Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On Election

I earnestly desire that everyone know the blessed truth of election, it is not a doctrine that condemns man; it is a doctrine that brings us comfort. It allows us to be truly humble and truly thankful; it shows us that God is all powerful and all wise. It continually reminds us that he has secured our salvation. What great joy this is! His strength is now our strength, not vice versa.
Of course the first thing into the mind upon hearing this is not the value of election but the protest, “How can a loving God ensure my doom in hell without my say in it?” I will explain it, but know that that is the wrong way to think about grace- election is a one way street, it is an escalator that only goes up. God does not push people into hell, he pushes people into heaven. God has chosen some people to be Christian despite their hearts, otherwise there would be no Christians, and the other people get exactly what they want.

To begin, we must go back to our creation. In the garden of Eden mankind was given the gift of being able to choose things just as surely as he was given the ability to walk around and talk. Do we want eggs or cereal for breakfast? Man can pick which one he likes, that power is still with us, it would be idiotic or insane to dispute this. The fall of man did not alter the fact that man can choose, what it did change was our desire to know and love God. After sinning man ran from God, and if there was to be a relationship it would only happen if God pursued us.
This distinction between the ability to chose and the desire for God is critical, it shows us that man is still responsible for picking hell for himself, even though he loves it and will always pick it, it is still his decision. The ability to choose is powerless next to the desire, or stated another way mankind fundamentally hates God and loves sin and will use anything in his faculty to express this, including voting for an eternity apart from God. What this means is that since we love sin and can still choose we are free to choose sin, how much, where, when. Our nature has given our free will the power to say 'No' to God, but never Yes. This is the verdict that Jesus came into the world but men loved the darkness.

There is no question that this is an uncomfortable doctrine, because it is hard to accept the idea that man is so throughly corrupted by sin that there is no corner of it that does not have sin in it, but if you reject it then you at the same time reject the need for Jesus. If there was in the heart of man some little spark of total righteousness, some little kernel of uncorrupted goodness, then there would be no need for Jesus, and instead of sending his son God could have planted that seed in your heart, he could have blown that spark into a raging fire, but since things were so extreme that He sent His Son, it is proof we are rotten to the core, proof there is not one part of us that sin doesn't have influence over.

But we do know Jesus promised salvation to those who believe, and we do know that those who confess the name of the Lord will be saved. How do we square this with that last concept?

It's very easy, if you are a Christian ask yourself: what about me made me accept Christ while someone else in exactly the same circumstances rejected Him? You can either answer 'something' or 'nothing'. I'm smarter, more clever, more handsome, wiser than my neighbor. Answering "I don't know" is the same as saying "there is something different about me, I am not sure I know what it is, but it's there." Or, if you answer with 'nothing' then you admit that you are no different than your neighbor, but you chose God because God chose you. And there it is, the sweet doctrine of election. The doctrine that says the only reason I picked him against my normal desires is because he picked me and gave me a new heart ahead of time. To accept the doctrine of election is to say that God has loved me with an eternal passion that will never falter or fade, begun before I even arrived on this earth.

This is the best news that someone could hope to hear.

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