Following on from yesterday’s post… I tried to argue that even though humans rights are good (for human relationships), they do not apply to our relationship to God. And this is such an important idea, because if you don’t get this… if you think that humans do have some sort of right before God… then you’re going to get stuck on all the issues that commonly come up…
This about the big questions that non-Christians usually ask: What about suffering? What about sex before/outside/different-to marriage? What about predestination? They all start with an assumption that God should defer to my rights as a human being.
- What about suffering?
You do not have a right to a life without suffering. If God has determined to allow you to suffer, you have no legal, moral, or existential foot to stand on and appeal the decision. It’s got nothing to do with what you want. God is not being unfair, he’s being God.
In fact, if you understand this, you’ll see that the better question to ask is, “Why God do you allow us to continue living, when you have every right to annihilate us all?!”
- What about my desires/satisfaction as a person?
You do not have a right to a life where you get a fairy-tale ending. We do not have a right to demand that God bend his will and allow us our fleeting whims. The idea that “Everyone has a right to love someone and be loved by someone” is false. They are not rights, they are undeserved gifts – with the emphasis on the undeserved.
- What about my choice in predestination?
You do not have a right to choose. Yes, you should have a right to choose some things when it comes to human relationships. But you do not have a right to expect that should take your desires into account when he determines what to do with you in eternity. In fact, the very fact that God uses our choice to achieve his will should make us gasp in amazement.
See, we really need to keep reminding ourselves how fragile our relationship is with God. It is entirely by his grace. Every year, month, day, second, heart-beat and nano-zap. All at his whim, nothing because of our rights.
With that in mind… read this:
People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
God binds himself to us silly little humans, so that we have a right to take hold of the hope of salvation and forgiveness in Christ. Amazing!
Did you decide to feel hungry today? Did you make yourself feel thirsty? Or what about the language you learnt to speak as a child… did you choose to WANT to learn “English” over “Spanish”? Did you decide to want to walk?
No. You didn’t. They are all good gifts from God, gifts that keep you alive… You were given the gift of wanting good things. God moved you to desire them.
Now, did you choose to want God? Did you decide that you would desire a right relationship with Jesus?
No. That initial desire, that wanting, that disposition… That was a gift from God.
And here’s the kicker…
Without it, you would never have even wanted God. You would feel no need, no desire, no hunger to be right with him. It’s only by the Spirit of God at work in your soul that you even feel convicted that you’ve done evil (John 16:8). Without it making you feel convicted, you just wouldn’t feel guilty… you wouldn’t think you’ve done anything very wrong. You would be left to your own little, insignificant, selfish, shallow, evil “wants”.
Without God helping you want him, you would never want him. Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). None of us can want him without his help to want him.
You can’t make yourself want God, only God can do that. His desire, your decision.
I get why people find the doctrine of election hard. But I think they make it harder than it is, because they start from the wrong end of the stick.
The doctrine of election tells us more about God, than it does about us.
Think about it, what’s the point of God telling us that he elects some people to eternal salvation, if he’s also not going to make it really obvious who he has and has not elected? In other words, when most people hear that God predestines people, their immediate question is, “Well am I one of the elect?”
But that’s one of those silly questions. Its like asking “does my vote matter?” at the polling booth.
God goes out of his way, many times, in his word, to tell us that he’s an electing God. He’s a God who’s grace is not determined or swayed by our efforts. Its a doctrine about HIM, far more than it is about YOU.
So what does that mean? It means we approach the living eternal God not on the basis that he has elected ME, but on the basis that HE elects some. So if you’re facing the God who elects from eternity past, what are you going to say?
I’d suggest you say something like, “Sovereign lord, you would be completely just and good to punish me eternally… but please don’t. Please have mercy on ME.”
And that’s when you’re also reminded that the electing God is the merciful God, who keeps his promises to forgive those who come to him.
Don’t depend on your elected-state… depend on your electing-God and his eternal character displayed in his Son.