It is an understatement to say that the topic of Divine Election is a hotly debated one. People are often very passionate and sometimes downright uncivil in their expressions of those passions. People are cast with (what are intended as) disparaging labels, looked down upon with expressed disappointment, and dismissed as marginal when they admit to certain doctrinal beliefs.
That the Doctrine of Election is taught in Scripture is undeniable by anyone reading Scripture with honest eyes. Getting beyond our preconceived ideas of what is taught is usually the problem and a challenge for any of us to get to the heart and truth. Certainly, we can all find our various “proof-texts” or “spoilers” to opposing doctrinal positions. However, a goal of theology involves avoiding outright contradictions in our formulations in our quest for the TRUTH of God.
If a seemingly opposing passage can be easily worked into a particular doctrinal position without either twisting or changing it’s basic meaning, it should be seriously considered. If it cannot, then that position must be rejected since the teaching of Scripture does not contradict itself. If there is interest, I may explore one or two examples in a future post. For the moment, though, the point is that we must determine to approach the Scripture humbly and honestly, with no axes to grind but only a desire to learn of the nature and will of God. Due to some of the inevitable implications, for many, MANY years I wrestled with this teaching, desperately wanting (kicking and screaming, as it were) to deny it on the one hand, and yet knowing that it was undeniable on the other.
On Sunday, I addressed the topic in part 15 of my series, Portrait of A Savior. I pray I did an honest and adequate job handling this subject, building my argument from a simple reading of John 6:22-71 as well as additional supporting passages. My goal was not only to teach how Scripture is clear of God’s sovereign choice in election, but also the great paradox of man’s responsibility to believe and freely respond (as well as to explore the origin of “belief” itself).
To the best of my ability, the only presuppositions I deliberately and unapologetically start from are that Scripture is perfect in it’s teaching and, whatever formulation of predestination, freedom, election or salvation, God must be clearly seen as the Sovereign originator of salvation. To do otherwise is to elevate man’s position above that of God, thereby glorifying man above God, and that must not happen. God will not allow that to happen. Isaiah is clear that He will share His glory with no one (Isaiah 41-42).
Again, this is a tough subject, but an important one, nonetheless, and one that provides the Believer with a certainty that, regardless of the storms, the trials and circumstances, Christ will never let go of all whom the Father gives Him. At the end of the day, we may disagree on certain aspects of God’s application of His work of salvation. However, for Christians of various doctrinal differences, our agreement (I trust!) is that salvation is through Christ alone (John 14:6), by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), resulting in repentance of sin and the desire for holiness (Romans 10:9-10).
My prayer is that, if you watch the following video, you will do so with a desire to hear from the Spirit of God through the Word of God, not with a closed spirit simply looking for grounds upon which to disagree or pick a fight. I am certain there are plenty of opportunities for that. That is, however, not my purpose. My purpose is singular in nature and focus: Soli Deo Gloria!
For a pretty thorough handling of the Doctrine of Election, check out this explanation. (Sorry for those of you who, like me, aren’t big KJV people.) It’s always a good idea to first study what you say you don’t believe to make sure you don’t actually believe it. Caricatures abound! 😉