Skip to main content

Life for the unlikely, riches for the impoverished, welcome to those who wander: Seven words on God's Purpose of Election


I love Paul's teaching on 'God's purpose of election' in Romans 9-10. Among my favourite chapters of the Bible. It's hard teaching for many reasons but when you get past some of the preconceptions it's a heart-felt meditation from someone overwhelmed by God's grace to them while wrestling with the reality of friends who've also heard of Christ but not responded to him.

Seven words to consider.

1. Emotion
Paul has unceasing anguish and sorrow for his friends who don't know Jesus. This is the emotional spectrum for talking about election. This is not one for little boys to argue about, it's for the big hearted who are ok with crying.

2. Change
Paul sets up two categories of people:
(A) Flesh, works, hardened, vessels of wrath, not loved, not God's people...
(B) Promise, calling, compassion-receivers, vessels of mercy, loved, God's people.

And the point is that people move from category A to category B. I'm not persuaded these are intended to be static categories. As Paul writes, similarly in Ephesians, it is children of wrath who get made alive in Christ.

3. Christ
The issue is always what do you do with Christ. He's the rock in the road. Stumble over him or believe in him. People ask, around election, am I going to hell? The answer isn't so much an answer as a question: what do you make of Jesus?

4. Pray
Paul's teaching on election is paired with him saying he prays for his friends. However you understand election it has to get you on your knees rather than making that seem pointless.

5. Proclaim
The issue is what you do with Christ, so you need to be near him. He comes near in his gospel word. People don't call on Christ without hearing. Hearing doesn't guarentee receiving because some disobey the message of mercy... but nonethless: speak.

6. Posture.
The God who elects has his arms wide open all day long to disobedient and contrary people. On such people he will bestow his riches - the Father offers his Christ to the worst, the rebels...

7. Humble
Those who have Christ aren't aloof - they know that only God's promise, call and mercy have bought them to God. But for Him they'd have been lost. I'm prone to wander but he finds me.

Are you against Christ?
Are you away from him?
Are you not knowing his love?
Are you not part of his people?
Are you rating yourself by where you're from or what you've done?
Are you not looking for God?

Anything you think could qualify you does you no good. Christ subverts our expectations. And those who seem least qualified are ideally placed to hear of Christ. But, don't hear and stumble - hear his invitation and receive his mercy.

Image - Creative Commons - Alexander Mueller

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use (http://planningcenteronline.com/) tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue



2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin



3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong



4. Cornerstone - Hillsong


Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…