“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. 7And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.”
(Isaiah 44:6-7; all scripture quoted is from the king James Version)
All events in Heaven and on earth were foreordained by God to happen just as He commands, and at the very time He commands it. God has a plan for every one of His elect children chosen in Him before the Foundation of the world. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;” (Ephesians 1:4-8)
The above texts are only a few that declare the absolute foreknowledge and purpose of god in calling His elect by grace through faith to everlasting life – there is no allowance for personal works or merit. This position also accords with the 17th Article of Religion of the Reformation Church of England:
XVII Of Predestination and Election
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity. (first paragraph of the 17th Article)
Additionally, the 13th Article rules out good works as meritorious of salvation:
XIII Of Works before Justification
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
Both quotations from the Articles are consistent with the provisions of Romans 8: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30) This truth is repeated in Ephesians in which we are told that we are not saved by any good works (being dead in trespasses and sin) but rather UNTO good works. (see Ephesians 2:1-9)
But man, in his pride to achieve salvation by works, has been blinded to the brilliant Sun of Grace contained in Scripture and summarized in ourArticles of Religion. He cannot see that it is by grace and not of works by which we are saved. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9) We are not saved by any goodness of conscience nor outward works of our hands, but by grace alone.
What a blessed security the believer has in knowing that God chose him before the worlds were made; and what a joy to realize that Christ will lose not a single believer whom God has placed in His nail-scarred hands.