Friday, February 6, 2015

Bump--God Says So!

Last night I read a chapter in Things That Go Bump In The Church dealing with the largely unpopular doctrine of election. Pastor Mike Abendroth of Bethlehem Bible  Church in West Boylston,  Massachusetts examines this controversial topic by demonstrating God's inherent right to choose who becomes a Christian and by making the connection  between election and God's love.

Several years ago, I would have balked at the doctrine of election, undoubtedly fabricating arguments against Abendroth's assertions. My arguments, of course, would most likely have been based more on emotional reasoning (how's that for an oxymoron?) than Scripture, mostly because Scripture pretty much makes election an inescapable fact. Beneath my blustering excuses to believe in free will, however, I primarily objected to the concept of election because it assaulted my pride. It put God, rather than me, in control.

Abendroth goes even deeper in evaluating why election threatens our sense of control:
If you do not believe in unconditional election, it is because you have a problem grasping the depravity of man and what happened when our federal head, Adam, sinned. The solution to your mental difficulties with a God selecting some is found in the moral corruptness of man. If man were good enough to save himself, the crucifixion was a cruel execution of the Son for no reason at all. Spiritually dead people need to be made alive by a sovereign act of God Himself.
He's right. As much as I'd always given lip-service to the depravity of man, only rarely did I honestly see my own spiritual bankruptcy. And even when I did acknowledge the depth of my sin nature, I craftily managed to twist even that moment of humility into pride at my ability to  recognize  my wretchedness. As a result, I always subtly congratulated myself on 1) accepting my need for a Savior and 2) giving my life to Jesus.

Scripture sharply contrasts my self-congratulatory illusions.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. ~~Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV)
As Abendroth points out in his examination of the above passage from the  Bible, God chose His elect "before the foundation of the world." We had no opportunity, at that time, to participate in our salvation. Furthermore, our salvation took place, not for our benefit, but "according to the purpose of His will." Our salvation, therefore, is more about the Lord than about us.

Yet He wondrously loves us! His love for me baffles me (as well it should), but it also causes me to adore Him for His grace and mercy. Nothing in me can ever merit His election, so His choice to  save me, to make me a recipient of His love, floods me with the desire to worship and serve Him. Even that desire results from His Holy Spirit's activity in my heart, and thus glorifies Him. Abendroth's chapter on election intensified my joy and amazement at God's generosity in saving someone as unworthy as me. What a gracious God!

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