Monday, November 21, 2011

Singing about Election

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world... (Eph 1:4)

After Jonathan Edwards was convinced of the doctrine of election from Scripture, that bare conviction eventually grew into a delightful one:
But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God's sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceedingly pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.

- Personal Memoir, Works.
Much more recently, Sinclair Ferguson has likewise observed:
Until we have come to the place where we can sing about election with a full heart we have not grasped the spirit of the New Testament teaching.

- The Christian Life, 125.
I have long abominated the sentiment that God's sovereign grace in electing and predestining unworthy sinners is the Church's "family secret." That is not biblical, nor consistent with the best of Christian tradition, nor edifying for Christians today, who grapple with the teachings of Scripture.

So, how can we sing about election? Well, we can learn from prior eras and traditions of the Church that were not as burdened by such foolish sentiments. For one example, the 19th century hymn by Josiah Condor, 'Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee:

'Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me;
Thou from the sin that stained me,
Hast cleansed and set me free,
Of old Thou hast ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.

'Twas sov'reign mercy called me,
And taught my op'ning mind;
The world had else enthralled me,
To heav'nly glories blind;
My heart owns none before Thee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first.
Paul the Apostle gave the Ephesians much to sing of in chapter 1, and we are constrained by conscience and the Spirit to offer no less in our congregations today. Until we can sing heartily such hymns, we have not truly grasped the meaning of the New Testament.

"If I love Thee, Thou must have loved me first"... sing it!

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