OF THE SALVATION PARADOX
As finite human beings we are only comfortable or satisfied when we have answers to all of our questions. If we receive an answer, we will accept it, even if the answer is unfavorable to our liking; at least we have an answer. But, when we are given two apparent contradictory answers, and yet both are truthful, it’s befuddling and disconcerting, and so many times we will reject one of the answers. This conundrum is known as a paradox, and the Bible has many of them within its pages. The Random House Dictionary defines the word “paradox” as: “A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.” However, a “Biblical paradox” has a different meaning; it is not just a “possible truth” as the secular dictionary defines; it’s an absolute truth! And, this, I believe, is why so many believers reject the Biblical doctrine of “election”. It’s a very difficult truth to believe! The reader is asked, to believe two equal truths of Scripture, and both are essential tenants of the Christian faith. To our infinitesimal, feeble, mortal minds; this doctrine does not make sense; it defies human logic. On one hand, God is absolutely sovereign in “choosing”, who He effectually draws to exercise saving faith to believe unto Jesus Christ. (John 6:44, 6:65, Eph. 2:8-9). On the other hand, man is entirely responsible and called to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, otherwise he will perish in his iniquities. (Rom. 10:9-10, John 1:12, 3:18, 3:36, 8:24). What many people fail to accept is although this Biblical paradox is unfathomable to our limited minds, God who is infinite, perfectly harmonizes these apparent contrasting truths. Many people, including evangelicals, argue that Biblical election is an “unfair” doctrine and claim God would never decree an unfair doctrine such as election. But, I would argue because all people are sinners, and God is perfectly just; He has the right to display unmerited mercy on whomever He deems. And, therefore, has chosen to elect some unto salvation, while passing over others. (Rom. 3:23, 9:15-18, 20-21).
Because of this difficult truth, election is probably the most controversial paradox in the Bible. And even though the Bible is fraught with verses illustrating God’s sovereignty in salvation, God’s election is still disregarded in many churches. For example, God has chosen certain individuals for salvation, even before the foundation of the earth was created (Eph.1:4). He alone draws individuals to Himself (John 6:44). Only He is capable of changing the heart (Ezek.36:26). And, even the faith to believe in His Son Jesus Christ is God-given, so man’s boasting is impossible (Eph. 2:8-9). Incidentally, in order to circumvent God’s election, one would have to literally disregard or pervert a plethora of Bible verses, and that is virtually impossible to do because the Bible is ostensibly clear regarding it. However, God hold’s man directly responsible to believe unto Jesus Christ, and there are equally as many passages, that directly affirm this fact. Dr. James Kennedy stated; we cannot take any credit for making it to heaven, and anyone who ends up in hell, has no one to blame but himself. We ought to embrace this unrevealed mystery whole-heartedly and without questioning God’s motives or methodology in salvation and we shouldn’t try to comprehend it either, for this would be folly.
The salvation paradox has been a controversial topic since the nascent of Christianity. Even Jesus Christ elucidated the complexity of the salvation to the much-esteemed Pharisee and teacher, Nicodemus. Jesus stated a person must be “born again” in order to be saved (John 3:3). The puzzled Nicodemus queried how a person could be born again, thinking it was humanly impossible! Jesus’ answer further confounded Nicodemus: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). In other words, the answer was unattainable. Jesus’ enigmatic answer to Nicodemus ought to satisfy every inquisitive Christian regarding the salvation process. But, many believers are discontent with this irresolvable riddle and struggle in vain for answers. And therefore, usually reject one half of the paradox; opting to place all of their devotion to either one side or the other. Pastor John MacArthur stated; “When we try to bring God down to our level, there is still much we won’t understand. We simply can’t resolve everything in our minds.”
Atheists and people from other religions, employ Biblical paradoxes as catalysts to attack the veracity and perspicuity of the Bible. They perceive Biblical paradoxes to be contradictions and claim, because of these apparent contradictions; the Bible cannot be trusted and is not true. Therefore it should be rejected as the authoritative word of God. Even the erudite and the most intelligent unregenerate people on earth cannot understand spiritual things apart from possessing the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:14). But, God chose the unwise, base and foolish people in the world to confound the wise; and by faith, accept the difficult truths of God. (1 Cor. 1:27). This alone is an amazing concept, adding even more mystery to the equation!
I close by asking; is it not wonderful to know God is omniscient, omnipotent, and transcends all philosophy and epistemology? Personally, I am glad God is transcendent, especially in salvation. It takes faith to be saved, to live the Christian life, and to believe in God’s absolute sovereignty. Faith is the unseen entity, which Scripture repeatedly instructs us to live by (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 3:11, Heb. 11:1). And it is with faith, that we can embrace the paradox of salvation. So let us rejoice in what we do not know, or fully understand regarding the unrevealed mysteries of God.
Does the clay have control over the potter, or, is it the other way around? Amen!