redemption to our lives. The deeper we go into these waters, the more precious his grace is to us. My purpose is to be a catalyst for your treasuring of his great gift.

I have been prompted by the warning question of Hebrews 2:3 – “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Planned by God the Father, purchased by Jesus Christ, declared to us by holy prophets and apostles, and applied to us by the Holy Spirit, this salvation is of such weight that we dare not miss it. To our peril we neglect it. How might we neglect this great salvation? John Piper has penned these words in answer to this question:

Don’t neglect being loved by God. Don’t neglect being forgiven and accepted and protected and strengthened and guided by Almighty God. Don’t neglect the sacrifice of the Christ’s life on the cross. Don’t neglect the free gift of righteousness imputed by faith. Don’t neglect the removal of God’s wrath and the reconciled smile of God. Don’t neglect the indwelling Holy Spirit and the fellowship and friendship of the living Christ. Don’t neglect the radiance of God’s glory in the face of Jesus. Don’t neglect the free access to the throne of grace. Don’t neglect the inexhaustible treasure of God’s promises.

John Piper

Even those who have been redeemed by God’s great salvation need reminders of the preciousness of what God has done and is doing in our lives. The mundane crowds out the sacred. The sense of wonder is lost, even among those who serve God well. This book is being written to call us to the quiet, to call us to savor, to call us to love.

Would you be in prayer as I complete the composition of this work? I am hoping to be able to publish in the first quarter of 2022. Pray that my research and study will bear fruit. Pray that I don’t get “stuck” in the writing process. Pray as I consider publishing options. Above all, pray that believers are strengthened and God is glorified.

Stuff people say…

I recently saw a bumper sticker on a car that said “Unbelief is OK.” Another sticker seemed to indicate that the owner of the car proclaimed to be a Christian.

What kind of world is it where a Christian (a “believer”), would say that unbelief is OK?

I suppose it might be helpful to say during a church gathering something like, “If you’re not a believer, that’s OK; we want you to be here.” Context. A welcoming message to believer and unbeliever alike.

Or, I might say to a friend, “You’re not a believer, that’s OK; I still want to be your friend.”

Or, it could rightly be said that we all have times of doubt and uncertainty, even as believers. In this context, I might say, “That’s OK; we all have times of unbelief.” Again, context.

Or I might, in crying out to God, say something like, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!” recognizing that my faith is not as pure or as strong as it might be. And God would accept my weak expression of faith.

But a bald, unqualified statement like “Unbelief is OK” sends an erroneous and dangerous message. Unbelief is not OK. To not have faith in God or his Son Jesus Christ is eternally devastating.

The writer to the Hebrews, using the time of the wandering in the desert by the followers of Moses as an example, said that they were not able to enter the Promised Land (God’s rest) because of unbelief. “So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19). It serves as a warning that unbelief will keep a person from entering God’s ultimate rest in his presence.

Now is not the time to deceive yourself with false hope by saying that unbelief is OK. Nor is it time for so-called Christians to offer such a hope. There is no hope in unbelief. Now is the time of salvation! “Take care, brothers and sisters, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).