Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Christian Living When God is Sovereign in Salvation: The Passion of Paul

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Tim 2:10).

Paul has said something remarkably striking: he endures all things for the sake of those chosen by God. Here we catch a glimpse into the relationship between Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility. Paul believes that God chooses, but he also endures all things! How can this be? If God has chosen, then what difference can Paul make?


His answer: God’s sovereignty in salvation and human actions are not at odds. Paul perhaps feels this tension, but he does not feel a contradiction. For him, the fact that God has chosen does not hinder his evangelism and sense of missions. Paul does not endure all things for the elect in spite of the fact that God has chosen. He endures all things for the elect on the basis of his confidence that God has chosen! In the same breath, Paul can say that Salvation is ultimately God’s doing and at the same time that he must suffer and strive on behalf of those who are chosen.

Note also where Paul receives such confidence to make these assertions: the preceding words. Paul is suffering hardship and has been locked up in a dreary prison cell, but he assures his readers that “the word of God is not imprisoned!” (v. 9). God’s word stands. God’s promises are true.

God has revealed that he is Sovereign. He has also revealed that we are to seek to spread the glory and fame of his name to every tribe, tongue and nation. These truths are gloriously not at odds. Therefore, Paul’s striking statements in 2 Tim 2:10 are more than merely plausible.

For Paul, Giving glory to God and enduring everything for the sake of the elect are the warp and woof of Christian living when God is sovereign in salvation.

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2006-17

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