Saturday, October 15, 2011

election reason

In my last post, I broached the potentially dangerous topic of divine election. Because human beings are spiritually helpless, we need God's assistance in loving God. Only if God intervenes in human hardness will anyone come to faith.

This raises an emotional question: "Why?" Few people ask the question "Why does God choose people?" though we should. More often, we want to know why God doesn't choose others. Don't the Scriptures say that God so loved the world [John 3:16] and that God doesn't want anyone to perish but wishes for all to come to repentance [1 Peter 3:9]? Why would God leave anyone behind?

Three reasons are worthy of our consideration:   
When salvation is put squarely in the hands of God, there is no room left for personal pride. Paul conceded that his only boasting was in the cross of Jesus, not in any human effort [Galatians 6:14]. If salvation depended on any human work---human ingenuity, human intellect, human will---the cross of Jesus would be diminished in its necessity [1 Corinthians 1:17].

But, the cross, wasn't just an extra "boost" to help mostly-competent people bridge a little gap. The cross did 100% for us what we were 100% unable to do. Thus election reveals the grace of God. The fact that God chooses to save some magnifies the greatness of His kindness and grace in salvation. If God didn't elect some, none would ever be saved.

Romans 9 provides one of the most helpful insights to God's purposes in election:

"What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory– even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?"  [Romans 9:22-24]

This is an interesting argument that is sure to raise the eyebrows of some. Paul highlights the prerogative of God to execute His wrath. Instead, God chooses to save some, in order to "show His wrath and make His power known" [v. 22]. I take this to mean that God chooses not to save some in order to amplify His justice among the redeemed.

Before we cry "foul," we must remember that justice is one of God's attributes. And, just as God wishes to make His love, mercy, power, wisdom, holiness and beauty known, He also wishes to make His jealousy, justice and wrath known. When we ask, "How could a loving God ever send someone to hell?" we prove that we have a limited view of God. God doesn't condemn people because of a lack of love, but out of a fullness of justice. And, His decision to elect is a demonstration of this justice.

Often, in the election discussion, focus is on why God doesn't save all people. In fact, we should wonder why God saves any people. No one deserves to be saved. All are justly condemned because of sin. Therefore, God's decision to save whomever He may ultimately points to His sovereignty. God answers to no one. The potter has the right to use the clay however He wishes [Romans 9:21].

So, we could try to figure out the "why" of election. Or, like some, unable to come up with a satisfactory reason, we could just dismiss it. But, perhaps God never intended for us to tie up the loose theological ends. Perhaps God prefers the emotional dissonance. Because, when we can't figure things out, all we're left with is faith. Election presents an opportunity for us to affirm God's sovereignty over all things and trust Him when answers don't make immediate sense.

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