In regard to two Christians debating the issue of Election in regards to salvation, I find it hard to believe that great men of God, who come to honest different conclusions, didn't do their homework, or wrestle greatly with these issues. Could you explain your feelings on this?
If you have two "honest" different conclusions on critical issues of doctrine, then one is wrong and one is right. And if we are charged with sharing and teaching truth, then we must try very hard to determine the truth. Arguing, debating, is part of the process, for often as one argues his point, or listens to the other, is the truth discovered. Also, God's truth is living and active, so if two people are arguing over the truth and one is right and one is wrong, then the one who is right has words that come with "power' and will accomplish the purpose for which God sent it out. The one who is arguing a lie really has no power in his words. I once was asked by an atheist if I would allow him to tell me all the reasons he believed in evolution, then he would listen to all my reasons to support Creation. He told me an hour of lies, and I talked to him for two hours sharing living and active truth. There was great benefit in the arguing.
I am sure others read the Scriptures, too, and then compare what they believe with other Scriptures, and then compare that with other men of God "through the ages," just as you said. But, you say they are wrong or Satan has interfered with their making the right choice if they do not agree with you. You say it as if they were not truly trying to be "open" and intentionally blocked out the truth. Are you saying that?
I said, I believe that Satan works hard on Christians to not believe the doctrine of Election, because of the impact of its truth. Now how he does that I don't know. If someone disagrees with what you believe to be truth, then they are wrong, or else you don't really believe that you have the truth. If a Jew would tell you that Jesus is not the Messiah, then what would you say, "Oh, you might be right," or would you say, "My friend, you are wrong!" The point is if you believe something is true then act like it.
I would not think that presenting salvation to an unbeliever would depend on understanding Election. Further, obedience would take place first as an indication of "true" saving faith. Understanding Election as you do seems to take precedent over "other" important issues, like the doctrine of love (as taught primarily aside from what we want Election to say about it). Whether we can "completely" know the doctrine of Election is not, in my opinion, the main issue. How we present ourselves and saving souls is the issue.
This is where you misunderstand what I am saying. Election is simply stating a very important truth "necessary" for salvation, and that is that you can do nothing to effect your salvation, except receive it as a free gift. That all your works and efforts mean nothing, you are nothing but a wicked sinner before God, and by his grace He will give you the free gift if you will bow down to Jesus, repent of your sins, believe in who He claimed to be, and submit to His commands, or Lordship. If you don't like to mention the word election or predestination that's ok, just make sure they know that they have no power, or anything to offer to God for salvation, and that they are really nothing more than beggars begging for salvation.
Election may confirm our salvation and be worth discussing, but it is not the only or foremost issue when compared to what God would have us do first and foremost. Many people never think about election as deeply as you do and are saved, even if they worry about their salvation. Others don't worry about their salvation but being obedient (which is still required despite an understanding of election), and they work at being obedient whether they ever understand the issue of Election as a Calvinist or differently.
I would agree that the Church has pretty much pushed aside the Doctrine of Election, and seems to get along very well without it, but maybe not so well. The Church is not doing too well in the world today, as most have very little influence in their neighborhoods, and see few real salvations. I contend that a proper understanding of Election, will help the Church see not only the greatness of her salvation, but also have a much better understanding of God's sovereignty. But Election is only one doctrine, there are many more that need lifted up. I may seem to be all election--but that is simply what the subject of our discussion has been focused on.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:
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