Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a redeemer.
At question/answer 20 we are confronted with the gloriously good news of the gospel. Until now we were neck deep in sin and misery. Here we learn of the way God had planned to act for us, the way he acted for us in time, and through whom he acts.
God’s action in time has always been his plan. He doesn’t react to circumstances, but works with them and through them because he has planned them. God had planned “from all eternity” to rescue some and to pass by others. This is the doctrine of election, a doctrine which is everywhere on the pages of the Bible (for just a few see Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:28-20; 1 Cor. 1:26-31).
Sometimes when election is discussed the answer of why is raised. Why me? Why not them? As you might expect, various answers have been given throughout history. The Confession refuses to probe too deeply, recognizing that it could not have been because of anything we have done, but rather an act that arises out of God’s “mere pleasure.”
The way God delivers us out of our sinful and miserable estate is by entering in to a covenant of grace with us. This is the third and final theological covenant that frames the structure of covenant theology (the other two are the covenants of redemption and works). The covenant of grace is God dealing with us graciously in spite of ourselves. In the covenant of grace God brings us into an estate of salvation because of the work of a redeemer, one who accomplishes what we could not accomplish.
Hopefully your hearts are soaring and singing as you reflect on the good news of God’s rescue of us from sin and misery. God has chosen you to be his! As you think about the doctrine of election does it humble you and bring you to that question of praise, “Why was I made to hear your voice and enter while there’s room, while thousands make a wretched choice and rather starve than come?” Does it cause you to see that salvation is all of his doing and that we can contribute not one thing? Our salvation has always been his plan and is his doing.
Thank you Lord for choosing us. Grant us the grace to love and serve in light of your free and underserved mercy. Amen.