Sunday, February 10, 2008

God Forces His Will?

One of my readers recently commented to the effect that (paraphrased), "Some people reject the gospel preached and others accept the gospel preached. This is how they are elected or not elected. Election is not some random forcing of God's will on people. Only murderers and rapists force their wills upon others."

I answer:

This reader seems to have confused several issues.

1. Election is Unconditional

Election is not based on our good or bad actions, such as accepting/rejecting the gospel. Election is based on God's foreknowledge, his precreative love of certain people, and his desire to provide them with good things in the life to come. The doctrine of election, therefore, works humility, because we recognize that we have been chosen without regard to merit, but solely on the basis of God's love.

2. Regeneration is Logically Consequent to Election

In other words, in a sense, we are regenerated because we were elected. God regenerates the elect, not others. It is those who God intends to save in whom he begins the work of salvation. It is the grace of regeneration that is irresistible. It is saving grace being irresistible that would seem to be the basis for this reader's misplaced objection.

3. Irresistible Grace is not God "Forcing" Anything

In regeneration, God changes a man's heart. There is no direct human analog. It is like the action of God in curing blindness, deafness, lameness, and leprosy, and in raising the dead. God opens our spiritual eyes and ears so that we become aware of our state of sin and misery. He makes us realize the truth of the gospel of Repentance and Faith in Christ alone. Consequently we repent and believe and God justifies us on the basis of Christ's righteousness.

There is no "forcing" in that. There certainly is a coercive aspect to the gospel message. If you do not turn to Christ, you will burn in hell. Nevertheless, the preached word is for the audient's good. If a man repents and believes on Christ alone for salvation, he will be saved. God will show mercy to that man: He has promised to do so, and God cannot lie.

But God does not "force" people to believe. He opens their eyes to the truth. The blasphemous comparison of God to a rapist or murderer is wrong on many levels. If one wishes to make such comparisons it is better to liken God to a man who grabs a child from the train tracks. God does exercise his power, but he does so for our benefit, not our harm.

Praise be to our Mighty King!


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