"But God ..."

I spent some time recently reading on the doctrines of divine election and human responsibility. I did so because I find great encouragement and comfort in them. A number of years ago, as I worked my way through these doctrines, I came to the conclusion that if my salvation is by grace alone… then the reason God chose me had nothing to do with me ... but it had everything to do with Him. Was it a random choice? Did God play a game of darts in eternity past, and every human being that was to be born who was hit with a dart he chose for himself? Hardly! God never does anything arbitrary. Rather he does everything according to his good pleasure. So why he chose me… I will never know. But I do know this: it had nothing to do with me!

So, if I came to faith because God elected (chose) me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), what about those who ultimately don't believe. Will they be able to blame God for failing to choose them when they stand before him at the final judgment? No. The Bible makes it clear that human beings are accountable to God for their choices. And since God has revealed himself clearly to humanity in the things he has made ... people who reject him will be without excuse (Romans 1:18-20). So those who will face eternal judgement will do so because of their unbelief. This is the clear teaching of Scripture. 

How do I put these two seemingly contradictory doctrines together? Frankly, I don't! Arguably the greatest preacher of the 19th century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was once asked to reconcile these truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the outworking of salvation. His response?
"I only reconcile enemies. These two truths are friends taught side-by-side in the word of God."

Often as I think through these truths (as well as other difficult doctrines revealed in the Scriptures), I think of the words of Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." Keep in mind that God is the Creator. He has existed forever. He designed us and he made us. Therefore we should expect, because of the great and vast gulf between us and Him (Isaiah 55:8-9), there will be many truths which we will find difficult to grasp. And when we start thinking (as some do) that God is not "playing fair" when it comes to his choosing a people for himself out of lost humanity, (while not choosing all) we must remember that he is the potter and we are merely the clay (Romans 9:19-21). Understanding that will go a long way toward helping us to worship and love him as we should!

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