Sunday’s sermon, introducing the series on 1 Peter, brought up a huge theological discussion topic, the doctrine of election. This series through Peter’s epistle is going in depth on holiness and we will not explore election in depth. So I’d like to offer a bit more time to it via the blog since there will likely be those who want to think it through more.
Any time this topic comes up in discussion, we must acknowledge that this is a really difficult truth to wrap our human minds around. So if you have difficulty understanding, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Lot’s of folks are just like you. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to understand it better. The Bible is God’s word and every bit of it is for our benefit; even the parts that are hard to understand.
We should also guard ourselves against a prideful attitude feeling puffed up because we might understand something that another person doesn’t. If anything the doctrine of election should humble us even more in that our good standing before God has nothing to do with our achievement or knowledge. Rather despite all our best efforts, we remained hopelessly lost in our sins. God’s grace alone has rescued us from destruction. There’s no place for human pride in these things.
So here are a few questions that come up often regarding this doctrine. Maybe these comments will help. If you have other questions, please post them in the comments. As time allows, I will address those.
Does the Bible really teach the doctrine of election; that God chooses those whom He will save? Yes. If you do a word search you will find the Old Testament riddled with God’s work of election. Nearly every New Testament book speaks of election.
Doesn’t God tell sinners they must choose to follow Him? Yes. The doctrine of election does not mean there is no need for sinners to make the decision to repent and follow Jesus. According to Mark 1:15, they must repent and believe in the gospel and Romans 10:9, they must confess with their mouth and believe in their heart. But the Scriptures go farther stating that in his sinful state, alone, the sinner is incapable of repentance and following Jesus (Romans 8:7-8). It is only when God initiates, elects, draws, and convicts that the sinner responds in repentance and faith (see John 3:27, 6:65).
How can the doctrine of election coexist with our free will? Biblically, there is no conflict between the doctrine of election and man’s will. According to Romans 3:10-11, man’s will is “free” in the sense that it is capable of disobeying God. But it is not “free” in the sense that it is capable of seeking God, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” Actually the biblical teaching on man’s will means God’s election is a must. Without God’s election, no one would ever turn to Christ to be saved.
If God chooses whom He will save, then isn’t it pointless to send missionaries to unreached people groups or try to reach our unsaved friends? No. It’s not pointless. It’s all part of God’s plan and He commands us to do it. The same Bible that teaches God chooses whom He will save also teaches the way God draws sinners to Himself. Romans 10:14 says the lost cannot believe if they don’t have someone to tell them the gospel so we are commanded to teach the gospel to the lost, Matthew 28:19-20.
These are some of the common questions that arise surrounding this topic. Maybe these comments will be of some help. Likely some will have more questions. So ask. Dig deeper. Find out and have a well reasoned understanding of God’s word. Please comment here if you have more questions or observations.