Unconditional Election: God’s Grace Is Sovereign
The U in T.U.L.I.P. stands for unconditional election. “Election” simply means “choice.” When the Bible speaks of election, it’s talking about God’s pivotal decision to reach down into the vast throng of lost, undeserving people and rescue some of them out of the global catastrophe of sin and judgment through saving faith in Jesus. God says this decision of His predates even creation; “he chose us … before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). “You did not choose me,” Jesus tells His disciples in John 15:16, “but I chose you.”
The big question is, Why? Why did God choose to save these particular people? There are only two places to look for the answer to that question. Either,
1) There was something special about those people that God noticed, and that’s why He chose them, or
2) There was nothing particularly special about them at all, but God out of His free, undeserved grace, chose to save them anyway.
Unconditional election communicates that the Bible teaches option #2, not option #1. In Deuteronomy 7:7, Moses told Israel, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” God simply loved them and was keeping His promises—that’s why He rescued them from Egypt (v. 8). The same thing is true of believers today. The only reason that could explain how sinners like you and me would ever choose to trust in Christ is if Christ chose first, reaching down in love to us long before we ever reached up in faith to Him.
Some people think that God’s choices depend on what He foresees in the future about people’s responses to the gospel. But then, it’s not really God’s choice that matters anymore, is it? It’s yours. This can be a subtle way of transferring some of the credit for salvation away from God and back to ourselves. The fact is, God did not choose you because He knew that you would believe. No, we believe only because God decided to save us. In other words, God’s grace is sovereign—it reflects His utter authority and power, and it doesn’t depend on anything (past, present, or future) in us. God says, “‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:15-16).
Grace-Based Action Point
If the T in T.U.L.I.P. (total depravity) should make us humble, the U (unconditional election) should make us grateful. Unconditional election reminds us that our salvation depends entirely on God from start to finish, and we can take none of the credit. It’s a truth that gives birth to prayers like Psalm 115:1a—“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory!”
‘Tis not for works that we have done, these all to him we owe;
But he of his electing love salvation doth bestow….
To thee, O Lord, alone is due all glory and renown;
Aught to ourselves we dare not take, or rob thee of thy crown.
(Augustus M. Toplady, Trinity Psalter Hymnal #426)
Yours in Christ,