ELECTION AND PREDESTINATION
“Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by Him who calls – she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'” Romans 9:10-13.
This election thing is mighty confusing, isn’t it? It seems as though God is unfair. How can He choose some people to salvation and others to condemnation before they are even born? But wait a minute. Before we jump to such conclusions, we need to get rid of some assumptions.
Take predestination, for example. Does the Bible imply that God sits in heaven sorting people out and saying, “One for heaven, one for hell,” like a love-sick teenager picking petals off a daisy and chanting, “He loves me, he loves me not”? Not at all! What kind of God would He be to do that? What does the Bible say?
Predestination is not about eternal salvation but about destiny. So what’s the difference? Look at it this way. If I choose to make medicine my career, the moment I walk through the doors of the university and begin my studies, I am destined to be a doctor. I will study medicine and be trained in the skills and practices of a medical doctor and when I Ieave the university and go out to practice what I have learned, I will be able to give myself the title, Dr So-and-So because that is what I have been trained to do.
The only difference between what happens to me in my career which is earthly and temporary and my eternal destiny is that God pre-destined me, not to be a doctor but to be conformed to the image of His Son. Before the foundation of the world, He decided that those who believe in His Son will perfectly resemble Him when God has completed His work in them. Can you see the difference? It’s not about who will be saved and who will not be saved. It’s about who we will be like when we have followed Jesus and lived out this life.
What about election? Again, we must set aside our assumptions and read what the Bible actually says. Election is also not about salvation. It’s about God’s choice of what people will do with their lives. He chose Jacob to be the ancestor of the people through whom He would create a nation that would belong to Him. He wanted a group of people with whom He would be in a covenant relationship and through whom Messiah would come.
He chose Jacob over Esau before their birth, not because of anything they had done but because of His grace. It was about Him, not about them; about His purposes, not theirs. Why did Paul quote the verse, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”? This is not about emotion but about intention. Jesus used the same idea to describe what a disciple’s attitude should be towards Him in comparison with his relationship to his closest relatives. Love – hate is about priorities, not attitudes.
God chose and focussed His attention on Jacob because He had chosen him to be a forefather of Jesus. That did not mean that Esau was chosen for hell. It meant that God had a different purpose for him and his descendants and it was up to him to obey God and fulfil his purpose in God’s scheme of things.
God’s purposes for us are all different, but that does not mean that we are not part of His big plan. If we obey Him, we are all part of what He is doing even if we are not in the limelight as His people were. What is most important to us is that we are accountable for our choices and for the way we live our lives, whether we fulfil our destiny or not.
So. let’s not misjudge God. Let’s check His word and see for ourselves that His dealings with us are always in love and grace. That we have any part in His plan is because of His mercy. When we are in Christ, we have a destiny to be like Jesus and to be part of God’s plan to reach others in whichever way He calls us and fits us for our calling. Our response should always be one of thanksgiving for His mercy and trust that He will perfect His will in us as we follow and obey Him.
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