God’s love for His people is an unstoppable force. The energy that has driven God’s plan of redemption from eternity past flows from the power of His love. He chose us and predestined us “in love” (Ephesians 1:4–5). It is solely “because of His great love with which He loved us” that He raised us from our hopeless state of spiritual death (Ephesians 2:4). It is because He loved us with an everlasting love that He drew us to Himself (Jeremiah 31:3). Christ died because of God’s love for us (Romans 5:8).
In other words, election is the highest expression of God’s love to sinful humanity. Some people hate this doctrine. They fight against it, try to explain it away, or claim it’s not fair. Some even claim it is a form of tyranny, or that it is fatalistic, or that it violates the human will. But in reality the doctrine of election is all about the eternal, inviolable love of God.
Is Election Tyranny?
God’s sovereignty is not the sovereignty of a tyrant, but the loving providence of a gracious God. He finds no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but pleads with them to repent and turn to Him for mercy (Ezekiel 33:11). He showers blessings on the wicked and the righteous alike (Matthew 5:45). His very goodness in delaying His just wrath is an appeal to the wicked that they should repent (Romans 2:4). He weeps over those who refuse His mercies (Luke 13:34). Why does He not elect everyone for salvation? We are not told, but the answer is certainly not because of any deficiency or lack in God’s love.
Is Election Fatalism?
What about the charge that the doctrine of election is fatalism? B. B. Warfield said this charge is usually leveled by people who
wish to be the architects of their own fortunes, the determiners of their own destinies; though why they should fancy they could do that better for themselves than God can be trusted to do it for them, it puzzles one to understand.  B. B. Warfield, Selected Shorter Writings (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, n. d.), 393.
Fatalism is the notion that all things are controlled by an impersonal or irrational force—Fate. God is sovereign, but He is by no means impersonal or irrational. The difference between fatalism and the biblical doctrine of divine sovereignty is really quite profound. It is true, as Scripture teaches, that God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), and that He will accomplish all His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:10). But He does not govern arbitrarily or whimsically.
Nor does God impose His sovereign will in a way that does violence to the will of the creature. The outworking of His eternal plan in no way restricts the liberty of our choices or diminishes our responsibility when we make wrong choices. Unbelief is forced on no one. Those who go to a Christless eternity make their own choice in accord with their own desires. They are not under any compulsion from God to sin. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ’I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13). People who choose unbelief make that choice in full accord with their own desires.
Is Election Unfair?
What about the charge that the doctrine of election is not fair? In one sense, there’s some truth in this. “Fair” would mean that everyone gets precisely what he deserves. But no one really wants that. Even the non-elect would face a more severe punishment if it were not for the restraining grace of God that keeps them from expressing their depravity to its full extent.
Fairness is not the issue; grace is the issue. Election is the highest expression of God’s loving grace. He didn’t have to choose anyone. And He is, after all, God. If He chooses to set His love in a particular way on whomever He chooses, He has every right to do so.
Election Provides Security
But for Christians, the knowledge that we are saved because of God’s choice is the supreme source of security. If God loved us from eternity past, and He is unchanging, then we can know that His love for us in eternity future will be undiminished.
This is precisely Paul’s point in Romans 8 as he wraps up his discourse on the believer’s security. The closing verses of this passage read like a hymn on the love of God:
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35–39)
Writing to the Ephesians, Paul described the Christian life as spiritual warfare. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Wicked forces, diabolical persons, and evil circumstances all conspire to attack each believer. At times it seems as if all the forces of hell are arrayed against us. That would be daunting, except as Paul points out in Romans 8, the outcome is guaranteed.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ—not earthly trials, such as “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” (Romans 8:35), and not even heavenly foes—“neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing” (Romans 8:38–39). “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). It’s a no-lose situation—because of the love of God.
The various threats Paul outlined were not hypothetical dilemmas as far as he was concerned. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, sword—Paul had faced those very hardships—and others as well.
Beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:23–27)
And Paul had emerged from those trials with an unshaken confidence in the love of God.
The people of God have always suffered. In Romans 8:36 Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 by way of reminder: “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” God’s love does not necessarily guarantee earthly comfort. But the sufferings of this world are more than compensated by the rewards of divine love in eternal bliss. As Paul wrote earlier in Romans 8, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17).
“The glory that is to be revealed to us” is God’s glory. Every aspect of God’s love declares His glory. The general love God has toward all humanity reveals His basic goodness. The fact that it is spurned by those who do not believe in no way diminishes God’s glory. Even the wrath of sinful men shall praise Him (Psalm 76:10).
But the riches of His goodness and glory are revealed most clearly in the salvation of the elect, a great multitude that no man could ever number (Revelation 7:9).
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19).
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