In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. Last time we saw that the decrees of God are what he has planned and then wills to happen. This week I want to look at just one of God’s decrees that concerns humans – election to eternal life.
The Bible is quite clear that God has chosen some humans to have eternal life. The classic proof text is from Paul in Ephesians: ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves’ (Ephesians 1:4-6). So we learn from Paul that God chosen some people to be his children. And the means by which they become his children is through Jesus Christ – namely Jesus’ death on the cross.
Another instance of the doctrine of election being taught is in 2 Thessalonians: ‘But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).
But this is not a doctrine that is exclusive to Paul. For example, Jesus says in John’s gospel: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last’ (John 15:16).
Thus it is not sinful humans who decree that they will have eternal life – God alone is the one who decrees salvation for humans. This is a humbling doctrine to learn. It means that if you are a Christian, you must be forever on your knees thanking God for graciously choosing you.
So do you recognise that God alone decrees who has eternal life, or do you worship a different god?