My friend, Derwin Gray, has just released a post about the doctrine of election. It’s a tough subject, but I recently had the chance to chat with Derwin over dinner in a small South Carolina town and election was one of the topics we discussed. I love his high view of God, his humble view of humanity, and his balanced view of this idea of choice.
The Bible clearly teaches the twin truths that God sovereignly and unconditionally chose the elect for salvation and that each person freely decides to accept or reject Jesus Christ as Savior.
Scripture presents God’s sovereignty and human freedom as twin truths in tension.
If you lean too heavily on either side of the twin truths, the character of God is assaulted. If you lean too heavily on the sovereignty side, God is not all-loving. If you lean too heavily on human freedom, God is a weakling, dependent upon man.
via Derwin L. Gray – Just Marinating.
Derwin’s perspective reminds me of what one of my Saddleback Pastors, Tom Holladay, has often said about this difficult doctrine, “Don’t ever think that you don’t have anything to do with your salvation – that’s laziness. And don’t ever think that you have anything to do with your salvation – that’s arrogance” (or something close to that).
We may not agree on all of the details, but I do believe with my whole being that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone to the glory of God alone, based on the Scriptures alone. That’s enough to reform anybody.
One of the issues I struggled with deeply in the past is Calvinism… election… predestination, pick your term (but two are biblical for sure). I love the way Spurgeon addressed the question once about how he reconciled election and free will, simply stating that he didn’t have to reconcile friends.
Today I stumbled on a new post on the J. C. Ryle Quotes website and I’ve fallen in love with his viewpoint on the issue as well…
The plain truth is, that God’s scheme of salvation is like a ladder let down from heaven to earth, to bring together the holy God, and the sinful creature, man. God is at the top of the ladder and man is at the bottom. The top of the ladder is far above, out of our sight, and we have no eyes to see it. There, at the top of that ladder, are God’s eternal purposes, – His everlasting covenant, His Election, His predestination of a people to be saved by Christ. From the top of that ladder comes down that full and rich provision of mercy for sinners which is revealed to us in the Gospel.
The bottom of that ladder is close to sinful man on earth, and consists of the simple steps of repentance and faith. By them he must begin to climb upwards. In the humble use of them he shall mount higher and higher every year, and get clearer glimpses of good things yet to come.
~ J.C. Ryle
via J. C. Ryle Quotes
The one clarification I would make is that we shouldn’t mistake Ryle’s words as meaning that salvation is a long-term process. Ryle, Spurgeon, Calvin and I would all agree that conversion is the miracle of a moment while sanctification is the process of a lifetime.
I’ll be brief. I’m moved…
- I’m moved by Rick Warren’s prayer. It was nice to hear him pray the entire model prayer and to call for civility when differing, which indeed allows for differing.
- I’m moved by the election of America’s first African-American president. That’s significant.
- I’m moved by what his election says about the sanctity of life. What? Well, just watch this.
- I’m moved by the respect Bush paid to Obama, and likewise.
- I’m moved by a nation showing up in the millions to welcome their new leader.
- I’m moved by the election of a man who cares about many of the things I care about.
I’m also concerned…
- I’m concerned about the sanctity of life (this is the most pro-abortion President in our history).
- I’m concerned about the growing power of government.
- I’m concerned about taking a softer approach with militant Muslim nations.
- I’m concerned about our security.
I’m also positive. I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt. Barack Obama begins today with a clean slate. We shall see what unfolds. President Bush was a different man with different viewpoints just a few years into his first term. Some of those changes were positive, some negative. God can change the heart of Obama as well – he seems tender enough.
I’m also prayerful. I’m commanded to pray for my new President and have a heart to do so. Here’s what I’m praying for…
- His safety.
- His family’s unity (he sets a great example here).
- His life to be in balance.
- His cabinet to be genuinely helpful.
- His heart to change on abortion and other moral issues.
- His courage in the face of world threats.
- His legacy to be as positive as it is so far when he leaves office in four or eight years.
Hail to the Chief, but Praise to King Jesus – my supreme and sovereign Lord. What’s your delight/concern/prayer for your new President today?
I’ve been experiencing a whirlwind of emotions in the last twenty-four hours. Even before Karl Rove said it around lunchtime, it was obvious who our next President would be. I listened to the speeches of both McCain and Obama, then went to bed. I went right to sleep. Why? Well, I was tired! And, I know Who is ultimately in charge.
This morning I have struggled to articulate my own feelings about the situation, which is why I want to encourage you to read Al Mohler’s post from today. Mohler is a master wordsmith and I could never say it quite the way He did, so read…
America Has Chosen a President.
Barack Obama has been declared, at this point, President-elect of the United States. My reaction? Welcome. I didn’t choose him, but God did. I could not and did not vote for him because of some serious values-clashes. But now, It’s time for us to prayerfully support the man God has chosen for this position. Let’s be obedient to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 and undergird him in prayer daily. God has granted us this man as President in His sovereign wisdom. We may agree or not, but “the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1-5)
Now is the time for believers in Christ to pursue the lost with a white-hot passion. We need to reach the soul of America by reaching souls in America with the gospel. Whatever you think of the outcome of this election, this is an historic moment. My six-year-old will grow up under the first African-American president in America’s history.
I won’t belabor this point, but I think the Republican party has kind of blown this election on a number of fronts. I perceived McCain to attack and Obama to simply react to the attacks with attacks of his own – the fault, in my estimation, usually fell on McCain in that regard. I also think McCain and the Republicans failed to properly estimate the power of open media in this presidential race. The blogosphere, micro-blogging in particular, and the fund-raising successes of social networking made an enormous difference in the race. If you don’t see the power of new media evident now, you must be stuck in the 1980’s.
It’s a great privilege to be an American. I got to go to the voting booth today and voice my own opinion. Sunday, I’ll get to attend church and carry my Bible. Daily, we walk in the freedom purchased with the price of the blood of men passionate about the cause of liberty. Thank God for all of this, and thank God for our leaders – may God lead and carry them, and may we become a nation God can truly smile upon.
photo credit: bobster1985