Monday, October 08, 2007

small voices; big choices

The 4th and 5th graders are a fun group to teach. They are young enough to respect adults, and old enough to understand when I teach.

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A mother and her daughter approached me Sunday, after church with a concern about the day's lesson. The mom asked, "Are you saying that if God does not choose a person, that a person cannot be saved?"

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Here's the backdrop: Last week's memory verse was John 15:16, where Jesus tells his disciples, "You did not choose me, but I chose you..." And I began this day's class with a review and comments about last week's lesson.

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This is good though, and I am delighted about several things:
  1. The child took the question to her parents. That is as it should be, because the parents are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the training of the children. It scares me to think what kind of things people are teaching our children, and much of it does not get to the parents' ears.
  2. One of the parents spoke with me about it, thereby holding their daughter's teacher accountable, plus giving me an opportunity to discuss the doctrines of grace with them.
  3. The other parent spoke with an elder/pastor. That is also a good move if someone has a theological question. Unfortunately, sometimes people forget to do the follow-up, or don't get around to it.

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Anyway, the little girl was nervously wondering, "What if God did not choose me?" What a great question!! I explained that someone who is not chosen by God probably wouldn't care about such a thing. The fact that she was concerned indicates to me that the Holy Spirit may be working on her heart.

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In the brief conversation that followed, I think I answered the question to the mom's satisfaction. I know that election is not always the most popular lesson, but the Bible teaches more than Noah's Ark and David & Goliath. So must I.

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The question now is, will there be an apple in the classroom next Sunday, or an empty chair?

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Related link: Frozen-Chosen at Voice of Vision.

Now, also at Blue Collar.

Pencil Sharpener closeup by Beernotbombs. Image found on Flickr.com.

16 comments:

Mary said...

Believing that we choose Christ, that we somehow initiated our own salvation, is really an offshoot of the faulty belief "God helps those who help themselves." God knew of our existence before He created the earth. And we somehow think it was our own idea to come to Christ? Now it's not my place to judge the salvation of those who have a belief like this, but it is poor theology. And it's a slippery slope...a path to Pelagianism (Pelagius believed that man has full control over his salvation). Of course, I also find fault with the oft-typical offering prayer that says "to help further Your Kingdom." Not to say we shouldn't tithe, but let's put some logic here...God doesn't need our help. He wouldn't be God if He did.

Anyway, great answer to the question. It reminds me of a seminary professor who stated that he wasn't necessarily a fan of the statement "once saved, always saved" (not that he outright disagreed with the belief, but he didn't like how people took it and used it as their excuse to do sinful things). He went on to explain that when a person who has been saved starts to worry that they may have lost their salvation, chances are they didn't. A person who isn't saved probably wouldn't care about such a thing.

L.L. Barkat said...

Hmmm... I wonder if that would really hold true. There have been times when I've not been "chosen" for something, and I keenly felt it. To stand as the "unchosen"... why would we not care about such a thing? Is the spiritual sphere so disconnected from life and the feelings we have about inclusion and exclusion? Just wondering. As always, you know I admire you and your thoughts!

Mary said...

l.l. barkat, if I may comment,
There is a huge difference by being chosen by God and being chosen by man. All of us, at some point or another, have wanted to be chosen for something by man, regardless if we actually were chosen or not. But it is God alone who opens the heart to the Holy Spirit's prodding. Simply read through the book of Exodus to find example after example of God hardening Pharaoh's heart. If God is the One who hardens a heart, surely we must also believe that He is also the One who opens it. If we have a desire to be chosen by God, that is a desire only God can give. We now live in a society in which people believe there is no need for God. If I didn't care about needing God, then why would I care about being chosen by Him? But a person who desires to be chosen by God is one who is earnestly desiring Him. That desire is not put on our hearts by our own doing...we are sinners after all. We would constantly choose sin every single time if God did not intervene...and the sin could "just" be not following God. That can only mean one thing...that God has intervened and opened our hearts to Him.

Remember, we are not saved by our own doing, so that no one will boast. To say that we have chosen God assumes that we have done the work ourselves and that God did not supernaturally intervene. We place the glory on ourselves. Notice how the statement "I chose Christ" emphasizes the self...it's all about what *I* did. But when we flip it around, and say "Christ chose me", we give all credit and glory to Christ alone as we humble ourselves to realize that we are nothing without Him.

L.L. Barkat said...

Mary, it is true. I am nothing without Jesus. I'm sorry that I perhaps seemed to communicate otherwise. Really, I am someone who likes to think outside the box. Craver puts up with me in this regard. And I must say that my question still stands.

Craver Vii said...

Thanks for participating in this discussion, ladies. Anyone else? And LL, I'm sure you know this already, but for the benefit of anyone else, our friendship is not contingent upon sharing the exact same theology. And as long as we behave decently, free dialog is encouraged.

LL, I counted two question marks, and I am not sure how to answer the second. As to the first question, the only ones who can have a heart for God are those to whom such gifts are given. I cannot think of a single figure in the scriptures who earnestly yearned for the will of God, that remained "unchosen." Regeneration by the Spirit, of necessity, must precede a genuine confession of faith.

frodo said...

Who can eat an empty chair? I'll take the apple, but peanut brittle would be nicer.

Bob said...

i.i.barkat,
Our tummies tell us we need to eat. Our mouth lets us know when we are thirsty. When God calls us something in our body receives his call and we are drawn toward him. We may receive him warmly like a good dinner or we might fight him. If we have not been called out, we are mired in the muck of our sinful life. We are truly sort of clueless, sort of like frodo...no offense frodo.

frodo said...

Hey Bob,
I'm not stupid, an empty chair is OK. I won't walk away from an empty chair.

Craver Vii said...

I'm guessing that when Bob said "clueless... like Frodo," he was referring to Tolkien's Frodo, not the blogger pseudonym.

The mother and I were talking last night. I am happy to say that there is no reason to expect an empty chair next Sunday. She was happy with my explanation and trusts that I taught the class well. I shoulda told her how much I like peanut brittle. (Just kidding.)

Craver Vii said...

Clarification: I was kidding about telling her I like peanut brittle, not kidding about the preceding sentences.

Pete Juvinall said...

Craver -

Are you in a reformed church? If not, it's always good to really stretch students (not to teach them heresy, mind you, but to stretch them). Some of the best times I've had in sunday school classes has been teachers who have taught different stuff.

jazzycat said...

Those that are chosen are those that place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. The fact that this requires God's effectual call and sovereign election does not have to be fully understood by the believer.

Craver Vii said...

Pete, your comment about stretching students is bubbling over with potential. So much so, that you have inspired tomorrow's post!

Amen Jazzycat. I wonder if we might compare it to a motorized vehicle. I do not need to have a full knowledge of the workings of the engine before it takes me where I need to go. It is even possible that I misunderstand some things about how the engine works. As long as it is not heresy, I can still be carried effectively to my destination. (Hmmm... that could have taken us to a stand-alone post as well.)

david mcmahon said...

Mate, you;re so right. I sometimes speak at schools - and I find I am often motivated more by the kids than they are by me I guess!!!

It's the power of uncluttered minds ....

donsands said...

" but the Bible teaches more than Noah's Ark and David & Goliath."

There's Daniel in the lion's den, and Jonah and the whale, or big fish i guess.

Nice post. Teaching the Word of God is such an honor and joy, especially to children.
I found I always need to have a healthy fear, and yet I can also be full of joy as well. The trembling with rejoicing attitude, you might say.

L.L. Barkat said...

Ah, Craver. You found my Achilles heel. Clearly, I cannot count! :)