Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Primer On Election - Part 2

In the last post I began an article by Steve Shank that opened up the topic of divine election. It ended with the beginning of a discussion on the "Eight C's of Salvation". Today we'll continue to look at two more of those C's in the second part of our Primer on Election.


Who Makes The First Move?
(continued)
by Steve Shank

#2: Created by God

God is the author of life. Over and over the Bible tells us each life comes from him. “Your hands shaped me and made me,” said Job, a prominent character in the Old Testament (Job 10:8). “All things were created by him and for him,” wrote the apostle Paul (Colossians 1:16). Probably the most well-known and intimate account of God’s role in creating life was penned by King David in Psalm 139:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. (Psalm 139:13-16)

God decided which cell from your mother’s body and which cell from your father’s body would unite their unique genetic codes to create the one and only you. Had two other cells been involved, you wouldn’t have turned out as you did. You would look like someone else, think like someone else, feel like someone else, be someone else. You are you for one reason only: God wanted to make you this way.

No life is a mistake, even if the circumstances surrounding its beginning seem disastrous. I once heard about a young woman who crumpled in the aisle of her church, sobbing uncontrollably. Years of doubt, years of guilt couldn’t pour out of her eyes fast enough. You see, she had spun her self-image around a horrible fact: her mother had been brutally raped. And though urged to have an abortion, her mother had made the difficult decision that the child inside her would live. Now that child needed to know she wasn’t a mistake. She needed to be assured there was a reason and plan for her existence.

I’ve heard it said there is no such thing as an illegitimate child, only illegitimate parents. There are aspects of God’s plan that remain shrouded in mystery. However, we can cling to the truth that God is completely trustworthy. He reigns in sovereign power. And regardless of the circumstances surrounding your conception, God was in control, creating you for his pleasure. He reaches down into even the most devastating situation and redeems it for his glory and your good.

Knowing God created you should bring tremendous security and peace. However, it also brings humility. Had you merely evolved from an ape or a clump of algae, you would be free to do whatever you want in life. But you are the handiwork of your Creator. To borrow an illustration from the prophet Isaiah, you are a pot in the hands of the Master Potter. He is entitled to shape your life in the way he sees best. And in his mercy, he has fashioned you for a noble purpose (Romans 9:21).

#3: Our Condition

Most people misunderstand their condition before God. They would admit they are sinful, but only in a relative sense. They think in terms of “big” sins and “little” sins. If all they have done is cheat on their income tax or lie to a supervisor, they consider themselves superior to the person who goes out and commits cold-blooded murder. In other words, they assume God will be satisfied with anyone who is basically a “good person.”

Such thinking shows a serious ignorance of God’s Word. We are not sinners because we sin; the Bible says we sin because we are sinners. Our sin is an inherited condition. The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin polluted humanity’s gene pool. Every child born on this planet, with the exception of Jesus Christ, comes fully equipped with a warped, sinful disposition. It’s there from the moment of conception. All of our sinful conduct—lying, hatred, jealousy, anger, pride, lust, selfishness, and murder stems from this condition theologians call “original sin.” Here is a biblical diagnosis of the human condition:

Hopelessly separated from God (Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:21; Romans 6:23). There is simply no way we could ever make ourselves acceptable to the holy and Almighty God.

Spiritually dead (Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13).

Hostile toward God (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). Left to ourselves, all of us shake our stubborn fists at the King, Lord, and Ruler of our lives.

Blinded and enslaved by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Powerless to overcome sin (Romans 1:28-32, 5:6; John 8:34).

Unable to understand the things of God (Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 55:8-9; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Incapable of living a spiritually fruitful and meaningful life (John 15:4-6).

That’s a pretty bleak picture, isn’t it? The Bible doesn’t rank sins the way we do. It doesn’t grade on a curve. It lumps tax evaders and serial killers together as sinners. Anyone who considers himself or herself “basically a good person” is terribly deceived. Apart from Christ we’re all dead, lost, powerless, ungodly, helpless, blind, and enemies of God.

Scripture’s assessment may seem depressing, but it is meant to set you free. Once you see your true condition before God, you’ll stop doing what my daughter Janelle did. You’ll stop trying to hang onto God, and you’ll realize how completely dependent you are on him to hang onto you. Your only hope—and what a sure and certain hope it is!—rests on the fact that God devised a way to deliver you from your lost and sinful condition.

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