Wecome to Logia, the personal blog of Paul Hartwig. Reflections and resources to enhance understanding of what God has revealed of himself in Scripture.
One of the most astounding thoughts to enter the mind of God-belittling and law-transgressing human beings is the idea of unconditional election. The idea that God would select such a person for himself because of nothing in themselves but in his goodness alone has the power to radically transform any person and free them to serve God with greater joy and liberty. To believe that we know Christ through no worth or work or will of our own but solely through his sovereign design is a revealed mystery that waits to go to work and effect a glorious transformation. If you really ponder what it is to be unconditionally chosen by God you will prove the apostle Paul true when he said that ‘continual transformation happens through the renewal of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). Here is the truth God has revealed relating to the ultimate ‘reason why’ someone is his child. When speaking of why Jacob was chosen above Esau, God says:
for though the twins were not yet born and had not yet done anything good or bad, in order that the purpose of God according to election would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her ‘the older will serve the younger’ (Romans 9:11-12).
We would automatically think that the reason why Jacob ended up as the Jacob of Scripture and Esau as Esau was because of something each individual did, some good or bad thing in them that caused their lives to look like it did. But no, it was nothing in them that God took into account. This Scripture makes it clear that it was the pre-birth unconditional purpose of God that caused their lives to be as they were. The reason for the distinction was ‘because of Him who calls’. Paul repeated this idea a few verses later when he said: ‘so then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs but on God who has mercy’ (Rom 9:16).
I think that there are three types of reactions to this teaching. I mention them here and I would like you to think where you are classified. The three are:
So I want to make a way for this truth – unconditional election - to come into your soul with fresh power. I want the citadel of human spiritual pride to fall – which can still stand in the hearts of those most zealous for God – and for grace to reign through this truth. Ponder the word ‘unconditional’ until it changes your outlook on your life. It means that all your past and present and future successes and failures are overlooked and in spite of yourself God set his everlasting love upon you in Christ Jesus. It means also that your family and friends who you think could never come to Christ and who are so hardened against the truth can be brought to him in spite of themselves. It means that human ‘good’ and human ‘evil’ is not the criteria that God uses in his operations. Unconditional election turns the tables upside down on the head of these things, and God alone gets the glory. Oh, it is such a superior truth and needs to reign in our hearts. We should all agree with the Charles Spurgeon who said: ‘I’m so glad that God chose me before I was born because he certainly would not have afterwards’. What a precious thing not only to agree with this this but to feel it changing us deep down and renewing the way we think about our lives.
Glory to God in the Highest for his Amazing Grace!
P.S., I must answer the common question: how do I know if I am unconditionally chosen? The right answer has always been: look to Christ and place your hope in Him and His Cross. If you do, you are ‘chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4). Don’t ask ‘Am I elect or not’. Ask, ‘Will I come to Christ’. If you do, you will know the answer to such speculations.
Pursue your highest fulfilment at all time and for all time!
Every single human being, everyone who has lived and everyone yet to be born, shares with every other human being one thing in common: all seek their own fulfilment. Every descendant of Adam and Eve is born with an internal desire to want to be fulfilled. It's the reason why we do what we do. It’s the reason I have come to Malelane, and it's the reason the Church called us. It's the reason why you married who you did or whom you want to marry. It's the reason why you work where you do, and why you wear the clothes that you do. It's the reason why every car drives on the N4. All people in the world affirm that choices based on this criterion are good, right and acceptable choices. All know that it’s not right for parents to insist that their children go into careers that they don't want to do. Every film made and all entertainment is an invitation to personal fulfilment. The world praises this motive; it’s what makes it tick! It's also the reason given for sexual 'freedom', why people protest at how they are being treated, why people purchase on credit, and, above all, what justifies the philosophy of our day of being 'true to yourself'. Pursing personal fulfilment is, has been and will be the way every single human being will live their lives and the rudder that steers their little life-boat.
I think that one of the most important discoveries anyone can make is that God himself does not ask you to repent of this ambition. He does not want you to do things that are not good for you. Did you know that? For some people being a Christian is all about doing the exact opposite: not doing things you want to do, saying 'No' to things of the world so you can put God first in your life. Let me call you to consider the great fact that God does not want you to do things that are not good for you. The great divide between wickedness and righteousness, between good and evil is not rejecting the pursuit of your personal fulfilment but in the type of fulfilment you seek and the place where you seek it. The quest for personal meaning and happiness is from Him and is affirmed, not rebuked in the Bible.
But there is a very important qualification which in the midst this motive common of every human being creates a wide and deep gulf between them, a Great Divide. It is this. Some people seek shallow and temporary fulfilment, whilst others seek the deepest and most lasting fulfilment. On the one side of the Great Divide go people who place their fulfilment in created things, and on the other go those who place their fulfilment in the Creator himself. Both groups seek personal fulfilment but they are worlds apart when it comes to the type of fulfilment and the source of that fulfilment they pursue. This is the Great Divide and why people are on one side and not the other.
Listen to God's own testimony on this matter:
"People exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25)
"By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward" (Hebrew 11:24-26).
"I have come that they [the sheep] may have life and have it in abundance" (Jesus, in Jn 10:10)
These Scriptures assume that people are motivated to seek what's good for them- this is what makes these words appealing - but the great difference is the source (creature or Creator) and quality (fleeting or eternal) of this good. And Christ, as the Infinite God who Created all things, stands as the rallying point to those on the one side, calling us to 'everlasting pleasures' which are found only in his pierced hands (Psalm 16:11) and 'life in abundance' that he feeds his sheep with. The Bible presents him as the fulfilment of the quest for human fulfilment, something everyone proves true when they have come to him hungering and thirsting for what nothing else can give. To reject him is therefore both suicidal and the most terrible thing to do.
John Newton, the ex-slave trader who wrote Amazing Grace, expressed this wonderful truth in the last two lines of his hymn Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken:
Saviour, if in Zion's city
I, through grace, a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy name:
Fading is the sinner's pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion's children know.
So, I appeal to you, take that natural and common motive for your own fulfilment and resolve to satisfy your fleeting life on the HIGHTEST things ('solid joys') and the MOST ENDURING things ('lasting treasures'). This is the great dividing line that has always and ever will pass between people living on this planet.
Which side of that Great Divide are you on?