The verb elect means “To select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen (did you read that last phrase? not foreseen as choosing God, but foreseen as fallen, while they were yet enemies), those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ…This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us’ and doubly so when his choice involves giving his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect.
Mark Webb Illustrates why some misunderstand this teaching
After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, “This is the most awful thing I’ve ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men who would be saved, receiving only the elect.” I answered her in this vein. “You misunderstand the situation. You’re visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, ‘Yes, you may come, but not you, or you, or you…’ The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with his arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction towards hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams.” That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn’t it?
If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. but if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely his work! To him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace from start to finish!
From Sovereign Grace Perspectives: Reflections on Doctrine and Practice in the Local Church, Sovereing Grace and the Glorious Mystery of Election. By CJ Mahaney March 2004