Monday, June 8, 2009

Thoughts on Predestination

I had a meeting with Sam and Makenna today, and we briefly brought up the subject of predestination, that is, whether or not believers are "predestined" to be saved. I currently don't really agree with predestination, but I admit I could be wrong. Here are just a few of my thoughts.

As far as predestination goes, I know the Reformers believe in "irresistible grace" and that people are saved when the Holy Spirit irresistibly fills them. However, I found this verse. “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51) Please do note what I'm saying, here, though... I'm not saying that God cannot overpower people through the Holy Spirit! I'm definitely not saying that God does not have power over man's decisions. I'm just saying that maybe He doesn't choose to use the full extent of His power on us so that we can still make a choice.

Also, if everything we do was predestined, then why should humans be condemned for sins that God essentially forced them to commit? If we have no choice about what we do, believe, etc., then we might as well live the way the atheists do, claiming no responsibility for our actions.

And Scripture states that salvation is a free gift. If I received a gift on my birthday from my father, and I reached out and took it, would I get the credit? No, not really. My dad would get all the credit for giving me the gift, of course! Sure, I had to accept it, but accepting it really didn't take much. Actually, I would have been doing much more if I had rejected the gift! It would have taken a lot more effort and stubbornness.

I do think that in a way everything is "predestined" - God knows everything, so He knew before and outside of the confines of time who would be saved. But I don't think He moves humans like pawns in the salvation process. And I don't think it subtracts at all from God's sovereignty if He gives man a choice.

This verse from Ephesians is often used to support predestination:
"For He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will - to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves."

This verse, to me, could be taken two ways. First of all, it could mean that each individual person who will be saved is predestined, that God hand-picked individuals to be saved before they were even created. It could also mean that God simply predestined the plan of salvation. He knew humankind would fall and created a way for the group of believers to be adopted as His sons. Christ was predestined, then. The believers are His chosen people, like Israel. But of course the Israelites did have the freedom of choice whether to follow Him or not. Not all the Israelites were saved, even though they were chosen!

I think a later verse rather helps to clarify this point. "And you also [referring to the believing Ephesians] were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,"

In other words, later on, people are grafted into this chosen Body of Christ. The Body of Christ was chosen, yes, but perhaps it is not necessarily predestined who exactly is included in that body.

I'd really like to check with a Greek scholar on this passage.

I don't know, these are just my thoughts, and I could be wrong. Predestination could be right, wrong, or part right. Scientists are still freaking out over how light can act like a particle sometimes and like a wave other times. Yet they use light, because they know that no matter how it does it, light scatters darkness, and light is good.

Like Sam said today, though, whether you believe in predestination or not, we can all agree that God first loved us. That's the most important thing. And if we trust that Christ's atoning death on the Cross is what saves us - not our own choice or our election - then we will agree on the important thing, and we will be saved.

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