Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Little Bedside Reflection

Wisteria Cross

I have not been sick in a long time. Ah, well. Today finds me snuggled in bed on the Sabbath. A cup of homemade tea on my nightstand… raspberry, strawberry, violet and mint leaves with a dash of purple clover flowers, steeped to get-well perfection.

And on my lap (‘til I traded it for the laptop) has been John H. Walton’s Genesis Commentary, compliments of Zondervan.

What better way to spend a sniffly Sabbath? Good tea and good commentary.

In the midst of it all, I had this irresistible urge to write to you. (Pardon me if I sneeze along the way. It might be the symptoms of my illness, or it might be a nervous reaction when broaching a topic of some controversy.)

L.L., you say, “What topic of controversy?” I whisper back, “Election. Not like in who I think will be elected for president… Obama, or Giuliani, or Clinton, but like in election for salvation.”

I suppose this is not a suitable topic for a sick person to approach. Indeed, the healthy and good-natured Craver hosted a lively and friendly discussion on Calvinism last week, which brought up the issue of election.

At the time, as part of one comment, I said…

Abraham was chosen so his people could bring blessing to all people. Eventually, the Israelites lost sight of why they were "chosen." 

I wonder if we too are "elected", not as a club invitation but as chosen ones to go out and bring blessing to the rest of the world... "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation..." (2 Cor 5:18)

Imagine my surprise when I fell upon this, then, today in Walton…

But the larger question concerns the purpose of the covenant. God could make promises without a covenant. The covenant included election, so we must ask, election to what (if not salvation)?

…the structure of Genesis directs our attention to the issue of
revelation. Since the knowledge of God had been lost and the concept of God distorted [see Gen. 1-11], God determined to embark on a program of revelation. Abram and his family were elected as instruments of that revelatory program…[Gen 12]” (p.52)

I can hear you now. “Egads, L.L.! Take a nap! Don’t start in with something like this!”

So let me reassure you. I’m not trying to start another discussion on Calvinism. And I’m not in any condition for heated debate. I want, instead, to focus on a practical matter.

See, I find it interesting that Paul structures Romans 1-11 similarly to Genesis 1-12, in the sense that he first sets up the premise that knowledge of God has been lost and distorted. Then he launches into this very confusing (I think) discussion of what we call election.

So, here’s the rub. If Paul is potentially saying that we are elected, not unto salvation, but for the purposes of revelation, how would this affect us on a practical level? I’m going to suggest that the answer begins in Romans Chapter 12.

And, I ask that you have mercy on me, a sick person, and just play along regardless of your theological bent. In other words, I am looking for refreshment, in a discussion that compares the PRACTICAL differences that issue from one view or the other… election unto salvation versus election unto the task of revelation. (It is true that you may have to read Romans 12 in order to play along.)

Okay, and now I see I misled you. This was not a little bedside reflection. It was, indeed, one of the longest posts I’ve ever done. Oh…. pardon me… aaaaaacccchhhoooo!!!

Wisteria Cross photo, by L.L. Barkat.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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Blogger christianne said...

That last sneeze made me laugh. :)

Very interesting subject! I'll say right from the start that I'm not convinced they are mutually exclusive. Why can't God be after both -- election unto salvation AND election unto revelation? Like, maybe He elects us to salvation AND THEN asks us to be revelators. (I think I just made up that word, but you get what I mean.)

That aside, I was glad for my attention to be drawn to Abraham as revelator. It's always been very clear to me that Christ brought about reconciliation between man and God and also to ALL men and God, and it's also very clear throughout Paul's letters that he (Paul) was specifically called to minister to the Gentiles. He talks a lot about breaking down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, and he calls himself a minister of the mystery that God made known to him, which is that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs (see Ephesians 3:1ff -- oh look, now you DID make me retrieve my Bible off the shelf!).

All that to say that I've known for some time that the great mystery of the ages (maybe even the mystery spoken of in Hebrews 11, which our forefathers never saw) was that God would gather all things unto Himself -- even those not originally called -- which allows those of us who were not of the originally called to partake -- and that is something I give thanks for often, because I am a Gentile.

When I first started writing this (already very long) comment, I was thinking that my thinking had to change because of the Abraham Factor . . . but now I am seeing that it doesn't have to change. It just has to broaden to include God's even greater genius -- that He was intending Christ, who would bridge all things and include all people, from the very beginning.

I don't know if this has anything to do with what you were intending in your post, in terms of inviting comments on a practical level. Oh well.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Rom. 12- "offer yourselves (will, body, intellect, emotions, everything) as a living and holy sacrifice."
If watching (or participating in) that process is not a revelation of the power of Christ to save and renew... something is terribly wrong.

It's an interesting concept though, to think perhaps He saved me more for HIS glory and reknown, than for my own salvation. The consumer-driven, selfish part of me likes to think that I'm a jewel in His crown (He does consider me a joy, granted). But I've an inkling that I'm a drop in the bucket compared to the ultimate purpose of the glory of the Lord filling the earth. The fact that He saved me as a part of revealing His glory is the cherry on top. It didn't have to happen. I'm glad to be along for the ride though.

I'm not very deep on this Sunday afternoon.

Sorry to read you're sick. :(

6:10 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I like this post and you in your sick theologicalness (gotta watch those modifiers!).
I agree with your thoughts. I think it also helps us muddle through the mess of Rom 9 and Jacob and Esau and Pharaoh and God's purpose for them. And, Erin, I think you hit that nail with our conforming to Christ. After all, we are Christ's body (and it's interesting that Paul uses the same language here as he does in Ephesians in the discussion of the body and it's purpose). The more we conform, the more we work together as Christ's body. The more we work together as Christ's body, the better we reveal His character, the better we, as a community, not just individually, reveal the Imago Dei.
One of the things I've been thinking a lot about is our Christian lingo: asking Christ into our lives. Um, shouldn't it be more of us joining Christ's life. In Rev. 19, the bride joins Christ, not the other way around. This is hard. I like my life. But I need to be about my Father's work.
You know, in doing my Abe and Sarah study, I'm struck by the Lord's Prayer. It's all about His establishing His kingdom of good on earth, and for some odd reason, he wants to use us. He's an odd God, that One.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., I really liked your comments as I looked over Craver's post some days back. I think you did better than I would've done.

And I really like that NIV Applicat Commentary by Walton. I think I've read it once. Need to go over it again.

I do see election as God tapping us to be a part of his grand solution in his work of salvation in Christ. Of course we don't merit that, it's all in Christ. But in that we become no less than a part of Christ as his Body in this world, called to mission as his presence in bringing God's kingdom of love into people's lives and into the world at large.

Hope you're feeling better very soon!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

I hope you feel better soon! Rest is good.

Very interesting thoughts. I find the concept of election in it's most rigid form quite disturbing. For me, it completely takes away the relationship. If I have no choice in it, how can I enter into a deep and holy love with God? How can obedience be any more than rule following? And if it's all decided anyway, what's the point? I may as well stay in bed and wait for Jesus to come back.

I do believe I was chosen by Christ. I also believe I had a choice to believe or not. I also believe God wants ALL people to come to repentance -- He wants a relationship with each precious life He created. Will all believe? No. But I believe He woos us all through every good thing on this earth. The mountains scream at us -- worship! Recognize God's majesty!

And I believe I have a responsibility to do good on this earth -- to make Christ known, to leave the world better for my presence, not worse, and to give hope and help to the suffering.

10:53 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne... glad to cheer you with a sneeze! I think that your mention of bringing in those who were outside the promise is important. It causes me to question what election really means and, therefore, what the outgrowth of that is.

In other words, if I am chosen for salvation, this means a game of favorites by God. But if I come to God by free will choice, responding to His wish that All be saved, then it's different. It's not that I'm elected for salvation. It's that, once I come to salvation, I (and the rest of the church) am elected to do a very special job: reveal Christ to the world. How does Chapter 12 suggest I might do this, on a practical level? (Yeah, asking you to go back to your bible again!) Yet again, if I am elected by a game of favorites (which is certainly also possible and scripturally defensible), does this change anything on a practical level?

Erin... interesting thought that our participation in the holy life may be to reveal God's power. That's what you're saying, yes?

Heather... I like that idea about us joining Christ's life. In what way might this reveal God to the world?

Ted... becoming Christ's body in the world. Makes me consider what Christ's body did, and for whom and how. This surely must have practical implications for my own life.

Llama... so are you saying that if you were elected "unto salvation" this would affect you on a practical level by making you feel uninspired about the relationship? And, furthermore, that you would feel uninspired about living in certain Christian ways? I wonder, for instance, how this compares to the analogy of a family. I have no choice about who my children are, and they have no choice about who their parents are...

11:58 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

"Elected by a game of favorites?" It is difficult for me to say that without sneering.

I don't find sovereign grace contemptible, and I don't feel like a pawn. Instead, I am humbled, being on equal par with all of humanity. In and of myself, I am no better than those who have not been saved, but God, for His own reasons, plucked me from my deserved wrath and redeemed me, and He must receive all the credit for my salvation.

I have no "free-will" bootstraps by which to pull myself up. I was dead in my transgressions, not just sick.

Adam was the only one who had "free will" the way most of us understand it. Augustine said of Adam, he had the potential to sin, as well as the potential to not sin. (posse pecare/posse non-pecare) After the Fall, mankind lost that, and now we do not have the potential to not sin. (non-posse non-pecare)

When R.C. Sproul talks about free will, he says that we DO all have free will, except that when he defines it as the ability to choose anything that we want, he is quick to mention that apart from God's election, we are unable to want God or seek to glorify Him.

Romans 12 (as anything) is best understood in its context. For that, I would recommend a careful consideration of Romans 9 for God's position, and Romans 1 for our position.

Get well soon.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Craver, L.L. & company,

In this discussion there is language used that seems to assure one side is right and the other wrong. I don't think one can be so assured.

Take dead in sins. There's another passage that ties dead to being asleep in Ephesians (5). There's a call to wake up and rise from the dead so that Christ would shine on them.

Christians across the board believe God's grace through Christ underlies all and that apart from that grace no one would choose God's way. (Unless you're Pelagian, and then you're not Christian)

I find either the thought that we can simply choose the way like Adam did, or even that we can do nothing at all unless God does a work whereby we irresistibly repent and believe as two extremes, neither supported in the Story we find in Scripture.

Sorry if I'm wrong or for the belief I have! :)

3:07 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

"so are you saying that if you were elected "unto salvation" this would affect you on a practical level by making you feel uninspired about the relationship?"

Exactly. This ranks right up there with forcing my children to hug me. If I have to force the issue, it loses something.

"I have no "free-will" bootstraps by which to pull myself up. I was dead in my transgressions, not just sick."

Craver -- I was dead too. Completely. But I could still choose to wallow in a dead life rather than surrender to Christ and find real life. (And I did choose death for many years. I see now how God wooed me, and how I chose again and again to live in a pit.)

I will dig into those chapters in Romans, though, and read with an open heart. :-)

3:08 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

My little opinion on Romans 9-11, having gone over that book time and again, (doing so right now) and planning to do so many more times if I live a normal life span:

I believe God is addressing an attitude as well as a false belief that was held to by the Jews then, as well as warning Gentiles of falling into something similar from their own side. God wants them to have humility before him, knowing that it doesn't depend on human effort but on his mercy.

Yet at the same time, God shuts up all people unto disobedience and sin, in order that he might have mercy on them all, as this section at its end points out to us.

Of course Paul was dealing with the issue of Israel and what is up with them in what God was now doing through the gospel of Christ.

3:14 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

[sniffling and smiling]

hmmmm... I seem to have opened it up for theological position, when I was hoping to look more at what the practical outgrowths of either idea are.

Is it that there are no differences at the practical level? In other words, in the end, does it not really change anything in our actions if we embrace one side or the other?

4:20 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

So, this is strange. I'm sitting here and my TV just turned on by itself. Should I take this as some kind of heavenly sign?

4:30 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

About the TV: you should probably get out immediately.

But as for the practical applications? Okay, here are some applications from my own experience:
Increased humility and reverence. Thankful worship. Fearless evangelism. A greater dependence on prayer when I want to see someone come to faith. There is a different way that I pray (for the unsaved), as well. I don't so much ask God to give me the words, but instead, that God opens their eyes, ears and heart, and that He draw them to Himself. Then I respond with obedience. I don't start a gospel presentation by saying that "God loves you." That seems to confuse people. Instead, I begin by stating that "God is holy."

4:50 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Craver and company, The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. One's theology is one's theology, and that has its place, as we seek to rightly divide the Word of truth. But it's the Word that changes us, not our understanding of it.

To say one theology causes one to reverence God more and hold him more in awe or whatever, I think is not necessarily so at all. In fact God doens't seem to pay much attention to that, since Christians can be all matter of things in all the confessions, across the board. I'd say.

(Granted, poor theology exists. I wouldn't call John Calvin's theology poor. Nor would I think everyone has it all right in their theology.)

5:22 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

clarify: all matters of things in all the confessions (of the one faith): I meant they can fear God or love God equally as one that's a Roman Catholic, or Episcopalian, or Presbyterian, or Methodist, or etc., etc.

Didn't think my comment was clear as to what I meant.

Though I know Craver that you mean that your theology from that understanding of Scripture lends itself more to what you're saying. I'm not so sure of that.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read through all the comments, and this discussion is interesting indeed. I like your continual push, LL, to see how our beliefs on election make any difference in how we live.

I have always appreciated Paul's words in 2 Timothy 2:9-10. "But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." The doctrine of election makes me so thankful and more reliant on God's power through his word, His Spirit, and His body. It has always seemed to be a mandate to bring others in also. "Blessed to be a blessing" has been a favorite phrase of mine.

Oh, how I hope you are feeling better, too! Thanks for your kind email last week.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Taliesin said...


Let me echo Craver's comments with slightly different wording.

If I believe I have been elected to reveal God, then it is up to me and my effort to accomplish that task. Romans 12ff becomes an obligation for the gospel to be successful. If this seems an unreasonable conclusion, these are the words of Charles Finney, the great Arminian evangelist of the 1800's:

At every step you tread on chords that will vibrate to all eternity. Every time you move, you touch keys whose sound will reecho all over the hills and dales of heaven, and through all the dark caverns and vaults of hell. Every movement of your lives, you are exerting a tremendous influence that will tell on the immortal interests of souls all around you.

If I believe I have been elected to salvation through God revealing Himself to the heart of sinners, then I become an instrument that He uses to accomplish that task. Romans 12ff is just a response of love, joy and freedom in Christ, and God can use both my success and failures. Likewise, then, I can take no credit for my successes. I cannot notch my belt if someone responds to the gospel; I can only praise God for His grace and mercy in saving a soul.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Taliesin, I speak only for myself and hopefully am not hijacking this blog of L.L.'s.

Charles Finney and his statement is representative only of the theology he came up with on his own. It is bereft of the rich orthodoxy of the past, since he was reacting to churches that he thought were doing nothing to evangelize souls. In fact Finney claimed that in other places one should preach the opposite and press on Divine Sovereignty where people are acting as if all depended on them.

Finney in my estimation is not to be taken serioiusly as being a theologian; he was not. But was rather an evangelist who was trying to give the gospel in a way that people would hear. Not that I justify all he did or said.

Go to John Wesley and pick on him, if you want to pick on a real Arminian, is my challenge! :)

6:13 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

I just have to chime in with a book recommendation on the subject. I was a free-will evangelist through and through growing up, never knowing much different and thinking those Calvinists and their "TULIP" acronym just plain weird.

Until I read a book a couple years ago, given by a friend, called "The Pleasures of God: God's Delight in Being God" by John Piper. Some of you may know of Piper and begin your inward groans now. Some of you may not know him, and to you I recommend this book. It really turns everything you've ever thought about Calvinistic theology, about Jonathan Edwards's theology, and about the doctrine of election on its single-minded head.

To be blunt, it makes you see that this way of doing things, if indeed God did, is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.

Crazy, huh? I never thought such a thing possible.

And all that to say that I'm pretty much in the Craver camp with all this discussion -- but appreciate all the fodder for conversation, as well!

6:28 PM  
Blogger Taliesin said...


Wesley is an interesting figure. His statement about his conversion is one of the best descriptions of saving faith I think I've ever read:

I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

So to your earlier point, only this basic theology - to trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins - is necessary for salvation.

I'm not sure Wesley would agree that we are "elected to revelation" though. According to his notes on Ephesians 1, he sees election in terms of foreseen faith. So, for him, election is to salvation, but it is election based on God's omniscience and not election based on God's particular love for the elect.

I still think it puts more pressure on the individual to live up to a standard, though admittedly not to Finney's degree. This is evidenced, I think, by Wesley's view of Christian perfectionism.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Jennwith2ns said...

I ended up feeling overwhelmed and not perusing all of the last comments thoroughly. (Also, unlike LL's TV, my computer might spontaneously shut OFF.)

But I wanted to say this discussion is fascinating (if overwhelming). And also to say: I grew up much more Calvinistic than I am now, though I wouldn't really consider myself an Arminian either. I don't know that, on a practical level, my shift in position has altered the way I evangelise, though. If anything about THAT has changed, I think it has more to do with growing up than with theology.

I would say, in spite of leaning a little more toward the human freewill aspect (while still asserting and believing the sovereignty of God), I am both more assertive and more relaxed in my presentation of the Gospel, most of the time. Believing that God grants us free will doesn't mean that I think MY free will is going to convert someone. I have to be faithful to reveal the grace God has granted to me, but it's between the other person and God as to what he or she does with it.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Talesin, Good words back.

like any theologian, my take (ha) doesn't follow suit, and that certainly goes for John Wesley (likewise for Martin Luther, our denomination is Lutheran in its roots; and Menno Simons, I was raised Mennonite and find myself coming back to my anabaptist roots in some ways). Human theology can never be placed on the same category with Scripture, and must always be measured by it.

So Wesley did work on what level we can live in God's perfect love through grace in this life. I think if you read all of Wesley you'll find him much better balanced in taking in Scripture than some of his followers. But I dont' know if we do well to simply follow any one theology, though we may very well largely do that.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I meant with regard to any theologian my take doesn't follow suit. I did not mean to say I'm a theologian, because in the sense I was speaking of here, I am certainly not.

But only in the sense in which we're all theologians.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I do think we need to major in seeing Scripture as Story and only very secondarily trying to draw out some theological system. We have to look at what is happening in the Story of God and draw conclusions from didactic material (as in Romans) based on, or in interactivity with that.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

which in reality, I believe is what the letter to the Romans is actually doing, itself.

10:37 PM  
Blogger spaghettipie said...

Interesting discussion; I enjoy hearing everyone's comments.

Personally, here's what I gain from each perspective on a more practical level:

The Calvinistic viewpoint draws out humility, awe and gratefulness. When I view Scripture through the lens of TULIP, I am amazed that God would chose me, humbled that He would elect me, such a wretched being and so grateful for his grace and mercy.

The non-Calvinistic viewpoint brings out my desire to love Him well, my hope and my heart for the world. When I view Scripture through that lens, I want to love God well, abiding in Him, obeying His commands because He has been so gracious to me. I feel free to do so, not as "pre-determined" but because I want to, choose to. And my heart aches for the world to know the Savior that I know, and who I know wants to know the whole world.

I'm not saying those responses are exclusive only to the viewpoints I associate them with, but you asked me how it makes a difference on a practical level for me. For me, if I chose one viewpoint over the other, then I do struggle with how to retain my natural responses to the rejected viewpoint (for example, I struggle with election to salvation fostering a heart for the world)

I don't believe that these concepts are necessarily in contradiction to each other. Somehow, I think they work together in a way that we just can't understand or articulate. Some of that has to do with the fact that God does not think of time in the same way we do. We only think linearly - but God is beyond our linear time. We often confine ourselves to cause and effect - but God is larger than simple cause and effect.

And one more note on an exceptionally long comment (although that seems to be the trend here...), I don't think "free will" necessarily indicates merit. Just because I have free will to make a decision, does not mean that I deserve the outcome or received the outcome based upon the merit of my choice. Additionally, I think we mistakenly interchange "free will" for the concept of "I chose for Christ to enter my life." Perhaps it's more like I have the free will to decide that I would like for Christ to save me, and so I ask Him if He will. It is then His sovereign choice to say yes or no. His response has nothing to do with my merit or worth, but it does require me to ask.

Just some thoughts...

11:25 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Spaghetti... something about your last statement reminded me of Jesus' question to the lame man... "do you want to be made well?" When the man tried to say yes (what he said was more like a sorrowful "but how could I ever be?"), Jesus told him to stand up, take his mat, and walk. (See John 5)

6:00 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

And now, oh my! I see that a wonderful party began in my absence (I was off at a homeschool Recognition Night for my little ones... and you can bet that I was beaming, even through my sniffles.)

Of course, I cannot possibly answer each of you individually as I usually do (well, I suppose I could, but that would be a long comment indeed). I want to stop the music for a moment to welcome Taliesin, a first timer at a Seedlings party. Cheers!

And I'm so invigorated by all this discussion. This is the kind of gathering I simply love. (I'm from a family that loves to discuss things, sometimes loudly and always with passion).

So just two things. One is that I've begun to muse about the nature of Abraham's "chosenness" and what it required of his life (and, by extension, Israel's life after him).

And, two. Christianne mentioned that Craver has a camp. That is SO COOL! Craver, will we be doing s'mores at the bonfire?

6:20 AM  
Blogger Halfmom said...

we must have our bonfire in Craver's backyard, sans chemicals.

I cannot say that I have a "track" and even though I continue to read and think about this question of election and the one of free-will, I have decided it is much too high a question for me to understand. I am rather hoping for parallel train train tracks that, although they appear not to ever cross, end up at the same place in heaven.

I do hope that you are feeling much better this morning with no headache, sniffles or tiredness - afterall, you have writing to do, yes?

8:39 AM  
Blogger christianne said...

Oooh! Oooh! I love your new question about Abraham and what his chosenness required of his life. Now THAT'S a question that I think could spark some practically-speaking discussion!

8:42 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

Oh, and I guess that means I should throw my hat into the ring with some kind of response.

I think Abraham's chosenness -- and a keen sense of it he had, didn't he! -- would play itself out in a singleminded focus, or at least a real clarity on what his focus should be. I don't think he'd be pussyfooting around with his lattes, designer sunglasses, and SUV all spiffed out with chrome rims. I think he'd know that inordinate (or any?) attention to such things (whatever such things translate into in the pre-Promised Land world -- chariots? camels? frankincense and myrrh?) would be sincerely Off-Purpose to what God's after.

Just makes me wonder how specific God is with callings such as these on our individual lives these days. It's not like he called Sarai out in a similar conversation . . . and yet we can clearly see that being "on-purpose" for her would be to be the woman through whom all nations are blessed, and to be the wife and mother to the key men involved.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

The Scriptures don't really indicate that Yahweh GAVE Abram a choice as to whether or not he even wanted to be chosen. God came to Him, said "I choose you. I will be your God and you will be my people and I will make you a great nation. You will bring my glory to the Earth. Now, follow me to the place I will show you." Not a whole lot of discussion on Abraham's part. He just followed. Election or free will?

Here's what I see as Abraham's practical role as one chosen by God.

- Let someone else (your younger nephew) have the choice land to live in. Know that you are chosen by Me and will be taken care of, even in the wilderness.

- Wait on my timing for the fulfillment of the promised child. Walk by faith, not by sight. Because your human mind can't comprehend the redemption of 90 year old reproductive organs, know that I am omnipotent and can do all things.

- Now offer up this long-awaited Promise Child to me. I gave him to you, I would like him back now. Trust that, again, even though your finite mind can't see it's way clear for the Promise to go forth... I will make a way.

And all these things were credited to him as righteousness. (Hebrews) I find it interesting that, again, the indication is that these things were CREDITED to him, not necessarily something that he earned on his own merit. Election or free-will?

Going back to Romans 12 and offering myself on the altar of worship... I feel like my "free will" expression might be when I chose to submit to Christ. To offer up myself, my life and my agenda with an open hand.

The thing about free will that makes me uncomfortable is a situation in which Job found himself. If I chose to come to Christ, I'd have a sense of entitlement. ("You can't treat me like this, after all, I CHOSE to join your side!")
God would say what He said to Job, "Where were you when I formed the Earth's foundation? Where were you when I set the stars in place? Where were you when I set the leopard running? Where were you when I taught the bird's their song?"
Um, me? Nowhere.

One of the things that makes God worthy of our worship is the fact that He is omni-everything and completely outside of us, unanswerable to any of us. That's why He's God.

That's a hodge podge if I ever wrote one.
Still thinking on the practical outflow of being chosen- whether salvation or revelation or both. What does it look like for me? I'll be back. (I hope.)

9:46 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

From the outside, I might initially expect that one who believes in election unto revelation would be more concerned with spreading the gospel and helping others to believe than one who believes that those who are predestined to be saved are saved, and those who are not predestined can never be saved. However, a closer look shows that, in fact, the usual tangles in the 'free will' debate may well erase that distinction. Even if we have no absolute free will and can only act according to our own desires (but cannot choose those desires), this does not erase the impact that others have on us. While it may be true that each person ultimately has some level on which they can choose neither their disposition nor the things that will impact them, the impact is still real.

So even though another person cannot choose to have you do something that has the impact of bringing them to Christ (as an atheist I naturally feel a paradoxical desire to say 'heaven forbid' to that thought, but never mind), and even though it may be true that, ultimately, your own decision to try to bring them to Christ is entirely dependent on your disposition and impacts on you over which you had not control, still the impact is real.

Am I making sense?

If so, then, to return to the designated subject of this discussion, it seems to me that those who believe themselves to have been elected to revelation really, in practical terms, have only one extra reason to try to convert others -- the belief that they themselves have been elected for that purpose specifically (as opposed to, say, that purpose as a secondary purpose, or maybe even not for that purpose particularly at all).

Those with compassion will of course have ample reason to try to impact other people to avoid eternal damnation anyway. According to either doctrine (unless you believe everyone will go to heaven), the compassion of God Himself is limited in that regard, but that's a different topic, so I won't go there.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I'm not sure what to make of this idea of being elected for revelation.

It is a beautiful thing that Lynet has taken the effort to understand things from a perspective that is not her own. There is an adult quality to her logic and tone. I will keep trying to do the same.

I must admit that I did not hesitate to ponder deeply how this gospel machine works before hopping in and driving around. The machine I refer to is "witnessing." Having discovered something desirable, I was motivated to share it. Jesus said, "Go." That was all I needed to begin telling people the limited amount that I knew. It was later, that I took a look under the hood and spent time exploring some of the how's and why's of the engine.

Thankfully, God does not need us to have perfect theology before we can start being used by Him. To an extent, I feel like I can vicariously see myself in the miracle of the blind man in John chapter nine. He admitted that he did not know how to answer the pharisees' questions. He said, "One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" (v.25b)

12:00 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...


Excellent point and well said. Amen!

12:14 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne... I love how you put Abraham into the modern setting with the images of SUV's, etc. And I wonder if he was as purposeful as we often give him credit for. Once, a friend of mine suggested to me that the reason it took Abraham so long to get to the promised land is that he was not terribly trusting or purposeful. And that it was not until he began to be that he came into the inheritance God had wanted to give him right from the beginning.

Erin... I really enjoyed your exposition. Perhaps it's not so important for us to answer the question, election or free will, as it is for us to look at what Lynet mentions... the impact of all these things on their lives and, later, on the life of the world.

Lynet... I like your mention of Impact. There is a sense in which none of this matters, if we are impacting others in negative ways due to our beliefs.

And I also now realize that in my ill-state I did not really express myself well in my initial post. I did not mean that God goes 'round choosing specific people (though in some cases, as with Paul, I think he did) to bring a specific message of revelation. I guess I meant that, even if we come to him with free will, we come to a faith that has an elected "requirement", that is, to allow him to reveal himself to the world through us. In this, we can take no credit for the glory he reveals in us, just as the lame man, in wanting to be healed, could still take no credit for the healing power that made his legs move.

Craver... thank you for that word of wisdom! Yes, we enjoy working out our beliefs, discussing them together, and trying to handle the word of God well. But, thank God, we don't have to get it all "right" before he can use us. (Um, are you working on those s'mores?)

12:33 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

I don't have too much time to post a lengthy response right now (and maybe that is best! Lord knows I can be verbose sometimes!), but I do want to respond to your friend's thought about Abraham taking so long to get to the PL because he wasn't so trusting. I just can't help but think about His immediate response to God in being called in the first place -- to accept the calling and go -- as well as what Romans and Hebrews say about him. He is the FATHER of our faith -- everything we as believers who've been grafted in have is due to his faith that was accounted to him as righteousness.

Come to think of it, in terms of your practicality question, I wonder if faith is really the bottom line to all of it. It wasn't his works (read: practical stuff) that got him anywhere -- and you're right; there are a number of places where he screws things up royal; poor Sarah! -- it was his faith, and that was sufficient, nay, more than enough.

6:18 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne... isn't it comforting to think that we could be remembered as a "father" of faith, even with so much failure? Kind of like being called a "man after God's own heart" even after sleeping with a good married Jewish woman. Or a "man who spoke with God face to face" after killing an Egyptian.

Sure, there were consequences (maybe Abraham's prolonged journey to the promised land, definitely David's son dying, and definitely Moses being barred from the promised land), but they still were dearly loved by God and remembered with honor. Now there's a great paradox if ever there was one.

7:21 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Side note about Moses: that consequence I mentioned was not from the Egyptian incident, but from hitting a rock rather than commanding it.

7:22 PM  
Blogger christianne said...

You're right, LL. That's what blows me the heck right out of my head sometimes in coming to know our God.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

To be fair, Craver, I don't believe in free will either, so I've had to think about some of this stuff already in a secular context :)

11:30 PM  

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