Check out this blog: www.TheUpstreamCurrent.blogspot.com. (You'll have to cut and paste that into your address bar -- I still can't figure out how to add the active link thingy.)
Tony's our former teaching elder (think pastor). When we first met Tony, we (me more so than Jonathan) thought he was crazy for his views on salvation, talking about election, God's sovereignty, etc. It took a while but we eventually got it. Now, I'm not saying -- and we have been accused of being a "man follower" as opposed to God followers -- that Tony has it all figured out, that he's perfect, that he knows all there is to know about God. Not even close. He's a man, folks, and that's all he'll ever be. BUT, he was able to show us and the others we were blessed to fellowship with for 3 years how election is in scripture, plain as day. He was able to "blow the lid off the box" that we, like many "Arminian" Christians, had been keeping God in. The one image that I'll never forget, that really helped me to "see", was him saying to imagine God going "Oh, they've been shown salvation -- I hope they accept me as their Savior" or "I'm so glad I know all things and that I know he/she will accept me". Makes God seem pretty helpless to think that He had to wait on us to accept or reject his gift of eternal life. Many people will say that election or predestination simply means that God knows who will accept and who will reject Him and His salvation. That's just not true. I sit here as someone who stinks at writing, who can't help this make sense to those who think "I accepted Christ! I prayed that prayer!". Yes, we had a part in our salvation although I personally think "accepting" is the wrong word. Some people, especially from where I'm from, say that they are saved and that's a little better. The reality is this -- before the foundation of the world, God knew each and every person that He would ever create (God is the One who causes conception to happen, who gives the breath of life, but that's for another blog), and He CHOSE or ELECTED or PREDESTINED some of us. Yes, it is His will or His desire that all should come to salvation but we all know that doesn't happen. We all know people who are currently lost or, even worse, know people who have died who we are certain died without Christ. Why didn't God choose them? I can't answer that question. I'm not God and I don't know why He chooses the way that He does and I don't believe that's for me to know. Why did He choose us? Are we better than those that die lost? Absolutely not. We're all sinners, worthy of only one thing and that is hell. All I can say for sure is that my salvation isn't in my hands at all -- I did NOTHING when I was saved, except fall subject to the Sovereign God who saw it in His plan, in His love and grace, to offer me mercy. God did it all. It wasn't an "accepting" moment on my part -- it was the moment when the scales fell off my eyes and I saw myself for the wretched sinner I really am and was forever changed by the gospel, by the truth of the Creator of the universe who chose to give me eternal life. Yes, I prayed a prayer but that was in response -- that was me saying "Yes, Lord -- I see now! I'm a sinner. I'm lost without You. I need you."
I hope I haven't done any harm with this post. I know it's a sticky point for lots of people and I probably stink at explaining it. What prompted this post was Tony's post on God's sovereignty in response to a blog he saw on the Minnesota bridge collapse. I encourage you to check it out.