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Question and Answer

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.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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