Sunday, February 8, 2009

God's Predestination Vs Man's Choice

Appointed To Eternal Life?

Q. RE: Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

Does this mean that there are some people appointed to be saved and others appointed for destruction?

A. Romans 8:29 says that those who God foreknew, He predestined (appointed). This means that God knew in advance all who would choose to accept His pardon during their lifetimes and be saved, and so He appointed it to happen. Before the Creation, He looked down through time and saw the ones among the group that Paul and Barnabas spoke to who would believe their message, and He scheduled them to be saved that day. God doesn’t want that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) Whether we do or not is our choice, not His.

Man’s Choice Or God’s?

Q. First Praises go to the Lord Jesus Christ. I know the Bible is the word of God. My question is one verse says, For many are called, but few are chosen. Mat 22:14. and another will say, 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. Joh 3:16

I believe that we(The Elect) are Chosen to Belive and most people are not Chosen, so no matter what, they choose to not be saved and will be doomed. How can anybody believe if they are not chosen, and only a few are chosen. Or is that the nonbeliever knows and just rejects Jesus. Is it that they can’t accept Jesus by their own because they weren’t Chosen?? May the Lord continue to Bless you.

A. The context of your reference from Matt. 22:14 is the parable of the wedding banquet where a man is found among the guests without proper attire and is escorted out. Since parables are symbolic stories, the key to understanding them lies in figuring out the symbolism. The wedding clothes stand for the righteousness imputed to believers by faith (Isaiah 61:10 and others) and the banquet is the Kingdom. The man dressed in his own clothes represents someone trying to gain entrance into God’s Kingdom on the strength of his own righteousness. Even though God had sent His servants to invite him, he lacked the essential qualification of belief in the atoning death of our Lord. He was discovered and excluded.

Viewed this way it supports John 3:16. God so loved the world (everyone) that he gave His only son that whosoever would believe (those who choose to believe) would not perish. Everyone’s sins were paid for at the cross, but only those who choose to accept this are saved. 2 Peter 3:9 says that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. In Matt. 7:8 He says that everyone who asks, receives. How could He say these things if He had created some who couldn’t choose to be saved?

The gift of salvation is available to every human being. We’ve all been given the right to accept or reject it. It’s our choice.

Why Isn’t Everyone Saved?

Q. If we are truly saved by Grace alone, then why do we need to believe in Christ to be saved? Isn’t the act of believing a “work” in itself?

If we are saved by Grace alone, than all people should be saved regardless of their response.

Also, why did Jesus leave earth after he was raised from the dead? Don’t you think that if he had stayed here it would ensure more people believed and were saved? Sometimes it seems the information, message and inspiration for humans to be saved, is wrapped in mystery and not clear enough for more people to be saved.

But perhaps that is the plan- to only save a small percentage?

A. Grace is a gift and like any other gift you can either accept or reject it. We accept it by believing in faith that Jesus paid for all of our sins. Faith is the only thing we can do that isn’t counted as work. (Romans 4:5)

How much more would you have Jesus do than give His life? Was He then supposed to go on a 2000 year sales trip asking people to accept the gift He had purchased for them? That’s the job of the church (Matt. 28:19-20) but even then He promised to be with us when we do it.

As for the clarity of the message, God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) How much clearer can you get? If it’s confusing it’s because man has made it so, working on Satan’s behalf. 2 Cor. 4:3-4 says that if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The God of this world has blinded their minds to understanding.

Small percentage? God doesn’t want any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But He’s left that decision to us.

The Doctrine Of Election, Follow Up

Q. I was reading an article by (a well known author) on the doctrine of election. He cites several passages that seem to indicate that we are not in any way in the process of deciding to follow Christ, but that He chose us, we didn’t choose Him. However, he didn’t finish the passage which continues, …”yet one of you is a devil.” I’ve always believed that it all boils down to somewhere in the middle of free will vs predestination. Could you please shed some light on this subject?

A. Let me begin be saying that this author clearly took John 6:70 out of context. It says, Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He was obviously limiting the scope of His answer to the 12 disciples.

But in the overall sense, there really isn’t any middle ground here. We either have a choice or we don’t. Either the Lord died for our sins or He didn’t. Speaking of Jesus, 1 John 2:2 says that He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. So He didn’t just die for believers, and yet not everyone is saved. The only reasonable conclusion we can draw is that some choose to be saved and some don’t. That’s why refusing to accept His pardon is the only unforgivable sin.

I honestly can’t understand how the Doctrine of Election can make sense to a learned scholar like the one you mentioned. It goes against so many unmistakably clear statements in the Bible like Matt. 7:7-8, John 3:16, Romans 10:9, and others. It goes against the Lord’s final instructions to His disciples in Matt. 28:19-20 to spread the Gospel through out the world.

And finally is goes against the nature and character of God as Peter revealed in his comment that the Lord’s doesn’t want any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

The Doctrine Of Election

Q. Our Sunday school class just had a wonderful lesson on the “doctrine of election” which greatly confused me and many others in the class to the point that we are going to repeat the teaching next week.

Can you please shed some light on this subject? The teaching seems to state that God has pre-chosen those who will be saved “before the foundations of earth” and that would seem to leave out everyone else. On the other hand we know God is a just God and would not create people that had no chance of being saved.

It seems a good case can be made both ways using scripture, yet both sides cannot be correct!

A. The Doctrine of Election is a misapplication of Scripture that began by confusing Israel and the Church. It’s clear that Israel was chosen by a sovereign act of God. There was nothing to commend Abraham and his descendants above the other nations. In Deut. 7:7-8 Moses told the Israelites: “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

But when it comes to the church, the Bible has this to say,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

A rule of interpretation says that we should use the clearest verses to help us understand those that are less clear, because God can not contradict Himself. These are a few of the unmistakably clear verses I could cite that tell us it’s our choice to be saved and whoever asks for salvation will receive it, irrespective of merit.

Also, a study of the character of God shows that he could not create some only for the only purpose of condemnation. After all, He sent His Son to die for us so we could be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but for everyone to come to repentance, and the Bible shows the extremes He has gone to for that purpose.

As far as choosing those who would be saved before the foundations of the Earth were laid, the Bible doesn’t say that. The definitive passage on that issue is Romans 8:29-30. In effect it says that God, who knows the end from the beginning, knew who would choose to be saved before any of us were created and then predestined it to happen. Jesus was chosen before the creation of the world to die for our sins. (1 Peter 1:18-20) When Paul said that He chose us before the foundation of Earth in Ephes. 1:4 he had to have been using an abbreviated version of the process, especially since he had written the letter to the Romans three years earlier.

Choosing To Sin

Q. I appreciate your site more than you will ever know. I teach a class on Thursday morning in the county prison near my home. I am current using your material on Romans and Psalms.

The inmates really enjoy your articles and teaching. May God continue to bless you and your family.

In my Sunday school class this past Sunday the question was ask “Could Jesus have sinned when He was on earth if He had chosen to?” We are all in agreement that He did not sin, but most of the class believes He was incapable of sinning because He was also God. We all agree He was 100 percent man and 100 percent God. However, I am of the opinion that if He was truly 100 percent man He could have sinned if He had chosen to. Otherwise I could say sure He didn’t sin He was God but I am not a God so He really wasn’t tempted as I am because HE knew He could not Sin.

A. I agree with you. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

You can’t be tempted to jump off a building and fly, because you know you lack the ability to fly. Likewise, one cannot be tempted to sin if he knows he lacks the ability to sin. The thing that made Jesus different from us is that He was not contaminated with the sin nature, a genetic flaw that you and I have inherited that makes it impossible for us to avoid sinning. Jesus had no such flaw, so although He could have chosen to sin, He could also choose not to.

More Doctrine Of Election Follow Up

Q. I understand the passages you quoted in your answer on the Doctrine of Election and see it as you do. However, I’ve always been confused with Romans 9: 21-23.

This makes it sound as if God purposely makes certain people for destruction. This has never been very clear to me.

A. The key is actually in verse 24 where Paul identifies the objects of His mercy as both Jews and Gentiles who would become part of the Church. The whole passage reads:

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:21-24)

Remember the context of Romans 9 is God’s sovereign choice of the Jews (election). Although He chose them as His people, He knew before he did that they would reject Him and become objects of His wrath. When they did, it would provide the opportunity for Him to demonstrate His mercy to the Gentiles. Then, both Jews and Gentiles who chose to do so (choice) could receive His mercy through the Church, just as He had intended all along.

Jesus agreed to become the Savior of mankind before the Creation of Earth (1 Peter 1:18-20) His death avails without prejudice to anyone who chooses to accept it (John 3:16), and it’s His desire that everyone will (2 Peter 3:9). Sadly some will refuse and become objects of wrath. Since God can’t contradict Himself, these are the clear, simple statements that must form the basis for any discussion of passages like this one.

To those of us trapped in time, it can appear that He made some people one way and some another. But to God, who is outside of time and has seen the end from the beginning, it’s a matter of knowing what choices we’ll make and seeing that everyone gets what they’ve asked for.


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