John Message #20 “Election” Ed Miller, April 24, 2024

Listen to the audio above while following along in the transcript below which is also available for download from

Before we go to prayer, I want to share a verse from Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Thy Law.”  The Bible is filled with wonderful things, and we’re not going to see them unless He opens our eyes, “Open our eyes that we might see those wonderful things.”  Let’s bow in prayer.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who turns our eyes to Christ, and we just pray again today that You would turn our eyes, that we might behold the Lord Jesus in a living way.  We thank You in advance that You’re going to over answer this request.  We commit this session unto You in the matchless name of Jesus.  Amen.

Welcome to our meditation on the Lord Jesus from the gospel of John.  We’ve come close to the end of our meditation in John 6.  We’re not quite at the end, yet.  I showed you how this chapter is divided into four parts.  The first fifteen verses, the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand plus women and children, and then in verses 16-21 the stormy sea where Jesus walks on the sea and He tests the reality of what they were supposed to learn at the miracle of the five thousand, and then the large section, verses 22 all the way to 59 which we call the discourse on the bread of life; Jesus gives this long discourse, and it’s actually a debate, a discussion to show what the miracle really meant.  So, He’s the bread of life and that’s what He was illustrating.  Finally in the end, from verses 60-71 there’s an issue with the disciples, so Jesus deals with them privately.

In our last study we focused on that discourse of our Lord Jesus on the bread of life which was intended to explain the miracle of the loaves.  We pointed out the great contrast that went through that discourse.  Man was carnal and trying to understand things with his mind and was looking at things with the natural eye.  Everything Jesus said, they looked on the level of earth, and He was calling attention to spiritual things which can only be seen when God opens our eyes. 

In our introduction to that discourse I told you that some have taken that discourse or some of the statements out of discourse, that is out of the context of explaining the miracle.  Instead, they use that discourse, and some that’s all they get out of it, as a reservoir for proof text, so that they can prove their favorite doctrine.  I’m referring to what some theologians have referred to as the doctrine of election.  I understand where they are coming from because in this passage Jesus made comments like these.  Verse 37, “All the Fathe gives me will come to Me, and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out.”  Verse 44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I’ll raise him up on the last day.”   Verse 45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘They shall all be taught of God.  Everyone who has learned from the Father comes to Me.’”  There are many other passages, but those in chapter 6. 

There’s this doctrine that they say that in eternity past, and I’m quoting the doctrine and I’m not saying I agree with it, I’m just quoting it, that eternity past God elected some people to be saved and He elected some people not to be saved, and it was impossible for any who were not elected to come to the Lord.  That’s basically it, but there are other aspects of it.  I told you because that interpretation is suggested by words in this chapter, that I wanted to take the time to show what He meant by those words, in the right context, in the context of the miracle.  I want to begin by telling you how I want to approach the topic.  I think this lesson is unusually important, and so I’m going to ask you to be patient with me.  I’m going to try to lay it out very simply, as simply as I know how. 

One thing I dread, and I pray, that this class will never become a theology class.  That is not the purpose of our gathering.  We gather for the same reason John wrote the book, that we might know the Lord, that we might trust the Lord, that we might come to enjoy the Lord and experience Life.  That’s why we’re here; that’s why we gather here.  We’re not here to become theologians and find all the answers to controversies and all the ins and outs.  But I feel I have to address this issue because it’s prominent in this discourse and I think it’s been abused.  So, just pray for me as we go along.  We’re going to look to Christ in reality.

How we approach something can sometimes be more important than the conclusion we arrive at.  There are Christians who disagree on a lot of things.  Let’s say Christians disagree on spiritual gifts or end time events, when the Lord is going to come and what’s going to happen, and eternal security and there’s division on that, and evangelism, there are differences on that, church polity and how to behave in the church, and so on.  You can win an argument and lose a brother or a sister.  Is it worth it?   Is it worth it to win an argument?  What good is it if we’re going to lose relationship with a dear brother or sister who happens to disagree with us.  Some subjects are more controversial than others and become very divisive, so we’re going to approach this, and give you four principles of what I’m going to follow as we begin this.

My first principle of approach is that I am not approaching this subject, the sovereignty of election, and that’s a dear doctrine to my heart and you’ll see why in the end, but I’m not approaching it as a problem.  If you approach it as a problem, you are going to have a problem.  It’s a solution to the problem.  The sovereignty of God is not a problem; it’s a solution.  When I was a student at Bible college we had theological bull sessions; the students would get together and take some controversial doctrine, and sometimes it got heated, but those days are long past for me.  I’m not going to do that anymore.  I’m not going to argue about the sovereignty of God.  That has become a resting place.  As you go on in life and the Lord allows things in your life, when my nephew got run over by a car, when my little granddaughter at three months old died, when we lost our parents, and so on, all of a sudden you fall back on the sovereignty of God.  It’s not a problem; it’s a resting place.  We’re going to approach this whole thing that way.

My second approach is going to be that since there are two sides, there is God’s part and there’s man’s part, that God is sovereign and man has a will, but is it a free will, and so on, man’s responsibility and accountability, and so on, we’re going to approach it on this ground.  Any view, no matter where you are coming from, of the sovereignty of God that tones down man’s responsibility is not correct and it’s not Bible.  On the other side, any view that tones down God’s sovereignty, it’s not Bible.  Listen to Acts 2:23 where He brings them both together.  Speaking of the Lord Jesus, “This man was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,” that’s sovereignty, “you nailed to the cross by the hands of Godless men and put Him to death,” and that’s man’s responsibility.  Both are true; man is accountable and God is sovereign.

My third approach as much as possible, and this is tough, I want to be free from all the systems of theology.  You may not be familiar with that expression, but I think when I begin to talk about it, you’ll understand.  Through the years systems of theology have developed and Bible interpretation is dependent on those systems.  For example, I’ll mention a few and you might have heard these words.  I’m not going to take time to explain; I’ll just mention them.  Dispensationalism; that’s a system of theology.  If you are a dispensationalist, wherever you are in the Bible, it’s got to fit into that system.  I hate doing puzzles and sometimes I’ll take a piece that doesn’t fit, and I’ll make it fit.  Sometimes some of these systems just take a verse and just force it in because they want it to fit into their system.

There’s another system called reformed theology.  Once again, everything in the Bible has to fit into that system.  Calvinism falls into that particular system, reformed theology.  There’s a slightly different system closely connected to that called covenant theology.  You can read all the covenants to man and to David and to Moses and to Abraham and so on, and everything has got to fall into that system.  There is a system called neo-orthodox, and everything falls into that system.  Catholicism is a system.  When you read the Bible, everything has to fall into the doctrine of that theology.  Arminianism is a system and once again it’s the same thing; when you study the Bible, this is how you interpret it and don’t leave the system.  There’s ecumenical which is also called eclectic where you try to put all the systems together.  Fundamentalism is actually a system of theology.  There is a liberation approach to the Bible, and everything has to fall into that.  There are some that are allegorical; Adam and Eve didn’t even exist because it’s just about good and bad, and all of that kind of thing.  They have a new system coming out now and it’s called emerging church, and everything has to fall into the emerging church. 

All of these systems I want to avoid.  Systems can color how you interpret things.  I’m not going to recommend any system and I’m not going to attack any system.  This lesson that we’re going to look at, you might think that it’s Calvinism versus Arminian.  I’m not going to go to either one.  It may touch on some of the teachings of both, but that’s not the point.  Here is how I’m going to approach it.  It would be a waste of time just trying to follow a system.  We want to honestly discuss the precious doctrine of election, not as some do.  Some people have only one string on their violin and it’s the E string, election, and that’s all they have on their violin.  Some people have a violin, and they don’t even have any strings and the controversy rages.

I was brought up in the systems.  When I went to Moody Bible Institute, they were dispensational, and so I was in the dispensational system.  When I went to the Columbia Bible College they were covenant, so all of a sudden now I had to leave that system and go into this system.  One of my joys is inviting my grandchildren, my adult grandchildren, one by one to come study with me.  It’s because they haven’t been burned by the systems, and I fall into a rut.  I don’t get a verse and the next thing you know I’m interpreting it in terms of what I was taught, the system.  They come at it with such fresh insight; it’s so exciting for me to be able to study with them because they don’t know about the systems, and I hope they never do, to be honest with you. 

Finally, God helping us, here is how we’re going to approach it, not to win an argument, not to knock down different views, not as a problem but as a solution, not to fall in line with any system.  We want to see God’s heart.  That’s what we’re here for.  We want to see God’s heart.  God has called us to proclaim good news, and not argue about it and not debate about it and not to defend it but to proclaim it.  I want to understand Ephesians 4:21, listen to this wonderful verse, “You did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus.”  That’s what we want; we want the truth, as it’s in Jesus.  We want to see it in Christ, and that’s what we’re going to do.  Let’s begin; how can we proclaim the truth of this precious doctrine of His sovereignty and His grace and His undeserved mercy and man’s accountability, by proclaiming the truth as it is in Jesus?  Some things we say might be light and expose so-called light to darkness, and some things I hope God will protect you from anything I say that’s darkness and not light.

Since much of this discussion was suggested by John 6:64, I’d like to begin there.  “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  That is a clear verse that no one can come unless the Father draws him.  That sounds selective; it sounds like that if He doesn’t draw you, you aren’t coming, except for John 12:32, “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself.”  You can’t come unless you are drawn, but the Bible says that He’s going to draw all, if He goes to the cross.  We need to understand that.  Because of His finished work, He draws everybody.  Then the question comes and has to come that if He draws all, and you can’t come unless He draws you, then how come some don’t come?  How come there are some people, He’s going to draw all without class without race without sex without age without social status and in every age and generation from every tribe and nation, and yet some, it’s clear, do not come.  We need to understand that.

It’s easy to see why a sinner can’t come unless he’s drawn; we have too much against us.  I’ll tell you one thing you have against you is that were born; you were born a sinner and under a curse.  I was born under a curse, so my nature is against me.  Then the Bible says that Satan blinds the eyes of those who don’t believe.  That’s another reason not to come.  Then I’m selfish and proud and I want only what I have for myself.  I’m self-righteous and that’s against me.  Because I live on the earth I’m earth-bound; I like things, I like pleasures and I like sin.  You might be horrified and sinners might be horrified at the idea of eternal separation from God, but they take pleasure in sin that will lead to the judgment and eternal separation from God.  It is impossible to come unless you are drawn.  It’s actually stated in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness to him.  He cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised.”  Every child of Adam is born blind to all spiritual things.  We need to be drawn.  All the preaching, all the teaching, all the prodding, all the warning, all the exhortation, all the debating, all the apologetics in the world is not going to draw anybody to the Lord if God is not drawing them.  So, you must be drawn, and according to John 12:32, everybody IS drawn, so what does it mean that God draws all people?

I’m going to suggest the full answer to how God draws, based on the balance of scripture, but I don’t have time to go and develop that.  I’ll just state the full answer and then focus on the one answer that’s in John 6 that we’re studying which is the main way that God draws.  The full answer: #1 God draws by creation.  Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”   Everyone is born in this great museum, God’s creation, and even the heat of sun, according to Psalm 19, is a testimony.  So, we have creation.

#2 God draws by conscience.  Romans 2:15, “They show the work of the Law written in their heart; their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.”  God has put a built-in preacher in everybody, and it’s called conscience.  Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has set eternity in their hearts.”   That’s a primary truth.  God calls all men by creation, and He calls all men by conscience, and He calls all men by providence.  Listen to Acts 17:26&27.  I love this passage.  “He made from one man, every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”  He has set the bounds of your habitation and mind and everybody in every nation.   When you were born was determined, where you were born, who your parents would be, what government you would be living under, what environment you would grow up in, and all of the circumstances of your life, the good, the bad, and the people you would meet, Christian people, non-Christian people, all events, casual and trivial and minute, He providentially has brought you to the place where it is the most likely that you will find the Lord.  This is how He draws us – by providence.

Then the main way and the final way He draws us is the one referred to in John 6, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit; He opens our eyes.  John 6:45, “It’s written in the prophets, ‘They shall all be taught of God.’”  He draws us by opening our eyes.  His other drawings, by creation, by conscience, by providence, a lot of that is unconscious; we don’t even know that’s happening.  Hosea 11:3, “It is I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them in My arm; they did not know that I healed them.”  Most of the time when you are growing up, you don’t know you are being drawn, by your conscience and by creation; you just don’t know it, but when the Holy Spirit opens your eyes, and it’s always in connection with the word of God.  Listen to how chapter 6 ends, verse 63, “It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.   The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.”  The Holy Spirit, using the word of God opens the eyes.  They had the prophets, they had the disciples, and the Living Word was right there giving the message.  When the Holy Spirit through the word of God begins to open our eyes for the first time, we see things spiritual. 

Jesus told His disciples just before He left that He was going to send the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit would then be indwelling them and drawing the world.  Before He was in them, the Holy Spirit was drawing them.  Now the Holy Spirit is going to be in them and draw the world, and He gives us how He’s going to do it.  John 16:8, “When He comes, that is into your heart, He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.”  So, He tells us what He’s going to do.  The Holy Spirit opens your eyes to sin, righteousness and judgment.  You’ll have testimony of this; when you came to the Lord, all of a sudden by the word and by the Spirit, you saw, “I am a sinner.  I did not know I was born blind, and I’m dirty and I’m helpless and I need forgiveness.”  The Holy Spirit shows you that.  Then He shows you how desperate you are to have a righteousness; only a perfect record can go to heaven.  You see that you are a sinner, and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit shows you that He has lived in your place and He has a righteousness that He wants to give to you, and you suddenly see that your righteousness as filthy rags.  You didn’t see that before the Holy Spirit through the word opened your eyes.

Then the Holy Spirit opened your eyes to judgment; there’s a penalty.  You hear that some day you are going to stand before God and the books are going to be opened and the records of your life, and you are going to have to answer.  If it’s not perfect, you’ll be thrown into the lake of fire.  You read all that, and finally the Holy Spirit opens your eyes and He shows you the remedy, the remedy in Christ, your substitute, my substitute, the One who is crucified for us and took our sins, offers His righteousness, gives us an invitation to receive Him, and now the cross is no longer foolishness, as it was when I was a natural man.  Now the cross becomes everything; it’s hope and it’s redemption.

He draws us by creation, He draws us by conscience, He draws us by His providence, and then He draws us by the eye opening realization that we are sinners and we need a perfect righteousness, and there is going to be a judgment and Christ has made the way.  That’s what the Holy Spirit does.  We saw that in the prologue when we just introduced John, John 1:9, “There was the true light which coming into the world enlightens every man.” 

The next step, as I want to show you the truth in  Christ Jesus, since it’s true that He draws all men and enlightens all men, four things must follow, if that is true, and it is, then these four things, without exception, have to follow…

#1 If He draws all men, because He was lifted up to die, it must be true that He wouldn’t draw them unless He desired everybody to be saved.  2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”  That has to be true.  If He draws you, He’s not willing that any be lost.  1 Timothy 2:3&4, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Titus 2:11, “The grace of  God has appeared bringing salvation to all men.”  If He desires all men to be saved, would He elect some to go to hell?  I don’t think so.  If He desires all men to be saved, which is true, another thing must follow.  If He draws all men and desires everybody to be saved, it must be true that He gives an invitation inviting all men to be saved; it has to be an universal invitation, for every sinner in every age and every continent.  What do we find?  John 3:16, “Whosoever believes in Him…,” Romans 10:13, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Luke 14:23, “Go out into the highways and the byways and compel them to come in.”  Mark 16:15, “Preach the gospel to every creature.”  John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”  God, your God, my God, our God is not a liar; He’s not a deceiver.  If forgiveness is offered to all, then all may have it.  It’s an invitation.  If He invites the hungry and the thirsty and the weary and the burdened and the guilty and the broken to come to Him, He’s not mocking them.  If I show up to Jesus with an invitation signed by Him in my hand, He will not cast me out; He’ll not cast you out.” 

That leads to the fourth outworking.  If all are drawn, and if the Lord is not willing that any should perish, and if an invitation is given, a worldwide invitation to everybody, since His invitation must be on a righteous ground, it’s imperative that He died for everybody; He died for all. There is only one righteous ground on which God can accept us.  Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  He is the only salvation.  1 Timothy 2:5&6, “There is one God, one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself a ransom for all.”  There are too many passages we can quote to show this.  “God so loved the world,” but then they have an explanation that the word “world” is used in different ways, and they say that world doesn’t really mean world, but you have all the “whosoever” passages and “anyone that wants to”.  The Samaritan woman after she testified to the inhabitants of Samaria, remember when they came back?  Listen to what they said, John 4:42, “They were saying to the woman, ‘It’s not longer because of what you said that we believe; we have heard for ourselves and we know this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’”  John 5:18 is another verse, “As through one man, Adam, transgression resulted, condemning all men,” and then it says, “even so, through the one act of righteousness, there resulted justification of life to all men.”  If all men under Adam, the first Adam, are condemned, then all men under the second Adam, He has died for them.  1 John 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for those of the whole world.”

I’m sure you are familiar with the statement that there are some who say Christ did not die for the whole world; He just died for the elect; He just died for those who would receive Him.  Here is a clear passage.  Somebody in this passage is clearly lost; they’re condemned and there is no question about it, and they’re going to hell.  These persons are not Christians, and their end is destruction.  2 Peter 2:1, “False prophets also rose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresy,” and notice this next expression, “even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”  They’re not saved, and they are denying the Master who bought them.  Where did He buy them?  It was on the cross.  That’s where the ransom was paid, and even though they are going into judgment, He bought them; He died for all. 

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13 and it’s only one verse.  I remember Dana Congdon, made this wonderful comment about this parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field which a man found and hid again, and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.”  Dana made the comment that the treasure is the church, that we are a treasure, but He had to buy the whole field to get the treasure, so He died for everybody in order to get the treasure.

Now we’re coming to the heart of what I’m really moving toward.  Clearly, He drew everybody.  Clearly, He desires everybody to be saved.  Clearly, He invites everybody.  Clearly, He died for everybody.  But we’re back to this; then how come some are not going to be saved?  If He has done all of that, how come some are not going to be saved?  Some are going to die in their sin, be separated from the Lord for all eternity.  How does the Bible explain that?

If Christ died for you, desires you to be saved, and invites you, then He expects an RSVP.  He expects that if He invites you, that you respond to His invitation.  Now, some would say that contradicts that man is helpless and he can’t respond and he can’t will and he can’t do; God has to will and to do,” and that’s true and we’re not going to contradict that. He must initiate.  Philippians 2:13, “It’s God who is at work in you both to will and to work His good pleasure.”  Romans 9:16, “It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”  A lost sinner doesn’t wake up one day and say, “You know, today I think I’m going to just seek the Lord.”  That never happens and it will not happen because He must open his eyes; God must be the initiator.  The Bible begins that way, “In the beginning God…”  It’s always God first; God is the initiator, but after God initiates, after He opens the eyes, after He shows you sin, righteousness and judgment, then you must respond.

Now, I’m asking the Lord to really help me communicate this.  I want Him to communicate it.  This is so basic.  There is a difference between willing and wanting.  An unsaved person can say, “I will keep the Law.”  He can say, “I will live righteously; I will, I’m determined; I’m going to keep the Law, and I’m going to earn my way to heaven.”  He can say that, but he can’t will it.  He’s going to fail every time, until God comes in and wills and does, then perhaps it can happen.  A sinner can’t will, but a sinner can want.  There’s a difference between it.

Let me give an illustration from a story we’ve already looked at in John 5, the crippled man at Bethesda.  That man was crippled for thirty-eight years.  Lets say that twenty years into his dilemma he decides one day, “I’m sick of this, just waiting for that water to stir, and I’m determined; today I’m going to take up my bed and walk.”  Could he do it?  The answer is no, he’s helpless, he cannot do it.  What if he was strong-willed?  It doesn’t matter; he’s paralyzed and he cannot do it.  Nothing but a miracle of God is going to do that man any good.  You notice that when Jesus came to that man, the first thing He said was not verse 8, “Take up your bed and walk.”  That’s not where He started.  What did Jesus say first?  Verse 6, “He said unto him, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’”  “Do you want it; do you want?”  The man could want it but he couldn’t will it.  I can want, but I can’t will.  I’ll tell you right now, “I will be a millionaire in five years.”  “I will be president of the United States,” no, that’s bad.  “I will win the Boston Marathan this year.”  I can hardly make it to my couch to take a nap.  I can want to be a millionaire, but I can’t will it.  I don’t want to be president.  I can want to win a marathon, but I can’t do it.  The response God wants from us is a “want to”, after the Holy Spirit opens your eyes and offers you Christ, you say, “I want forgiveness, I want Christ to come into my life, I want to know that I’m saved, I want to be delivered.”  I can’t will it. 

It’s like the leper that came to Jesus; he couldn’t will it, and so he said to Jesus, “If You are willing, You can make me well. I want it.”  And Jesus said, “I am willing; be well.”  The want to is the response that God expects, and so He opens your eyes and your heart says, “Yes, I want Jesus; I want that.”  God has a name for that; it’s called faith.  All through the scripture that word is describing the want to, and is called faith; by faith I want to accept that wonderful forgiveness, that free gift that I don’t deserve; I want to but I can’t until You do it.”  Listen to John 7:17, “If anyone is willing to do His will He’ll know of the teaching, whether it’s of God or whether I speak from Myself.”  He didn’t say, “If anyone does His will; He said, “If anyone is willing to do His will,” if you want to.  You say, “I can’t will,” but I can be willing to be willing; I can want to, and that’s what God expects. 

Some people will say, “Well, it wasn’t my fault; I wasn’t elect.  He didn’t draw me and therefore He can’t condemn me.  It’s not my fault; I was paralyzed, and He didn’t draw me.”  Yes, He did; He did draw you, and you said, “No.”  Let me give an illustration.  There’s an impossibility mentioned in the story of Joseph’s brothers.  Genesis 37:4, “Joseph’s brothers could not speak to him on friendly terms,” they could not; it’s impossible.  Then it tells you why, the first part.  It says, “They hated him, therefore, they could not speak to him on friendly terms.”  Why were they paralyzed?  It was because they chose to hate him; they rejected him, and that’s why they couldn’t.  It was a moral paralysis.  Their heart chose to hate him and, therefore, they couldn’t do it.  So, many people have just rejected the Lord.  They say, “I can’t come to the Lord.”  You can’t because you won’t; that’s what the Bible teaches.  It’s all about the will, it’s all about the want-to.

How many times in the Old Testament does the Bible refer to God’s people that their hearts are hard and their ears are deaf and they will not come, “I’ve invited them, I’ve sent the prophets, I’ve sent them to them.”  Listen to Luke 13:34, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not.”  It depends on them wanting it.  John 5:40, “You will not come to Me, that you might have Life.”  I could spend many hours showing you many promises of eternal life to those who respond in faith.  Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word concerning Christ,” when He opens your eyes, then He creates the want-to, “Yes, I want what You are offering to me.”  In this very chapter they said, “What do we do to work the works of God?”  Verse 29, “Jesus answered, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’”  The Jews missed Messiah.  Why?  Romans 11:20, “Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief.”  Will they ever come back?  Romans 11:23, “They, also, if they do not continue in unbelief will be grafted in.”  God is able to graft them in again, but it’s all about faith; it’s all about want-to.

We hear the expression “limited atonement”, and by that many mean that God has limited what Jesus did on the cross by election.  So, those who are elected get in and those who are not don’t get in.  Is there such a thing as limited atonement?  The answer is yes, but it’s not limited by election; it’s limited by faith, it’s limited by the want-to.  That’s the only limit.

We’re getting to really where I should have started.  Who are the elect?  I’m going to give three answers to this.  Do you realize this, that there is only One Person in the Bible, Old and New Testament, only one Person in the whole scripture that has ever been called “elect”?  Isaiah 42:1, “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold, My elect, in whom My soul delights, I’ve put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall bring forth judgment to the gentiles.”  Matthew quotes that passage and adds verse 2-4, “He will not hurt a bruised reed; He’s not going to quench smoking flax.”  It’s Jesus.  Who is elect?  It’s Jesus, and they knew it.  Listen to Luke 23:35, this is at the cross, “The people stood by looking on, and the rulers were sneering at Him saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself, if this is the Christ of God, the chosen One,’” that word is the “elect” One.  If He’s the “elect One”, that’s the first answer.  Who is elect?  The answer is Jesus.  Here is the second answer.  Who is elect?  Everybody who is in Jesus, everybody who is in Jesus. 

Election is imputed.  If I asked you as a Christian, “Are you righteous?”  You would probably say, “No, not really, but I’m in Christ and He’s righteous, so I’m righteous.”  Exactly so.  “Are you an overcomer?”  You say, “Well, I’m in Christ and He’s an Overcomer, and therefore I’m an overcomer.”  “Are you a son?” “Well, He’s a Son of God, and I’m in Christ, and therefore I’m a son.”  “Are you alive to God and dead to sin?”  You say, “Well, actually He’s alive to God and dead to sin and I reckon myself in Christ alive to God and dead to sin, but I only have it because it’s in Him.”  That’s true of all His merits; He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.  He’s a Priest, and you are a priest because you are in Christ Jesus.  He’s an heir, and you are a co-heir because you are in Christ Jesus.  May God burn this into your heart; you are elect because you are in the only One who is elect.  It’s by imputation and that’s how you are elect and that’s how I’m elect, because He’s elect and I’m in Christ Jesus. 

Now, there’s a third answer to the question, “Who is the elect?”  It’s Him, and it’s everybody who is in Him.  Who are in Him?  It’s those who have responded when the Holy Spirit turned on the light.  It’s those who said, “I want to, I can’t, He must do it.”  He initiates and He turns on the light.  It’s all the Lord.  He turned on the light and all He wants is a want-to.  Election is not something determined in eternity past; it’s something foreknown in eternity past.  Romans 8:29, “For those He foreknew He predestined…”  1 Peter 1:1&2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”  Election is according to foreknowledge.  God knows in advance.  Even in this chapter in the discourse, look at John 6:64&65, “There are some of you who do not believe, for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him, and He was saying that for this reason I said to you no one can come to Me unless it’s been granted Him by the Father.”  It’s all based on foreknowledge; He knows who is going to come. 

He didn’t decide in eternity, “I’ll save this group and I won’t save that group,” but being omniscient He knew from all eternity everyone who would ever believe in every age.  1 Timothy 2:19, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His.’”  He knew everyone; He knew you, you in this room.  There was a time in your life, and I don’t know when it was, you said, “Yes, I want this,” and He knew from eternity past. 

I want to close with this one thought.  Several times in chapter 6 in this discourse we read words like these, verse 37, “All that the Father gives me will come to Me.”  Verse 39, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing.” In the High Priestly prayer in John 17, over and over again, John 17:6, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom you gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me.”  What does that mean, that the Father gives to the Son?  John 17, over and over again, verse 9, “In behalf of those Thou hast given Me,” verse 11, “Keep those whom Thou hast given Me,” verse 12, “I guarded those who Thou hast given Me,” verse 24, “Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me be with Me where I am to share My glory.”  It was a very big deal for Jesus to receive you. 

God the Father says, “I’ve known from the beginning, and this is for every age, this is who are going to say ‘yes’.”  You are in that bundle; “These are those who are going to say yes.”  Since He knew from the beginning, He said to Jesus, “This is the travail of Your soul; look at it and be satisfied.  I give you this.”  And God gave the church to Jesus from eternity past.  He drew you by grace, you responded by faith, He placed you in Christ, you are now able to claim that dignity and honor, “I am elect because I am in the One who is elect.”  You are the Father’s gift to the Son, just like one time the Son was the Father’s gift to you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the truth as it is in Jesus.  We just ask You, Lord, to work in our hearts the wonder that all that is in Jesus now belongs to us.  Thank You that we are elect because we are in Christ Jesus, and not because You made some determinate choice in advance, but because You knew, and You offered, and we responded, and You gave Yourself.  Thank You so much for this wonderful truth of election.  Make it real in our hearts, we pray.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.