Thursday, November 27, 2014

God and Election: A Defense

In response to my defense of the doctrine election (predestination), one dear brother wrote:

  • It's fatalistic, and, for the reprobate, hopeless. If I'm not a member of the elect, no amount of trying or praying, good behavior, or anything else I can do will save me. I was doomed from the beginning of time by powers beyond my comprehension.

While it is true that the non-elect are doomed, it is not fair or even biblical to conclude that God had doomed them. Instead, Scripture places all of the blame on us:

  • As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. (Romans 3:10-12) 
  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are WITHOUT EXCUSE.  (Romans 1:18-20)
The Hebrew Scriptures also indicate that God beckons everyone:

  • Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity. (Proverbs 1:20-26)
God’s wisdom is available to all, but all reject it! The Prophets consistently proclaimed the same divine indictment on Israel:

  • “Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt,    that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:12-13)
The problem was invariably with Israel and not with their God. This is why He sent them the Prophets, pleading with them to confess their sins, but they would not:

  • I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider… They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (Isaiah 1:2-4)
So many verses indicate that God had given them everything that they needed, and therefore, their rebellion (and also ours) was unjustified. It is not God who led Israel astray, but their own desires and self-justifying lies:

  • Thus says the LORD… Because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed. (Amos 2:4)
Why then did Israel disbelieve and rebel? Was it because God hadn’t done enough for Israel? There is no indication of this any place in Scripture. Instead, God had given Israel everything:

  • What more was there to do for my vineyard [Israel], that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? (Isaiah 5:4)
What then is the doctrine of reprobation about? It is a matter of God giving us what we want! In contrast, you claim:

  • If I'm not a member of the elect, no amount of trying or praying, good behavior, or anything else I can do will save me.
This is just not biblical! Any who truly seek will find:

  • But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice.  For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them. (Deut. 4:29-31)
  • “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) 
However, we refuse to seek (Romans 3:11). We hate the light and love the darkness (John 3:19-20). We are therefore “self-condemned” (Titus 3:11) in rejecting what is already so clear (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-15).

Therefore, those who are damned are those who want to be damned and removed from the Presence of God:

  • For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)
If Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, how then are we condemned? By our own rejection of the Son – the Light of God! We are self-condemned by our rejection of this Light and our willful embrace of the darkness!

This is where election comes in. While we all rightfully deserve condemnation, God mercifully rescued His elect. However, in the end, there will be swinging wide of the doors of salvation (Joel 2:28; Romans 11:15; Isaiah 45:22-25; 66:22-23; Zechariah 14:16-18; Matthew 24:30), when our Lord will vindicate Himself.

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