Calvinist and “Reformed” Christians teach that God elects, or chooses, some people (most would hold that this is a small minority of people) to receive his grace, forgiveness and eternal salvation – and that those he decides not to elect have no choice, but are abandoned to the hell that they deserve as punishment for their sins.
Christopher J.H. Wright, also known as The Rev. Dr. Chris Wright, International Director of the Langham Partnership, has a different take on this, in his 2010 book The Mission of God’s People (p. 72):
Election [ie the choosing] of one is not rejection of the rest, but ultimately for their benefit. It is as if a group of trapped cave explorers choose one of their number to squeeze through a narrow flooded passage to get out to the surface and call for help. The point of the choice is not so that she alone gets saved, but that she is able to bring help and equipment to ensure the rest get rescued. “Election” in such a case is an instrumental choice of one for the sake of many.
In the same way, God’s election of Israel is instrumental in God’s mission for all nations. Election needs to be seen as a doctrine of mission, not a calculus for the arithmetic of salvation. If we are to speak of being chosen, of being among God’s elect, it is to say that, like Abraham, we are chosen for the sake of God’s plan that the nations of the world come to enjoy the blessing of Abraham (which is exactly how Paul describes the effect of God’s redemption of Israel through Christ in Galatians 3:14).
Indeed! God didn’t choose us Christians to be snatched away to heaven and saved, so that we can gloat as we watch the rest of humanity suffering tribulation on earth and eternal torment in hell. He selected us for a mission – and I use the word in the popular sense of “Mission Impossible” as much as in the Christian jargon sense. That is, God chose us to be members of his team, with the task of rescuing those who are bound for hell and transforming this world into his kingdom.
This, as I wrote yesterday, is the purpose of our salvation. But it goes back further than that: it is the purpose for which God
chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ …
Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV 2011)
We are called to be his sons (including women as well as men), manifested in this world. I don’t agree with the more extreme aspects of Manifest Sons of God teaching, especially as most of the descriptions of it I can find are from its enemies – although I was interested to read that, in line with what I have written,
The rapture, according to this doctrine, will be of the wicked – not of believers.
Nor do I accept the idea that this is something for only a chosen few. However, I agree with the basic principle behind this teaching, that God is raising up today a task force of believers empowered by the Holy Spirit to make the kingdom of God a reality in this world. This is God’s calling for everyone he has chosen to receive his grace, everyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord. Don’t settle for second best!