Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monergy of God in Salvation

Ephes. 1:4-10 (ESV)
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
[5] he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
[9] making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ [10] as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In love he predestined us. Biblical Greek had no punctuation. We put the punctuation in later so there is dispute here as to where the period should go. But I like it where it is in the ESV. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. Love is the driver. God has chosen us, predestined us in Christ out of love for us. It was love that sent His Son to die in our place, so that we might be adopted through Him.
Again we are confronted with the word predestined. We have been predestined for adoption. It is a temporal metaphor. It emphasizes the monergy of God in salvation. Monergy is a way of saying God works alone, without us having any part in our salvation. If we are saved it is due solely to the work of God, we have contributed nothing to our salvation either before or after faith. All is due to the grace of God. Predestined, God chose us for adoption before we even were. That is without any regard for who we are as compared to others.
Of course the truth of the matter is, we are sinners. God doesn’t take into account who we are because we are all the same, sinners. It is very humbling here. We are tempted to think we are saved because of some virtue we have, maybe something God saw in us. Or maybe we are saved because of something we have done. But it has nothing to do with us. It has to do with God. We are saved because of His love, and only His love. We have no reason to boast.
Again I say temporal metaphor. I say it is a metaphor because God’s relation to time is a mystery beyond understanding. I think we could read too much into this. That God chose us before he created us. The logical consequence of all this is that he then created others for hell. But God chose us in love, and he loves the world. It isn’t that he only loves those of us that are saved, that have faith. He loves all. He does not desire hell for any of them. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:23)
But the idea that he does it before we are created emphasizes the monergy of God when it comes to our salvation. It is his work, not ours. He chose us, we have not chosen Him. We live in and by His grace alone.


Anonymous said...

Rev. Bror,

What you said here is huge. There is among Baptist and Reformed thought this concept, if I can manage to spell it out, that the predestination is the larger umbrella under which love is subsumed. The outcome is explaining election such that there is this kind of “block of loved predestine ones” and “block of unloved reprobate”, predestination being the encompassing thing. So, one ends up with a formal doctrine of the predestinated reprobate or an implied one in spite of any confession to the contrary. That always seemed to me to be honing a god out God that is not God, because as verse 9 reveals Christ is his mysterious will revealed and none other.

That’s a different god (though it uses biblical language and skewed doctrine to hone it) from God who is Love in and of Himself, the larger umbrella if you will, that then encompasses all other things including predestination. It’s a subtle but HUGE shift in paradigms.



Bror Erickson said...

Yes it is a very different way of thinking about it than what you find in the typical reformed conversation. It is the result of an illogical use of logic. That is applying the finite logic of this world to the infinite mystery of God. It is if you will putting God in a box he does not wish to be placed in.

Andrew form Boston said...

Uhhhh, did someone say something about beware of the leven of the pharisees? Your conversation has marvelously exposed one aspect of that to which He spoke! Thanks, ever so much for the clarification!