Some Post-Election Thoughts

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded,
set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:13, ESV)

The dust from Election Day is settling, and there is a President Elect.  While praying for a peaceful transition of power, I also recognize that there is a lot of pain, disappointment, heartache, and grief.  Of course, some are rejoicing that their candidate won, and others are dejected because their candidate lost.  And then you have those who liked neither of the two leading candidates, and while they may be happy that one candidate lost, they can’t quite be happy that the other candidate won.  It’s a really strange time. I didn’t get my sticker for having  voted, but had I a choice, I would have picked this one:

cried

The Social-Media platforms are on fire today with flaming arrows coming from either side.  There are two basic comments being made. Those whose candidate lost are lamenting how these uneducated, unsophisticated, basket of deplorable troglodytes could actually come together to pull off this upset vote.  Those whose candidate won are acting as if the world is finally right again, that Utopia is finally within reach, and that the losing side are finally getting their due.  The thing is, what I’ve just written could have been said regardless of who had won the election, and it will be the reaction every time there is an election of this magnitude.

With this in mind, I thought I’d offer a Pastoral word on avoiding this Post-Election Division and Dysphoria.  These are in no particular order, and since I was up pretty late awaiting the election returns, I simply pray they make some sense to you and are helpful in these coming days.

  1. We need to repent.  Both sides of the ticket.  We have calumniated those we disagree with, assumed they have the worst intentions, and harbored hatred in our hearts.  If you think you haven’t done this, ask yourself, “When did I honestly and sincerely pray for the candidate of the opposing party?”  We tend to objectify those who differ from us politically, and refer to them as “They” or “Them,” and feel no compunction of saying the most vile things about them.  Is this how a Christian should speak of others?  Let us repent, and commit to pray for and support our elected officials, regardless of whether we voted for them.
  2. Avoid two tendencies that are sides of the same coin.  The first is the tendency to vilify the other.  As I mentioned above, this is an easy trap to fall into.  Let us rise above this, for the sake of the grace that has been given to us in Christ Jesus.  Paul writes in Romans 12:14-18, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:14–18).
    The other tendency is to idolize the victor.  Our candidate is the only one who can fix the economy, stop global warming, ensure our liberty, bring and end to war and usher in a season of peace; Our candidate will save the world!  That may seem extreme when all crammed together, but individually, they have all been said at one point or another.  If you’re walking away from the election results thinking that finally the dark clouds have passed and we’re about to enter 4 years of unprecedented growth, peace, and prosperity, then perhaps you’ve put your hopes in the wrong place.
    Let us remember Psalm 146 –
    “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free;” (Psalm 146:3–7, ESV)
  3. Finally, let us not take our eyes off our goal, Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith.  I’d never survive if my hopes and fears were answered by the 2-year/4-year cycles of political elections.  All the promises made and broken, all the mud-slinging and campaigning – it gets to be too much. I heard someone today (the day after the election!) say something about the next presidential campaign starting a year from now.  Lord help us!
    Rather than ride these waves of the political storm, let us fix our eyes on Jesus.  Let us be the righteous ones who are like tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3): firm, fixed, unwavering, unmovable.  Let us pursue the righteousness of Christ, that we may shine like the brightness of the sky above… like the stars forever and ever.  Let us grow in maturity in Christ, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14).

Knowing that Christ is our Lord and King, and that all these earthly kingdoms will rise and fall, let us walk in faith and obedience before him, loving Him by loving one another.  His reign is forever, and His power is great.  Therefore, keep calm, and carry on in faith!

Grace and peace,

SDG

Doxological Theology

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!
(Psalm 66:1–2)

I have heard it said, and I completely agree, that all theology should lead to doxology.  That is, every conversation about God, who He is, what He has done, should ultimately inspire us to praise.  The more we know about God, the more we will want to fall on our knees and praise Him.  Allow me to illustrate…

Last Sunday I began our Adult Sunday School Class on the book of Jude.  As Jude opens his letter, he addresses the epistle to “those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept in Jesus Christ” (Jude 2).  As we unpacked this threefold phrase (called, beloved, kept), I asked the class to turn to Romans 8:29-30 – what is commonly referred to as the Golden Chain of Salvation.

In these two verses we find one of the most succinct explanations of God’s work of Salvation in all of Scripture.  These two verses have inspired volumes and tomes to try to describe God’s great work of grace and mercy in our salvation.  There will be no attempt to speak exhaustively on it here: but note what the apostle teaches:

For those whom he foreknew… This word draws upon the OT word “know” to emphasize that God had a personal, covenantal affection for His people.  God wasn’t randomly picking names out of a hat, but those whom He knew from the beginning of time…

He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…  God has crafted our destiny, and our destiny is to be conformed to the image of His Son, to be like Christ.  Many reject the notion of predestination as God for-ordaining our every move.  I don’t think that’s what Paul is saying.  That’s not what predestination means.  I don’t think that God orchestrates our every move, as though we are marionettes on a string.  I do, however, affirm that God’s sovereign will and His plan for all creation will be fully realized, and in the end we will see how, for those who love God, all things have worked together for good, that is, the good and glorious goal of our being conformed to the image of Christ.

And those whom he predestined he also called…  God calls His children, by the testimony of the Word (preached, read, etc.) and by the inward working of the Holy Spirit.  When we are lost in sin, dead to the things of God, alienated from His kingdom, God calls us out of darkness and into the light.  God calls us out of death and into life.  God calls us out of sin and into righteousness.  God calls us out of the dominion of sin and into the kingdom of Christ.  This call comes through the outward preaching and teaching of the Word, the proclamation of the Gospel, and is received by the inward working of the Holy Spirit.  The reason you responded to the call is not because you are wiser than the others, but because the Spirit changed your heart.

Those whom we called he also justified…  The Westminster Confession says it best: God justified, “not by infusing righteousness…, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.”

Those whom he justified he also glorified…  Those who have been known by God, predestined by God, called by God, and justified by God, will ultimately also be glorified by God as well.  Paul speaks of this assurance of God’s work with such confidence that he puts it in the past tense.  God will complete what He has started, and as Paul finishes the 8th chapter of Romans, we are assured that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Okay, I said this would not be an exhaustive study on Romans 8:29-30, so let me get back to my original point.  As I said at the beginning, all theology should lead to doxology, to praise, and this Golden Chain of Salvation clearly demonstrates how that happens.

Notice as you read through Romans 8:29-30, there is not one mention of our work, of our choice, of our responsibility.  Our salvation is the one work of God.  Yes, there is the gracious response to all that God is done.  When the Spirit makes us alive to God, we answer the call, embrace the grace, and grow in righteous obedience to the Word of God.  But all of this is a response to the primary, foundational, sine qua non gracious work of God.

Because our salvation is the work of God, it is therefore sure and secure.  I don’t have to worry that I might let God down (that’s actually a given), that I might rebel and fall away from my salvation.  I am kept in Christ, it is His sovereign grace, His calling, His justifying – it is His work.  He will not let me go.

As I was teaching this to the Sunday School class, one class member stopped me and said, “Can I just say, ‘Hallelujah!’”  Absolutely; that’s the point of it all.  All our theological musings, all our confessional statements, every word upon the Word should lead us, ultimately, to give glory to God.

All theology should produce a humble and gracious response of love.  If you study this Golden Chain, or the 5 Points of Calvinism, or any other theology for that matter, and come away with an air of superiority and self-righteousness, you have completely missed the point.  If your theology leads you to sit in judgment of others who are lost in sin rather than compelling you to demonstrate for all to see the very grace, mercy, and love of God that delivered you from sin and death, then your theology is of no use to you, to the world, and does not bring God glory. The theology of the church does not exist to puff up the pride of man, but to exalt and glorify God.

We are His creation.  Salvation is His gift.  It is all His work.  All glory and honor belong to Him.

Sola Deo Gloria!