Section 6: Salvation — Part 1
Week 2: Election: God Chose Us before the Foundation of the World
Day 4: Election Ought to Be a Source of Comfort
Why I Don’t Have Confidence in My Ability to Fix Things
Jeni and I had been married just three days when I suffered my first home improvement injury. I use the term “home improvement” loosely. The shower rod had fallen down. When I went to put it back up, I discovered it no longer would extend far enough to reach the wall. It was short by an inch or so. I figured, if I could just wedge something between the wall and the rod, that would fix it. The only thing I could find to wedge in there was a plastic two-liter bottle cap. But it was just a little too big. So I decided to shave part of it off. We didn’t have any tools to speak of, though, so I grabbed a knife from the brand new cutlery set we got as a wedding gift. Turns out brand new knives straight out of the box can be pretty sharp. I know that because I proceeded to slice my thumb, not the bottle top.
I was bleeding pretty badly, and Jeni wanted to rush to the emergency room right away. I wasn’t sure it was that bad though. To reassure herself everything was OK, Jeni went back into the bathroom to verify I hadn’t lost part of my thumb. When she came out with a piece of flesh in her hand… that settled it; we were off to the emergency room.
I should have taken a closer look though. When Jeni proudly showed the doctor the piece of thumb she had saved and suggested he could “sew it back on”, the doctor could barely contain his laughter. Turns out that piece of flesh was more like a sliver of skin. There was no way he could sew that teeny tiny piece back on, but he told us not to worry. The wound would heal perfectly on its own. No stiches were even necessary. We went from thinking I needed my thumb sewn back on to no stiches. I don’t even have a scar, which is probably a good thing. I don’t need a constant reminder of my shame.
Long story short, I don’t have a lot of confidence when it comes to fixing things. That lack of confidence isn’t just based on that one failure though. It’s based on a lifetime of similar experiences. So what do I do when something important needs to be done around the house? I call someone who knows what they’re doing. Usually my dad or my father-in-law. I have a lot more confidence in them than I do in myself when it comes to that kind of thing. I know myself well enough to know I’m not up to the task.
Why We Can Have Confidence in Our Salvation
The doctrine of election is intended to give us similar confidence. God let us in on his eternal plan so we would know our salvation ultimately doesn’t depend on us. Why? Because he knew, if we had a shred of self-awareness, we’d be worried about our prospects of obtaining salvation if we thought for a second it relied on us.
Even though we believe we’re saved by faith and not by works, there are forces arrayed against us tempting us to give up our faith. In the face of ridicule, will we continue to confidently hold on to our faith? In the face of all the pleasures this world offers, will we continue to pursue God? In the face of persecution, will we continue to confess Christ? If we understand just how vulnerable we are in our fallen state, the answer to those questions has to be: “I don’t know.” On our own we’d have no assurance we’d hold on to our faith, and, therefore, we’d never have much confidence in our salvation.
That’s why God let us in on the doctrine of election. We’ll talk about this more in the section on perseverance, but, as believers, we can be confident that God will bring us through to the end. We know that because God chose to save us before the creation of the world. As a result, we know he will do everything that needs to be done to ensure we do in fact obtain that salvation. We can be confident of our salvation because we can be confident in him.
Read Philippians 1:4-6
Have you considered the confidence that God’s election can bring us? How does it make you feel? Do you have trouble moving past the questions and into confidence? Why?