Blog

The beauty of God's choice of sinners

There is, I believe, a sublime beauty in the fact that I did not choose God, but He chose me. According to Ephesians 1:4, God chose us in Christ “before the creation of the world”. There is nothing in me that caused that choice, not even my faith (foreseen or otherwise). If our being adopted by God were based on anything in us, even if only our faith, then God would not be choosing us so much as giving us what we deserved. Our faith would have merited our salvation.

As it is God declares in Ephesians 2:8 that our salvation, including the faith that receives it, is a gift from God. We can claim nothing in us that earns what we get from God. In fact, left to our own devices we would never come to choose God in faith. According to the Bible we will never choose rightly. Why? Because (i) every thought of our hearts inclines towards evil (Genesis 8:21), (ii) naturally no one seeks God (Romans 3:11), (iii) the truth of the gospel is spiritually discerned and men and women in their natural state cannot grasp it (1 Corinthians 2:14), and (iv) we are naturally blinded to the glory of the gospel unless and until God shines His light into our hearts to show us the “knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ Jesus.” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

Now there are many who find this idea of God choosing us, before we are even born, to be offensive. They feel affronted that they did not have the free will to choose for themselves. I think that is based on a misunderstanding of freedom of the will. Of course nothing from outside of us constrains us, and to that extent we are free and our choices are real, responsible and free. The trouble is that our wills are bound from within, and bound by our sin. We end up always doiung that which our hearts most desire. And because of sin, we naturally tend to that which is wrong or to do right seeming things from wrong motives. But I also think that in our modern era, Christians have taken in too much of the idolatry of the supposed free will that is entitled to make its own choice. I love John Piper’s summary of Augustine on this question of free will. “The ideal of freedom,” he writes, “is to be so spiritually discerning of God’s beauty, and so in love with God, that one never stands in equilibrium between God and an alternate choice…In Augustine’s view, the self-conscious experience of having to contemplate choices was a sign not of the freedom of the will, but of the disintegration of the will. The struggle of choice is a necessary evil in this fallen world until the day comes when discernment and delight unite in a perfect apprehension of what is infinitely delightful, namely God.”[1] In short, “free will”, if defined as the freedom to choose between what God says is good and what He says is bad, is not a God given ideal, but a product of the fall. That is why it is right and proper that God’s salvation of us, in union with Christ, should be an act that is totally dependent upon His grace.

And God’s choosing of us was taught by the Apostle Paul as something to delight in, not to argue about. He was not interested in what many of us perceive as unfairness, except to ask who we are to speak back to God, querying why he acts like He does (Romans 9:19-21). What he saw in God’s sovereign election was something to be supremely glad about. Montgomery and Jones have a wonderful way of putting it: “God in Christ has declared over you ‘I could have chosen anyone in the world as my child, and I chose you. No matter what you say or do, neither my love nor my choice will ever change.”[2] And right there is the pastoral beauty of God choosing us and not us choosing Him, and His doing so out of His own purposes and will and good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5) and not for anything He foresaw in us. It is the absolute security of being God’s by His will. God is never going to change His mind.

This is a great source of comfort. If you are trusting Christ for your salvation, knowing you needed your sins forgiven and that His blood shed for you is the only way that can happen, then you have been chosen by a holy and sovereign God and will be presented before Him pure and spotless. God peered out across the centuries and saw you and chose to place His electing love on you for reasons that are not capricious or unjust but which are hidden in the counsels of God. They are not predicated on anything in me whether extant or simply potential. Oh how beautiful is the unconditional election of God!



[1] John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2000), 62.

[2][2] Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones, Proof: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace (Grand Rapids, Mich.: 2014) (I am using the Kindle format so I cannot cite the page number).

 

Subscribe to Blog

RSS Feed



Blog Posts

When our sorrow may be sinful
12 Sep 2016
Seeking more
09 Apr 2016
How do I work hard for fellow believers?
06 Jan 2016
Getting to the meat
05 Oct 2015
The beauty of God's choice of sinners
03 Aug 2015
Knowing it is for good
04 Jun 2015
Getting more from the Bible
08 Apr 2015
Seeing beyond the obvious
12 Jan 2015
Fully equipped
22 Nov 2014
The sweet longing
24 Sep 2014
Praying for a thankful heart
27 Aug 2014
A little naughtiness or something far, far worse?
22 Jul 2014
Coming to know God
21 Jun 2014
Hanging on the promises, hoping in God
03 Jun 2014
Pious limitations
13 May 2014
Reuniting the divided life
29 Apr 2014
God communicates to us when he shows us Christ
07 Apr 2014
A journey into beauty
01 Apr 2014
"The death of self-importance"
10 Mar 2014
Passion for Life
27 Feb 2014
Am I really a Christian?
10 Feb 2014
Christianity is not morality
20 Jan 2014
Are our devotions really devotional?
08 Jan 2014
Let us resolve to not be lukewarm
06 Jan 2014
A baby who is so much more than a baby
03 Dec 2013
"The gift of desire", what St Anselm saw
18 Nov 2013
I can get satisfaction
13 Nov 2013
What's in a biography?
26 Oct 2013
The beauty of God's way of salvation
26 Oct 2013
Why not, Mr Dawkins?
26 Oct 2013
What is the ultimate good of our hearts?
08 Oct 2013
Boasting in the offence of the cross
30 Sep 2013
Too heavenly minded to be of earthly use?
17 Sep 2013
What's in a name?
02 Sep 2013
Revival and building houses
27 Aug 2013
Do you delight in God even when he withholds?
20 Aug 2013
How much do we value God's presence?
01 Aug 2013
Why sincerity is not enough
24 Jul 2013
An invitation to true blessing
15 Jul 2013
When not being happy might be a sin
08 Jul 2013
"Created in Christ Jesus to do good works"
01 Jul 2013
The worst has already happened so that the best can
24 Jun 2013
A misplaced "Wow!"
04 Jun 2013
I know I am supposed to change, but how?
25 May 2013
God's delight in saving sinners
11 May 2013
"A God Entranced Vision of All Things"
07 May 2013
Our most fatal allergy; our most deadly addiction
23 Apr 2013
Wowed, urged on and imploring
15 Apr 2013
Responding to God's peace
08 Apr 2013
Which Jesus?
02 Apr 2013
When we mess up
02 Apr 2013
Image and Desires
28 Feb 2013