Section 6: Salvation — Part 1
Week 2: Election: God Chose Us before the Foundation of the World
Day 5: Election Highlights God’s Grace
2 Thess. 2:13-17
Not everyone agrees the Bible teaches the doctrine of election, at least not as we have described it so far. We delve into that debate in the Digging Deeper section. For now, imagine a friend tells you about a job and gives you a couple of tips for your interview. You put in your application, get an interview, impress them, get the job and slowly but surely rise to be one of the best in your field. Would you be thankful to your friend? Sure. Would you give him all the credit for your success? No. His help didn’t guarantee anything for you. You had to impress them in the interview. You had to consistently work hard and do well for a lot of years to get where you are. You’re successful because of what you did. You got some help at the start, but you had to take it the rest of the way.
Some think salvation works in a similar way. The Fall corrupted our human nature. God knows that, and he knows we won’t come to faith on our own in that corrupted state. So he “repairs” us in the sense that he gives us the ability to come to faith. Whether we do or not is up to us though. Where does the doctrine of election fit in that process? According to some, God didn’t choose certain individuals to save. Instead he chose a particular class – those who have faith in Christ – and everyone has the ability to become a member of that class. All they have to do is put their faith in Christ. Whether they do or not is up to them.
Salvation is by grace in this view. After all, God never had to offer it to us in the first place. What’s more, we’d never have been able to obtain it without him giving us the ability to do so. But the fact remains: We need to get in the door by coming to faith and we need stay in by continuing in faith. God doesn’t do either one for us. So there is much to thank God for, but ultimately whether we are saved or not is up to us. Nothing God does guarantees our salvation.
That view, however, doesn’t fit well with what we’ve seen already of the Bible’s teaching on election. A biblical understanding of the doctrine of election significantly expands the picture of God’s grace. God’s choice to save us guarantees our salvation. As we saw yesterday, because God chose you, he worked to ensure that you came to faith, and he will continue to work to ensure that you grow in faith and that you hold on to your faith until the end. Nothing is left to chance. That should increase our confidence, but it should also increase our thankfulness. Salvation is God’s work from start to finish. He takes care of everything. What part of our salvation do we owe to God? What part should be grateful to him for? All of it.
Sometimes we are tempted to explain things in way that makes us feel better, but doesn’t really fit with scripture. Why do we do that? Why might we try to do that with election? Why is it important to use the Bible as our ultimate authority? What important things might we misunderstand about God if we try to explain election this way?
Thank God that salvation is his work from start to finish.