PART 1 PREDESTINATION
NO MESSAGES ON THE 23 AND 30 OF THIS MONTH. I WILL BE IN HAITI ON A BUILDING PROJECT.
Does God cause some to go to heaven and others to go to hell?
Does our free will come into play in regard to our eternal destiny?
●How Is a Person’s Eternal Destiny Decided?
●What Are the Purposes of These Three Distinct Divine Elections: of Israel, of Christ, of the Church?
●Are We Caused by God to Fulfill His Plan Or Are We Allowed to Make Free Will Decisions in Respect to IT?
1. How Is a Person’s Eternal Destiny Decided?
2. What Are the Purposes of These Three Distinct Divine Elections: of Israel, of Christ, of the Church?
3. Are We Caused by God to Fulfill His Plan Or Are We Allowed to Make Free Will Decisions In Regard to It?
4. What Is Your Perception of God: as Being Autocratic Or Persuasive?
5. Does This Scriptural Evidence Provide Clear Support for the Calvinist Point of View?
Am I Caused to Provide This Summary Or Am I Able to Provide This Summary by Means of My Own Free Will?
The topic of predestination has always intrigued me. I remember this being one of the many topics of discussion following my conversion to the Christian faith. As a young convert, I knew nothing about the doctrines of the faith. However, I was aware that God the Holy Spirit had come into my life to indwell and had subsequently saturated me with his presence (e.g. love, joy, peace, etc.). I began attending the Baptist church from which I heard and responded to the gospel. Over time, I also began attending a weekly bible study.
Slowly different doctrines of this faith began to surface. I was told that tithing (giving 10% of one’s gross income) was mandatory for every believer. Along with this, there was emphatic teaching that the leadership positions of the church could only be occupied by men. To my surprise being a wealthy church member was frowned upon. If you had an abundance of material blessings you would be asked to not work as much, so that you could attend more often to church functions. Men were admonished to have short hair, and the women were instructed to wear dresses. Not knowing anything I just agreed with what was taught and kept my mouth shut except for on one particular occasion when a particular doctrinal view was presented that just didn’t sit right with me. .
There was one evening, when as usual, I would attend the weekly bible study and the pastor brought up a subject called predestination. Not only had I never heard this word before, I couldn’t even pronounce it. What in the world does this word mean? He said that this word meant that God chose some to go to heaven and others to go to hell. I thought about this for a few seconds and then said something like, this can’t be right. Another word, if God chose some to go to heaven and others to go to hell, then wouldn’t this be considered unfair? He basically said that this is the way it is and there is nothing I could do about it. I responded by saying something like, well I don’t have to agree with this view. That set him off.
The pastor who had been polite now became very combative in speech. He said that this doctrine was foundational to this church. Any disagreement with it would mean that I would be considered as an apostate, i.e. someone who has fallen away from the faith. I said to him that I was sorry he felt this way, but I would not be persuaded by this threat. Here I was newly saved and already I was involved in a contested discussion of which I had no scriptural support for my response other than insinuating that what he was teaching seemed to be something that God wouldn’t support. I could see that this dialogue meant that my days remaining in this church were numbered.
So, I began searching for another assembly to attend. Over time, I found another church and left this one. And low and behold what I found out was that this new church had an entirely different teaching on the subject of predestination. What I soon realized was that there are at least two distinct different views concerning this topic. Hopefully, this study will help you understand what these views are, and like me to be able to make a more informed decision as to which one I will choose to believe in.
How Is a Person’s Eternal Destiny Decided?
Here are some questions for you to consider. Do you think that your eternal destiny is set in stone? Another word, do you believe that you are going to either heaven or hell regardless of what choices you make in life? Does our free will come into play in regard to our eternal destiny?
There are three words which will help us in answering these questions. These words are foreknowledge, election, and predestination. While the definition of each of these words is the same, the way they are used will be different in respect as to whether God is in complete control or whether mankind is allowed to make an unmerited free will decision. While what I just said will probably be confusing to understand at this time, let’s take a look at each of the definitions of these words and how they will be used in different ways based on the perspective of each of the theologies that is using them, one of which is called Calvinism (Reformed-Covenant Theology) and the other which is called Arminianism (Free Will Theology).
The word foreknowledge refers an aspect of the all-knowing of God that is known as omniscience; and refers to what God knew before he created the heavens and earth, in this case as relating to salvation.
●Calvinism states that God knew beforehand whom he would select for salvation; and in his foreknowledge determined through his own counsel that certain people would be chosen and others rejected before they were born. He also determined or prepared all of the events that would take place beforehand that would cause those who are chosen to respond in time to salvation.
●Arminianism states that God knew beforehand who would freely believe in his Son for salvation, and it is on this basis that they are chosen. God also foreknows the events that would take place as well as the free will decisions that mankind would make concerning them in respect to salvation.
Very interesting! On the one hand, God knew beforehand who he would select for salvation. On the other hand, God knew beforehand who he would select for salvation based on their free will decision to believe in his Son in time.
The next word we will take a look at is called election. The word election refers to the choosing of those whom God knew beforehand for salvation.
●Calvinism states that in election God selects or chooses some to salvation and others to damnation (hell). Furthermore, the Calvinist believes that Christ paid the penalty for only the sins of the chosen (elect). This is called the limited atonement.
●Arminianism states that God chooses those whom he foreknew would believe through their free will in his Son for salvation. The Arminian believes that Christ died for the sins of the whole world whether elect or not. This is called the unlimited atonement.
The third word we will look at is called predestination. The word predestination has to do with God’s plan that is executed in the dimension of time. This plan involves many events, as well as the decisions that mankind will make especially concerning salvation. The goal of predestination is for people to be saved, and subsequently be conformed to the image of God’s Son. If we were living during the time when Israel first became a nation, the Age of Israel, we would be talking about God executing a plan through the institution of the Mosaic Law that would allow the Jews to believe in him as he was revealed. But because we are living during the time of the church, we will be talking about a plan that has to do with people repenting to him and believing in his Son Jesus Christ for salvation.
●Calvinism says that God executes a plan of salvation for the elect by causing all the events that he determined would occur through his foreknowledge. The elect are caused to respond to these events according to God’s sovereign purposes.
●Arminianism states that God executes a plan of salvation in time for whosoever will, with mankind choosing to respond to His initiation for salvation through their free will.
You might be thinking why should I learn about this subject? You need to learn about this subject because when you are reading the bible there will be presented before you passages of scripture, which you will have to interpret as to whether God caused such and such to happen whereby mankind had to respond in a certain way in regard to it or whether mankind is allowed to choose in respect to whatever is presented before them including salvation.
After what I just said are you thinking what difference does it make whether I am caused to respond or allowed to respond. I believe that it has to do with our perspective not only in relation to evangelizing the lost, but as it pertains to our Christian walk. Is it possible that if my mindset about the lost is that the chosen will get saved no matter what, because God will make sure of it, then why should I participate in presenting the gospel? The Calvinist would say that I should participate in the proclaiming of the gospel, because I don’t know who the elect are. What if this view is not correct?
Arminianism would say that the chosen are those who respond to the gospel. Who are they? I have no idea, but I have the privilege to be used to present the gospel to them. What if they don’t respond? Could it be they are not chosen? Remember the chosen are those who repent and believe. Just because they have chosen not to respond shouldn’t mean that they are lost forever. Pray for them that God would bring about circumstances and situations in their life that would be most favorable for them to respond favorably to the gospel when it is presented again to them.
In the next chapter, we will look at some of the divine elections, both corporate and individual, one involving Israel, one involving Christ, and the other involving the New Testament Church.
What Are the Purposes of These Three Distinct Divine Elections: of Israel, of Christ, of the Church?
Remember, the word election refers to the choosing of those whom God knew beforehand for salvation. Any person who believed in God as he was revealed in any dispensation can be referred to as being elect. Whether they were caused to believe or allowed to believe in their free will is a discussion which will take place in a later chapter.
Israel was called by God in the sense of being used to bless or evangelize all nations. However, not every Jew believed in God as he was revealed, and therefore not every one of them was considered as being elect.
A. Israel under the Ritual Plan of God.
The election of Israel brought in the new racial species, the Jew.
The nation of Israel existed from approximately 1441 BC to 70 AD.
The plan for Israel was the Mosaic Law, which was instituted during the Age of the Jews.
The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. (Deuteronomy 6:1,3)
For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. (Isaiah 45:4)
Jesus Christ was called to provide payment for the sin of all mankind thus satisfying the justice of God.
B. Christ under the Incarnation Plan of God.
When Jesus lived on earth, he was an example of undiminished deity and true humanity.
Water baptism was the induction of Christ’s election in time.
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. (Matthew 12:14-18)
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. (1 Peter 2:6)
The church was called to glorify God the Father by means of their union with Christ.
C. The Church under the Pre-Designed Plan of God.
The election of the church brought in the new spiritual species, the Church, the Royal Family of God, called the new creation.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)
The Calvinist would say, whether you were a Jew during the dispensation of the Jews or whether you were a believer during the dispensation of the New Testament Church, God knew beforehand who he would choose as his elect and therefore prepared beforehand a plan that he would implement in time which would cause them to respond to salvation and secure their eternal destiny to which they were determined to go.
The Arminian would say, whether you were a Jew during the dispensation of the Jews or whether you were a believer during the dispensation of the New Testament Church, God knew beforehand who in their free will would respond to salvation when it was presented to them in the midst of the varied circumstances and situations of life which surrounded it.
So, with these thoughts in mind this brings us to the following two questions.
Do you believe that you are caused by God to fulfill his plan?
Do you believe that you are allowed by God to choose as to whether you will participate in His plan for your life?
Are We Caused by God to Fulfill His Plan Or Are We Allowed to Make Free Will Decisions in Respect to It?
Those who are the elect will either be caused or desired by God to do that which results in the fulfillment his plan for their life. As you read about what some of these things are, I would just ask you to reflect as to whether you, the elect, believe that you have no choice in making these decisions or whether you believe that you do have free will in choosing whether or not to make these decisions.
God causes us:
God desires for us:
1. To respond to the gospel.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
2. To confess sin, when needed.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
3. To be conformed to the image of his Son.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28)
4. To be occupied with the mind of Christ and be filled with the Spirit.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:5)
…but be filled with the Spirit.. (Ephesians 5:18)
5. To be a witness in word and deeds of Christ’s life to unbelievers.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9, 11-12 )
6. To be holy and without blame before Him in love.
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… (Ephesians 1:4)
7. To grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
8. To bring pleasure to Himself.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)
Another reason why you should at least be aware as to the two perspectives concerning the subject of predestination is that I believe you should not only know WHY you believe WHAT you believe, but also why a fellow believer might have a different perspective. Over the years, I have attended churches that would say that their perspective on any biblical topic was absolute meaning their view was the only correct one. Any deviation from said view by any member of the church would be considered as following false teaching. Whosoever mentions this false perspective in conversation to another believer would be reprimanded by those in leadership. They might even be asked to change their mind on such and such topic and if they didn’t then they might be told to leave the church. In all likelihood, the other members of the church would be informed from the pulpit that this person was removed from fellowship, because of having believed in or engaged in false teaching. Some might even mention this verse to support their decision, which is found in 1 John.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (1 John 2:19)
I myself do believe that there are certain truths which are absolute such as Jesus being God the Son, who not only preexisted time, but came to earth being born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, listened to and obeyed the directives of God the Father, went to the cross and paid the penalty for the sin of the world through his death on the cross, was raised from the dead after three days, walked the earth in his glorified body for 40 days, and was ascended into heaven. Another absolute is that God reveals himself to mankind in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, which is otherwise known as the trinity. Another one is there is only one way to get to heaven, by repenting to God the Father and believing in his Son Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, as to the many other biblical topics such as: Is a Christian under obligation to tithe? Is a Christian allowed to drink alcohol? Can a believer lose their salvation? Can a woman be called to a leadership position in the church? Should every believer speak in prayer tongues? etc. there is much contention. Why do we suppose that there is a church building located on just about every street corner in America? So, what is the answer to this dilemma?
I can only speak for myself in respect to the biblical teachings which I present. Other than the absolutes I try to teach on a biblical topic from opposing perspectives and allow each attendee to decide for themselves what to believe. Does this mean that I don’t have a personal opinion on any of these topics? I do have my own opinions on these topics, but I don’t consider my views as being 100% the only right perspective. For instance, if I personally believe that a Christian cannot lose their salvation and a church member believes that a Christian can lose their salvation I wouldn’t shun them or ask them to leave the assembly. I would co-labor with them allowing them to present their perspective in accordance with mine. Hopefully, the assembly will listen to both views, do some further studying on their own, and make up their own mind. I can honestly say that I can’t remember any church that I have attended which operated in this manner.
What I would like to do next is present to you scriptural sections where portions of scripture will be interpreted differently based on whether they are looked at from the Calvinist (caused) point or view or the Arminian (desired/allowed) point of view. After you have looked at the many sections it will be up to you to determine how you believe God interacts with mankind.
Will you see Him as autocratic, as someone who chooses to do whatever he chooses to do and accomplishes whatever he has chosen to accomplish in respect to salvation? Or will you see him as one who is not willing that any should perish, but allows each person to decide in their own free will to repent and believe in his Son for salvation?
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Does our free will come into play in regard to our eternal destiny?