Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Can We Believe the Doctrine of Predestination?

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Romans 9:11-13 KJV

On numerous occasions I have had the conversation with God loving Christians about the subject of will.   I think on the issue of salvation many people were drawn aback by the suggestion that predestination may negate freewill. The natural man want to believe he has free will, it makes us feel as though we have authority of some measure. In fact pride (which comes before destruction) is nothing more than a heighten perception of free will. Free will says I can do something without God. Yet Jesus says we can do nothing without him. (John 15:5)

I have to be truthful though, I don’t know if man has free will or not, because the Bible does not teach free will. However, the Bible clearly teaches predestination. I think it’s safe to say that salvation is never the results of man’s free will but is always the results of God's work in man.  Therefore, rather than departmentalize God’s Predestination to only that part of our life which deals with our salvation I sought to clearly define  predestination even if it don’t feel good.

What is Predestination? 

Predestination is concept which assumes that God before all creation preordained, that some people would be saved (the elect) and some would be damned to eternal judgment. Now for those that are saved (the elect) He calls them effectually, which means that He completes what He ordained by His sovereign direction of that person’s life.  

The Reason Predestination is So Difficult to Accept is;  

  • First, because it does not seem fair to the natural man, We seem to want a God that will forgive us all regardless to our state of repentance; a God that will just forgive everything that we do, no matter how sever, no matter how litter contrition. However we fail to recognize that one of God's attributes is justice, and a just God must punish for sin. Because Justice is who God is when we ask "Why can't God just forgive everyone?" we are in fact asking "Why don't God change who He is, because I refuse to change what I am doing".  
  • Secondly,  because we are fearfully stricken with the possibility that our own family members, and loved ones, friends and others who we see each and every day may perish in their sins, sentenced to the eternal damnation of agony and suffering and pain and burning; we find it hard to accept the truth.
    Jesus gives a hint of this truth that some will perish in Matthews 7:22-23 
    when He says  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?
  • And thirdly, because we can’t perceive us doing such a thing, we began to anthropomorphize God. That is, we apply the limited attributes and knowledge of man, to the omniscience, omnipotent person of man's creator. We in fact build a God to fit our perception of who we, be it consciously or subconsciously conceive from our hearts a God as we think  God should be. We make the image of God which is formed out our own personal experiences, our hurts, our successes, our desires, rather than perceiving  God in the way that He is described in the Bible. When the believer begins to conceive predestination in his mind, he is almost always accosted with the questions Are we saved against our will?” and if so “Does that mean that others are damned no matter what they do?”  And lastly “If this is the case why even bother to evangelize?”     But the difficulty with the natural world and the non-believer is “How can an all loving God send us to hell?” and the answer to this for most people is free will. But is this as Biblical as we think?

Predestination is Biblical

Predestination is a 100% Biblical doctrine (teaching) it is directly identified in scripture 6 times, and indirectly many more times, consider some of these;
·        Acts 4:28, "to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur." 
·        Rom. 8:29, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 
·        Rom. 8:30, "and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." 
·        1 Cor. 2:7, "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory."  
·        Eph. 1:5, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." 
·        Eph. 1:11, "also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

Now when we consider God’s predestination we must ask ourselves is the will of God above our will? Let’s look at the prophet Jeremiah who was known as the weeping prophet because of the lamentation he had toward a rebellious Israel.  In Jeremiah 1: 5  God tells Jeremiah “ Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” which is a clear statement of predestination without ever even using the word pro-o-rē'-zō (G4309) The instance of God predestination  is endless in scripture, we see this both in the Old Testament with  Isaiah 43:7, Job 23:14, many other passages as well as the New Testament like Galatians 1:5, Matt 7:21-23, Matt 22:14, John 15:16, Rom 9:27, Rom 11:7, 1Thess 5:9,

Predestination is Clearly Taught in the Bible

In Romans 9 the Apostle proves that God has never shown His mercy based on family privilege, merit, birthright, financial condition or anything that man may perceive as worthy. No, we see that salvation has always been the result of God’s sovereign grace and mercy. Paul explains that even within the privileged nation of Israel God shows that He gives salvation and blesses whom He pleases for no apparent reason other than He chooses by His sovereign will. The apostle Paul cites three examples of individual election:  
·        In Romans 9:6-9, God denies the law of primogeniture[1] and chooses Isaac over Ishmael Abraham’s true first born, Then Abraham leaves Ishmael and his mother Hagar out on the street to fin for themselves.
·        In Romans 9:10-13, While they were yet babes fresh from their mother’s womb, having done no sin, ( here we see the operative word is “having done no sin”) in that neither boy was more righteous than his brother, God  choose Jacob for the blessing ( from whom the lineage of Jesus Christ would come)  but hated[2] Esau ( choose not to allow the lineage of Christ to come through)
·        In Romans 9:14-18 God Choose Moses, not Pharaoh  

Ephesians chapter 1 is and amazing clear defense for predestination, however nothing is as beautifully expressed as verses 4 through 11 which reads;
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will  Ephesians 1:4-11 (KJV)

Does God Predestinate or Does He Foreknows?

There are many people that say that God does not predestine, but with His Omniscience He foreknows in advance who will freely choose him. The problem I have with this error mindset is that it makes the actions of God dependent on the will of man. God is therefore in defense not in control. The concept destroys grace and puts God in debt to man for what man has done, choose to worship God as if God needs man, not man which needs God.

The beauty of Ephesians 1:4-5 is that it completely refutes that interpretation by using the Greek word proorizo, (Strong’s G4309) which specifically means “predestinate”. There may be those that say that the Apostle intended foreknown but this is foolish, because a number of times Paul uses both foreknow and predestinate specifically. If Paul had instead wanted to say that God would foresee who would choose him, there’s a perfectly good Greek word for that – proginosko (Strong’s G4267). Fact is foreknow is only used once in the Bible and foreknowledge is only used twice. So it isn’t very likely that the Apostle made a mistake when he wrote predestinate. I believe that the foreknowledge argument is put to rest in Romans 8:29-33 which reads;
For whom he did foreknow [proginosko], he also did predestinate [proorizo] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Romans 8:29-33 (KJV)

So I added verses 30 through 33 so that you could clearly see not only does The Apostle teach predestination by his statement, he anticipates that not only the unbeliever but also the believers would have difficulty accepting this truth, and that the natural counter argument would be that “God is not fair (Just) to punish everyone” But we miss the most important fact God is perfect and without blemish and all that He created is good. But you and I are not the product of God’s creation, we are the by-product of sin that entered into creation. And every one of us by right deserve to burn eternally in damnation, and we have this mindset because we think within ourselves that we are good. So when we look at predestination we don’t see God’s mercy towards us the elect which plucks us out of eternal damnation. If we did we would surely praise Him for saving us. Instead we only see His wrath toward a guilty world, and we forget that every one of us, His elect, are just as guilty and deserving of eternal damnation[3], But God the Father choose us His elect for Himself and by the blood of His son Jesus Christ we are made justified and not held accountable for the wickedness that we have done.   

Lastly let’s look at 1 Corinthians 1:27-30 in this passage I will highlight the words that are of the most importance;
27 God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast [brag that he is saved by his own works] before God. 30 But by His [God’s] doing [not by anything we can do] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.1 Corinthians 1:27-30. (NASB) 

I think verse (30) makes it very clear that it is God’s doing that we are in Christ[4] not anything of our own and at our very best we are as filthy rags before God. We say we love God but we are all sinners, ransomed by the blood of Christ fully deserving to stand trial for the crimes which we all commit. Yet in spite of living our lives recklessly as enemies of God; God has for some reason, which we can’t possible know, chosen us to be elect. And so God reached into this world from eternity and for no other reason except He choose to; He pulled us form the pits of hell. Showing himself merciful He did not give us what we deserved. . And it is when we can conceive this truth, that we are able to see a drug addict, prostitute, drug dealer, whoremonger, thief, murder, lair, effeminate, homosexual, transsexual, rapist, even a child molester, on the street, Knowing that we are no greater than them and just like them we rightly deserve to burn forever into eternal damnation.  When we reach this truth of our own guilt we will never be able to truly love another. However, once we see this Grace that God has bestowed on us His elect, we are then unable to point a finger at another person, or turn our nose up at them. For we know if it wasn’t for the Grace of God unto election, just like all those whom hearts God hardens, we would surely perish. 

We must not see election and predestination as the unfairness of God, but must see it for what it is toward those of us that are His elect,  which is the Beauty of God’s Grace given to us for no reason what-so-ever except he chooses to.

Soli Deo Gloria
Your Brother in Christ
T.Charves FireSpeaks

[1] The right of the first born child to inherit a double portion of his family wealth above his younger or female siblings.
[2] In this passage as with many passages in the bible the hate of God is not as one man hates but rather hate means that God has not chosen him, not that God is against Him. In the natural we find that Esau was rich and lived a full life, and even had a forgiving heart toward his brother Jacob, had God ben against him he would have surely died
[3] Romans 6:23 (KJV) for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[4] This is a very crystal clear saying in all versions of the Bible. In that the KJV says “of Him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus”; while the NIV says “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus”; the English Standard Version says “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus” and the New American Standard  says “but by His doing you are in Christ Jesus”