The Bible teaches election. It also teaches free grace. The same God Who said that as believers He had “chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), also said: “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
In addressing the Thessalonians, Paul reminded them of their “election in God” (1 Thessalonians 1:4). The key to understanding the doctrine of election from the perspective God intends us to understand it is to remember that God means for that truth to be a source of comfort, not contention.
Someone in my Sunday School class brought up a very good point regarding this doctrine: When you see it in Scripture, “elect” and “election” are used more as identifiers than as a verbs. Those who have trusted Christ as Savior are elect.
When Paul refers to the church in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, the word he uses is ekklēsia (EK-klay-SEE-uh). It means a “called-out people.” Wiersbe notes that “whenever you read about a call in the Bible, it indicates divine election — God is calling out a people from this world (Acts 15:13 – 18)” (Be Ready, p. 31). In the seventeenth chapter of John’s gospel there are seven times where the Lord refers to believers as those the Father gave Him out of the world.
What Does This Have to do with Noah’s Ark?
The Bible says that “it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart” (Genesis 6:6) because man had so rebelled against God and was obsessed with doing evil. In response to man’s sin, God determined to wipe man off the face of the earth with a global flood. But Noah had found grace in God’s sight (verse 8). So, the Lord instructed him to build an ark.
Having determined His judgement upon mankind, God gave the human race 120 years to decide whether to repent and get on the ark with Noah and his family, or to continue in their own way (Genesis 6:3). We won’t go into all the calculations, but it probably did not take Noah 120 years to actually build the ark, but God in His grace gave man that much time to decide – plus seven days (Genesis 7:4).
OK…But Still: What Does Any of This Have to do with Election and Grace?
All during that 120 years Noah certainly declared God’s message. All during that time the door was open literally and figuratively for anyone besides Noah and his family to repent and get into the ark. Noah was telling the world “whosever will may come.”
In the end, it was only Noah and his family (eight souls—1 Peter 3:20) that made it onto the ark (movie contradictions and poetic license notwithstanding). Then God shut the door (Genesis 7:16). The opportunity for “whosoever” to come onto the ark was gone, but for 120 years God – through Noah – sought to call out a people for Himself. Of that entire world population, only eight answered the call. Eight elect. But the whole world had the free opportunity to choose – a grace period of 120 years, plus seven days, if you will.
So, on the one hand you have those were called out from the foundation of the world, and on the other hand worldwide opportunity to respond to God’s calling out. In His Omniscience God of course knew who would answer and who would not. Yet He commissioned Noah to put the call out to everyone.
So, What’s the Take Away?
When it comes to who’s elect and who’s not, we need to be like Noah, and not try to be God. Only God knows who will and who will not respond and He is actively involved in the salvation of everyone who accepts His call. Our job, like Noah, is to just get out there and say: “Y’all come!”
For those of you who might be reading this and who have not answered God’s call to repent and be saved: Don’t be like those in Noah’s day who squandered their time of grace only to end up on the wrong side of the door.