Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cultural vs grace driven Christians

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of "Christianity" in *America:

1.     Cultural Christianity
2.     Grace driven Christians

The first is more a world view. The second is a status or state of being, if you will. 

A. Cultural Christianity recognizes certain fundamentals truths of the Christian faith. The most basic and common elements are...

·         Man has the capacity for good but is naturally inclined toward bad i.e. corrupt by nature
·         There are moral absolutes i.e. there is right and wrong and it doesn’t change.
·         Man should be and will be held accountable for his choices and actions if not in this life, the next

These are also very important and distinct from a none Christian world view which generally asserts or assumes

·         Man is basically good and corrupted by his environment (vs from within).
·         Morality is relative and subjective. What is right for you is not necessarily right for me or others.
·         This life is all there is so make the most of it 

The fundamental differences of cultural Christianity are very significant when compared to a non Christian world view. As a result, how a cultural Christian approaches life is very different compared to a non believer.

B. Grace driven Christianity is rooted in the good news that God did all that was needed to restore us to himself simply because we were not able to. It agrees with and holds to the same fundamental truths as the Cultural Christian but goes beyond these i.e. these cultural aspects will be a key part of a grace driven Christian's world view but is not the essence of what drives or defines them. 

This distinction is important for two reasons:

1.     Non Christians do not understand the difference and therefore lump these two into the same group. Why does this matter? Many attitudes and approaches to various cultural issues can be very different between cultural and grace driven Christians. As a result grace driven Christians are attributed certain outlooks they don’t necessarily agree with.

2.     Those who adhere only to cultural Christianity usually do not necessarily understand or agree with the message of grace and may in fact be Christian only culturally;in how they view the world and not in fact Christian in the fullest sense i.e. may not be true believers.

So the differences are not immediately apparent on the surface to a none believer (or even necessarily for those who claim to be Christians). It’s not until you look “under the hood” that you see the difference of what drives these superficially similar yet very different flavors of Christianity. 

So is cultural Christianity truly Christian? Yes, in so far as it adheres to these fundamental principles but no in so far as ones standing before God as his child is based on God’s work, not ours. To say it another way, their views my be Christian, but this alone does not make them a Christian as defined by scripture. The bible is clear that one’s standing before God is based on the good news of grace and accepting it’s offer, not in only adhering to a certain world view or moral standards. 

For a grace driven Christian these views are also held to but are the fruit of their relationship to God, not the cause of it. It is only by grace we are saved. 

*and elsewhere though this appears to be more common in the western church and particularly in America

** there can be some blending of world views between cultural Christians and non believers but generally if someone adheres to one of the distinguishing fundamentals of their particular world view, they tend to adhere to all of them i.e. they all tend to hang together or not at all

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

avoiding guilt and shame

Why do we avoid experiencing guilt and shame (i.e. acknowledging our shortcomings) with such great determination and energy? Because guilt and shame is crippling i.e. It makes us feel worthless. 

This goes against everything in us. We are not designed to feel worthless but are hard wired to experience greatness/glory (For more discussion in this see the links below).

It doesn't take much 

Guilt and shame is right below the surface of our feelings and easily exposed/surfaced with the slightest provocation. We are walking guilt and shame time bombs with a hairpin trigger. We see evidence of this with some of the items listed below. 

How do we avoid (or respond to) feelings of guilt and shame? Our options:

·         Lash out at those who cause them (play the victim...common today)
·         Avoid those who cause them (find a "safe space" which can be lonely since none of us are perfect).
·         Pretend they really don't exist i.e. It's all in our head.
·         Recognize and experience the removal of actual guilt and shame (not just the feelings) through the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf (the only permanent and real solution).

For a further discussion of the cause and removal of guilt and shame click here.

For a discussion on the futility of indulging in guilt and shame click here and here.

For a discussion on our being designed for greatness/glory click here and here

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

socialism or capitalism?

The limits of Socialism:

Socialism does not work without production/productivity i.e. you cannot give away what you do not have. Distribution (socialism/communism) of goods or services cannot occur without something to distribute. This requires productivity first. Socialists themselves admit a productive economic system (i.e. capitalism) must be in place first before socialism (redistribution) can be implemented.

In order for productivity to occur, several things must take place. For example in the production of bread, someone must plant, grow and harvest the grain, grind it, bag it, mix it, cut the wood and heat the stove to bake it, pick up and deliver the bread, put it on the shelf for sale, have a place (a store) with shelves to put it on display for customers to see and buy it. The store must also be a pleasant place to visit if you are to see the maximum patronage (or another store might offer a better buying experience and you lose customers) etc etc etc. There are many levels of effort/labor that go into the final product reaching the consumer. 

Giving away resources to others cannot occur without acquiring (gathering), utilizing and processing raw materials (and of course raw materials must be available to process). This is why it's often described as a redistribution of wealth. It's taking energy/resources/wealth from somewhere and transferring it somewhere else...somewhere different from the origin of the energy that produced those resources. 

Since pure socialism/communism redistributes instead of actually produces, it is parasitical in nature and design. It can not perpetuate itself i.e. it must have a "source" (host) to draw resources from in order to distribute those resources. If it incorporates productivity, it is not pure socialism by definition. Why? Because productivity (capitalism if you will) is considered exploitation in a pure socialist or communist model. 

The challenges of Capitalism:

Productivity (capitalism) on the other hand, can result (and often does but not necessarily) in either abuse of resources, or abuse of others in acquiring them. The is not true capitalism but rather the exploitation of it. This is also referred to as crony capitalism, which is what we typically see today. This corrupted form of capitalism leads to selfish consumption and hoarding instead of sharing/charity. Productivity combined with charity is actually the model promoted in the Bible. What I prefer to call free market productivity and exchange. 

This corruption of true productivity however does not negate the necessity of production proceeding distribution. Though capitalism addresses the problem inherent in socialism (having goods/resources to distribute) it poses it's own set of problems. 

Socialism and Capitalism are both right and wrong

The solution however isn't to oppose or shut down productivity/capitalism (the goose that lays the golden egg if you will) but to reassess charity (what is the most God honoring way to use those "golden eggs" he provides through our *productivity).

When productivity is only about personal/private consumption and does not take into consideration the importance of charity (benefiting others) it is not honoring to God. The principle in scripture is to freely give what we have freely received. Fundamental to charity is recognizing our ability to generate surplus (wealth) is a gift

Deu 8:17  Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' 18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.  19 And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 

And since it is a gift we must heed the wishes of the Giver i.e. the source of life and all things. Who gave us our resources and why did he give them? Certainly at least to take care of others he has put under our care. But what about those who are not directly tied to us or dependent on us? God calls us to give as we have received. To not do so is to violate the very person and nature of God himself who is the overflowing, giving, sacrificial God of love who is always pouring out his goodness on others. To do so aligns us with the greatest commandment to love our neighbor as our self. 

One of the most well-known statements made by Christ is, "...God so loved the world he gave…"  Jn 3:16

So the problem isn't being productive, it is being selfish. We are encouraging to be good stewards of the resource God gives us i.e. to use them as God directs. To put them to good use. Christ also said, "he who is faithful with a little is given more."

We can not assume (or condemn) those who seek to be productive do so solely for *personal consumption. That is definitely our tendency, but not necessarily the only motive or even the primary motive simply by virtue of someone being productive or having the desire to be productive. 

Institutional redistribution vs personal giving

Forced distribution is not the same thing as cheerful giving. An issue with socialism is it is "charity" at the end of the barrel of a gun, which is not true charity at all. This shuts down free association and free giving i.e. freely loving your neighbor. 

Redistribution of wealth is institutionalized "charity" versus individual or private giving/charity. It is using the power of the state to enforce "charity" which actually means it is no longer true charity. Some may not consider this as important as long as the person in need is cared for. But if dignity of the giver (as well as the receiver) is to be honored and maintained, both must freely participate. 

Difference in generations

How socialism is viewed has changed over the years. Many in the younger generations have little concept of lack that the generation before the Boomer generation experienced. The Boomer generation were closer to parents or grandparents who escaped communist or fascist oppression to seek life in "the land of the free and home of the brave." This was a major part of the "American Dream." Unfortunately over time, much of the material elements of that dream became more important than the familial elements to the point that with the Boomer generation both mom and dad worked and abandoned their kids to daycare, exhaustion and the like. This naturally produced a backlash. Kids born to the Boomers and even more so kids of Boomers rebelled to consumerism and saw the damage it was doing to family and the environment. Hence the rise of Bernie, socialism and environmentalism. In short the differences between generations is not that one generation is "dumb" and the other is not (as is often asserted by both sides of this debate). It's that the generations have a different value system, shaped by their individual experiences i.e. they value things that the other generation no longer value. 

The solution:

Since there must be resources (and the gathering, engineering and production of goods and services needed) before distribution can be made, pure socialism/communism can not work alone (some would argue socialism is the marriage of communism and capitalism). 

Since self preservation is bound up in the hearts of our fallen nature (resulting in not having a sense of or recognizing accountability to their Creator), focus on productivity alone will automatically lead to personal consumption and hoarding. 

So do we force those who are productive to share their resources with those who are less able to produce. OR do we encourage charity and seek to help man understand that all things are gifts from God and God gives to us in part, so we might in turn give to others. 

The latter is God's design i.e. to give because we have received. This is not something that government can or should implement. Government has proven to not be the best means of implementing charity. The same falleness that keeps private citizens from properly loving their fellowman also infects those in public life i.e. government. And in some ways even more so. As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

Caring for others is the role of the people who trust God and believe they will be held accountable for how they acquire and use all the things God entrusted to them. 

Even if one rejects God, most agree in the golden rule...do to others as you would have them do to you. 

The bottom line? 

Due to humanities natural (though fallen) inclination to take care of "number one" (self), there will never be complete utopia in this life (the goal of all economic systems).

This does not mean we should abandon loving others as we were designed to. However the only way we can be who God designed us to be is when we are fully connected to God, the source of life, love and all things i.e. The solution to the socialist/capitalist question isn't imposing or enforcing a particular economic model but is our being fully connected and aligned with God himself.

The solution is spiritual, not political or economic.
It is in first knowing God and then making him known; not just in word but in deed.

*We are clearly instructed in many places within the bible to be "fruitful." Most of these verse address spiritual fruit. However spiritual fruit translates into actions that often produce material fruit. In fact any action that produces material fruit should be driven spiritually i.e. by the Spirit.

For several posts addressing operating in the Spirit click here.

**There is nothing wrong with personal consumption by the way. Pursuit that is solely driven by personal consumption is our challenge. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

chosen for love, the essence and end of grace

The doctrine of election has been controversial since the early years of the church. The controversy first arose in the public eye through an ascetic moralist named Pelagius in the late 300's (380). During this time he began to challenge Augustine, the highly regarded Bishop of Hippo, and Augustine's emphasis on the total depravity of man. 

Basically Pelagius asserted man's will was not corrupted but free (I touch on this more in depth in several additional posts listed at the bottom). His view was eventually declared heretical by the Council of Carthage (418). 

For almost 1200 years there was no significant public debate on this teaching again until Dutch Theologian Jacobus Arminius (hence the label Arminianism) began questioning some of the points raised in John Calvin's "Institutesin the late 1500's and early 1600's. Ironically Calvin and Arminius never actually met or debated. Calvin in fact passed away a few years before Arminius even gained notoriety. It was not Calvin himself directly, but others who argued and asserted the now somewhat famous [or infamous] 5 points of Calvinism (which were actually 5 counter points to 5 questions raised by Arminius's followers in the Five articles of the Remonstrants). This occurred years after the death of both Arminius and Calvin. 

It's worth noting, Arminius was actually more "Calvinistic" then some realize. Today's Arminianism is far more afield of scripture (and Calvin) than Arminius himself but his conclusions did plant the seeds of what we have today.

Years later John Wesley (and to a lesser degree his brother Charles) the controversy arose again when Arminianism was promoted during the first Great Awakening in the early 1730's, resulted in it gaining a significant stronghold in the church in America. Though *George Whitefield (a committed Calvinistand the Wesley's started together in England what would be later called Methodism (so named primarily due to their disciplined and methodical approach to the Christian life) they were at odds over this doctrine during their entire ministry. John strongly opposed Whitefield on this and sought to engage Whitefield in debate several times over the years. Whitefield generally avoided the debate to avoid the controversy. For him the teaching of sovereign grace was something to be relished not debated. He even eventually relinquished full leadership of Methodism to John (though it can be argued that Whitefield was actually the greater influence in it's inception). 

Later towards the end of their ministries, John Wesley's brother Charles came around to a more Calvinist position and reconciled with Whitefield. It is also worth noting John did not directly oppose Whitefield personally but his adherence to a Calvinistic view. John actually shared his respect and praise of Whitefield's ministry at his funeral. 
*For those who assert a "Calvinist" view inhibits outreach (I prefer to call it a more biblical view), Whitefield was arguably the greater influence in the Great Awakening, though both he and the Wesley's played a key role. Whitefield spoke to crowds estimated as large as 30,000 at a time, preaching at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million listeners in the US and England. 

Controversy has obscured a vital truth

Because of this long standing historical debate that continues even today the key takeaway God intends from this biblical teaching has been somewhat obscured. 

What is that takeaway? 

God choosing us (i.e. election) is not about election per se (i.e. to debate it and try to make sense of it logically e.g. is it fair he picks some and not others etc), it is about love. Election is simply the means to that end for which we are chosen i.e. by and for loveThe focal point (end) in scripture is love, not the mechanism of election/salvation. To say it another way election is important in so far as it demonstrates the extend and nature of God's love for you and I personally

To say God chose you is saying he set his love upon you. He did so at his own expense, by no merit of your own and pursued you (by various means, be that his written or spoken word, the kindness of other believers, or other circumstances etc) until you finally saw, accepted and embraced him in love. 

God's specifically choosing you for a personal relationship with him, when clearly understood, is intended to communicate the most practical and impacting reality of the nature of God's personal love. God specifically "picking" us is simply the evidence of how personal his love is. "Election" is the means/mechanism by which we come into a personal relationship with him; knowing him to the fullest extend possible, is the end/goal

While hanging on the cross and taking our pain and suffering into his own body and soul, he had you in mind. In fact you have been on his mind from all eternity past. There wasn't a time he did not know of you (and have his good designs intended for you and set upon you). He had you in mind when his eternal plans were determined and made for Christ to restore you to himself. 

We have allowed ourselves to get so sidetracked and caught up by theological debate we miss out on the this most important truth; God didn't have just anyone in mind when he died to restore fallen men and women, he had you personally in mind.  

Knowing his love was fixed upon you from all eternity past communicates the intentionality and specificity of that love i.e. God is not only or just love generally, he loves you specifically, deliberately and personally. He didn't pick everyone to pour out his love on, he picked you. The fact that he didn't pick everyone is what makes this so significant. 

Should we feel undeserving? Yes, because we are undeserving. Is this fair? I'll address that shortly. For now we will say it certainly is gracious and merciful

He knew what all your strengths would be as well as your rebellion and your flaws. Christ was fully aware that it was your pain and suffering he was embracing and feeling and your rebellion he was judged for. He was doing it not out of his love generally but out of love for you specifically. Again, Christ didn't die for the world generally, hoping some might come; he died for you, one of his lost sheep, knowing you would come (Jn 10:2-4;11, 15-16, 26-27Jn 17:6, 9-10, 24, 26). God's love wasn't a random shotgun blast into the air, hoping it would land on someone, it was a single rifle shoot aimed specifically at your heart by the perfect marksmen of love, knowing it would hit it's mark. 

When we truly grasp (believe) that God's love is that specific and that personal it transforms us. Not until we grasp it in this way, will we gain from this truth what God intends and be fully changed by it as he intends and desires i.e. you can not appreciate the full extent of his love until you know the personal nature of it, that you specifically were chosen by him for love. The more we grasp this the more we are transformed. And that is exactly the point of his targeting you for mercy, so you would know the full extent (laser sharp precision and focus) of his love and to experience that love in all it's fullness as much as is possible for you, his infinitely beloved child, to experience. 

I propose that getting side tracked into theological debate regarding "election" is designed by "the adversary" (aided by our pride) to keep us from seeing this very vital truth of God's personal love and experiencing it to the greatest extent possible. Without seeing it clearly and truly you will not experience the full transforming power God intends his love to have for you and in you. This in turn will keep you from being most effective in spreading his love and glory to others. 

But it's just not fair

Why is this teaching in scripture so hard for us to accept and why are we so offended by it. The biggest challenge and complaint is it's not fair. However our very complaint is evidence of our ongoing rebellion against God (we are described in scripture as his enemies for good reason) and belief that we know better than God what is best (just as Adam did in the garden). In truth our doubts of God's goodness is evidence of how set we are against him (You do understand your very ability to question or disagree with God was given to you by him. Stop to ponder this). 

It's okay to admit we don't understand. Our problem is it's also humbling i.e. we don't like to admit we are not able to figure things out and are not the judge of our own lives, much less the judge of God himself. We think God should answer to us, not the other way around. 

Since we, in our limited understanding, find election unreasonable (illogical), we question his goodness and whether this is a good plan (much less his perfect plan). We set aside the claim (and fact) that God is all knowing, all wise, all powerful and all loving (good). God can do no wrong and he does no wrong, ever! How do we know? Because he tells us so. Simply because we can't (as limited/finite beings) understand how this is the perfect, wise and good purpose of God, does not make it otherwise. He says he's good. We are called to believe him. Either we do or don't, limited logic aside. 

Entitlement...a major problem

Our other problem is we experience his bounty and blessings (particularly in North America and the west in general) to such an extent we are use to the abundance his goodness, kindness and mercy granted to us (it is so much a part of all our lives everyday). As as result we take it totally for granted and have become jaded, ungrateful and even feel entitled to it. We are offended at the idea that in truth, we rightfully deserve God's condemnation for "biting the hand that feeds (made) us" and may even have come to feel we actually deserve his grace and mercy (if we did however, it would no longer be grace and mercy would it?). 

Pride, not logic, is at the heart of our problem

Our sense of prideful independence is offended when we are asked, "does not the potter have a right to make from the clay the vessel of his choosing?"

But the reality is God is not being unfair to many, he's being kind and merciful to some who don't deserve it i.e. all of us. The reality is God is not obligated to be merciful to any, much less some. 

God's actions do not "complete" him

Nor does he need to be merciful, as if doing so somehow makes God complete. He choose some out of the fullness of who he is and at his own expense, not out of something lacking within himself (which, if we are honest, is likely what we suspect. We do so because we project on to God our own brokenness and lack resulting in our desire to do everything for personal gain).

To illustrate, if 10 men were on death row for committing a capital offense and confessed to doing so, would any of them feel the judge unfair if he carried out a death sentence on them. Especially considering they were all clearly warned that if they committed something clearly forbidden they would die. What if the judge decided at the last minute, to extent mercy to one of them. Would that be unfair to the other 9? They would likely not like it and may wish it was them that received mercy but none would say this was unfair. They were getting exactly what they were warned of and deserved. 

It is against this backdrop the Father sent his Son (who willingly came) to take on the consequences and suffering for our rebellion and offer to remove it so he can extent kindness to those who receive his love as a gift. That is not being unfair to others, it is being kind, merciful and gracious to those who don't deserve it, which is all of us. C
ould God not have rightfully let us all continue on in our rebellion and eternal separation from him? Yet in his mercy, he chose to spare some from the destruction of it. 

Accountable for what we don't know?

Some may argue that who God is and what his designs are is not clear. However scripture says otherwise and that the only reason we do not see the true reality of these things is we submerge these truths in the depth our of hearts out of our rebellion (unbelief) to God. 
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truthFor what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." - Rom 1:18-21

A summary of our trouble with this teaching

The reasons God choosing some for salvation and not others is so hard for some to accept is 
  • We do not understand the full extent of humanity's rebellion and just deserts of condemnation and 
  • God's total justice if he chose to walk away from all of humanity in their rebellion.
  • It makes God appear unfair which creates suspicion/doubt of his claim to be good and loving
When we recognize God did not pursue mankind out of guilt for letting things get so messed up (we are the one's who messed up, not God) or out of a need for creation to fill some kind of a void in him, but rather he did it because he is a being of overflowing love and goodness and mercy, willing to take upon himself the full and justly deserved consequences of our rebellion so we might gain what is only rightfully his, then we can see his true nature of love. 

And once we do, we experience an overwhelming gratitude for his infinite mercy extended to us in and through Christ. 

Election, the ultimate expression of grace and grounds for humility.

I would propose you can never truly understand the fullness of God's grace and mercy until you understand the sovereignty of God in salvation i.e. election.

By this I mean we know that God chose us (saved us) based solely on his sovereign choice and not on any "righteous deeds" of our own i.e. anything that we accomplish (or attempt to). It is only then we begin to understand how everything about our relationship with God is based on grace (i.e. a gift initiated and extended to us by him) that we begin to grasp the true nature of God's love. God is the initiator and cause of our right standing as well as our ongoing faithfulness to him (i.e. he alone by his Spirit/Love drives our God honoring behavior), not us or anything else. 

This is the foundation on which [2]humility is built (he resists the proud and gives grace to the humble). To be truly humble we must understand the grace of his sovereign choosing/election. To say it another way, we can in no way take credit for our salvation. Not just our initial salvation but our ongoing salvation. He does it all from start to finish. He reveals himself to us and only because he does, do we respond; not just in our initial coming but our ongoing obedience. It is us moving but it is God, who he is, that moves us. 

Our part

It is us responding, not God. We do play a real part; our role is vital but we respond for two reasons, both of which are due to him
  1. He designed us for love (i.e. he made us this way [in his image], we didn't make ourselves. Because he did, we have the capacity to respond to love) and... 
  2. He reveals himself as he truly is i.e. lovely, so we might respond. When he does and because he does, we respond accordingly and are moved to action (to say this practically, your reading this now is no accident). If he did not, we would not come.
If he was not love and did not initually reveal his beauty/loveliness to us, we would never have sought him. By grace and nothing but grace are we saved.

If he was not love and did not continue to reveal his beauty/loveliness to us, we would not pursue him now. By grace (our ongoing receiving and believing it) and nothing but grace we are being saved.

These reasons are why it is vital (not just theologically but practically) this teaching of Scripture be stressed and must be understood well in order for us to fully experience the extent of God's love and properly give him the full and rightful credit he deserves. Without understanding this we will not be empowered as he designed and intends to respond to him faithfully. 

We still must choose

The challenge is to understand that election does not eliminate the responsibility of choice. Our "chooser" is still intact. We make choices every day and those choices are solely and truly our own, not God's. For example, God didn't make you read this blog. He may have lead you here but whatever the reason (reasons he no doubt played a hand in) you are the one that decided to read it. 

The problem is our "wanter" is broken, not our "chooser." We choose the wrong things because we want the wrong things. And we want the wrong things because we are [1]blind to the best thing i.e. God himself and the fullness of love and life that only he is. And we are blind because we are spiritually dead...the fruit of (and warning for) our rebellious independence from God. 

Joh 3:3  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless (i.e. until) one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

When we clearly (even though not yet fully) see the best thing i.e. God, we desire him. And when we desire him we choose him every time. So our prayer must always be, "God help me to see you as you truly are in all your beauty, majesty and glory so I will desire you more fully as you truly are and rightly deserve, the greatest and most desirable, beautiful and lovely of all."

So what do we do if we don't desire him?

Pray for God to mercifully reveal himself to you until you do. Even if you don't want to pray, ask him to give you the desire. That is your choice and something you can do. If you refuse to, that too is your choice but this reveals the true nature of the problem, not your inability to choose but your rebellion i.e. it is no longer a choice issue but a trust issue...you simply choose not to trust God. However, the very fact you are reading this and asking this question (assuming you are) is indication he is drawing you. Pursue this as if your eternal destination depends on it...because it does. Otherwise your desire may go away. 

If you are not asking this question, pray it haunts you until you do. This too, is your choice. 

C.S. Lewis once said, "God, in the end, gives people what they most want, including freedom from Himself. What could be more fair?"

How right he was. 

So are you chosen? 

For you and I, this is the wrong question. The only question God presents to us that matters is will you accept his free offer and gift of salvation i.e. will you come? He certainly invites you to. If you do, and turn in trust to Him and away from your distrust of him (i.e. repent), he will never turn away from you. And what could be more kind or fair. 

3:15  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

Joh 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned,

Joh 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 

6:47  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 

"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." Eph 1:3-6

Election is hugely significant in Romans 8 in a very practical way. God is saying nothing is more important than his choosing you i.e. the fact that he has chosen you supersedes and overrides any other experience you are now having or may have. It is your direct assurance that because you are the object of his affection, nothing (no circumstances) can or will ever change his affections toward you regardless of what happens

Rom 8:30-39  "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

8:33  Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 

·        "Free" will or heavily influenced? click here

·        Why Calvinists and Arminians are both wrong click here

·        Our "wanter" is broken, not our "chooser" click here 

·        Why freedom of choice is important click here

·       The question of fairness click here

·       The necessity of mercy click here.

·       Is the election and wrath of God unreasonable? click here.


[1]we are spiritually blind because we are spiritually dead which was the warning God gave in the garden "…The day that you eat (i.e. go contrary to my will and good design for you) you will die..." The day that Adam chose to break away was the day that God's Spirit departed and left man merely as a physical and soulish creature, yet still with the capacity for spiritual engagement and life upon our new birth and the Spirit's reentry i.e. being born again. 

[2] Humility is also the gateway through which grace (and therefore God himself) comes to us. 

Jas 4:6  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

If you wish to know the grace of God you must first recognize your need for it. This is the heart of humility. The extent to which you do is the extent to which you will experience and appreciate God himself. Without it none of us will see God much less see him as he truly is.