Friday, August 7, 2009

Calvinism 5: Unconditional Election

Calvinism: Unconditional Election

And we’ve finally made it to the ugliest and most debated part of Calvinism: the cosmic dice. We know from the Scriptures that some people are predestined to heaven.

"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:29

We also know that some people are determined to be sent to Hell.

"What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
Romans 9:22–24

The difference between me and a Calvinist would be this: I say there is a reason for different destinies. A Calvinist would say that the election to heaven or not (Hell) is unconditional. Technically, unconditional means having no conditions: that is, randomness. So then it’s because of “randomness” that I will go to bliss forever, but my best friend will burn in Hell? I would gladly trade places so that my friend whom I love will not suffer so!

Now, of course, some say that there is no condition in us, but a condition in Him that determines who He will save. The condition is in God? What does that even? I agree that God determines salvation, being the One to do the saving, and that He picks the conditions, but what would it even mean that the condition is "in" Him?

To predestine some to salvation and some to torment, for the same crime, would be unjust and unloving. Love would be to offer salvation to all, each of us whom He made and loves dearly, enough even to die for us. Righteousness would not require that, but love would. Justice would be to give us all what we deserve—eternal death. I would accept either from the hand of God.

God does not, however, offer one or the other, but both: At the cross of Calvary came perfect love and perfect justice. Love gives all the chance to be saved. Justice requires the punishment of the Substitute, and all who refuse to accept His payment as their own. To give love to half and justice to half would just like the proverbial cutting the baby in half! God is not like that. He is like Solomon, who offered to cut the baby in half, knowing that mother, who loved the child, would object to this fair but dreadful proposal.

He could have justly given us all over to our dreadful deserved punishment, but He didn’t, because He loved us. Now Calvinists expect me to believe that this same God who loved me so much that He would die a torturous death to same my pitiful life would not so much as try to save my brother, though it cost Him nothing more? That He would take a “buy one get one free” deal, but then leave the free one to die? Justice is pictured as a blindfolded woman holding a scale. Justice is that two of the same, having committed the same crime, neither being repentant, will both get the deserved punishment.

Mercy is when one is repentant, and for that one, the sentence is lessened. Even those in a human court know this deep down. Even though who claim that there are no absolutes will call it “unjust” if the professor gives them a bad grade just because he didn’t like them. If a judge were to have two of the same, having committed the same crime, neither being repentant, and were to give one freedom and the other death, no one would call that just. This is what Calvinists claim that God does.

Where is the Biblical basis? If you read through the Old Testament and get to know God, you will find that He is loving and just. He’s not always fair, but He is always loving and just. You will see that the Calvinist ideas of offering love to only some and justice only to others is neither love nor justice and is not the God of the Bible.

This cosmic dice randomness is not Biblical. God is very conditional. He’s always giving conditions for this and that.

"Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, "You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'"
1 Kings 9:4–5
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Malachi 3:10

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

There are always conditions. If you do this, this will happen. If you do that, that will happen. This will only happen to those who do that. The condition for blessing people in the Old Testament was doing good works. The condition for being saved in the New Testament is faith.

Now let me say this: Something can be conditional, but still undeserved. John Piper, a calvinist actually, understood this concept and wrote about it clearly in His book "future grace." He points out the fact that just because grace in the life of believer is conditional, (God gives grace to the humble), it is by no means deserved. I would say that conditional definitely does not imply deserved. Our salvation is conditional, but we still don’t deserve it. Let me give an example of another case of something conditional that is not deserved: Let’s say I go out right now and shot every red-head that I meet. Those killings would be conditional: the condition being the color of their hair, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve the death penalty.
In the same way, salvation is conditional, but not deserved.

"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."
Ephesians 1:4–5

Yes, God predestines us, but it’s not unconditional. He predestines people according to His good pleasure. This good pleasure He does not keep a secret from us:

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him."
Hebrews 11:6

"In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears."
2 Samuel 22:7

"So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'"
Acts 1:31

I do not understand how people can claim that salvation is "unconditional" when throughout the entire Bible, God spells out His conditions very clearly. He is very clear about who He finds good pleasure in saving. Not once is salvation offered without a condition.

"Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses."
Psalm 107:28

"You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask."
James 4:2

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. "
Ps 51:10-11

"That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:9

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Matt 11:28

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name"
John 1:12

"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent"
Acts 17:30

" He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 3:36

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.'”
Numbers 21:8

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,"
John 3:14

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

God is just to all. He is loving to all. He is merciful to all. He is the great and pure and holy "I AM." He does not save some and leave others to burn for some "unconditional" reason. That reminds me. The other day I was recommending that Mom find a counselor, and she was complaining that she didn't know how to find a good one, and said "What, do you want me to just go out and pick a random counselor?" And my brother Caleb responded "No, you should go out and pick one unconditionally!" If election is not based on a reason, or on a condition, then it is unreasonable, or random. We know that God is neither. He loves all enough to want all to be saved. He is merciful to all.

He is a picky God, and only saves people "according to His good pleasure." He is picky about who He spends eternity with, and lays out His condition very clearly throughout the entire Bible. God delights to save those pitiful beings who call out "help us!" He could be like the big blue guy from "Watchmen" who said that "someday, mankind will look up to me and cry 'save us,' and I will look down and say 'no.'" God could be like that, and be perfectly just and righteous... but He isn't. He's so much more awesome instead!

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