The Doctrines of Grace: Unconditional Election
I remember it clearly, what I like to call my Damascus experience. The moment that God impressed on my heart that He loved me, and I got it. Something finally clicked, and that something would take me on a journey over the next year that would change the way I saw God, and the way I saw myself.
I am somewhat of a perfectionist, who if you ask my mother is too hard on herself. That is probably true, and I can be quite legalistic when it comes to my own actions. Daily I find myself in the throws of sin, and by nighttime, profusely apologetic and self- condemned. Romans 8:1 while basically ingrained into my brain, I didn’t believe it. I wanted to be good enough, and I didn’t understand why I was, I am, such a sinner, and finally, God put a stop to my self-condemnation.
I was headed to Amarillo, Texas to pick up a friend at the airport, when I decided to listen to a podcast by John Piper. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what it was about, but as I was driving, I began to think about my past, and my present, and what I do that is right, and what is wrong, and it just hit me, like a flood of emotion all at once. It hit me so hard that I had to pull the car over. “I knew you”.
Suddenly the obvious was real. Before I was born, God knew the mistakes I would make daily. He knew the times I would turn my back on Him, and choose the world. As I began to flood myself in self-condemnation, God put a stop to it. 3 words, over and over, impressed on my heart. “I knew you” and I finally understood.
God knows me, he knows me in my past, he knows me in my present and He knows my future. Regardless of myself, and all the minute mistakes I make daily, God loves me, and God loves you. My understanding of this truth began my journey into reformed theology.
I had never heard the acronym TULIP before, and before this moment, I would have argued until I was blue in the face about unconditional election. There are so many things about the concept of unconditional election that I didn’t understand, and I am still learning, however, the more I dive into it, the more I see it as a biblical truth.
So what is unconditional, or sovereign election?
Unconditional Election is defined as that God saves us because of his sovereignty, nothing we can do will ever change that. We can’t earn our salvation, we can’t lose our salvation, we are elect and chosen.
When discussing the concept of predestination, the first thing people usually say is that it isn’t fair. When you look at it biblically, however, the only thing that really isn’t fair is that God sent his Son to die for sinners like you and me. We all deserve hell, but by God’s sovereign grace, he chooses some. The Bible is very clear on this issue in Romans chapter 9. Paul goes to the story of Jacob and Esau, which is told in Genesis 25. Paul Says
For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election might stand— not from works but from the One who calls—she was told: The older will serve the younger. As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau. Romans 9:11-13 (HCSB)
My first thought on the surface was, how is this even fair? How come a loving God would choose some, and not choose others? The first thing we must remember, when questioning these things is that we are created for God, for His glory and His purposes, plain and simple. God is sovereign.
Paul continues to say in verses 14:18:
What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! For He tells Moses:
I will show mercy
to whom I will show mercy,
and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion.
So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. For the Scripture tells Pharaoh:
I raised you up for this reason
so that I may display My power in you
and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.
Everything God does has a purpose. Sometimes we may not understand things, it even says in Deuteronomy 29:29 that the secret things belong to the Lord. What we do know is we can trust God and his sovereignty.
Another question that often comes up when discussing predestination is that of evangelism. If God has already chosen whom He will save, then what is the point of evangelism? The simple answer to that is obedience. Christ not only gave us a command of evangelism, but we don’t know who God is chosen. God may use you as an instrument to draw others to Him.
Again Paul states in Romans 10:
“How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Romans 10:14–15 ESV)
Our job is twofold, to trust, and to obey. We can trust in the mercy and goodness of God, and rest in His sovereignty. And because of this, we can’t keep His grace and mercy to ourselves, how beautiful are the feet are those who preach the good news. Celebrate His grace, celebrate that you are chosen, loved, and will never be outside the grip of His grace.