10/6/16 Louis 30
Louis, 30, has heard the Gospel plenty, having grown up in a Christian household, gone to a Christian school, read the Bible through at a young age, now living with his sister and her husband who are both active in their Christian faith, and, if that’s not enough, hearing the Gospel anew from me during a lengthy sidewalk conversation yesterday. But he told me he had made up his mind at the young age of seven that he doesn’t believe and that God most likely does not exist, and from what I could tell he has not wavered in his unbelief ever since. It makes me return to the fact that repeatedly, throughout scripture, we’re told that God has chosen or “elected” those who will believe and those who will not, as in Romans 9: “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” And, believe it or not, this gives me great hope for someone like Louis.
Many see the doctrine of election as a hard teaching that they want to ignore when they encounter it throughout the Bible. It seems unfair if we assume that because God shows mercy to some He must show mercy to all, forgetting that all have sinned and no one deserves salvation. It can be hard to face the fact that we who believe are chosen for repentance, faith and salvation through no merit of our own, only the sovereign will of God. But I believe the constant references in the Bible about God’s choice of who will be saved is there to give us assurance about our own salvation, and hope for the salvation of others.
It gives us assurance of our own salvation because we are reminded that it is by grace we are saved, not of ourselves. God gives us salvation as a gift that we didn’t have to earn and don’t have to continue to earn. We just live life in awe and wonder at our good fortune, at the opportunity to be involved in the giving of that gift to others, and at the opportunity to show Jesus love through obeying His commands.
Election also gives us hope for the salvation of others, because nothing, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” And that includes even the present unbelief of someone like Louis. If he is one of the elect, chosen for salvation, then no matter how stubborn and obstinate he is in his unbelief now, it is only a matter of time and the prayers and loving outreach of others until he comes to faith. And since no one can know this side of belief who will eventually come to faith, let’s just keep praying for and sharing the good news with others in the hope and knowledge that some will indeed be saved.