Yesterday we explained that the basis of the doctrine of election is the underserved grace of God. God’s choice to save you had nothing to do with anything that you have done or will do. Which leads to a natural objection: why does it matter what I believe about election?
Did you ever hear the story about the guy who bought his mom an expensive parrot for Mother’s Day? He paid $10,000 for a parrot that could speak forty languages and sing a few hymns. He sent the bird to his mom and didn’t hear back for a few days. Nervous that she wasn’t happy with his gift, he called his mom and asked her, “how’d you like the bird?” To which she replied, “It was great!!!” Filled with pride, the son asked, “What did you like best about it?” She answered, “The thighs. They were delicious.” Wrong interpretation leads to wrong application.[i]
That principle is certainly true in how we understand the doctrine of election. If you believe you are chosen because God observed the future and saw your faith, who gets the glory that you’re a Christian? You do! Because you were one of the special ones who was smart enough to believe! God simply had the ability to see the future and observe the fact that you would believe. God is like the NFL team looking for a highly rated draft pick to take them deep into the postseason. But who gets the glory when the team wins the Super Bowl and the draft pick is the MVP? The scouts, or the player? Wrong interpretation leads to wrong application.
But if you believe you are chosen because God ordained the future and gave you faith, who gets the glory that you’re a Christian? God does! And that’s exactly what the doctrine of election is meant to do. It’s meant to drive you to your knees in humble worship of a massively glorious God.
If you look carefully at 1 Peter 1:1-2, you’ll notice that Peter’s aim is to shine the spotlight on God. We see the election of the Father, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the sacrifice of the Son. Each of them is involved in this glorious doctrine and as a result, God gets the glory. That’s also his point in verse 3, which we’ll cover in more detail next week: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” God caused us to be born again, therefore God gets the glory.
Paul is making the same point in Ephesians 1:3-6—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (5) he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Why are we “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world?” Why are we “predestined for adoption”? To the praise of His glorious grace! God gets the glory!
Does that bother you? Are you disturbed by a God who wants His glory to be seen and shared? A Bible teacher named Mark Webb was teaching on the doctrine of election when he asked for questions from the class. One lady was obviously upset. She said, ‘This is the most awful thing I’ve ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men and women who would be saved, receiving only the elect.’
This was his answer: “You misunderstand the situation. You’re visualizing that God is standing at the door of heaven, and men are thronging to get in the door, and God is saying to various ones, ‘Yes, you man come, but not you, and you, but not you.’ The situation is hardly this. Rather, God stands at the door of heaven with his arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction towards hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectively draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come.
Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. Were it not for election, heaven would be an empty place, and hell would be bursting at the seams. . . . If you perish in hell, blame yourself, as it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven, credit God, for that is entirely His work! To Him alone belong all praise and glory, for salvation is all of grace, from start to finish.”[ii]
[i] As told in John Onwuchekwa, Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 33.
[ii] Mark Webb. As quoted by C.J. Mahaney, https://www.sgclouisville.org/from-the-pastors/post/sermon-quotes--sovereign-grace- Accessed July 30, 2020.