Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. - Psalm 29:1-2
The theological "election debate" as it is usually played out dances all around and actually misses the point. One side argues to defend the absolute and complete sovereignty of God (which appears to be clear in Scripture) and the other side argues to defend a responsibility of human choice (which also appears to be clear in Scripture). Divine election actually incorporates and defends both. He foreknew and then He created: Therein lies election.
Election is declared in Scripture to be according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2). If it can be apprehended that God is "big" enough to have foreknown every free decision made by every human being ever born even before He created then election and creation are inextricably linked.
As it is written:
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. - 1 Peter 1:17-21
If the shed blood of Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world, then the free choice of Adam to sin was foreknown also. Why shed the blood of a sacrifice before any offense is committed? If the shed blood of Christ was foreknown to be for the sake of "us" who are believers in God then our belief was also foreknown prior to creation. If one wants to argue that God sovereignly "makes" or "enables" our individual belief then they must also argue that God "made" or "enabled" Adam's disobedience in the same way, because it was all foreknown prior to creation.
A sovereignty that is unable to be sovereign over the free choices of it's creation is no sovereignty at all and is certainly beneath attribution to Almighty God.
The practical implications of the doctrine of election are:
- God is both sovereign and good. He knows absolutely everything that is ever going to happen and He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him so...the only safety is to trust and obey Him.
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. - Deuteronomy 31:8
- We actually can and must choose to trust in the Lord with all our hearts. Our choices have consequence and matter. We cannot be born again against our will nor can we effect it ourselves:
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling... - Isaiah 30:15
- Once one is born again by calling on the name of the Lord, that one is predestined (through sanctification of the Spirit) to be conformed to the image of the Lord:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. - Romans 8:29
From everlasting to everlasting there is no choice, action, or intention of any entity in all of creation that can take the Lord God by surprise. Nothing is hidden from His sight. He knew humanity would fall into darkness if given choice, He knew Jesus would ransom humanity, He knew who would respond to His grace, He knew who would reject it...and then He created, thus bringing it all to pass. This is election and it is rooted in the infinite omniscience of God.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)