Thursday, December 27, 2007

God Chooses Faith

God has mercy on whom he will have mercy. For some, those words limn an arbitrary selection, made draft board-like by a God who keeps his own counsels. Though God speaks these words self-descriptively, are they meant to convey divine capriciousness? Considering that God says so much else about himself that is not capricious, I would say, no.

That God exerts his will to direct the course of history to a foregone conclusion does not mean that true independence amongst humankind has to be co-opted in order to accomplish his aims. In an earlier post, I pointed out God’s ultimate purpose in making us was to create family and friends that could relate to him on his level. Certainly, one aspect of that level, is freedom of choice and action. I believe it is essential, in God’s design in choosing ends, that humans express freedom of choice and action. Is faith even possible under any other conditions?

Paul tells us that faith is the crucial factor in God’s selecting. Faith is what includes us, unbelief is what excludes us. And just so we’re clear on this, faith is not the result of our desire or work, it is merely a reaction to God’s intervention. Apart from God interjecting himself into our affairs and presenting us choices, no one would call on him, but God sends word to us of possibilities with him. He asks us to trust him, to make a faith choice, a real choice. Who can get the credit for that but God? Those that get saved merely respond to God’s tap on their shoulder; nonetheless, everyone who walks into the kingdom to come will be able to say they did so because they believed in what God said and did. After all, we’re not puppets or pets.


God does not intend that people walk in uncertainty, wondering whether or not they are one of the ones that he’s pre-wired for salvation. Nor does he desire any to smugly rest on their laurels, certain that they are. He asks us to examine ourselves to see if we are in faith. It can serve little purpose, it seems to me, for folk to get lost in arcane theological conceptions of election when, practically speaking, the point becomes moot if one believes and has experienced the reassuring work of the Holy Spirit. The only truly helpful thing for those who call upon the Lord to know about election is that God chooses faith.

7 comments:

  1. hey there slw!
    how ya doin?
    the sun is hanging around a little more each day!

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  2. I have a little book on faith by John Arnott in which he says this (amongst other things):

    "God does not respond to need - He responds to faith."

    That's a profoundly true statement when we think it through from all angles.

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  3. Hello Nancy,
    Hope your holidays were blessed. That sun, needs to read Proverbs 25:17.

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  4. Mark,
    God does respond to faith, perhaps because faith is our response to him. It's like the next phrase in the conversation between us.

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  5. I hate technical questions, because it seems that so much of Christianity is NOT about technicalities.
    BUT.
    I read the scriptures on examining ones self, and I'm wondering the technical question of... what am I examining for? For all my 'doing the right things' only God can see the heart and understand I did it all for the wrong reasons (or right reasons). And from the same scripture, what is the test I should be testing myself with that I might fail?

    I hate obscurity. I hate it.

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  6. @flyawaynet:
    The process of examination is one of assaying, or determining the nature or make-up of a sample. Our judgment of ourselves is suspect in this regard (1 Cor 4:3-4), but is capable of dealing with whether or not we are in the faith. That is not, strictly speaking, fruit inspection, although that may enter in to the consideration. Primarily, this examination revolves around our connection to Christ. It can start with the question Christ asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16:15-17) and proceed to acknowledgement of his Lordship (1 Cor 12:3; Rom 10:9) and then visit our sense of adoption (Rom 8:15-16). Such examination may bring us to a sense or conviction or regret concerning the course of our thoughts or actions, and then will lead to confession (1 John 1:7-2:2) and repentance (I know you’ve seen Mark Hadfield’s excellent post on that subject). Paul seems to have brought up the matter to help the Corinthians understand how out of place their actions and attitudes were for true believers.

    I hope this provides something a bit more concrete for you. Let me know if it leaves you in obscurity. Blessings.

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  7. Good post here, and at Mark's blog. That's what being a new creation means to me. Being born again....

    I want to wish you and your family a Blessed and Happy New Year!

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