Whole Counsel Theology

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Election Makes Life Meaningless?

When I hear comments like that (the title of the post), I have to begin to wonder. I wonder why that is the default idea, among other things, why it is that people grab onto this idea first before considering the biblical discussion of the matter.

I overheard a brief, well-meaning conversation today of a couple of people discussing it, possibly having their first encounter with the doctrine. They were doing a research project on the Reformation. Their reaction to it, to God choosing who will be saved and who will not, was thaeof the title of my post today. I made a short comment to them asking something along the lines of, "wouldn't it make sense if God ordained the ends that He would also ordain the means to achieve those ends?"

The response I got went something like this: "Well, that's the problem with that kind of believing..." and though I forget the rest of the quote, it continued on the same train of thought of "what's the point". My point was missed, and I needed to get back to work and left it at that.

My reaction was one of sadness and frustration -- I really wanted to expound a little more on it, but time wouldn't permit. It also saddened me that this was their first reaction to the doctrine, and I started thinking about it on my way home today. The more I thought about it...the more I realized that I also had that same understanding of election for years as a Christian, and these two were about the same age I was when I espoused that belief. So, instead of asking the question of them, I began to ask it of myself. Why did *I* have that belief ten years ago and for a long time after that? Why did I see fit to pit Scriptures against each other rather than accept them all? Why did I unconsciously write off passages talking about election and predestination in favor of passages that demand a preaching of the Gospel? Why didn't I understand that the two are completely compatible and, by my own logic and not the teaching of the Scriptures, insist that the teaching of election just couldn't make sense and therefore mustn't mean what the Bible clearly says it does?

I am not saying anything negative about these two students; I love them, and in fact, both of them are in some of my Spanish classes at my new job. I am in fact grateful to God for having me hear that, because it started me thinking about how this issue comes about at all, and examining my own journey a little bit more, and I pray that I will also have an opportunity out of school to talk to them about it in more detail, so I can do it not as their teacher but as a brother in Christ.

So, with that in mind, the flaw I had in my thinking was a pretty simple one. I hadn't heard much discussion of election and the Bible's teaching on it, though I had heard expositions on critical passages like Romans 10:9-17 and also Matthew 28:18-20. So, when I got to passages like Romans 9:15-18, I quickly skipped over them without giving them much though, save to say, "Well, this must not mean exactly what it says because of the truth of Romans 10 and Matthew 28." The funny thing is that Romans 10:9 is in the same context as Romans 9:1-23. :)

The passages do not oppose each other at all. God uses His Gospel to draw His elect to Himself. He has ordained the means as well as the ends. When someone asks whether or not someone who is elect would be saved if he or she never heard the Gospel, what that person has done is create a different reality from our own! God will ALWAYS get His Gospel to the one He has purposed to save, because that is the way He works to save them! He works through the message preached, as Romans 10:17 makes very clear.

So then, there is no contradiction at all between the doctrines. Both must be accepted of course, and when the Scriptures are considered in their broader context (ie, the whole counsel), we see that indeed, the Gospel must be proclaimed for the elect to be saved. Why? The answer is this: The God of the ends is the God of the means, so let us go forward and proclaim the Gospel clearly, knowing that God will bring His chosen to Himself!

Soli Deo Gloria!


  • Those who think like that are still focusing salvation upon "self." They view everything that they do religiously from the viewpoint of "how does this affect me?" or "what sort of blessing will I get for doing xyz?" It's sad. Our Reformed doctrine should make it clear to us that God is sovereign and our salvation's primary purpose is His glory.

    I have become convinced that the only one who can change us so that we see this from God's point of view is Him. He must change our hearts so that we can apprehend the mind of Christ. Only then do we relate "correctly" to this life in light of His sovereignty.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    By Blogger Mike Ratliff, at Thursday, March 09, 2006 12:07:00 AM  

  • "Election Makes Life Meaningless?" I agree that if someone makes this statement they do not understand election as taught in scripture. I believe that God is sovereign and choose whatever means He desires to save the lost.

    "So, when I got to passages like Romans 9:15-18, I quickly skipped over them without giving them much though, save to say, "Well, this must not mean exactly what it says because of the truth of Romans 10 and Matthew 28."" I have never seen any conflict with the passages here in my interpretation of election as corporate election.

    "The passages do not oppose each other at all. God uses His Gospel to draw His elect to Himself." Now, I do not know everything about the Bible. However, from what I have read and understood, I do not know of a passage that teaches that God draws only chosen individuals to himself as opposed to all men. John 1:7 says, "The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe." I understand that to mean that Jesus came with a purpose that all men might become believers in Him.

    I think that we all sometimes have surprising reactions when confronted with theology we do not understand. However, what I think is the saddest thing is when se seek an answer to our theological conflicts with men rather than God. I realized that wise men of faith can help us understand scripture. However, we should only consider the theological teachings of other men. Many is naturally lazy in his sinfulness, so many times Christians grab hold of the 1st interpretation that he can reason with and runs with it. One thing that we have in common with some of the greatest men of faith is that we have all done this at one time or another.

    By Blogger Burt Harper, at Thursday, March 09, 2006 11:37:00 AM  

  • Heya Mike, Burt:

    Wise words from you both. I appreciate them, and Burt, thanks for posting here! You honor me with your presence.

    Something I would like some help with though -- we did have a bit of a discussion over on Founders about election, and you mentioned the corporate election argument then as you do now...but I still don't think I understand it all.

    Could you explain it a little bit as it relates to Romans nine and why you believe the chapter as a whole is talking about corporate historical destinies rather than individual eternal destinies? I am putting some material together on Romans 9 and I planned on answering that argument in the midst of it, but I do want to make sure I'm answering the question that someone is asking rather than just say a bunch of things that no one thinks are relevant. :)


    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Thursday, March 09, 2006 5:40:00 PM  

  • I will do it as soon as I can brother Dave. You honor me with your truth seeking dialogue with me. You dont know how much I appreciate your responses and the good nature of them. I am most inspired to study the Bible in this manner. Your dialogue with me helps inspire me to study God's word more and I thank you for that.

    By Blogger Burt Harper, at Monday, March 13, 2006 8:49:00 AM  

  • Burt:

    Thanks for the kind words -- and I credit it to the glory of God that we're both inspired to dive into His Word.

    God put us together in this fashion for this purpose to be sure -- and I suspect we're both learning something. :)


    By Blogger David B. Hewitt, at Monday, March 13, 2006 7:55:00 PM  

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