Who are the elect?

I recently had an experience  where I’d provided what i felt was an inspired referral to the missionaries. The referral’s meeting with the elders however didn’t quite pan out as i thought it would. This gave me cause to wonder who exactly an ‘elect’ of the Lord is. Particularly after reading the following scripture found in the Doctrine & Covenants:
     “Mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts” [1]
Was my friend not an elect?
A reading of this scripture may seem to suggest that there are certain people who are designated as the elect of the Lord. If that’s the case then it would mean there are also ‘non-elect’. What then is the basis of this election and is this election “free and fair”. In trying to figure this out, I was drawn to review the most elect of all people of the Lord, (at least in the bible): the people of Israel. How did they become ‘elect’? and what effect did it have on them?
The origins of the election of the Israelites lies in the father of their nation – Abraham. Abraham was a faithful servant of God, so great was his faith that he was willing to sacrifice his only son in obedience a command from God. This led to the Lord endowing him and his generations to come with great blessings:
     “And I will make of thee a great nation , and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations” [2]
     “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;” [3]
So it seems in the case of Abraham, the basis for his election and that of his posterity was his righteousness and obedience. It’s interesting what follows in the verses after those quoted above. Soon after electing Abraham and his posterity the Lord indicates actually, that the honor just given was an instrument or pathway for all other people to become elected just as Abraham was, dependent similarly of course on their righteousness:
     “And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;” [4]
     “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” [5]
Similarly, in the book of Mormon, Nephi and his posterity were the elect of the Lord. Their obedience had brought upon them many great blessings. Conversely, Laman and Lemuel refused to be elected and their posterity continued in the same vein until they chose repentance and abandoned the traditions of their fathers. When the Lamanites did repent, they were grafted in to be the elect and given access to the blessings of the gospel. This process of grafting in to the seed of Abraham when the gospel is accepted, is alluded to in the allegory of the wild and tame olives. It is contained  in chapter 5 of the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon.
Hence it safe to say that all can be elect and receive great blessings if they choose to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. This election is a process rather than an event. Else why would the scriptures refer to a making of a calling and election sure as it does in the second book of Peter, where the possessing of several virtues are suggested as a means towards assuring said surety.
     “brethren, give diligence to make your calling and a election sure” [6]
We can conclude then that after one is first elected, there is an onus to continue on that same path until salvation is sure.
Pondering all this my thoughts in summary are that the Lord loves all his children equally. Whether American, European or African, he wants salvation for everyone. He has thus foreordained all people to do good and elect ourselves to be partakers of his gospel. I would thus paraphrase the scripture in D&C 29:7 as follows:
     Those who hearken to my words and harden not their hearts are my elect.
The power to harden or soften the heart lies within the individual, hence we can choose whether or not to become an elect of the Lord by softening our hearts.
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