It’s been much too long since I’ve talked about the elements of T.U.L.I.P., partly because I’d forgotten about it and partly because I didn’t want to do the hard work involved in explaining each element. But I remembered yesterday, and I believe that it’s important for us to resume the discussion.
Having written a few articles exploring Total Depravity (or Total Inability), which you can read here and here, I will now move on to Unconditional Election. This doctrine, as well as its sister doctrine of Predestination, offends many genuine Christians (and yes, many Arminians are as saved as their Calvinist brothers and sisters). For many years, it very much offended me. It denies the notion that people can accept or reject Jesus Christ on the basis of our own free will, proclaiming God’s complete sovereignty is salvation.
Due to my physical limitations, I can’t type out all the Scriptures that teach the doctrine of Election, so I hope you’ll take time to examine What does the Bible teach about election? on the Grace To You website. For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll concentrate on the Scriptural passage that addressed my objection that God would somehow be unfair in choosing to save some people and condemn others:
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? ~~Romans 9:14-21 (ESV)
Like most people, I had a problem with God being the One to decide who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. I resented the idea that I couldn’t make that determination for myself. I wanted to take credit for “accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior.”
Ladies, do you see that I was essentially trying to rob the Sovereign Lord of His glory? If I could make the claim that I made the ultimate decision to become a Christian, I would deserve praise for making the right choice. Oh, I could find ways to couch it in false humility so that I appeared to honor God, but in my heart of hearts I clung to the idea that I deserved acclaim for my salvation. It hurt my pride to consider the possibility that God took complete control in bringing me to Himself.
The doctrine of election humbles us by highlighting God’s sovereignty. But rather than proudly resist that sovereignty, let’s rejoice in His unexplainable grace in saving any of us at all! Not one of us deserves His mercy, and yet He kindly gives His elect the faith to believe in Him.