The perfect, or ideal church has saved people as its membership because the church is meant for believers. That is not to say that non-believers are unwelcome. Quite the opposite. When someone who does not know Christ as Savior comes into a Bible-centered church, the first thing they should feel is welcome. The love of Christ should be immediately obvious. I saw that kind of love in the church where I got saved. A friend had invited me and I listened to the preaching. Most of what I heard I did not understand. What I did understand was that the people in that church genuinely loved each other – and they loved me. Couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but those people in that assembly had something I did not have and I wanted it. I guess it’s no surprise that I accepted Christ that very night.
So, of course, the unsaved are more than welcome to come to church. But the official members of a Bible-believing church are saved members. They are what Scripture calls members of the elect.
Now, I have mentioned before that doctrines like election are “balance beam” doctrines. Lean too far in one direction or the other and you are in danger of falling. You are also in danger of missing God’s intended blessings on such teachings. The doctrine of election is not meant to cause people to stumble. It is given to us by God as a source of comfort, not contention. But how does that translate into our everyday lives? How is the concept of election supposed to comfort us, really?
First, election shows us that the act of salvation is initiated by God
Election teaches us that God is active in the salvation of everyone who comes to Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:13b says: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation….” Whatever your stance on election happens to be, we can agree on this: Every salvation is a miracle. It doesn’t matter if you were saved as a child in a Christian home, or if you were once a drug addict. Every salvation is miraculous, not because of the circumstances surrounding your salvation, but because God was personally involved in saving everyone who has trusted Christ as Savior. No exceptions. Hallelujah!
This is not to say that unsaved people are not welcome to come to church. They certainly are, but the goal is for every member of a church to be a child of God. The church’s design internally is for the “perfecting of the saints” (Ephesians 4:12). Its purpose externally is to win the lost to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
Second, if God so loved the world, it means He also so loved you
He loved you enough to call you out. Every salvation is founded in God’s love and God’s love is always defined by action:
“For God so loved the world that He gave” (John 3:16). In saving us, “God commended [showed] His love toward us, in that…Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
God’s love for us is what moved Him to action. God’s grace is the what has saved us (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace for salvation would have been impossible, without the saving action of Jesus Christ.
Elect, yes, but still you must believe
Salvation comes by faith. “…[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). Contrary to popular belief, faith is not blind. Faith has to be founded on something credible.
I don’t like flying. (That’s mostly because it can involve crashing.) While I don’t understand all of the mechanics behind flight, I know that the science behind it is sound and I have faith in the fact that planes not only can fly, but want to fly. I have seen hurricane footage where planes sitting at the airport with the engines off naturally started to leave the ground. Given enough wind over and under the wings, planes are built for takeoff. So, getting on a plane is not blind faith. It’s faith in something credible.
Saving faith is also not blind faith. It is faith in something credible: God and His Word. God has fulfilled every promise He has ever made to His people. While I do not pretend to know all the “mechanics” behind salvation, I know that all the facts behind it are credible. So my faith in God based on His word is not blind and not vain “for the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed [disappointed]” (Romans 10:11).
As a believer, I have been called out by every member of the Trinity
I cannot say this any better than Warren Wiersbe, so I am going to quote him directly:
“As far as God the Father is concerned, I was saved when He chose me in Christ before the world began. As far as God the Son is concerned, I was saved when he died for me on the cross. As far as God the Holy Spirit is concerned, I was saved one Saturday night in May 1945, when I heard the Word and trusted Jesus Christ” (Wiersbe, Be Ready p. 33).
With the exception of the date, every one of us who knows Christ as Savior can share that same testimony about our salvation:
- Chosen of God the Father before the world began.
- Saved by the Person and work of Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.
- Welcomed into the heavenly family by the wooing of the Holy Spirit on the day we personally accepted Christ as Savior.
A saved life is a changed life
Think about it: As a Christian, you are chosen by God. Shouldn’t that be life changing?
When the Lord warned His disciples about false prophets, He said “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). In other words, their actions are going to speak much more loudly (and honestly) than their words. When the Lord warned His disciples about false believers, He gave them the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30). In that parable, an enemy had sewn tares amongst the wheat. The lord in that parable told his farm hands not to pull anything up until harvest time, because when wheat and tares fully mature, the wheat tassel turns a golden brown, while the tare tassels become black.
In other words, a saved life is a changed life and it will be evidenced in the way a person lives:
2 Corinthians 5:17
(17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are [passing] away; behold, all things are [becoming] new.
People can certainly walk the Christian walk and speak the Christian language without knowing Christ, but a truly saved person will evidence saved behavior.
The Thessalonian believers turned to God from idols. That was no small feat. That kind of change meant peer pressure, meant standing out from everyone else; it even meant being disowned by family.
The Thessalonian believers also clearly changed their allegiances. They stopped serving their idols and they turned that devotion instead to serving the true and living God. Want to check where you are spiritually? What do you serve the most? Again, for the Thessalonian believers, choosing to serve the God of the Bible over idols had serious consequences for them.
Finally, they were driven in their devotion and sacrifice by their hope in the Lord’s return. Even today, those of us who look forward to the Lord’s return are mocked and ridiculed. We are seen as insane for such beliefs. But what does the Bible say? “Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged” (Romans 3:4). Only a true believer would risk it all, even if it meant loss of standing and reputation.
The doctrine of election gives us hope, stability, and confidence. It teaches us that our position in Christ is sure, settled in heaven. May the thought of knowing that as a child of God you are among His elect, be a comfort to you.