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    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    Wrestling With Predestination

    For the longest time, I've always been an Armenian at heart when it came to the discussion of predestination or not.

    I always said my answer to the "predestination question" was this: "God knows everything, so of course he KNOWS who will CHOOSE Him in the end. We still have that choice, but all in all God already knows who will ultimately choose Him or not"

    That sounds like an amazing rebuttal, right? I thought so too. Yet, there is a HUGE hole.

    How can we choose God if God hasn't yet called us? Romans 3:23 says: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." We've all sinned. Yet it continues in Romans 3:24-25: "and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins." All have sinned, and all have received this justification?

    It seems that the hole has been blown open. If we are all depraved, all lost...how could we possibly choose God over sin? It would stand to reason, that there must be an initiation from God in order to us to respond.

    Some would say (as I do/did) that the initiation was the cross of Christ, inviting all who hear/experience the reality of what God did for them to embrace the Gift of God. I use this analogy with my teens:

    Christs death on the cross is once for all (depending on the Bible translation this could sound like once for all people, or once for all sins). It's like Him giving a gift. It's there, ready for you to open up. He has done all the work of getting the gift and wrapping it for you. However, you must open the gift and receive it. Then I say that a gift doesn't belong to you until you open it and use it, just like Christ's death on the cross won't mean anything to you unless you receive it and believe it...then use that in your life.

    I still hold to this, but due to much reading and studying, I am now currently wrestling with my position on predestination. I am convinced that Salvation is only through Christ's cross, by grace alone and by faith alone. His blood on the cross what my atonement, he justified me and imputed His righteousness to me. However, did he also choose me before time began to be His child...while NOT choosing someone else?

    When deeply thought out, the idea of Predestination brings an excitement and sadness. Let me explain.

    If God chose me [ before the foundations of the earth were put into place] this brings me excitement. God, the great Creator chose me to be His child, a Son hand picked by the Father to live a life transformed on the earth, to be regenerated, justified, made righteous and ultimately chosen to live forever with Him! I was chosen over someone else, I am special, I am predestined. This is more touching than if someone where to say He [God] handpicked everyone in the whole world and some people embraced it and others didn't. It gives excitement because it makes me feel more special, more loved and more embraced than the Armenian way of thinking.

    However, I come to what Paul came to with this when he says: "For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race..." (Romans 9:3). He wants them to embrace Christ, and for Christ to choose them. I would be in utter anguish as Paul was if I were chosen while others were not. I can live with them denying Christ, for the price of their death is on their own heads...but to place that on God? This is not double handed Predestination, but simply if God chooses NOT to save one, that person is damned and doomed to live eternally in Hell.

    That is a HARD pill. I would truly sadden me. This is why I am wrestling with this, because their are pros and cons to both views.

    Let me say that this issue is an open handed issue generally speaking. By that I mean it will not take away from your Salvation if you believe either in Predestination or Armenianism. It is not a Doctrine [that of Predestination] that must be held to in order to be saved. Many people hold to tightly to their view on this issue and ostracize those of the other camp and cause division within the body, where division was not needed. I mean to share how I am grappling with this Doctrine...as gently and kindly as I can.

    I will go deeper as we go on, I think I need to continue to wrestle with what I desire to say and how I desire to understand this Doctrine.


    Erik said...

    considering the amount of reformed theology you have been reading (Driscoll, Piper, McCarthur), I'm surprised you are just now wrestling with it. Before you get in too deep, make sure you understand fully the Armenian position and that you get some equally sound authors and books to counterpoint those from a reformed background.

    Good luck as you wrestle, God is in control (buy will let you choose whatever theology you want :P )

    Anonymous said...

    I believe God sees time like a man writing a movie script. He starts out with the absolute beginning and the absolute end. Then he developes characters, the plot of the story, and then slowly works int he details. There are main events, and small things that are inbetween that help direct them to the main event. Ultimately God sees the beginning and the end when he starts, and as we make choices he does things to guide us to the place he has made for us to end up from the beginning. The characters don't control the movie, the writer does, but he works with the personalities of the characters to lead them to the ultimate end which he knew all along.
    I quoted some scriptures on Facebook, but it was giving me problems, so I posted the second part of my comment here! I have struggled wit this too, but I have really come to just take the Word as it is and leave it up to God and do my best to get everybody I can to see who Christ really is and what His love is really like.