Election, Free Will and the Sovereignty of God
Greater spiritual men and women than I have taught that "election" and "free will" are like two railroad tracks in Scripture that run parallel but never intersect. I understand the purpose of the illustration to preserve the integrity of "election" and "free will". It is critical this be done so one doctrine (election) does not undermine or destroy the other (free will). I totally agree with preserving the integrity of both doctrines as taught in the bible but differ with the illustration. Because of the Cross of Christ, I content "election" intersects with "free will" and "free will" intersects with election but the Sovereignty of God preserves the integrity of both.
Scripture clearly teaches "the elect" chose by their "free will" to believe (John 3:16). Scripture also teaches "the non-elect" chose or elect by their "free will" not to believe. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40) This explains Paul’s statement concerning “the non-elect” in Romans 2:1 that "the non-elect" are without excuse. "Free will" not "election" makes the choice for an individual. "Free will" deals with the choice and "the elect" or "the non-elect" deals with the outcome of the choice.
In election, free will is always involved regardless of the outcome. Likewise, in freewill the outcome of "the elect" and "the non-elect" is determined. The Bible clearly teaches that those who exercise "free will" and choose Christ are "the elect" chosen in eternity past (Ephesians 1:4). In this lies the mystery and majesty of the Glorious Cross. Look to the Cross! It is the answer when “election” and “free will” from our vantage point seem diametrically opposite to each other.
A similar illustration in the Bible can be found in God’s perfect righteousness and love toward mankind. How can the integrity of God’s perfect love and justice be preserved without violation when all mankind is sinful and deserving of death? How can God’s perfect love for the world be preserved if His perfect justice is fully carried out against all sin (Romans 3:23)? How can God’s perfect justice for the world be preserved if his perfect love ignores his justice and wrath against sin? Is not the answer in the Cross of Jesus Christ? The Cross of Christ is where God proves both his perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24) and perfect love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).
I believe the "born again" "blood bought" sinner who questions his/her salvation or whether he/she is of "the elect" need our love, understanding and prayers. This struggle is a deep dark spiritual battle for which our shields of faith must join together. Think of it as a member of your
family, a son or daughter, being attacked. No one in the Body of Christ is immune from this attack. Remember "but by the grace of God there go I." So, pray and patiently love and exhort that brother or sister under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Only God knows the heart of man but I believe there is a significance difference between "the non-elect" and "the Christian struggling with doubt." The disposition of each is different toward the things of God. For example, the Christian in the darkness of doubt, in essence, says, "I can’t". The "non-elect" individual says, "I WON’T!" Self is on the throne. The Christian in the darkness of doubt says, "This seems so fantastic, so unreal! Why should a great God love me knowing everything about me?" The "non-elect" individual says (in his heart at least if not verbally), "If this is true, then I will have to change (turn from, repent of) the way I live! "I don’t WANT to change the way I live! I won’t be the center of the Universe any more!"
This is not the case with the Christian in the darkness of doubt. The Christian in the darkness of doubt feels a spirit of condemnation, rejection or unacceptability. It overrides their free will.
To use an analogy, they feel the coach has not chosen or elected them for the team or no longer wants them on the team. However, the Bible teaches the opposite. Joshua said, “Chose this day whom you will serve.” God let’s the individual choose or elect the team he/she wants to join and serve with.
If you experience doubt, it is good to remember that God’s grace will not deal with you on the basis of anything in you (good or bad), but only on the basis of what is in God. God’s character not yours motivated the incarnation. Doubting your salvation is a heavy burden to bear and one God never intended you to carry (Matthew 11:28-30). First Peter 5:7 gives good advice: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. You can trust Him with your soul. The simple truth is always the best: "The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want."