Thursday, December 25, 2008

Greater Love

Bill Hale, missionary to Cambodia and member of FBC, Parker, submitted the following blog. Bill articulates a unique argument for unconditional election.

For a few months I have been helping a friend via email work through the theology of God’s sovereign grace in election. He was in the same place I was in about ten years ago, having never really studied the doctrine and just following what I’d heard others say. He had all the normal freewill arguments: “God wants all men to be saved,” “Jesus died for the sins of all people without exception,” If the doctrine is true there is no reason to evangelize,” “Predestination is based on God’s foreknowledge,” etc. You know, God votes for you, the devil votes against you, but you cast the deciding vote. Having seen the folly of these objections myself those ten years ago, I was equipped to help him.

You may think that this is just another lesson about the sovereignty of God in election, and that you have heard it plenty of times before by much better swordsmen. I readily concede the second point. As for the first, it is true that we Calvinists have heard this doctrine explained many times, yet the more I explain the doctrine to others, the more I study it afresh, and the more it stays at the forefront of my thoughts, the more beautiful it becomes. I realize what a worm I was (am), how deeply I hated Him, and what great love He had for me, which brings me to the point:

If it is true that God’s election is based on his looking into the future (the freewill definition of foreknowledge) and then afterwards choosing those whom he “foresaw” would love and trust him, then His electing love would be a lesser, imperfect kind of love.

In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus teaches us about that greater, perfect kind of love. He teaches that we should love even our enemies. He argues, “If we only love those who first love us, what reward is there in that? Even the wicked have this kind of love.”

You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus taught us that the greater love is to love our enemies. Herein lies the beauty of the doctrine of Election. With what kind of love did the Father elect us? With the lesser, imperfect love of the wicked tax collectors and gentiles? Certainly not! This is not the kind of love scripture assigns to God Almighty. It attests to a God who loved us with the perfect love that loves one’s enemies.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

To say He elected us based on His foreknowledge of our love for Him is unbiblical nonsense. We love because He first loved us. We did not choose Him but rather He chose us. Behold the marvelous love of God! May He be forever praised by the objects of this greater, perfect love.

1 comment:

The Militant Pacifist said...

Amen and amen!

When the amazing grace of a loving savior ceases to impress a man - I doubt that he knows the Savior that I love.

This season of special remembrance of the incarnation has made me aware again of the incredible gulf that exists between humanity and divinity - and that the bridging of this gulf was (and is) a Divine Imperative.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.

Unless God opens blind eyes - such eyes can never see.

Unless men open their eyes - they can never see.

Such is the tension that we must ever grapple with.

In my time as a believer in God's sovereign grace (25+ years), every time I have seen a man try to resolve this tension (in my opinion), he has "botched" it.

I have come to believe that when my (regular, devotional) reading of scripture is informed by my "Calvinistic" theology - I have "problems."

When my (regular, devotional) reading of scripture is informed by nothing but my humanity - I rejoice in Christ's magnanimous invitations.

Which reading is "right"...?