Predestination. A word which immediately causes consternation by many, avoidance by others, and a pontificating attitude by still more. It is a bible word not to be feared by they who desire to truly learn the ways of God, yet it is a neglected doctrine when correctly understood, for its very nature can be an apparent contradiction.
Usually, it is taken to be understood in the context of salvation, and this is the grand mistake that has trapped the innocent by they who persuade those of supposed lesser knowledge. I would ask you at the outset to observe the most important part of one’s doctrine, and that is: what is the spirit of they who carry a particular point of view as they try to instruct or persuade?
I know of many souls who are ‘certain’ about this or that, all the while their face looks like a ripe tomato as they rant or rave about prophecy, election, salvation, sanctification, or any of the other good bible truths. They will usually scoff at this suggestion that a man’s character is quite telling as he is trying to win disciples, and will no doubt say I am straining at a gnat, but let God’s word be true: ‘the wisdom from above is FIRST pure…’ and this thought is the epicenter of the quality of a man’s spirituality.
‘I can’t hear what you are saying… because your head is ready to explode…’ surely you have met they who turn off your common sense by the demeanor of the so called message.
Now then, has God not CHOSEN all for salvation? The answer rightly stated is God’s plan, not mine or yours, and many will find argument because I have not marked a line in the sand, and picked the easy answer that pleases they who agree. If I say ‘yes’ many think I am correct, and I have many opponents. If I answer ‘no’ I equally have alienated the other half.
This logic cannot be good, because it is not pure, so my answer: ‘yes and no,’ and this is one hundred percent correct, because it allows a line of reasoning that defends more than one point of view, finds merit in other views without compromising already known truths, and extends argumentation until further light can be given.
The Lord said to the Jews, ‘you will not come unto me that ye might have life…’ He never told them it was impossible for them to believe, for then that would contradict his very will when he said ‘it is NOT God’s will that any should perish…’ It was a matter of the heart acting upon the will, and the word of God, when mixed with faith, by the spirit of God, creates life. Salvation is easy, but the price paid was not easy. ‘Ye must be born again’ said the same Lord, words spoken not to rocks, but to men, souls who faced the divine command. It is not my business to determine who is predestined for salvation, that is God’s business; my business is ‘preach the gospel.’
Primarily, the word predestination is reserved for they who are already a son of God, i.e., predestined to become, or to bear the image of God…It is my desire that I as a father, have children who become Christ like, it is my will that they reform and conform to the very nature of a better father. But their will may conflict with my will by their choices on occasion, but that does not change neither my relationship nor my will.
It is God’s will, that none shall perish, but many will: is God defective? Of course not, but many will go to perdition, but not because God willed it so. It the grand ideal of God that all men believe, but not all will., not because they can’t.
The grave mistake that many make (the false prophet Harold Camping is a leader) is preaching predestination to the lost, and this is an egregious error that has caused many a shipwreck of one’s faith. ‘Christ died for your sins’ says he, and he is correct, but he is totally foolish when he says to the same crowd, ‘ye cannot believe,’ and this throws an honest persons mind into a whirlwind.
He tries to explain a hard topic and doctrine to an unsaved man, who has no life to begin with, and he makes matters worse. If a man messes up Israel and the church, a teaching so simple a caveman can understand it, he cannot be trusted with a doctrine that Peter says is hard to understand. ‘Chosen in him before the foundation of the world…’ is true of anybody who believes, but this does not mean that people who refuse to believe CANT believe because they were not chosen in him before the foundation of the world.
It is the QUALITY of the life; it is eternal life, not necessarily meaning only time or duration, but the quality of life itself. “Life more abundantly…’ as opposed to life which all men have as the breath of God. Adam became a living soul by the breath of God, but the QUALITY of his life was altered because of sin. The great king David, Abraham, Noah, Ruth, all had life in Christ, as they were predestined to a Christ like life which embarrasses us who have entire bibles, but the revelation of their knowledge and faith were hidden.
Are you a Christian? Then you have been elected and predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ. Are you not a Christian? Then the offer is on the table for you too, to be elected and predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ. This idea is hateful to many, but this is God’s soft way, he pleads to ALL men, it is not his WILL that any perish, yet many will.
But why? Because they can’t? No, because they will not. This is Paul’s argument in Romans when rightly understood in the light of ‘what is written again…’ The vessels of honour and the vessels of wrath are equally understood not only in salvation, but in the walk of Christians. I have known many souls who are vessels of dishonor who are not Christian, but they have an excuse; yet I have known many more a Christian who is a vessel of dishonor by a poor walk or lousy doctrine. Again the quality of life.
Christians make far too much of predestination. Much more than God does, and for good reason, the emphasis is usually on the wrong thing. The most worldly of Christians I have known have had a lopsided view of predestination. When Peter said ‘repent and be converted…’ who was he talking to? And why preach at all to the lost if they CANNOT believe. Surely this must be the divine joke, an offer presented to man by a benevolent God to a man who has no opportunity to be a partaker in this benevolent offer?
Can God be an author of confusion? You hear the question. When the Jews ‘could not believe…’ the word of God says it was because of the hardness of their hearts, and this heart had the opportunity to soften by the gentle prodding’s of the Holy Spirit of God Himself, offers which were rejected. ‘You almost persuaded me to be a Christian said Agrippa,’ and here again we see the entreatment by God’s word to a sinner.
Predestination can also be explained as a way of life. Tiger Woods may have been predestined to be a great golfer, that is, he had the capacity, yet, if he never practiced, this idea of predestination may never have come true. He CHOSE to practice, therefore cultivating the skill, knowledge, and determination to excel. And there are many men who currently are predestined to be great golfers, because of a quality DNA, but they cannot if they never try.
So the Christian, all are predestined to be conformed in the image of Christ, but if there is no cultivation of spiritual insight or gift, they will be a lousy testimony, all the while being within the realm of possibility, but far from the reality.
Many miss the point here. Mr. Woods had a choice, He could have chosen to practice ping pong, painting, piano, or whatever, but he chose to take up golf. Christians have a choice, and souls who are not Christians have the same choice. Some say that predestination takes away the choice a person may have and this is the rub. Did Eve have a choice to sin? Did the Ethiopian eunuch have a choice to go to Gaza?
Yes they did, as I have a choice to go to work today. The difference that many neglect to see, is this choice makes man entirely responsible, without touching the sovereignty of God. God KNOWS what choices man will make, and in his sovereignty offers salvation to all, but ALL will not respond. Is God guilty of sending people to hell because they CANNOT believe? Ah, no.
No, man goes there because he WILL not believe. The lopsided view of extreme Calvinism states that a man cannot believe because he is not one of God’s elect, and this view is not consistent with ALL of scripture. The folks that I have met that hold this view are some of the iciest people I have known, again I remind you of the spirit of those holding a particular view. To be wrong about predestination is to be wrong about a whole lot of other spiritual views as well, for the word of God is ONE.
I know of the ‘baptism people,’ and they darn near worship this practice, and isolate themselves and cast out others who do not hold their erratic opinions. The results are always the same: close-minded and a myopic view of scripture because of a tilted bias in a teaching they have made more important than the truth of that teaching itself. Homes are wrecked, lives ruined, because a doctrine is viewed apart from other revealed truth.
Predestination is always with a view toward something else. It is not meant to be a doctrine isolated above other truth. People live entire lives in the basement of Christianity because the light of day does not shine. They never go up the steps to the living room all the while condemning others who do not live in the dungeon of their mischief. Show me a person who preaches predestination at the expense of other truth, and I will show you a person out of touch with people as well as a proud sort. ‘I am one of the elect. I am chosen. I, I, I.’
‘I am destined for greatness. You are not.’ What arrogance, what artificial spirituality. What nonsense, and one must raise the possible question: is this person a Christian? Time will tell, but for now, let’s just say you can tell a tree by its fruit, and let God be the judge. .
Truth must be consistent with the whole. From the beginning, man had a choice. As far as the Christian life, men have a choice as to what kind of Christians they will be. As far as the non Christian, he has the God given choice to become child of God. Harold Camping is at odds with God because he does not understand the correct context of scripture, he emphasizes one truth against another, and he has been a date setter as well.
I once heard a person talking to him about salvation, and Mr. Camping explained (tried to) predestination; (mind you, a non Christian has no capacity for understanding or knowledge) all the while neglecting to mention the kindness of God to an inquiring sinner. This was spiritual treachery of the highest kind.
The twin peaks of this misunderstood doctrine revolve around God-that is the good news: the bad news is both are overemphasized and denied, and they are to reiterate: God’s sovereignty and mans responsibility. True, God is sovereign, and all would agree, but the Calvinist stops there, and rules out mans responsibility. The Armenian on the other hand focuses on man and sees not God’s sovereignty. To be right with God is to consider all of scripture and interpret in light of what is absolutely true.
It is NOT God’s will that ANY should perish… but that ALL should come to repentance, and this is not the world of the elect. For God so loved the world- is this the world of the elect?? Calvinism says yes, but let God be true, for the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘that WHOSOEVER should believe in Him should not perish…’ this surely includes all of mankind. The offer goes out to ALL, yet ALL will not accept the gracious offer. This is easy enough.
But the greater issue on the table is: why do they who preach predestination appear to be the most worldly of Christians? The main reason is the reveling in the idea that ‘I am one of the elect,’ and the artificial pride that is linked with this idea promotes the most careless of lifestyles, for ‘see ‘ says the Armenian, it matters not how one lives, for salvation is fixed and nothing can change that. Again, a lopsided view for a spiritual person would not carry this tune.
‘The act of decreeing or foreordaining events,’ this is a mild description of predestination, and this is true before, during, and after salvation, but salvation is the starting point and should not be the goal of the Christian life, for the difficulty and real enjoying comes in the daily choices that a saved sinner makes as one bearing the stamp of eternity.
Romans speaks of the joy held by a believing sinner when he comes to know of this saintship. God decreed that they who believe would be conformed to the image of His son. This is the ideal. Will ALL submit? No, and many will live as a miserable Christian, yet be saved so as by fire, yep, just barely, for God cannot deny himself, but a man may deny God and the light of God shines on his back. This is a terrible light, but a different light than they who have NEVER repented and believed the gospel.
I would rather see a Christian who with very little bible understanding, live a life to the best degree he can, refraining from spiritual pride, than a so called bible scholar who parades his fake position to an unsuspecting crowd. I personally know a man who walks around babbling his alleged tongues, and he is happy he is so spiritual as he says a man CAN lose his salvation, because you see, he works real hard to keep it!
And he wants everyone to know how spiritual he is, why; he even alleges he raised one from the dead. How the devil must laugh. Whose image has this man been predestined to follow?
The Lord said again ‘ye WILL not come to me that ye might have life…’ God is sovereign, but man at the same time is responsible. Where people get lost or trapped is: God knows ahead of time how man will both respond and live. This changes nothing in the counsels or heaven, and man does not get off the hook so to speak. All will be judged, and God will be just according to the counsel of his own will.
Primarily, men are confused as to the intricacies of this doctrine because of narrow minded-ness. I am interested in God’s point of view, for we are merely sifting through the wheat which is already His. God explains predestination to they who ALREADY have life; it is not the business of the unlearned nor unsaved to glean truth in this area, for they cannot: the natural man cannot understand the things of God.
God knows who will be the elect, you do not. I learn that I am one of His when I repent and believe the gospel, and not before, and this is where men take a detour. Salvation is a small part of the Christian life, yet it is a large part as well. However, it comes in tenses past, present, and future, and God has a part in all of course, but some men pick the salvation of their own demise and end up worshipping themselves because they think God really needs them. What is more important: the salvation of the sinner, or the salvation of the saint?
Christians need saved from themselves, yet none will consider. There is a past, present, and future salvation thanks to the grace of God, and any soul has the resources to direct his own destiny. If this was not true, then there would be no need to ‘work out your salvation with fear and trembling…’ for all is fixed and man has no choice, but when we understand this is the command because of what follows: ‘it is God which worketh in you…’ the Christian life is not one of robotic steps, but one of conscious choices because of an indwelling memory to please God.
If a man is a Christian, he should thank God, if he is not, he can blame himself. This is consistent teaching from scripture, for God KNOWS what man will do. This leaves man responsible to the highest degree, and touches not the sovereignty of God.