One of my favorite systematician writes:
“An examination of some of the relevant passages reaps the following fruit of teaching. Believers have been chosen by God ‘to the praise of his glory’ (Eph. 1:11, 12); to ‘show forth the praises’ of the One who called them (1 Peter 2:9 KJV); to live holy blameless lives (Eph. 1:4); to be fully sanctified, i.e. ‘conformed to the image of his [God’s] Son’ (Rom. 8:28, 29); to ‘go and bear fruit’ (John 15:16). It is hence, an error to think of election apart from the high and holy ends which God had in mind when He did it.
The success of the plan of redemption could not be guaranteed—as all God’s eternal counsels are—apart from divine initiative at every stage of the plan (ordo salutis). On account of sovereign election, God knew from the beginning who would populate heaven and a renewed earth. ‘[T]he Lamb’ was ‘slain’ from ‘the foundation of the world’ (Rev. 13:8) and the inhabitants are ‘those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Rev. 21:27). These facts of Scripture in no wise encourage any one to presume on God’s grace in this regard, because divine sovereignty and human responsibility are juxtaposed in many a biblical declaration, perhaps never more starkly than in this verse: ‘But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his”, and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity” ’ (2 Tim. 2:19).” (Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical, 677).
I know that folks may not find Election as comforting or hope-giving as myself, but this is a free country. Plus, I’m told I’m a card-carrying Calvinst, so I’m supposed to talk about predestination a lot, right? Anyway, I find it extremely important to note what Culver so eloquently writes: “It is hence, an error to think of election apart from the high and holy ends which God had in mind when He did it.” God has a plan and he is carrying it out, with an end goal in mind. For myself, that ultimate goal is his own glory.
For those interested in learning more about the doctrine of Election, the two most helpful books on the subject that I have read are:
The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner – This is a classic treatment of the subject by one of the premier 20th century Reformed theologians. This was a hugely influential book in my life, as I read it when I was a committed Arminian. Boettner’s arguments were simply too persuasive to dismiss.
Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election by Sam Storms – This is, in my estimation, the best “modern” treatment of the subject. It irenically makes a case for the Reformed position on election over and against Arminianism, Amyraldianism, etc. This is a must read.
I’d start with Sam Storms. He’s excellent. But don’t hate on the older generation. And if you really want to dig deep, read Calvin!