The Church of What’s Really Happening Now

For five or six months I’ve been thinking about how the salvation of the elect and its outworking affects those who are not among the elect – do they produce any benefit whatsoever for those who will never be numbered among the redeemed?  Here’s part of what I wrote and posted on a discussion forum in a thread about perceived discrepancy between experienced life of the believer and the statements contained in the first installment to the Book of Psalms:

My conclusion is this: No benefit whatsoever accrues to those who are not the elect. Every good effect is ultimately experienced by the believer, and it all ultimately glorifies God. Paul says it best when he says something like “the Gospel (and, in my thinking the effects of the Gospel) is the stench of death to those who are perishing.” The problem of the good hurts them as it hardened Pharaoh’s heart prior to the Exodus. Everything that God ordains is for our benefit and to his glory.

Then, in response to a third-party’s question to me, I wrote:

My current thinking is that yes, as believers, even (and probably we do this best and mostly) when we act out by living our life in Christ unintentionally, we should and do treat those around us with justice, kindness, mercy, which are a better measure of love, anyway, than sentiment. For one thing, we probably don’t have a clue who is and who is not among the elect in the general population, and that’s not really a matter for the believer to try to sort out, in any case. And also, I think that the effect of our Christian lives on the minds and hearts, maybe souls is a better word (?), of those who are not elect has a tormenting effect on them. Proverbs mentions that meeting the needs of an enemy heaps coals upon the head of the one who hates us.

But also, I think every interaction between God and the redeemed, whether discipline, blessings that are circumstantially easy to identify as “good,” as well as those that are not so easy to identify, galls those who are not elect.

Personally, I am not happy about this because I would hope to actually make better the lives of every one I serve as part of my work, or with whom I come in to contact during the course of my work and life.

This is pretty scary stuff that every day, if my conclusions are correct, has the effect of alienating some and restoring others to the levels of functioning associated with awareness of eternal realities.

I am annoyed that correct and effect rhymed, supra.

4 thoughts on “The Church of What’s Really Happening Now

  1. In essence, your point is well taken. These are difficult and deep issues. A society or even individuals may derive benefits from the providential dealing of God with an entire society (witness the progress of the western world) because of the spread of Christianity. Yet the eternal benefit is nil for the non-elect. Every so called “blessing” of God’s providence merely heightens and increases the responsibility of all men. Even though they knew God, they suppressed the truth. And as Psalm 73 reminds us: “You [God] will make them [the ungodly] stumble” CEV. In their abundance, they abundantly fitted for an abundant condemnation!

    • I think at least one of the major world religious systems holds to the tenet that “all life is suffering,” and if I am not mistaken, that religion holds out as the best possible ultimate outcome complete annihilation of the self after numerous reincarnations to correct what to my unschooled mind sounds alarmingly like a sin-debt – some kind of eternal death as the best one can hope for. So it is interesting to me that my extremely Calvinist view lines up with (except for the theologically flawed idea of reincarnations – which may equal the apprehension of some kind of eternal damnation) what sounds like an honest assessment of the experience of the non-elect who have no clue about or hope of redemption.

  2. Society as a whole benefits from the influence of the the believer living out their faith. Like leaven in bread, the redeemed influence it. Also, the world benefits in that the mercy of God desires that all might be saved, not all will, but until Jesus comes again the benefit to the world as a whole is that God is deferring his final judgment until that time. The unredeemed therefore have time to come to him by recognizing they have been chosen as well.

    • Our soteriologies clash, and I don’t wish to argue about them. I will say that, from the perspective of the redeemed and perhaps of those numbered among the elect who have not yet come to faith, society benefits. But have you ever heard the people around you in society, whatever that is where you live, who are so intensely tormented by the fact that, say, although they have complete freedom to interact however they please with other willing adults, those interactions and the commitments they make on their bases have a legal status that does not quite suit them? Or those who seem equally tormented by the fact that some fool down the street trims the hedges around his house in a way that does not quite please? Or displays a political yard sign in opposition to the candidate of their choice? All this against the backdrop of a very affluent society the benefits of which they supposedly experience. What I mean is that even if those who are not among the elect are not trying to avoid a sniper’s bullet or roving gangs of government-paid mercenary thugs or trying to scrape together five kernels of field-corn to help fill their bellies, they are nevertheless in torment about something. And to them, that torment is real, is serious.

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