Growing up, I took God’s love for granted. But when I gave my life to Christ and read the bible, my view of God changed. I began to see God as holy and how sinful I was, and Grace became beautiful and I feared him. It made sense that out of grace, a holy God would save undeserving elect. But I still can’t understand God’s love. If God also loved everybody so intimately, why would He only save some? Thus I get God’s holiness and grace, but have a hard time believing God loves me personally. :(
A very awesome testimony and thank you for sharing. But GASP. You don’t believe God loves you? Do you know who struggles with this?
Well: everyone. It was essentially the first lie we ever heard in the Garden, and we’ve believed that lie in some form ever since. So you’re not alone in that.
About God saving some and not others: That’s about half the truth here. I think “predestination” sweeps the floor of our theology so much because it feels dirty to say “free will,” as if human-choice somehow infringes upon God.
But remember: God made free will, which is part of what makes us human. It was almost a risk. He knew it would end in disobedience and suffering, but that is the risk of sentient humanity.
So God saves us AND people choose. Both are true. While God woos us and draws us and loves us and has done all the saving work, we must still respond. To only say “God elects” is also to say, “People have no say in the matter,” which is plain bad theology.
I do believe in God’s election, but somehow in a mysterious way, it also works with human free will. You can find Bible verses to support both sides. Apostle Paul could say predestined and choose in the same breath, because in his mind there was no conflict. We need to be careful of putting two doctrines in a ring and letting them go at it, because that doesn’t help anyone.
How both predestination and free will work: I don’t know. Are we allowed to have mysteries anymore? I leave that sort of paradox to be reconciled by God.
This dominating doctrine of predestination has been largely hurtful to the church NOT because it is incorrect, but because it causes an imbalance in how we view God’s relationship with people. We’ve seen this sort of “I’m elect” arrogance in Neo-Calvinists all too often, and on the other extreme, it creates an “I’m un-elect” despair. We start wondering, “Are my kids elect or doomed to hell?” But being constantly afraid of “Am I elect or not” is exactly where Satan wants us. It’s part of that terrible lie he’s been using from the beginning.
No one better EVER judge if someone else is elect or not. That’s presuming to know more than God. I can’t tell you how many dumb arguments I’ve had with well-meaning Reformed brothers who end up sounding like every other basement-blogging jackass, using words upon words upon semantics upon nuances while God’s up there thinking, “Did you tell them the part about Jesus dying for everyone?”
If you’re not sure God loves you, look no further than the cross. All that senseless debating gets good people like you to doubt if God really loves you: but God’s love is not dependent on our theology of Him. It’s based on an historical act of grace that really happened. He loves you, period. And you can respond. If you can hold both sides of a theology in tension, you’ll see God’s love always stays the same. God saves the people that He gave the capacity to choose Him. Let’s not get stuck anywhere else there. Let’s keep it simple enough for a child to believe, and true enough for the man on his deathbed.
I highly recommend these two posts from our beloved Unka Glen on the issue.
- It was meant to be: On predestination