God Decides 2008!- How Should We Respond?

October 20, 2008

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. . . . In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” -Ephesians 1.3-6, 11-12

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion . . . . May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” -1 Peter 1.1a, 3-5

Now that we have waded through the theological waters of how the Bible presents the doctrine of election, it is time for us to address what was my initial impetus in starting this conversation in the first place, that being the question of how should this make us respond?

Looking back we see that what we have said is that God does have a group of people who he has set apart which are called the elect, that that election was based purely on God’s unmerited grace and not on anything that the elect did to earn it, that all of whom are numbered among the elect will be saved, and that none apart from the elect will be saved.

It is after the exposition of all of this where the main cry inevitably comes out, in some sarcastic tone by some smirking know-it-all, asking, “So you think you are elect?” Well, yes, I do. And if you are saved then I think you are elect too! But, should my conviction that I am among the elect lead me to the conclusion which has been implied, namely that I must be something on a stick if God chose me? Absolutely not!

Read Ephesians chapter 1. What does Paul say? Yes, we have returned time and again to see that he says that the elect were chosen “before the foundation of the world” and “predestined” to salvation, but what does he say the response should be? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ . . . . In love he predestined us . . . to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (vv.3-6). This whole passage, while being a great theological treatise on the doctrine of election, is almost a thank you note, a groveling show of gratitude and unworthiness for a gift which has been given.

Read 1 Peter 1.1-5. What does Peter say? He opens by addressing himself to “the elect exiles.” And then what does he say to them, before anything else? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again” (v.3a). Again, gratitude and humility. In fact, the humility is amplified as you continue reading, as Peter lists off regeneration, adoption, and perseverance, all of which he declares as being handled solely by the Godhead and not by us. Peter’s high view of election is aligned with a high view of God’s sovereignty and low view of man’s ability, in one coherent theology of dependence on God.

This is the attitude we should take. Yes, as I said, I believe that I am among the elect. That is because I believe that I have been saved by God through the blood of Christ and it is my conviction that that salvation is given to all and only the elect. And my response to that can be no more inward looking than Peter or Paul’s. It is not of my own doing, not a thing, nothing at all, for which I have been chosen. It is solely by the grace of God that he would “caus[e me] to be born again,” though I was “dead” and “by nature [a child] of wrath” (1 Peter 1.3, Ephesians 2.1, 3). Election, instead of being a doctrine of arrogance as is often portrayed (and sometimes even carried out), can only be properly handled as a doctrine of grace, of wholly unmerited mercy, and of humility.

Yes, I believe that I am elect, and believing that way gives me all the more reason to think lowly of myself as I raise up glory to the blessed God of my salvation!