Something I’m asked quite frequently is my position concerning election- does God sovereignly choose who gets saved or is man’s free will involved? More often than not I respond with, “Great day man. Is that all you’ve got? Can we please move on?” While there are a thousand different topics I can think of that I believe are far more relevant for us to be talking about, I decided to put my thoughts down in hopes that perhaps someone may be encouraged in the Lord or perhaps challenged. Alrighty then; here we go.
Calvinists and Armenians, whether by their own volition or some secret decree (that’s supposed to be a joke), are comprised of individuals adamant as to their respective doctrines concerning election. I believe that this stringency, in many cases, has resulted in men becoming more interested in proving each other to be in error than in the furthering of the Kingdom of God. The perspectives of many have become distorted and clouded in the mist of contention. And it is perspective itself which must be considered, in my opinion, when one seeks to understand the biblical doctrine of election. In that man is creature and not creator, the ability to completely perceive as God perceives is, without question, impossible. Yet, to understand divine providence, one must attempt to see things the way God sees them. The sovereignty of God and the free will of man merge into a natural, yet incomprehensible synthesis as they are both absorbed into the perspective of the divine.
The Bible teaches that God is an eternal being without beginning or end. For God, there was no then, and there is no tomorrow. The Almighty inhabits the realm of now in which there was never a moment at which He comprehended. He is the great I AM. We are told that God is the One who declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). The terms end and beginning are not meant to be understood as applicable to God’s perspective, rather they are used to communicate divine perspective to a finite, “time-bound” creature.
Within the Bible there are various passages that give insight into the divine perspective. One finds in the book of Revelation that Jesus was/is “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), yet, “in the fullness of time” he appeared upon the earth (Gal.4:4). David claims that the Lord had ordained all the days of his life before he was ever born (Ps. 139:16). One repeatedly finds instances contained in scripture in which God is depicted as having intimate knowledge of an individual prior to their birth (Jer. 1:5). Still, there was a time and place that their lives were manifested upon the earth, that which God knew completely from all eternity realized in time and space. These are only a few among the many scriptures that give a glimpse into the eternal divine perspective.
I believe that God created all things in one “motion.” There was no beginning or end, no point at which it all started. To limit God to a point would be to confine Him to space and time thus rendering Him not God. There was never a moment, much less a moment in which He did not fully and completely have intimate knowledge of all that would be- the Lamb is slain, all who would be saved are, all who will be lost are. The divine perspective requires no point in time in which man chose or rejected, and I think that “election” and “free-will” are time- space oriented discussions we have in an effort to explain the physical manifestation of the divine perspective invading a created reality.
Well, that’s my two cents regarding election. Let me add that I think that it is to our shame that so many within the church have become worshipers of men and the doctrines of men. Don’t get me wrong, we are told in scripture to have sound teaching, and the importance of that cannot be stressed enough. It’s only that so many can quote verbatim the various tenets of their favorite theologian, but when you ask them what the Lord has spoken to them recently, they look at you as if you are insane. Pardon my English, but that aint cool. Sadly, for so many who claim to be Christian, knowing Jesus is just an academic exercise. Perhaps it is the lack of true intimacy with Jesus that has lent to all of this empty pursuit of what we falsely call knowledge. What I mean is, if you aren’t really captivated and enthralled by Him; I guess you have to spend your time doing something. Listen, I am a student of theology and don’t believe for a second that you are required to discard your brain when you come to Christ. However, if all your “knowledge” isn’t moving you to closer intimacy with Jesus, it’s worthless!
The church owes much to theologians like Calvin and Arminius, men who spent their lives in diligent study of the Bible and the formulation of theology. However, in the end, even the greatest minds are limited in their perspective. May our perspective be that which comes from having our eyes fixed on Jesus, and not merely from having to prove a point.
(Oh, so you’re not satisfied. Which is it you ask, the sovereignty of God or man’s free will? Well, the answer is yes.)