“Every man’s being is bound up for ever with the one and indivisible act of God’s love in Jesus Christ”

Election means nothing more and nothing less than the complete action of God’s eternal love, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It is the eternal decision of God who will not be without us entering time as grace, choosing us and appropriating us for Himself, and who will not let us go. Election is the love of God enacted and inserted into history in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that in the strictest sense Jesus Christ is the election of God. He is the one and indivisible act of divine love. There is therefore no decree of predestination which precedes this act of grace or goes behind the back of Jesus Christ, for that would be to split the act of God into two, and to divide Christ from God. Jesus Christ is wholly identical with God’s action, that which was, and that which is, and that which shall be, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The incarnation of the Son of God means therefore that the eternal Word of God has become event in time, and that through the cross the eternal decision of God has invaded the sphere of our temporal relations. Just because the love of God is not only act in time but a person—Jesus Christ—the eternal election of God has become encounter, acutely personalized in the midst of our choices and decisions, demanding response and decision. Election is not therefore some dead predestination in the past or some still point in a timeless eternity, but a living act that enters time and confronts us face to face in Jesus Christ the living Word of God. Precisely because this Word is also eternal it is always contemporary with us, travelling, as it were, through time. The great fact of the Gospel then is this: that God has chosen us in Jesus Christ in spite of our sin, and that in the death of Christ that election has become a fait accompli. It means too that God has chosen all men, in as much as Christ died for all men, and because that is once and for all no one can ever elude the election of His love. Inasmuch as no one exists except by the Word of God by whom all things were made and in whom all things consist, and in as much as this is the Word that has once and for all enacted the eternal election of grace to embrace all men, the existence of every man whether he will or no is bound up inextricably with that election—with the Cross of Jesus Christ. Every man’s being is bound up for ever with the one and indivisible act of God’s love in Jesus Christ. How could it be otherwise? The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the final reality of our world upon which everything else depends. All things are summed up in him; things visible and invisible, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. The whole universe revolves round the love of God in Jesus Christ and all its motion depends entirely upon him.

Thomas F. Torrance

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3 Responses to “Every man’s being is bound up for ever with the one and indivisible act of God’s love in Jesus Christ”

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    This citation is from an essay that TFT wrote early on in his career titled “Universalism or Election?” This essay has been reprinted as an appendix in In the End, God.

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  2. Mike H says:

    Timely. That really is a wonderous and hope-filled citation.

    The only reason that one can hold to both

    (1) the axiomatic and sovereign choice of God to be freely and irrevocably for humanity and
    (2) that “God has chosen ALL men, in as much as Christ died for ALL men, and because that is once for all NO ONE can ever elude the election of His love”

    and not believe that these two lead inexorably to the salvation of all people (acknowledging the mystery of human ‘freedom’ within the scope of this sovereign choice and love) would be because the divine choice and promise of divine love doesn’t necessitate that humanity experience this love and choice as actually being loved and chosen.

    River of Fire style, me thinks.

    Seems like an important asterisk.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      In this essay TFT trenchantly criticizes the greater hope. He thinks it falls into mechanistic necessity. Hence he affirms the antinomy of the impossible possibility: all human beings are elected in Christ, yet, against all reason, some may choose the surd of evil and damnation.

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