A couple—husband and wife—are deeply in love with each other and with Jesus. They also love children, very much. One Sunday at church they hear the testimony of another couple who flew thousands of miles to a foreign country to adopt a little girl. The couple in the pew sits in awe and gives each other a look, silently saying what is on their hearts.
They begin the process, fill out paperwork, and spend thousands of dollars. Some months later they find themselves flying across the ocean to a foreign country. They are taken to an orphanage in a part of the city where bricks crumble and windows are boarded. The orphanage fares no better. Winter air seeps in through holes in the wall and cracks in the ceiling. The fire burning in the corner provides hardly any heat.
In a makeshift crib lay an infant boy. His clothes and blankets are dirty, as is his face. And his skin is stretched tight against his bone. The couple is moved to compassion at the sight of this child in his squalor. More paperwork. Interviews. Money. Finally, they arrive home with the child cradled in their arms. They clean him, and dress him in nice clothes. They give him a bed that is strong and secure. They give him a new home, a new family, and a new name.
They don’t wait until this child can make a choice. They don’t ask his opinion, after all how could he respond? Out of their gracious and unconditional love, they choose him to be theirs and take him into their home.
They speak to him and feed him milk. They tell him how much they love him. He is their son. The child grows and soon learns to walk and to talk. He calls out their names…mommy, daddy…and smiles. He loves them, because they first loved him…
Is it a perfect anecdote to describe what God has done for us? Of course not (as if we could create a perfect story)… but it’s what my mind returns to when I think of God’s amazing love, his unconditional election, and his irresistible grace in saving us from the squalor and helplessness of us in our sins!
And I think it fits the language of scripture: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:14-16)
The debate over the doctrines of Calvinism has been going on for centuries among various godly men and women, and I can almost guarantee that won’t change anytime soon. This is just my own attempt to positively add to the discussion by framing a couple of the doctrines in language that I don’t think we typically hear (or at least I’ve never seen elsewhere!).