A Place Where I can Stand

If you haven't read my prior post on Romans 9, you should do so for back ground on this.

To say that Romans 9 threw me for a loop is accurate, I'd guess, but not exactly fair to Romans. There was this pondering in the far back reaches of my consciousness, the dark corners of my mind, about election. It was brought on in no small part by discussions with and readings of Jared Wilson who I respect greatly and who is an unapologetic Calvinist. He hasn't spend many electrons on the subject in recent years, but it was a more active topic at his former blog.

So, the idea that perhaps I've misjudged the idea of election or predestination has been rattling around in my head for some time now. Romans 9 simply reached into the shadows and yanked it forward where I had to deal with it.

The comments on my post and Codepoke's writings on the subject (see this post about elephants. Really. Also, his series on the 5 points of Calvinism (read from the bottom up) which I'm not yet through). I'm not sure I'm on board with what he's saying, but they've helped in two ways.

First, I really appreciate how he steps away from the obvious interpretation, takes all the facts, shuffles them like a deck of cards and rearranges them into a new way that wasn't at all obvious going in. In other words, he makes it clear that from another perspective that I'm not able to see, things can make sense. Of course, God has a view that we cannot imagine and from where he sits, it makes perfect sense.

Second, He has illustrated plainly that God has in fact acted, with impunity, decisively and without concern for our sense of fairness to choose people at various points in time. Abraham, for example, was chosen to build God's nation with no chance for anyone else or any other people to apply for the job. Isreal was built from his flesh when his flesh had been well past the time for tit to be making any new flesh. And God intervened in history and created a nation for himself. Hard to argue that as anything but divine intervention.

And yet, my flesh rebels against the idea that God is choosing without respect to man's effort or desire. It feels disheartening. Makes me wonder, "Why bother?" If God is going to pick who He's going to pick, what does it matter if I ppreach or share or teach or even seek? It's up to God. Period.

Yet he also promises that he rewards those ho seek him and that those who seek will find. The world around us, which Romans also tells us teaches us about who God is, rewards men for their efforts. Hard work is rewarded and determination brings success. The Bible tells us that sin prevents us fom entering the kingdom. God looks at the heart, he said when choosing David, so clearly our efforts are not in vain.

So, there's this mysterious ying yang going on where man's effort and heart and God's sovereign choice work hand in hand. He ultimately in control, yet we influence, somehow, and at some times. At others, He simply acts decisively.

Which is which? When does God do what? How do we make sense of it? How can I possibly understand it?

Well, the one thing I see from the diverse comments left here is that while none of you completely agree with each other, and none can claim to explain it all, you have each found for yourselves an interpretation of the scriptures that you can live with. Something that either explains it enough or you've made peace with the mystery.

As I prayed tonight, I was tempted to ask God to understand it, to know all what went into it, I realized what a foolish thought that was. If I had a few lifetimes to research it and ponder it, I'd never understand the mystery of God's intervention in the world. I did not need the whole truth, although that would be nice. I simply needed to understand enough, to be able to imagine a possible resolution, to find a place where my faith and my understanding of the facts could co-exist.

What I needed is a place where I could stand with God.

A place where my limited understanding doesn't clash with his perfection. A place where my rationalizations don't negate his sovereignty. A place where I can believe something that I can live with but that doesn't contradict his divinity.

So that's my request of Him. Show me enough that I can make sense of it. Show me a way to look at it that I can accept. Give me just what I need so I can walk with you and know that you remain just and compassionate.

Is that a cop out? Maybe, but that's all I can do right now. The alternative is giving up on God, and there are far too many reasons not to do that. His love for me in Jesus is enough to not ever consider that. So, a cop out, a compromise, a set of blinders placed at the proper angle, whatever.

I just need a place where I can stand with God.

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as far as giving up on preaching...I believe that God ordained the ends (election). I also know that He ordained the means (preach the Gospel to every living creature).

I became more comfortable with election when I set about knowing myself more and discovered that the more I know ME, the more I know that if the choice was left up to me, I would not have chosen Christ...He had to have chosen me.

That gives me a greater understanding of the depth of His grace and the powerless of my own self. I am truly at His mercy and that makes the power of His grace that much more.

No longer is it [Christ (+ works)] or [Christ (+ my choice) = salvation.

It's all Christ.

Yet, maybe the good news is that none of us completely DISagrees with the others ... as MzEllen says, at the center of all of it is Christ.

And, although a part of me doesn't want to accept it, I'm coming to believe that "... it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Nothing makes it clearer for me than Ephesians 2 that what I may think are my works, are actually God working in and through me - even my faith, a gift from Him. He's doing through me the good works that He prepared in advance for me to do.

And I choose to let Him, out of gratitude for what He has already done for me through Christ.

Sometimes I say things that make perfect sense to me, are in line with everything I've said before and someone wonders why I'm saying something different. In essence, what someone else said, Jesus is in the center of it, we can have different understanding on it and still be brothers/sisters in Christ. In this case I think it fits that to God He's like it makes perfect sense but to us it could mean different things. Probably because there is emotion involved.

Either way, good stuff.



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