Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Election, Part 3.

There is one final thing I would like to consider about election, and our Ephesians passage in particular. Why would God choose to make salvation work in this way?  

Certainly, there is some mystery in God's design. John Piper has said, helpfully, “Not all things are good for us to know, and so God has not revealed them to us; and there are some things that are good for us to know, even when we can't explain them fully.” Can we perfectly explain the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility? No. But it is good for us to affirm what the Bible teaches, and to understand as much as we are able.

At least part of the reason God chose to design redemption in this way is revealed by Paul at the end of the passage:

“He predestined us for adoption to himself 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.”  -  Ephesians 1:5-6

"To the praise of His glorious grace..." In other words, all of this has been done to glorify His own nature. It is to increase the renown of His grace. It might be good for us to remember that simplest of all definitions of grace: God giving us what we don’t deserve. That is precisely what happens in salvation! His grace is demonstrated to be all the greater - because he would save sinners such as you and I.

It should occur to us that God is obligated to save no one! He would still be perfectly righteous and just to leave us all condemned in our sin. But He is not only righteous and just; He is also gracious and kind and merciful … as He Himself says, all the way back in Exodus 33:19  “…I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” So our salvation is a testimony to God's goodness: His unmerited grace and mercy and kindness. 

Is it really possible that God authored salvation in this way because He knew it was the way that would glorify Him the most? Let’s ask Paul:

"What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory..."   -  Romans 9:22-23

So He authored redemption for His own glory, not because He was lonely or needed us in some way. We are the undeserving recipients of His grace, the "vessels of mercy." Salvation is extended to us not because of anything we could do or anything we are, but because of His grace that was put on display for His glory.

What do we take away from these posts on Election? I think three things:

1. Election isn’t an ivory-tower doctrine that is cold and distant. Everyone who has ever been rescued from judgment and death has been saved by "the kind intention of God’s will." Ephesians 1:4's “He Chose us” is heavy with kindness and beauty.  

2. No one is saved apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. If you are wondering about whether you are or are not elect - or whether someone else is or isn’t elect, listen carefully: you’re asking a question the Bible NEVER asks, and never answers. The question you should be asking is “Have I believed the gospel and placed my faith in Christ alone and repented of my sin?” That’s the question the Scripture demands that we all answer.

3. Finally, election should cause us to acknowledge the mystery of God’s purposes, to fear His wrath and power, and to be overcome with joy in light of His mercy and grace. In other words, it should force into our thoughts a bigger and greater God, and a smaller and needier mankind.

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