Mark of Election

Question

Does the Bible say what is/are the mark/marks of the true elect of God?

Answer

While the Bible doesn't speak in terms of the "marks" of the "elect," I think it is safe to say that Bible does tell us something about identifying the elect -- but not very much. For example, the elect who do not die in infancy and/or who are not providentially hindered by maladies such as severe mental retardation will profess faith, and will persevere in their faith until the end. However, this does not help distinguish them from those who falsely profess faith and who outwardly appear to persevere until the end. In fact, there is no way for us to evaluate with certainty the state of another person's soul, or his/her status with regard to election.

Election is one of God's eternal decrees, and while we can know what some of these eternal decrees are as they are revealed to us in Scripture and/or creation, his decree of election is not one which he has chosen to reveal clearly in either Scripture or creation. Peter does speak in terms of making certain that we are elect (2 Pet. 1:10), but the mere fact that he speaks in terms of increasing certainty implies that his readers do not and cannot have absolute certainty. Even Paul considered the possibility that he was not of the elect (1 Cor. 4:4b-5; 9:23-27), even though he was sure that he was elect (1 Cor. 4:3-4a; Eph. 1:4) and seems to have been relatively sure about the election of others as well (2 Thess. 2:13). John likewise expressed a belief that another was elect (2 John 1,13).

Probably the best way to reconcile these passages is to say that we may be encouraged regarding the election of people who outwardly appear to be saved (professing faith, doing good works), but we may not be absolutely certain about their election because the possibility remains that in the future they will not exhibit these outward signs and will instead appear to be reprobate.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.