Election, God’s Love, and Our Loved Ones

January 20, 2012

This is probably my last post for the week. People won’t see me until Sunday. So, I might as well end the week with a bang.

Bible studies for me are like golf shots. I plan what I want to accomplish and hope it goes according to plan. But, like my golf shots, often Bible studies don’t land where I aim. Wednesday was a case in point. The verse we were discussing was a relatively safe verse, Romans 5:5. What could go wrong? The Bible study unfolded as planned, for the most part. But as the ball was bouncing toward the green it hit a divot and bounced off the fairway. I could see the ball but didn’t like where it had landed. Put differently, the issue of election had raised its ugly head. Now, I don’t mind going toe to toe over the issue. However, I stay away from it unless the passage leads to it. As it turns out, the election remark was impossible to avoid. It had to be discussed even if it was just for a minute.

Election is really about God’s love. We are in the family of God simply because of God’s electing grace. We didn’t choose him; he chose us (John 15:16). He chose us in him before the foundation of the world (Ephesian 1:4). I realize you closet Arminians are saying, “But what about foreknowledge?” Two thoughts: first, how can my make “whom he foreknew” to mean “whom he foreknew who would choose him” is beyond me. That’s reading a lot into one word. I think the meaning of foreknew is related to how the word know is used in scripture. Essentially it means loved as Adam loved (knew) Eve. It’s the thought of Jeremiah 1:5 ​​​​​​​​“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, ​​​​​​​and before you were born I consecrated you; ​​​​​​​I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ​​​Jeremiah was foreknown. Secondly, when Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me but I chose you,” do you really think he means that I chose you because I knew you would choose me? Isn’t the point of what Jesus said to help the disciples understand love and grace? I realize that sometimes irony is used is scripture. This passage doesn’t feel like irony especially when the same truth is papered on all the walls of the Bible. Do you really think that Paul means in Ephesians 1:4 that God chose us in Christ because we chose him? Why even say that if it is really about our decision? A decision that isn’t hinted at anywhere in the passage. Why not simply let the words mean what they always mean?

I realize that some will still struggle with what seems so clear in the Bible. Why did Abraham become the father of many nations? Simply because God made it happen. He was a rank pagan before God called him. Why are we said to be dead in sin, Ephesians 2:1? Why do we need to be born again, John 3:3? What choice does a corpse have? Who has any say in his or her birth? You get what I’m saying.

Back to Wednesday evening. After Bible study a dear saint with tears in her eyes was asking about her loved ones. What about my son? What about my sister? This is a tough question. The truth is that the sovereignty of God gives us hope. We don’t raise the dead, God does. We don’t effect spiritual birth. God does. What hope do we have if God doesn’t do it? No dead person can raise him or herself.

God can do this at any point in someone’s life. Even at the very end. Everything I’ve written is to set the table for this piece. It simply reminds us that God has his way of drawing the elect to himself. It might not be according to our timetable but God has his ways. Let’s pray for our lost loved ones. We pray because we know that God can soften the hardest of hearts. If he raised me, he can raise anyone.


2 Responses to “Election, God’s Love, and Our Loved Ones”

  1. tracy Says:

    Mark, When I first bumped into election, via you, I resisted it. I resisted it because it made God’s love feel arbitrary. As a sinful egocentric human, I believed that if I didn’t understand God’s motives and agree, then they must not be God’s motives. As I have spent more time in my Bible and listening to you and thinking, I realize that truth is truth whether I understand it or not. That God is holy and pure and without my permission.Ultimately, God doesn’t need my agreement to be God. That said, He loves me so much that he gives me the Holy Spirit and the Bible and, praise God, grace so that I can know Him more and have peace. Thanks for being faithful to the truth whether its comfortable or not. Tracy

  2. Mark Says:

    Tracy, thanks for the encouragement. Other than my own stupidity there isn’t anything that has landed me in more hot water than this issue. I’ve been confronted (which I always appreciate), letters have been written to the Mission, and others have simply left the church because of my teaching in this area. It is an issue I don’t look to address, however, I’ll not walk away from it either. In my view, it is truth that is implicitly and explicitly expressed from the beginning to the end of the Bible. I pray that God would continue to grace is with a better understanding of who he is.

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