God’s Purpose of Election

Divine Election is often a point of contention among Christians. Some wrongly reject the idea feeling it impossible for God’s choosing to be the determining factor in salvation. Some wrongly accept the idea feeling proud that they are among those God has chosen. Election is a key doctrine. It is truly at the heart of the Gospel of grace. If we take away election, we either do something to deserve God’s favor (merit based salvation) or we are someone who deserves God’s favor (genetics based salvation). Remove election and grace isn’t grace. Thankfully, God has used election always in His redemptive purposes. Meaning if we know Christ as Savior this is by grace alone because of God’s choice, divine election. But this is not a point of pride. It is instead a powerful call to humility if we heed it. Humility at being chosen in grace. Not because of  heritage or effort but because God choose to have mercy on you.

The “Calvinist vs. Arminian” debate has been a hotly contested one for 400 years. Sadly it has often led to divisions in the church. Scripture is not “Calvinist” or “Arminian” despite the vociferous champions of either school of thought. These are human systems of thought and understanding which try to explain God’s working in the world. While such systematic approaches can be of help, they rarely are error free because they are human. Our careful and thoughtful work then must be to study Scripture and understand what it clearly sets forth. If we accept it as authoritative, and believe what it teaches, then we aren’t being “Calvinist” when we see God’s election in Romans 9:18 any more than we are being “Arminian” when we see Jesus’ longing words in Matthew 23:37. Let’s endeavor instead to be thoroughly Scriptural. Randy Alcorn said it this way in a 2015 interview, “Let’s not posture ourselves and worry about whether we sound Calvinistic or Arminian, but focus on whether we are being biblical.”[i]

In conclusion, I have to share one last thing which was, for my part, unplanned. May 27th (that was Sunday) was to the day 454 years from John Calvin’s death in 1564. Now Calvin’s contributions to Christianity and theology not to mention his pastoral impact were and still are considerable. Even so, he would be the first to remind us of his frailty and finitude. He’s been dead for 454 years. God’s Word is still living and active shaping hearts and lives. May God’s Word have such an effect in you today!

[i] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/randy-alcorn-on-calvinists-arminians-and-everything-in-between/

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