Tuesday, June 7, 2016


The question of God’s election is a difficult and divisive one. There are many different opinions on the subject, both in this church and in the church at large. I would like to mention a few things that help me in dealing with this question. I recognize that Calvinism is an idea many strongly oppose, and I have no illusions of easily convincing those who are firmly against it. But I hope the following are at least helpful in clarifying the issues. I would start by maintaining that God is beyond our human understanding (Romans 11:33; Isaiah 55:8,9; 1 Corinthians 3:18), and we cannot comprehend how God’s sovereignty and responsibility fit together. But while God is in control of all things (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 9:14-24; Isaiah 43:13), we still make choices, and those choices have consequences (Deuteronomy 30:19,20; Joshua 24:15; Revelation 22:17). God’s sovereignty is not an eastern fatalism, where if you are fated to have an accident, it does not matter if you are going 35 mph or 120 mph. It is also not a psychological determinism, which says we are simply a product of our environment. This leads to the idea that we cannot know or do anything meaningful, as everything is a result of our psychological conditioning.
While it is imperfect, an analogy I find helpful is that of an author and a story. The people in the story make choices, and those choices affect the course of the story. Their choices, while influenced by, are not totally a result of the previous events of the story. (Except perhaps in the odd case where the author makes them that way.) But the actions of the characters are totally determined by the author.

Now the real problem as regards salvation is that we are sinners and therefore not willing to come to God (Romans 3:11; 7:18; 8:8). Therefore, there needs to be a work of God in our lives to bring us to Him (John 6:44; 1:12,13; Acts 16:14). Therefore, the picture is not that of all these people that want to believe and God refusing to choose them, but of all of us rejecting God and God using His power to bring people to Himself. Therefore, the offer of salvation to whoever believes is a legitimate offer (John 3:16; 11:25,26; Acts 16:31) just as the promise of salvation for observing the Law is a legitimate offer (Galatians 3:12, though we are unable to keep it) . But for someone to come to Christ, God must work in their heart. Also, evangelism is still important, as God works through means to accomplish His purposes (Romans 10:14.15; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:10). While He will see to it His purposes are accomplished, we are part of carrying out those purposes. But the bottom line is that I believe God chooses people because the Scripture, taken in a straightforward way, teaches it (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:29,30; 9:14-24; Acts 13:48), and that is more important than my ability to understand it.

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