PART 2 PREDESTINATION
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? ●What Is Your Perception of God: as Being Autocratic Or Persuasive? CHAPTER 4 What Is Your Perception of God: as Being Autocratic or Persuasive? As you read the scriptures, you will become aware over and over again as to the God of the universe interacting at different times and different ways with mankind. Will it appear to you that everything which happens follows his script? When you look at the lost will you have the mindset toward them that some will go to heaven or hell upon God’s choosing? Will you look at the various events that have been recorded in the scriptures as being implemented to cause unbelievers to respond in a certain way in respect to salvation? Or when you look at everything that happens will you conclude that it is a combination of God and mankind responding at certain times and in certain ways according to their free will, and determine as such that God is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works. This, however, cannot be said of humanity. Please read the content of the scripture sections which follow. Then take a look at how the Calvinist or Arminian would interpret what was said whether it pertained to salvation or something else. We will begin by looking at a verse that is displayed at various venues at different times across the nation. For God So Loved The World “that whosever believes in him” Suggested Reading: John 3:1-16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, who came to see him at night. In this dissertation, Jesus was talking to him about salvation. Jesus said that his Father was so desirous of the world’s happiness that he willingly gave freely and without merit his Son so that whosoever believes in Him (in who he is and what he has done) should not perish (final destiny in hell apart from God), but have everlasting (a new quality) of life. The question that I would like you to consider is, who do the words “world” and “whosoever” refer to? Depending on whether you are a Calvinist or Arminian will determine how you would answer this question. CALVINISM The word “whosoever” refers only to the elect. The word “world” refers to those who God has chosen out of it. With this in mind, the Calvinist would interpret this verse as saying, for God so loved those, who he chose beforehand out of the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that the elect will be caused to make a decision to believe in him and subsequently not perish, but have everlasting life. ARMINIANISM The word “whosoever” refers to anyone who chooses to believe in God’s Son. The word “world” refers to the entire human race. The Arminian would interpret this verse as saying, for God so loved the entire human race, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that those (the elect), who he knew beforehand in eternity past, would freely believe in his Son in time, and not perish, but have everlasting life. The verses we will look at next have to do with a process called sanctification, the need for us in our experience to be set apart to God as holy. How is this process looked upon by the Calvinist or Arminian? We could restate this in the form of the following question. Does God cause us to be conformed to the image of his Son or is it God’s desire for us to be conformed to the image of his Son? For Whom He Did Foreknow “to be conformed to the image of his Son” Romans Chapter 7 & 8 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:2, 4) At this time in his life, the Apostle Paul was having personal struggles with his spiritual walk. He realized that in his attempt to obey the Ten Commandments, which revealed what sin was, he was unable to do so while operating in his sin nature. Then, he received a revelation. The righteousness of the Law could only be fulfilled when a Christian was filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit, which relates to being spiritually minded or mindful of the word of God. The Spirit helps us by praying to God the Father for us when we are immersed in our infirmities (trials and troubles; physical, emotional, and spiritual disabilities; the general weaknesses of the spiritual life) and are unable to ask for the right things in prayer in connection to any of these circumstances. If we continue to keep on loving God in spite of all these hindrances, then all things will work together for our good (welfare) for those whom God had called according to his purpose. 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 8:29) For whom he foreknew (knew beforehand in his omniscience) he did predestinate (implemented a plan) so that they would be conformed (transformed in the heart) to the image (likeness) of his Son. The question is, how does this conformity take place? The answer will be different depending whether you are being taught by a Calvinist or Arminian. Let’s see how they would answer this question. CALVINISM God has absolute authority relating to the process of sanctification in respect to a believer being conformed (transformed in the heart) to the image (likeness) of his Son. God according to his sovereignty will causes believers to be sanctified in his time and manner to which they have very little or no influence. ARMINIANISM God’s desire for all believers is that they will be conformed to the image of his Son. This is a process known as sanctification. While it is true that believers ultimately make the decision to go to church, to listen to teachings, to study, to sin or not, etc., God at times will be an active participant in their spiritual walk through the ministry of the Spirit thus providing the believer with conviction, comfort, power, illumination, guidance, etc. What does it mean when the scriptures state that Jesus is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for the sins of the whole world? We Have an Advocate “the propitiation … for the sins of the whole world” 1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. If any of us sin, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who pleads our case to the Father by speaking on our behalf as to our character. He goes between us and God the Father in order to restore friendly relations. He is also the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins having paid the penalty not only for them, but for the sins of the whole world, thus appeasing or satisfying the wrath of God whose standard had been violated. How would the different theologies interpret the words “the whole world”? CALVINISM This theology would say that Jesus is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for the sins of the “whole world”. The words “whole world” refer to only those (the elect) selected by God for salvation. Another word, Jesus suffering and death on the cross was not for every human being, but only for the elect. This is known as the limited atonement. ARMINIANISM This theology would say that Jesus is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for the sins of the “whole world”. The words “whole world” refer to all mankind (for every person). Jesus suffered and died for every human being, whether they would choose to believe in him or not, thus satisfying the justice of God. Most of us would agree that it is God’s will for every person to be saved. However, the Calvinist and Arminian would express clear differences as to what this really means. Intercessions “Who will have all men to be saved” Suggested Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) Paul is giving instruction to Timothy strongly recommending that supplications (something definite is asked; petitions having to do with one's personal needs as they are related to the government under which he lives), prayers (the general word for prayer), intercessions (for conversions; prayers offered for another), and expressing gratitude for blessings or benefits be made for all men, for kings, and all that are in authority, so that we may lead a life which is quiet (freedom from outward disturbance or persecutions) and peaceable (freedom within; calmness) showing great devotion and reverence (respect) for God, and behaving in a right and proper way before other people. For God will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Who do the words “all men” refer to? CALVINISM The words “all men” refer only to those whom God chose or selected to go to heaven. Salvation will be offered to all, but only those who God has chosen (the elect) and determined to be saved will be caused to respond. ARMINIANISM God’s desire is for “all men” or every person to be saved. However, not everyone will respond to the gospel, when it is presented to them. This very interesting question will be asked in the following section. Will unbelievers be held accountable (at fault) for not responding to God’s initiation for salvation? Called unto Him His Twelve Disciples: “more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment” Suggested Reading: Matthew 10:1-15 Jesus called his twelve disciples (learners; one who follows a teacher and learns his wisdom5) together and told them to go and proclaim in every city or town to the Jews that the kingdom (reign) of God (the king), an approaching redemption, was at hand (had come). This message would be authenticated through the diverse miracles of healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and casting out (authority to command them to depart) devils (unclean spirits). Some will hear the message, accept it, and provide you with the hospitality of food and lodging. Others will reject what you have to say whether it be an entire city or an individual household. If you are rejected, then as you leave shake the dust off your feet. This would reveal to them judgment or rejection just like when the Jews would shake off the dust of a pagan land from their clothes or feet (sandals) when they returned to their homeland indicating that they would no longer have any further connection with them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Matthew 10:14-15) Then Jesus made an astounding statement concerning a final judgment that was to come. He indicated that the judgment, on those who heard the message of the kingdom of heaven and witnessed the signs which authenticated it, would be more severe than for those who were destroyed by fire and brimstone in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness (moral depravity). Will those who reject the message of salvation, in no matter what dispensation they are in, be held accountable (at fault)? CALVINISM Anyone who has rejected God’s message of salvation in no matter what dispensation will not be held accountable (at fault) for their rejection, because at birth every person has inherited a corrupt sinful nature, therefore being unable to do anything that is good. This is referred to as “total depravity”. Even babies are in a lost state. The only way any person will go to heaven will be if they are one of the elect. If a baby was chosen, then they too will go to heaven. A person is saved irrespective of free will. People cannot choose salvation, only God can cause them to be saved. So, in this regard the lost, the unsaved, the unchosen will be judged not because they are held accountable, but because they were not chosen. ARMINIANISM Those who have rejected God’s message of salvation in no matter what dispensation will be held accountable (at fault) for their rejection of it. Jesus came to his own land and his own people (the Jews) and they received him not. To not receive is in essence the same thing as saying that they didn’t believe in his name or they didn’t believe he was their Messiah. In order to believe, the will has to consent. However, there are instances where the exercise of the will has none effect in procuring spiritual regeneration when it relates to being born: of blood (of an illustrious ancestry), of the will of the flesh (the natural human desire for children, or the will of a man (of a husband’s will). Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13) It is true that God saves us, but it is also true that this will not take place unless the unbeliever consents or exercises their free will to repent and believe in Christ as their savior. 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: (John 1:12) This verse seems to clearly indicate that salvation is not of ourselves. I wonder what the Arminian response would be to this? By Grace Are You Saved “not of yourselves” Suggested Reading: Ephesians 2:1-8; 1:17 Paul, in his letter to the Gentile believers at Ephesus, is addressing many different biblical topics. He expresses his desire that God the Father would give them a spirit of wisdom (an understanding of spiritual realities) and revelation (the disclosing of spiritual truths) so that they would get to know Christ personally and intimately. He goes on to tell them that even when they were dead in sins, they were quickened (made alive by the Spirit). He then expounded on what their conduct was like before their conversion. When they were unbelievers their behavior was not only ordered according to the customs or manners of this world (the system of evil … together with the purposes, pursuits, pleasures. and places where God is not wanted), but also according to the prince (the ruler) of the power (the whole empire of evil spirits) of the air (the region between the sky and the earth), the spirit (the evil spirit), which is the ruling principle that influences the lives (their thinking and acting) of the children of disobedience (unbelievers; those who are unpersuadable). What follows is a statement about their salvation, that it was not of themselves, but is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) This seems to clearly be saying that God causes a person to be saved. Is there another way to look at this? CALVINISM Salvation has nothing to do with human effort or works. Man has no ability to save themselves. Grace means that God does it all. The words “not by works” includes the idea of believing, where belief is considered meritorious Therefore, if someone chooses to believe then this is considered human effort. This is why the elect can only be saved by God, who causes them to believe. ARMINIANISM It is true that it is by grace (God’s power) that a person is saved. There is no human effort or work that can bring about salvation. However, an unbeliever is saved by grace through faith. Grace is the basis for salvation, but faith is the means. The word “faith” means to trust, to believe. This does involve the exercising of the free will. However, trusting or believing is not a work, but a response which is non-meritorious. Consider this question, was the prophet Jeremiah caused to be a prophet or did he choose to accept the calling to the office of prophet? Before I Formed Thee in the Belly I Knew Thee “I ordained thee a prophet” Suggested Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-5 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. (Jeremiah 1:5) Before Jeremiah was born God knew him, and because of such he sanctified (called) him for his service, and ordained (assigned) him to be a prophet to the nations. Could Jeremiah have rejected the calling to the office of prophet? CALVINISM The words “knew thee” means that God chose Jeremiah before he was born. Another word, in eternity past in his foreknowledge God not only chose Jeremiah to go to Paradise at physical death, but he also appointed him to be a prophet. This means that Jeremiah was not only caused to believe in God as he was revealed, but he was also caused to accept his calling and perform the duties of a prophet. ARMINIANISM The words “knew thee” means that God chose Jeremiah before he was born. Another word, in eternity past in his foreknowledge God knew that Jeremiah would believe in Him sometime after he was born and along with this he would respond favorably to the calling of God concerning this prophetic office. It is on this basis that the scripture says that Jeremiah was chosen, called, and appointed. In the following chapter, we will look at two scripture sections to which the Calvinist would say gives the strongest support to their argument that God chooses some (the elect) to salvation and the rest to damnation. 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Synopsis
What is your perception of God: autocratic or persuasive?
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