The following is taken from Dr. Wayne Grudem’s fantastic Systematic Theology. What I have done is summarize his thinking, and picked out a few quotes to get you thinking on this subject. His treatment is enormously more indepth that this overview.

The Order of Salvation
1. Election (God’s choice of people to be saved)
2. The gospel call (proclaiming the message of the gospel)
3. Regeneration (being born again)
4. Conversion (faith and repentance)
5. Justification (right legal standing)
6. Adoption (membership in God’s family)
7. Sanctification (right conduct of life)
8. Perseverance (remaining a Christian)
9. Death (going to be with the Lord)
10. Glorification (receiving a resurrection body)

Items 2-6 and part of 7 are all involved in becoming a Christian.

Election: Election is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his soverign good pleasure.

Does the New Testament Teach Predestination?
Several pasages in the New Testament seem to affirm quite clearly that God ordained beforehand those who would be saved. Acts 13:48, romans 8:28-30, Romans 9:11-13, Romans 11:7, Ephesians 1:4-6, Ephesians 1:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Timothy 1:9, Revelations 13:7-8, Revelations 17:8

How does the New Testament present the teaching of election?
1. As a comfort. Romans 8:28-30
2. As a reason to praise God. Ephesians 1:5-6, Ephesians 1:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 4, 2 Thessalonians 2:13
3. As an encouragement to evangelism. 2 Timothy 2:10

Misunderstandings of the Doctrine of Election
1. Election is not fatalistic or mechanistic.
God’s act of election was neither impersonal nor mechanistic, but was permeated with personal love for those whom he chose. God also does not have pleasure from the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). Paul did not know who was going to be saved before he went on his missions trips. He followed God’s direction, and endured a life of incrdible hardship in order to bring the gospel to those whom God had chosen. (2 Timothy 2:10)
2. Election is not based on God’s foreknowledge of our faith. (Romans 8:29)
Scripture never speaks of our faith as the reason God chose us. In Romans 11:5-6 Paul stresses that God’s grace and the complete absence of human merit in the process of election. Election based on something good in us (our faith) would be the beginning of salvation by merit. If the ultimate determining factor in whether we will be saved or not is our own decision to accept Christ, then we shall be more inclined to think that we deserve some credit for the fact we were saved. But once we begin to think this way then we seriously diminish the glory that is to be given to God for our salvation.

Conclusion: Election is unconditional. The reason for election is simply God’s sovereign choice – he “destined us in love to be his sons” (Ephesians 1-5).

The next post in this series will be addressing some objections to the Doctrine of Election.