I’m an avid water-skier.
At the age of 6, I started skiing on two skis behind a pontoon boat. Then, in middle school, I began my love affair with the slalom ski. One ski, both feet, smooth sailing.
When given the opportunity, I still love to pop up on one ski behind a boat. I don’t last as long or ski as fast as I used to, but I still love the thrill of moving across the water in rhythm.
One of the greatest skills involved with water skiing is balance.
If you lean too far forward, you’ll fall over head-first. If you lean too far backward, you’ll crash to the rear. And, if you lean too far to one side or the other, you’ll fall as well.
Perfect balance is needed to glide through the water at 30 miles per hour on a small piece of wood.
Similarly, perfect balance is needed in other areas of life.
One of these is in our theology.
If we veer too far to the front, the back, or to one side, we will lose our balance.
Problems and issues are imminent when we lose this balance in spiritual and biblical matters.
Today’s doctrine topic is one of the most hotly debated and highly inflammable issues of our day. Churches, Christian schools, seminaries, and believers of all categories have discussed this topic to exhaustion.
And, the debate lives on.
In fact, it may be one of the greatest debates of all time in Christendom.
I will not attempt today to resolve the debate. Rather, I’d like to offer some balance.
Let’s consider the main questions involved in this debate:
First, what’s the topic?
Election of the saints – how does the choosing work?
Second, what is Election?
“Election is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure.” (Grudem, page 620)
Third, what sorts of questions and issues does it bring up?
- Why did God choose us and not others?
- Did God choose us or do we choose Him?
- Do we have a say in the matter?
- Is it all up to God?
- Are some condemned to hell?
There’s not the time or the space to answer all of these questions today. That’s why it’s one of the greatest debates of all time.
Instead, let’s boil it down to one of the areas of greatest conflict in this debate– did God choose us or do we have the free will to choose Him?
Were we chosen before the foundation of the earth or may whosoever wishes to come to Christ, come?
I’ve created a chart to show verses that will illustrate both sides of this discussion. You can see it below.
The Bible seems to be saying two very different things.
Is that the case?
And, what is the answer?
Actually, it’s the perfect tension of balance. Yes, God chose us before the earth began. And, no, God does not want anyone to perish. Whosever will may come.
Pastor Adrian Rogers explained it this way. He said that when we get to heaven and see those pearly gates, we will read the words, “Whosoever will may come.”
Then, as we pass through the gates, we will look back to the other side of the gates and read the words, “Chosen before the foundation of the world.”
It’s both – we have been chosen and we have a choice!
As a matter of fact, it’s a tension of balance that only God could perfectly create.
So, what does this have to do with you and how can you and I respond?
First, we can thank God for choosing us and giving us the gift of salvation.
Second, we can tell others about His love.
We have no idea who has been chosen.
Only God knows. So, we share. We witness. We give and go on mission trips. And, we continue to let others know about the Hope of Heaven.
Let me close with a wonderful story shared by Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee.
Here on the radio program we give out the Word of God and expect the Spirit of God to touch the hearts and lives of those who will hear the voice of the Spirit.
Now how He works I do not understand. Our business is to give out the Word.
And you and I will not be shown the list that He has. We will not be told what God knows.
Charles Spurgeon used to say that if God had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, he’d just go around lifting up shirttails to find those with the yellow streak and then give them the gospel.
But God didn’t do it that way. God told him to preach it to every creature, so that’s what he did. Because in Spurgeon’s book, they all could accept Christ.
And to me it’s the same way: I assume that whosoever will may come, and that’s a legitimate offer that God makes. So if you don’t understand how to reconcile the omniscience and election of God with the free will of man, you are in a class with the rest of us. It reveals you are a human being, that you are finite, and that you do not know everything. And I don’t either.
This is in the hands of God, and instead of arguing about these points let us keep busy giving out the Word of God. The Lord will take care of His end.
He’ll touch the hearts of those that should hear the Word. My business is to give it out.
(Excerpt found at this link: http://www.witnessesuntome.com/2010/03/yellow-stripes-for-the-elect/)
Prayer – Dear Father, thank You for choosing me. Thank You for salvation. I’m blessed by Your grace and Your love. May I continue to give out the Word and stay balanced as I consider one of the greatest debates of all time. I likely won’t figure out the answers to this debate before heaven. So, would You give me the courage to share with everyone around me? And, would You make me wisely balanced in my beliefs?
Join us as we take a clear and practical look at some of the most basic and essential tenets of the Christian life – the doctrines of the faith.
Each week, we highlight and explain a core doctrine. Then, we pose the question, “Why does this matter to you and me?”
Also, you can catch all of this year’s “Delight in Doctrine” posts by clicking HERE.
For the purposes of the study, our main texts are first, the Bible, of course, and Wayne Grudem’s classic, HERE.
In closing, it is our prayer that by the end of the year, we all find more delight in understanding what we believe and why we believe it.
“…And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 (ESV)
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