Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lest Any Man Should Boast

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Lest any man should boast! If any man is a saved, born again believer in Christ, he should understand that he has no reason to boast. He should understand that it is nothing that he has done that has earned him his salvation. In fact there is nothing he could have done to gain God's favor. This verse is one (of many) of the reasons that the system of theology that I hold to makes me what may be called a "Sovereign Grace Baptist" as opposed to a "Free Will Baptist". Sovereign Grace Baptists, of course, are those who agree with the "Doctrines of Grace", more commonly called Calvinism.

Calvinism! That name is certainly one that will get a reaction from nearly anyone who calls himself a Christian! Often the reaction may go something like this: "those Calvinists are so arrogant that they think God chose them and no one else; what makes them think they are so special?" In truth, I am sure that there are some who call themselves Calvinists who probably do have such an attitude to some extent. Some of those may just misunderstand the doctrine, some may just misunderstand the Bible, and I fear some of them are just not even really Christians. But that is fair, because I am sure that there are as many that would say that they believe in "Free Will" occupying those same boats.

No Calvinist that properly understands the doctrines of Grace would argue that God chose to save him because of any good he saw in him. Just the opposite, in fact. They would argue that God chose them despite what he saw in him! This passage in Ephesians clearly states that no man has any reason to boast of salvation. If this is true (and it is, because the Bible says it) then whichever of these two doctrines allows room for boasting must have a problem.

When I was saved I fully believed that I had "made a decision" to "accept Christ". As I came to understand the Doctrines of Grace, I saw that if that had been true, then the only difference between myself and someone else who heard the same gospel yet did not get saved, was that I "made a decision". Would that not give me something to boast of? Even if I were just as vile and wretched a sinner (or worse) than the other, could not I boast that at least I could see my need of a savior? Would that not set me apart as in some measure better than the other?

I realize that this can be hard to get your mind around. If God chooses to save one and does not chose another, it is tough for us to grasp that it has nothing to do with him seeing something good, or lovely, or desirable in the one he "elects" to salvation. Perhaps that is because we, by nature, use such criteria when we chose who we will love.

Romans 9:11-14 reads thus: "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." For the most part, I think most who believe in free will (in regards to salvation) would explain that in election (choosing), God looks forward in time and "elects" to salvation those who of their own free will, chose to accept Christ. If this be true, doesn't Jacob have somewhat to boast of? After all, by that reasoning, he had enough good in him to "make a decision for Christ," when his brother Esau was so rotten that he didn't. Is not "accepting Christ" a good work? I cannot think of anything that one could do that would be better. Yet this portion of scripture states that election is not of works.

So why does God choose to save one and not the other if its not based on "accepting Christ". Romans 9:15 says: "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." Simply put, it is God's will that determines the matter. He will do whatever pleases him. That's not fair, you say? Do you really want fair? Do you really want justice? Justice would demand that each and every one of us go to hell, because we are all guilty.

We are all guilty, all made from the same sinful flesh. There is nothing in us that recommends us to God, not even the recognition of our guilt. Romans 9:21-23 says: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory"

Now if you happen to be reading this and you have not been born again, you may find this doctrine revolting and "mean spirited" or perhaps even depressing, but keep in mind that you can never know till the day you die that you are not of God's elect. Remember that God did not save the thief on the cross until he was dieing along side Jesus.

As for me, I certainly have nothing to boast of. Well, that's not really true. I can boast of the wonderful mercy of God!


Anne Hillebrand said...

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved two chumps like us.


In HIS grip,


St.Lee said...

Thanks for leaving a link to your testimony. I enjoyed reading it. I agree with you, God's Grace certainly is amazing.