Hey everyone. One of my dear friends emailed me today. Her husband has been in Iraq and she was awakened this morning to find out that he's been pretty seriously injured. Her email says that he lost his right leg below the knee and his left ankle is broken. She is 7 months pregnant. Some other in his squadron were also injured...it was an IED.
So, with this new Bible Study I'm attending and the series that we're starting at church, I've been hearing again about thinking and praying about people God could use me to share His message with. "Lord, grant me the opportunity and give me wisdom"
Well in an interesting set of "random" events and conversations and happenings at school, home, and church, I had a small discussion today with one of my fellow teacher friends. She was sharing with me husband's unique and I quote "strange" ideas (theistic evolution, Jesus can't be God...., Bible is full of metaphors...) and then shared with me her easy belief of "God is real, you should have a relationship with God and try to model the life Jesus lived. Not sure about other stuff (like Trinity), but I do believe this."
So I say to myself, hmm. This may provide for more discussion later on. I may need to start pulling out my Doctrine's notes and books.
I've tried to put a little bit of study and understanding from the Bible the doctrine of God's election. For the beginnings of this understanding I'm relying mainly on Romans 8 and 9 to answer some of my questions. This is just a beginning.
It's challenging to my view of God--it makes me not want to believe in this God, but I believe he is there still and that this, while I can understand what he has put before us, is not the whole story. (That's an interesting thought in itself--Does the Bible contain the whole story?) hehe. Mom Toad, and the people at BSF summed it up rather well--the simplest that we can say and TRUST in is that God is Sovereign and in that rests my faith.
I'm going to try and put some ideas out there around election...from what I can read and understand of what is written in God's Word. Again, it's not the complete picture as a human cannot provide that.
Election is about God, not about us. Election shows God's sovereignty in his role as Creator, omniscience, and purpose.
God's Omniscience: one of the most interesting concepts that I've never considered before (and wish I had a background in Greek for) is the idea of 8:28 "Those whom he foreknew" Previously before I've been taught that this relates to God's omniscience in that he knows everything that will happen before it happens. But recently with this Bible Study, I was presented with the idea that maybe "foreknew" means the "establishment of a prior relationship" God established a "pre-unity" with us in his creation of us. "to unite oneself before with someone' "this implies a personal and pre-acquaintance association...seek a relationship with the view of bestowing special favor..' (BSF Romans Lesson 16) Hence, God pre-formed us to be conformed to the image of his Son. Why us who believe? That his purpose and will may be done -- that Christ (God) and his glory may be known-- is all I know.
I also find it interesting that the word for foreknow--proginosko, as used in Acts 16:25 could be considered redundant if taken to only know "foreknew" as in know beforehand-- Acts 16:25 says "knew me from the beginning" (proginosko me anothen) From the beginning he knew me from the beginning? or maybe "From the beginning he established a relationship with me--before I was"
This prior relationship is the basis for God's justification and sanctification of ourselves--a supernatural act--not of our actions but God's. This also serves to show God's sovereignty in that our justification and becoming a "vessel of mercy" from a "vessel of wrath" is not our our works or will, but of God's works and purpose. Paul uses the examples of Ishmael & Isaac, and Jacob & Esau as other times when God set in motion a type of election to demonstrate his purpose and his sovereignty.
In the case of Ishmael and Isaac, Paul explains in 9:7-9 that being a child of Abraham does not mean that that one is a part of Israel, to whom God made promises. Ishmael was conceived naturally--by the act and will of Abraham, not God. Isaac was a "child of promise" in whose conception and birth God took supernatural action.
Again with Jacob and Esau, Esau was the firstborn and thus was due the birthright and inheritance of Isaac. However, God, before they were born and had done anything good or bad (9:11), God chose Jacob to be the patriarch of Israel--not Esau to whom it would have fallen by natural tradition. God intervened--by telling Rebekah before the children were born, because God wanted his "purpose of choice to stand." Another interesting aspect of word choice in these verses are the use of love and hate. When we consider how the word "love" is used in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 14:26 we see that love is defined by the choice to serve, which would make hate the choice not to serve.
The example of Pharaoah is also used. Pharaoah was hardened as God "raised [him] up" for the "purpose of displaying [God's] power" and glory on Earth. God chooses on whom he will have mercy based on his Purpose, not man's desire (will) or effort (works) (9:16)
This is where I begin to struggle--and Paul knows that the readers and Romans will struggle--because if God chooses on whom to have mercy, than is not also choosing and creating some to not be elected? I can't fully answer this question to clarify it in my own mind but I will be adding some more thoughts on the idea as from Romans 9:18-25. First, God is the Sovereign creator and who are we to question what he does as mere humans? (9:20-21) Second, it is made clear that we are ALL Born with sinful natures and that God does Call All and make his word and message known to all, just as he sent his message to the prophets to all of Israel, even though only a remnant would recognize Christ as the fulfillment of his promise and message. So if we are all born sinful, than we all start as vessels of sin and wrath. However, in some way not fully clear to mere human minds, some of us respond to God's call and become his vessels of mercy that his purpose and glory may be known. We were prepared in advance to be these vessels.
I read this as God takes no action, or he remains passive with the sinful dirty objects, but those whom he established a relationship and prepared, he acted (sanctified and justifed) in their lives that we maybe be objects of mercy--examples of his glory and purpose in the world.
I don't think that mere human logic can fully explain this and fully understand how God calls all, but prepares and knows only a few will accept. My mere human mind compares this to a human prediction. FOR EXAMPLE, I need to call all my parents of students, even while knowing that some of them won't make a difference in the learning/motivation of students, and knowing that some who try will only make a short-term difference, but I still try. However, this is based off the relationship, experience, and knowledge I pick up from students AFTER I begin to have them as a student. God calls all knowing that now all respond. Does he prepare all? It seem he only prepares those who will believe and patterns their lives to be like Christ's--and leaves those who will not believe to their own actions and responsibility. God will use EVERYONE, whether by "bearing patiently the objects of wrath, prepared for destruction" or by preparing in advance his "vessels of mercy" that his purpose may be complete and his glory known.
I have more understanding, but not full from these last few weeks of Bible Study in Romans. I am glad that I was prepared to be a vessel of glory, and that God is using me so that his purpose and glory may be known in preparing others to be vessels of mercy, like the circle presented in Romans 10:14-15--
call<---believe<--hear <--preach<--sent <---God calls <--person calls <--believe.....
I trust in God's Sovereignty and in my justification by Christ's death and resurrection.
I'm not sure why I never made this connection before...but in a little moment of posting before i finish reading blogs in this little bit of spare time I have until after March 3 (UIL day...)
One of the main struggles my students have is to put their mathematical/logical thought processes into symbolic form (equations).
One of my main struggles in life is to put my ideas, opinions, reflections into coherent words for others to hear.
Maybe I should sympathize a bit more. Actually I do sympathize for my students who struggle writing equations...because I can tell from they tell me about a problem and what they do manage to get on paper that they do have the right procedural ideas.