Read 1 Thessalonians 1:4. What does it mean that God has chosen or elected us? Does that mean we don’t really have a choice? On the other hand, does it mean that someone who is not chosen by God cannot have salvation even if he or she wants it?
Verse 4 continues the same extended sentence that Paul began in verse 2, with “we give thanks.” One of the reasons Paul gives thanks to God is that he knows God has “chosen” the Thessalonians.
Some Christians have taken this idea of being “chosen” to an extreme. They want to move the believer away from any focus on lifestyle or behavior. Instead, they teach that our salvation depends on God’s choice rather than on our own. Such a teaching can also lead to the idea that God’s grace is only for a few and that, once saved, a person cannot choose to be lost.
Faith is impossible without God’s drawing power. Yet, in the end, God allows human beings to make their own decisions regarding Him and what He has done for us. And what He has done for us is to “choose” us in Christ. We have all been “elected” to have salvation. That some won’t be saved-won’t claim that salvation for themselves-reflects their choice, not God’s. God’s choice is for all humanity to be saved. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:4, God wants “all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (NKJV).
Think through what it means to know that you have been “chosen” by God, that God wants you to have salvation, and that to be lost is an aberration from God’s desire for all of us. What encouragement can you draw from this wonderful truth?