Chosen by God
In William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the character Portia delivers a soliloquy that illustrates the playwright’s regard for the principles of mercy and forgiveness:
Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy.
When considering the doctrine of election—that God “predestined us for adoption”—we need to ask not “Why would God not choose everyone?” but rather “Why would God choose to have mercy on anyone?” The truth is, if justice alone were served, we would all face condemnation, for condemnation is what our sin deserves. Yet in His love for us, God chose that we “should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He did not choose us because of anything in us (which would be the occasion for pride in ourselves) but simply because of the love that is in Him (which should cause us to praise and worship Him).
One effect that an understanding of our election has on us as Christians is that it compels us to take our sin ever more seriously, for the purpose of Him choosing us is that “we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4). In other words, while He didn’t choose us because we are holy, we have been chosen in order that we might become holy. There is something dreadfully wrong when a belief in the electing love of God results in our declaring the right to live in any way we choose. In fact, individuals who consistently, continually live in sin yet claim salvation show that they have not understood God or His gospel at all.
By contrast, the evidence that we have been chosen by God, set apart for Him, and ministered to by Him through the Holy Spirit is ultimately seen as we are increasingly conformed to the image of His Son. Growth in moral purity is the ultimate indication of a deep devotion to Jesus Christ. A genuine interest in and wonder at the electing love of God produces in us a conformity to Jesus’ own beauty.
What will we expect to see in the lives of people who truly understand this? Likely not bravado, self-centered talk, or empty defenses of the Christian faith. No—we will see humility coexisting with security, their conversation full of Christ instead of themselves, and lives of joy and sacrifice. That can be, and should be, what you see in yourself, imperfectly but increasingly. And that is what will grow in you to the extent that you say to yourself with a smile and a sense of awe, “It is not that I chose Him; He chose me.”
The Ten Commandments
1And God spoke all these words, saying,
2“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3“You shall have no other gods before1 me.
4“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousands2 of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13“You shall not murder.3
14“You shall not commit adultery.
15“You shall not steal.
16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
18Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid4 and trembled, and they stood far off 19and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
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