God’s electing a certain definite number is a manifestation of His glory. It shows the glory of His divine sovereignty. God is declaring His absolute sovereignty over His creation. He is showing us just how far that sovereignty extends. In purposely choosing some and passing on others, He shows that His majesty and power are unparalleled. Those who do not see glory and dominion in election simply do not understand God. They are not aware of His greatness, and do not understand grace. Grace is defined in election. God chose His people to happiness and glory long before they were born. He chose them out of the mass of fallen mankind. He loved them before they knew Him. He chose them when they did not deserve to be chosen. That is grace! The doctrine of election shows that if those who received God’s grace had earnestly sought it, it was God’s grace that caused them to seek it. It shows that even their faith itself is the gift of God, and their persevering in a way of holiness unto glory is also the fruit of electing love. Believer’s love of God is the fruit of and because of God’s love to them. The giving of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, and the appointing of ordinances are all fruits of the grace of election. All the grace that is shown to mankind, either in this world or in the world to come, is comprised of the electing love of God.
– Jonathan Edwards
1703 – 1758
“But”, the Arminian protests, “how can a loving God send anyone to hell?”
That’s the wrong question. Once again, here’s the right way to ask about that:
Beautiful. No other word.
As one being saved only since ’04, and by the grace of God, slowly but surely lifted out of an arminian heritage to embrace the Word of God rather than my feelings as the standard of truth about God (I know, logically, reasonably, it should be obvious to start there, but God is patient, slowly refining the silver and removing the dross oh His own), it really becomes amazing how magnificent God is in glory as revealed by His Word.
Maybe a year and a half after salvation, I became aware of the doctrines of grace. Wow. Did I ever oppose that. Used all the tired, old arguments an arminian throws out. You know the ones:
1) I follow Christ, not Calvin
2) God said He doesn’t wish for anyone to die in their sin
3) “For God so loved the WORLD…”
4) God isn’t unjust, He would never just pick some people
5) God looked through ‘the corridors of time’ to see who…
6) God doesn’t want a bunch of robots to love Him
Then, a funny, painful, but wonderful thing occurred. I got seriously injured. I was out of work for nearly two years. The Spirit pressed upon me to begin reading the Word of God daily, not just once in a while. He pressed me to set aside my feelings and just read what the Word said, in context. To compare scripture with scripture.
I can’t lie. For a long while, I was out of sorts. I was learning that God was more terrifying, wondrous, majestic, and sovereign than I’d ever considered. I was learning that I wasn’t a ‘pretty decent guy’ when I was saved but a worthless wretch who deserved, really, actually, literally DESERVED the unbearble, ever-abiding wrath of God Most High. Talk about working out your salvation in fear and trembling.
I was forced to face facts. God is accountable only to Himself. There is no restraining power or directive over God that forces Him to do anything. All of His perfect justice, as well as His amazing grace, is simply the outflow of His holy, divine character. He does whatsoever He pleases in Heaven and on earth. Everything He does is glorious and GOOD. There is no darkness in Him. He is never unjust but perfectly just. He is the God Who said, “You thought I was just like you.”
So, over time, even though I spared no expense to disprove our doctrines of grace in favor of the doctrines of freewill (and that itself confined to one’s nature, which is only evil all the time unless the Spirit does a work, but I digress, you all know what I mean by that), time and time again, the Word made it plain:
– I am a sinner who hated God without a just cause. I could not only NOT do anything to save myself or seek after God, God’s testimony of unregenerate man is that NOT ONE ever has or will. No, not one.
– I discovered that God doesn’t balance my ‘good’ against my evil and declare a winner. In fact, the standard is absolute perfection, nothing less. Add to this that all I thought was ‘good’ or ‘righteous’ in me was tainted and impure (now we know why faithful prophets of God see Him in a vision and curse themselves). Add yet more to this with the news flash that I was born in sin. I was literally fallen from my first breath.
– I discovered that not only is God’s infinite honor, holiness, sovereignty, and loving heart slighted by my sin, He demands a fair recompense. How can a finite creature, who is profitless to God, either pay Him restitution in full or escape his own vile nature to achieve an acceptable stance with God? In other words, how could I satisfy God’s justice and become righteous?
– And here is the kicker. I believe this Gospel. I see changes that never had been wrought before, so I assume I made a very wise choice indeed to put my faith in Jesus Christ. But the Bible knows of no such animal. Faith is a gift. Who gave that gift? I didn’t give it to myself from some secret storehouse in the ‘good’ corner of my soul, did I?
And now today, I read what is posted above, the words of Jonathan Edwards. And it is absolutely wonderful to me. It makes me so small, but my God so great. Owing to nothing in me, in reality or ‘potential’, as He was passing by my dead carcass, He took pity on me to display the wonder of His gracious heart, this God Who Lord of all. Amazing grace. Real grace. Not a cooperative between my ‘not-entirely-depraved-wiil’ but solely His grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ, a gift from Him, so that I cannot boast.
Just a few years ago, the beauty of this writing would have been lost on me. How wondrous is the Lord! I, who used to pull out the big ‘heretic’ guns and level them at those ‘arrogant’ calvinists, am now humbly on that grace-soaked shore.
I will tell you one thing, though. Being walked through truth by my God in His Word, to not only learn correct doctrine but also to love His Word because it’s His, has equipped me to ‘remember my youth’ and maintain patience with those young in the faith who still little understand how it was wrought. Now those ‘heretic guns’ are levelled at me but I am not undone. I stand simply on the Word of God. I have yet to actually read more than an online snippet of Calvin once in a while (though I hope to read his writings some day).
Besides doctrine built on scripture rather than my own opinions or the opinions of others, I have that peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding. He will not lose a single one of His own. I am already seated with Him in the heavenlies.
Anyway, thank you for the quote. How mighty and wondrous is the grace of God in Christ Jesus!