April 25, 2004 Q & A

Salvation of the Elect


I have been looking at the OPC website and I see that the OPC believes that only the elect are saved. This seems rather frightening to me, about as frightening as the Roman Catholic Church. What I want to know is how does one know if they are the elect?


Thank you for writing. It's true that the idea of election is "The Calvinistic Way," but, much more importantly, it is the Bible's way. To be brief, election is taught in the following Bible passages, among others: Ephesians 1; Romans 9; John 15:16.

It is also seen in the way and "rationale" of God in choosing Israel as his special people: Deuteronomy 7:6-8. The point is that all mankind are conceived and born with a sinful nature, predisposed to oppose and displease God. And there is no way we can do otherwise by our own resolve and efforts. Mind, emotions, and will are corrupted by innate sinfulness. We sin because we are sinful; we are sinful because we sin.

In other words, we're stuck in the condition we're in! How to get "unstuck"? Only by God's taking the loving initiative in grace and mercy to take away our sinful heart and give us a new heart - by making us alive in Christ (Eph. 2:5). With that new heart a sinner is able to seek the Lord, to repent of his sins, and to place his trust in the only Savior. I would encourage you to read thoughtfully Ephesians 2:1-10.

You ask how one can know that they are elect. Your question is perhaps another way of asking how one can have assurance that he is saved. On the OPC website is the Westminster Confession of Faith. Chapter 18 is probably the best explanation in Christian literature on that subject. A true believer may have assurance that he is elect! Because of the ups and downs in the Christian experience of all believers, however, they may find their assurance diminished. It can be renewed and recovered essentially by resorting again and again to the means of grace (i.e., meditating on God's Word—Psalm 1; the sacraments; and prayer).

I hope, as you work through this Chapter in the Westminster Confession of Faith, that you will find assurance and encouragement.



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