The doctrine of election really troubled me when I first began to wrestle with it.
It seemed unfair. It seemed like those who weren’t chosen were doomed from the start. That they never really had a chance. This illustration changed my whole view of the doctrine.
“After giving a brief survey of these doctrines of sovereign grace, I asked for questions from the class. One lady, in particular, was quite troubled. She said, ‘This is the most awful thing I ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect’ I answered her in this vein: ‘You misunderstand the situation. You’re visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, ‘Yes, you may come, but not you, and you, but you, etc.’ The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction toward hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams. That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn’t it? If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish.” –Mark Webb
Election keeps no one out of heaven, but guarantees that those God has chosen will be there. Election is meant to be a comfort and encouragement to believers. Never are unbelievers encouraged to try do discover if they are elect. The message for unbelievers is you are all are invited. Come one, come all. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!
If you know Jesus, praise him for rescuing you from your headlong rush toward hell. If you don’t know him, turn to him today. He awaits you with open arms.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Does the Doctrine of Election Trouble You?
Labels: Election, Predestination
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This is a terrible example, because it uses free will ("if you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault") to support the doctrine of election. In so doing, it undermines precisely what it's trying to prove.
I personally think it is a wonderful example. It mirrors the Westminster Confession on Effectual Calling quite well.
Ch. X.1 - All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening thier minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.
Ch. X.2 - This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.
The response to the call is a both/and. God effectually calls us so that we are them able to freely choose Him. We are called out of our natural state (sin, misery, death) and passive in salvation but enable by the Spirit to answer the call of God and receive the grace of salvation.
"That kind of response, grounded as I believe that it is in Scriptural truth, does put a different complexion on things, doesn’t it?"
No. No, it really doesn't. It fails on every level. As an explanation it is extremely unlikely to satisfy anyone who is not simply looking for a pat excuse, however flimsy, to move along past the problem.
That it worked for you is a shame I hope you grow to regret.
"No. No, it really doesn't. It fails on every level. As an explanation it is extremely unlikely to satisfy anyone who is not simply looking for a pat excuse, however flimsy, to move along past the problem.
That it worked for you is a shame I hope you grow to regret."
Man, harsh. Tough crowd here.
Since we are all totally depraved and unable to respond without the grace of God, it still seems arbitrary that he would only choose certain individuals for salvation. But is grace really irresistible? Did not the Pharisees and the lawyers reject "the purpose of God for themselves" (Luke 7:30)? Did not Stephen characterize some of the Jewish people as those who "always resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51)? Jesus says that he would have gathered the children of Jerusalem, but they "would not" (Luke 13:34). It seems to me that the biblical doctrine of election is based on God's foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:1-2; Romans 8:29) and/or it has to do with the church, the body of Christ, rather than individuals that is elect: all who are in Christ are the elect. A difficult question, but if we are all totally incapable of responding to God's call, then it would seem to be negligence on his part not to elect all (if we define election as Calvinists do).
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