No Fear in Election

So by now you have studied so much of Romans 9 you are scared of the Bible. The idea of God’s election is an intimidating thing. Congratulations, your feelings on this matter are your initiation to the awe and wonder club.

At the same time as we are struck with awe and wonder at the electing purposes of God there is also a tendency to allow the mind to wonder into all sorts of dark corners. It is only human. When we read this passage and think about it there is a fear that is veiled in “what if?” What if a person wants to be saved, but can’t be because God refuses them? What if I am one of those people? What if Brian Branam is one of those people and I have been predestined to read his blog, become thoroughly confused, and as such my condemnation is sealed? What if someone is saved, but doesn’t really want to be? Just remember that when your mind wonders into these dark caverns that people also have a tendency to watch scary movies and sleep with the lights on. The mind is prone to wonder.

Have you ever met someone who is a true follower of Christ, that shows abundant evidence of their salvation, who doesn’t really want to be saved? Have you ever had one of these people call you up and say, “Hey, meet me at Starbucks, we need to talk, I have committed my life to Christ and I don’t know why. I have repented of my sins but I didn’t really want to. I am afraid I am elect?” You probably haven’t had that person call you because he doesn't exist!

But what about someone who may want to be saved but can’t? This sort of idea violates not only the nature of God but the very nature of election. The Bible says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:4).” God wants people to be saved. But that is a mute point. A person would not desire salvation without being a part of God’s elect. Election does not simply refer to God’s choice, but it refers to the effectiveness of His choice. When God chooses someone or something to be His own it transforms them into something distinctly His (1 Peter 2:9-10). Ephesians 2 explains that God made us “alive with Christ.” This speaks of God’s power to resurrect the spirit of someone “dead” and unresponsive to spiritual truth and save them. It is impossible to even conceive of a person who would want to receive salvation but be unable because they are not elect. This is like saying squares are round or that blue is green. In Romans 9 Paul refers to Pharaoh. Did Pharaoh want to be born again? We may speculate that there were times he wanted to escape the wrath of God, but there was never any interest in conversion.

I said all that to say this, Romans 9 is not a dark corner for the mind to wonder. Notice that Paul does not fear God’s election, but praises Him for it. God’s elective purposes do not discourage Paul from evangelism, but motivate him in it (Romans 9:1-5 and chapter 10). Paul does not have an issue with God’s election; the issue of the passage is if Israel has the promises of God, if they are the “elect” of God as promised in the Torah, then why are they not being saved? This is not an issue with Israel; this is an issue that ultimately infringes on the very nature of God.

When we do not perform “contextual reading” and seek to understand the author’s original intent in the text our mind is prone to wonder into dark corners. Why is it we enjoy the benefits of election in Romans 8 but spurn the idea in Romans 9? What is Romans 9 about? It is not a debate about the sovereignty of God verses the free will of man. It is not about John Calvin or Jacobus Arminius. Romans 9 is about the faithfulness of God to perform His promises, to accomplish His plan. Election is not an end unto itself. As Paul makes clear in verse 11 “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue”, election is merely a part of a bigger whole, the bigger whole being the plan of a sovereign God. God is faithful. He will perform His promises.

I will be teaching on the Doctrine of Election tonight, 6:30 at Ridgecrest Baptist Church. If you don't make it I should be able to post the audio tomorrow. Until then sleep with the lights on!


Anonymous said…
How grateful I am that I am one of the elect - God's chosen! It has always been hard for me to comprehend that there are those God created for the sole purpose of being used in a negative way to bring about His will. Judas was created specifically to betray the Son of Man so that my salvation could be made available to me. It makes me that much more aware of the cost my salvation - that much more thankful - that much more humble.

I am His and He is mine.

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