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Predestination and Election: Who will hear the gospel and believe? September 13, 2013

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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This topic was initiated by a regular contributor here by the name of Fast Freddie. As this was raised under a different topic here, I decided to open up a new topic to discuss this issue.

So, is it only the elect of God who will hear and believe the Gospel? In other words is it only those who were predestined to hear the gospel and believe can be saved?

Predestination and Election: A Look at Romans Chapter 1 to 8

The doctrine of “predestination” and “election” suggest that only some people were pre-ordained or specially chosen by God to be saved whilst others were preordained to eternal damnation. In this regard the doctrine purports that there is no freewill in inheriting salvation but one is elected according to God’s sovereign will. Calvin is largely responsible for this “school of theology”. Without dwelling too much on Calvin’s view however the question that one needs to ask is whether this is supported by scripture. Indeed, Rom 8 and Eph 1 are used as the proof text to support this doctrine but is that what Paul really preached or were Paul’s words misunderstood?

I think that one of the key problems with understanding this subject is that many people define their beliefs by what Calvin or Arminius said rather than by studying the Word of God and therefore they base their beliefs on a few verses that may have been taken out of context, rather than to rely on the whole counsel of scripture. So to look at this topic I think the starting point should be from Romans chapter one, simply because the book was a letter to the Roman saints and what was said in chapter 8 is framed by the preceding chapters. Is there therefore a theme of “predestination” and “election” coming through from Paul’s writing from chapter one? This is what I shall explore (I will look at Ephesians 1 later).

In Romans 1:15 Paul writes that he was ready to preach the gospel to them who were at Rome also. He goes on to say in verses 16 to 17 that he is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and to the Greek and that it is in the gospel that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. Now notice what he said in the verses that followed:

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Here Paul shows that the ungodly hold the truth (about God) in their unrighteousness even though God made it known unto them – God reveals these truths of who He is so that the ungodly and unrighteous are without excuse (when they are judged). The use of the words “without excuse” here are the key to demonstrate that they had a choice to make in changing their circumstances but instead chose to turn away from God and this is clearly noted if we read from verse 21. It was because of what they did that God in turn gave them over to their reprobate minds:

28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Note that not only do they know of the judgement of God in that their sinfulness is worthy of death but they took pleasure in continuing to do evil:

32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

So from chapter 1 we can see that Paul was not claiming that the evil doers mentioned here were “predestined” to death but that they darkened their own hearts out of their own vain imaginations and lusts and turned the truth of God into a lie, which is why God gave them over. So then if after the truth of the Gospel of God is revealed to us but we continue in evil, “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation (Heb 2:3)?” Jude has shown us however that even those destined for the fire of judgement can be saved also if we make an effort:

Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (Jude 1:23) NLT

Of course it would not be possible to fulfill this scripture if those heading for the flames were preordained (or predestined) to go there. The Calvinist view here however would suggest that the fate of those heading for the flames is already sealed. There are however other examples in scripture though which shows that one can change course and be saved. For example, in Rev 2:20-24 we see how Jesus gave a “prophetess” called Jezebel in Thyatira space to repent of her evil ways and promises judgement upon her and her children except she repents. Similarly, Jesus warned the Laodicean church that he would spew them out of His mouth unless they repented because they had become lukewarm (Rev 3:14-19). Again the Calvinist view here would suggest that you are either in the camp of “destined to be saved” or “destined to be damned” regardless of any effort on their part to change their destiny. So how can God damn His own church? After all, would the Laodiceans not need to have been among the “called” to constitute a church in the first place? However, 1 Pet 1:17 demonstrates that God judges according to every man’s works without respect of persons. The idea of predestination however is that one’s fate is sealed irrespective of his state of being and that he does not have a free will in determining the outcome. This cannot be true however in light of 1 Pet 1:17 and Rom 2:11 as we shall see later. This would mean that God would need to show respect to those whom He predetermines to save and those He predetermines to destroy, instead of judging equally.

So continuing into Romans chapter two then Paul started out by challenging those who judge others for the sins they do yet they themselves commit the same things by asking if they think they will escape the judgement of God. Paul makes clear here in Rom 2:4-11 that the goodness of God leads such sinners to repentance. But because of the hardness of their hearts they store up wrath for themselves against the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Paul reiterates in verse 6 that God will render to every man according to his deeds both to those who patiently seek eternal life and those who do not obey the truth but instead continue in unrighteousness. Note in verse 9-11 where Paul states clearly that God is no respecter of persons for He will render tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, to the Jew first and also to the gentile. In the same way God will give glory honour and peace to every man that does good works, to the Jew first and to the Gentile. These verses conflict with the Calvinist view of predestination and demonstrates clearly that what Calvin preached on this subject is not the same as what Paul preached. For instance we know that the Jews were the “chosen” people of God in the Old Testament but here we see that the Jew were not all predestined to be saved since the same punishment will be meted out to Jew and Gentile alike for their sins.

Leading into Romans 3 Paul reiterates from verse 1 that the Jew does not have any advantage over non Jews. As in Chapter 2 Paul is here addressing the subject of justification by faith and if we look closely at this doctrine we will see that it is inconsistent with the Calvinist view of predestination. For example in verses 2-22 we learn that the righteousness of God is manifested in Christ to everyone who believes whether Jew or Gentile. Paul continues to speak in the same vein in Chapter 4 how righteousness is imputed to Abraham for his faith and likewise to those of us we have faith in Jesus.

In Romans chapter 5 Paul points out that if we are justified by faith we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ who died for the ungodly. In verse 18 Paul makes a poignant point as follows:

18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life

This means that because sin entered the world through Adam judgment came upon all who were condemned but through Jesus Christ the free gift of salvation came upon all men to the justification of life. So all men have access to this grace if they believe and hence justified by faith. This again shows the contrast with what Paul preached and the doctrine of predestination as upheld by Calvin. If only some were pre-ordained to be saved then this would clearly contradict what Paul teaches here in Romans 5:18.

Continuing on to Romans 6 Paul writes that now that we have been justified through faith and have died with Christ that we should now no longer subject our members unto sin but live holy lives with Christ. In the following verses Paul writes:
20For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:5)
This is similar to what Paul said in Rom 5:18, in that if we continued in unrighteousness the end of it would be death but if we become servants to righteousness the fruit would be eternal life. The verb Paul uses in Rom 6:19 is that we should now “yield” our members to righteousness. This is an instruction which implies an action to be taken at the will of the believer. So once again this message is at odds with the Calvinist view. In Romans chapter seven Paul continues the interplay between the law of sin and death and the law of life and how the sinful flesh wars with the spirit. Here Paul emphasizes dying to sin in order that one may live according to Christ after the Spirit. Leading in to Romans 8 then Paul starts out in verse 1 by talking about the fact that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. For, says Paul, to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. In verse 8 we see that those that are “in the flesh” cannot please God. The point is further illustrated in verse 13:
13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
So if we followed the line from Romans 1 through to chapter 8 we see that what Paul preached is belief in the gospel, being justified by faith and walking in the spirit which leads to life. Similarly Jesus said in John 5:24 that if we hear and believe the things He says we shall not be condemned, which falls in line with Rom 8:1. It is with this backdrop therefore that Paul then talks about “predestination” and “election” in verses 28 to 30. Before going into these verses however verses 24 and 25 of Romans 8 also worth noting in terms of understanding salvation:

24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

If Paul says here that we are saved by hope how could he then say in the next breath that one was predestined in the Calvinist sense? If Calvin was to be believed then we would not need to have hope because our salvation would already be assured. This would constitute “hope that is seen” but Paul asks why would you hope for what you already see? This is not hope, yet we are saved by hope which requires will and endurance to wait with patience for the embodiment of hope. From everything that Paul taught from Chapter 1 could he now be changing tracks and be teaching a whole new doctrine in verses 28 to 30?

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29For 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. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

What Paul is saying here is that for those whom God foreknew, (i.e., those that love Him and are the called according to His purpose), He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son so that He (Jesus) would be the firstborn among many brethren. Remember that in Rom 1:7 Paul was writing to “all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” Is Paul saying here then that God only chose to save some people without regard to whether they were righteous or unrighteous? Well we already see in Rom 1:16-17 for example where Paul says that the gospel is the power unto salvation to everyone who believes but those who continued in unrighteousness through the hardness of their hearts stored up wrath unto the day of judgement. So what Paul is referring to here by predestination is the plan of salvation. See also Rom 5:18 where Paul says that through the righteousness of “one” the free gift (of grace) came upon all men unto the justification of life. Why is it then that many are called but few chosen (Matt 20:16, 22:14) Is it not because of the condition of their hearts, that they have not purified themselves with the hope (1 John 3:3)?

God told Abraham that he would be a father of many nations – we become heirs to the promise if we received the promise of the spirit by faith (Gal 3:14). So then for everyone that is being saved, God did predestinate. If the Calvinist view on predestination and election was right how could Peter commands that one should “make your calling and your election sure” (2 Pet 1:10)? And is this not the same thing as what Jesus said in Luke 13:24 that we should strive to enter in at the strait gate; and also what the writer of the Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:1 about running the race with endurance? I end here with the words of Jesus in Rev 2:7

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev 2:7)

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Comments»

1. Fast Freddie - September 13, 2013

I am honored Henry…… surprised, but honored…..I really enjoyed the discussion on what happens when you die….hopefully this one will be just as helpful to all of us.
I guess I would draw your att. to Romans 8 to get this one going.
The word Election is certainly not what I’ve been taught all my life as I grew up Southern Bap. and now am an associate pastor for the second time in a Pentecostal Holiness Church. The churches I have been a part of have always catered to the idea that if you could tell someone a story in a sermon that was CONVINCING enough…..tweek their emotions…. scare em enough about the dangers of hell or missing the pre trib rapture…..etc….. you could get them to come to an “old-fashioned alter call” up at the front of the church before everyone while we sang JUST AS I AM. In the Baptist church…. the preacher would pray with them and lead them in the ” Sinner’s Prayer “. In the PH church the old saints would gather around a poor lost soul while they were on their knees crying and begging God to forgive them, and many well meaning ones would rub their back or pat their back, or some really zealous ones would beat their backs while they were praying to ” help them get saved “. lol. I’m not at all mocking here because I love all these wonderful people and cherish the memories, but…. is this how you really become saved?
Rather than making this first post extremely long….I’ll ask everyone to join in and if you’d like to see the main passeges that have shown me some insight …. read Romans chapter 8….I suggest you read the whole chapter, but especially notice verse 14 through 39…..
Trust me guys…. I am not a scholar…. you can tell that from the way I write, but I love the Lord and I love people and I truly want to present the Gospel to everyone in the right manner and without flawed teaching. I hope some of you will jump in on this one…..would love to hear your thoughts!
And to Henry…….Thank You for this ministry….it’s valuable to the church!
God Bless!

2. Lisa - September 14, 2013

I went to a Christian High School that taught Predestination/Election, but grew up in an Assembly of God church that did not accept this doctrine, so in my younger years I staunchly debated this with my teachers and classmates. I felt it would be very unjust of God to “pick and choose,” so to speak. But to be honest, as I read the Scriptures with more of a thirst for the truth and not just looking for proof of my own opinions, I have to say that I lean much more in the direction that Freddie has written above. It is one of those mysteries that I feel I must trust God on.
Romans 9:19-21 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
I’d be very interested in hearing a convincing argument for the other side though.

3. Henry - September 15, 2013

Fast Freddie,
What you describe is pretty much how a lot of churches I have encountered have operated in terms of bringing people to faith. The truth however is that we can not scare or will anyone into the Kingdom of God. No amount of sensationalism can cause someone to be converted, in fact these approaches in many cases lead to false conversions. Saving people is the work of the Holy Spirit – our responsibility is to preach or communicate the gospel. As the scriptures say, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). Which brings us into the topic under discussion which I must admit can be a contentious issue as churches are divided over it. You introduced Romans 8, which is a wonderful scripture but in my view is perhaps misunderstood by those who support the view that only those that God predestined will be saved. The obvious question this raises is whether or not God is partial to His creation. Does He only save those that He “elected” to receive salvation and leaving the rest to perish?

I think the key to the pertinent verses in Rom 8 is understanding the concept of predestination. What does it meant when scripture says God “predestined” some to be confirmed to the image of His Son. I believe God predestined the whole world to be saved. Why? Because Jesus was a lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 3:18). So God “predestined” the world to be saved by offering Jesus as a living sacrifice from the foundation of the world. This happened because of the foreknowledge of God – God foreknew that man would sin and therefore prepared the sacrificial Lamb even before the world was made. I say this confidently because we know that Jesus did not die for a select few but for the whole world as John 3:16 declares. I think we examine John 3:16 carefully against 2 Pet 3:9 here:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

It says here clearly that God is not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance. At the same time however because God is all-knowing, God foreknew who will be saved. So then going back to Rom 8, the scriptures become clear:

29For 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. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

God foreknew who would be saved, and those He foreknew He predestined – Of course He predestined those He foreknew because He predestined the whole world. Note also that God did not only call a few but the whole world (Acts 17:30)– but of all who were predestined and called, God foreknew who would be justified (by faith). So it is because God has called everyone everywhere to repent that the Gospel must be preached in ALL the world before the end comes (Matt 24:14).

4. Henry - September 17, 2013

Lisa,
As I have demonstrated with the topic on whether one goes to heaven when they die, my starting point is always to ask, “do the scriptures contradict themselves”. According to what you have presented the scriptures would be contradictory and there are a great many scriptures that stand in direct opposition to your argument.

Here is the thing, sin came into the world through Adam. So if God predestined some to be saved and some to be damned did God predestine Adam to commit sin? Or did Adam have freewill to choose to sin or not? I do not believe for one minute that God causes anyone to sin – not Adam or anyone else.

13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jam 1)

God did not make any sinner – He made a perfect man in Adam but Adam was drawn away after his own lust.

Lisa - September 19, 2013

I am glad this discussion came up because it has gotten me to study this doctrine of Predestination/election further. I think I mentioned before that it isn’t something I’ve really examined closely before….at least not with an open mind. As a teenager in a Calvinist high school, I relied mainly on my own logic and reasoning to debate my teachers, trying to convince them that the terms “predestination” and “election” could not possibly mean what they were teaching us they meant. I searched every scripture I could find for the big debate our bible teacher had us do on the topic. And I mainly rested on the fact, like Henry stated, that God predestined those he “foreknew”…..that it was only because he knew beforehand who would repent and follow him….and that it was not his own choosing.

As an adult, several scriptures (see: http://hollandprc.org/scripture-passages-that-prove-gods-sovereignty-predestination-election-and-reprobation/) started making me think that perhaps I was rejecting this doctrine of predestination/election only because it defied my own logic, and that, even if they didn’t make sense to me, I had to admit that there were a good amount of scriptures supporting this teaching. Plus, I began to feel strongly that it was God who was so merciful to me to allow me to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit….that without that mercy and grace upon me, I too, would be one of millions who reject the voice of the Lord. I started to wonder how a person could “choose” on his own to follow the Lord. Wouldn’t it HAVE to be the special working of the Holy Spirit….be it a heart to heart encounter with him, or simply Him allowing the person to be at the “right place” at the “right time”? Then I started saying to God, “Wow, Lord….if this doctrine is possibly true then I don’t even know what to say….that you could have possibly “chosen” me to be saved, while so many others continue on without hearts softened by the Lord…..it’s humbling and mind boggling, and I see that I have done absolutely nothing to deserve this. Just, Wow.”

And now I come to this point in time where I actually sit down and do research, taking apart verse by verse, trying to read them in context and with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and I have to say that…..I just don’t know. In my own logic, predestination makes no sense, but then in my own logic I don’t understand how some people have hearts soft enough to receive the gospel, while others flatly reject it. Perhaps the key is a humble spirit…God foreknew who would be humble enough to receive his word, and to them he gave grace? But then how were those people fortunate enough to have a humble spirit while others stand proud against God? Too many questions. When I read the scriptures and explanations given in an article such as this one: http://www.freewill-predestination.com/election.html I lean more towards the fact that the doctrine of predestination/election is not scriptural….but rather, misunderstood at various levels. Then again, when I find my way through an article such as this one: http://www.studybibleforum.com/spages/Predestination%20free%20will.htm I begin again to wonder if some of the great men of faith….Luther, Edwards, Augustine….actually had it right and that this mystery of election is in fact true.
Right now it’s difficult for me to form an opinion, but it is something about which I’d like to pray and seek God’s wisdom. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle?

5. Fast Freddie - September 23, 2013

Hey Henry and Lisa….For some reason I haven’t been getting email notification on the new posts lately….hopefully we can get that fixed …
On the subject…. I’ve been looking at this topic for a least a year and I’m no closer to figuring it out than I was…..Henry is right when he teaches us we should find harmony in the scripture rather than thinking they contradict. One of my problems with this subject is what happens to those God did not predestinate……….not saying He shuns some and calls others……(.this is a what if?)….. but what I am asking is if this were true, would those who were never part of the elect be sentenced to eternity in the lake of fire ……which also sends up another question….is the lake of fire/ hell ….as most call it…. an eternal punishment or is it an actual second death or spiritual death where the spirit/ soul/ everything is destroyed? I know it sounds crazy to ask this but here is why I ask……. Why would a just God take pleasure in sending someone to hell to burn for eternity when He never offered them an opportunity to be saved……however I realize….
I have NO right to ever question the justice of our Holy God. I have learned though…. when you dig into the scripture to find truth concerning certain topics….often one truth will snatch the rug out from under other doctrinal ideals you had. Thank you all for the discussion…. I love it! 🙂

6. Henry - September 25, 2013

Lisa and Fast Freddie,

I have revised the opening post with a somewhat rather lenghty study which may answer some of the questions you have.

Lisa, you raised a point about how you can recieve the gospel without the special working at the Holy Spirit but I would like you to consider what Paul said in Rom 2:14-15. Here we see that the Gentiles did the requirements of the Law BY NATURE though they did not have the law and this shows that they have it written upon their hearts with their consciences bearing witnesses of good and evil.

See also Revelation 3:20

19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

God calls everyone everywhere to repentance (Act 17:30) and Christ died for the justification unto everlasting life for all (Rom 5:18) but it is up to us to open the door when we hear the voice of Jesus. It is then that Jesus comes in and performs His work in us. If our hearts are hard and we refuse to open the door then we are condemned (John 3:18).

7. Fast Freddie - September 25, 2013

Thanks guys. I want to sit and read and digest as much of this as is possible. Very good stuff here…… will post my thoughts soon.
Yall be blessed.

8. Henry - September 25, 2013

Lisa,
i had a look at the articles you provided the link for. I didn’t read the first in full because it was not a studied but the author simply presented a list of verses in isolation with the claim that those verses proved “predestination” without even attempting to define the term. I read the second in full and it is directly in line with my own study which I presented above in my revision of the topic. The last article was rather confusing as it seems it was a discussion on a forum which continued from previous conversations and I couldn’t make sense of who was talking at any one point and who was supporting which view so I did not complete reading it. My pursuit however is to find harmony in scripture as this is the only way that the scriptures can make sense. The scriptures cannot claim one thing then contradicts it elsewhere. This is confusion but we know that GOD is not the author of confusion so therefore we need to devote to further study to understand what is being said.

9. Lisa - September 26, 2013

Henry—I agree with everything you have written above in your opening remarks…though I would have very much liked to see you take the teaching through Romans 9, which has a strong sense of “God chose this person for this and that person for that”. As I’m pondering the scriptures I’m seeing that, while God clearly “chose” Israel, they are not the only ones offered salvation. And scripture supports the fact that there are an elect “chosen” of God to fulfill his purposes, but this doesn’t mean that these are the only ones who can be saved: EPHESIANS 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” And ACTS 22:14-15 “The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.” And GALATIANS 1:15 “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man.” And JOHN 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Ephesians 1:4-14 speaks of both—a “chosen, called, set apart” people, and also the gospel being offered to whoever would believe: Ephesians 1: 4 For HE CHOSE US in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he PREDESTINED US FOR ADOPTION to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And YOU ALSO WERE INCLUDED in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. WHEN YOU BELIEVED, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

One thing I think I’d have to disagree with you on is concerning the term “foreknowledge.” I’ve been looking up definitions in the Greek translations and I can’t come to the conclusion that the term means that “God knew ahead of time who would choose him.” Here are two sets of definitions I found for “foreknew” and “foreknowledge”

“Foreknew”: to know beforehand, to be previously acquainted with, Acts 26:5; 2 Pet. 3:17; to determine on beforehand, to foreordain, 1 Pet. 1:20; in NT, from the Hebrew, to foreknow, to appoint as the subject of future privileges, Rom. 8:29; 11:2

“Foreknowledge”; in NT previous determination, purpose, Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:2

Also, you mentioned that you don’t believe we need a special working of the Holy Spirit to lead us to Christ, but what do you think of these verses:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Psalms 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

Here are just a few other verses (certainly not exhaustive) I’ve found that, while I’m not using them to try to prove that God only chooses some for salvation, they cannot be ignored in a discussion like this:

1 PETER 2:8 and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
ROMANS 9 (won’t write it out due to length)
MALACHI 1:2-3: I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
LUKE 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
JOHN 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

Considering the whole counsel of scripture, it appears that both are somehow true—God does set apart and predestine and call some for salvation and his purposes, but the gospel is also offered to all who would believe. Do you think this is in line with the Scriptures?

10. Fast Freddie - September 28, 2013

Awesome job Lisa! Thankyou for your hard work on this. As I said before….I was not raised to believe in some being chosen….some not; it’s just so very hard to ignore these scriptures, and in my heart I want desperately to believe EVERYONE has the offer for salvation….this one is tough guys….Henry….it’s your move move bro! lol

Henry - October 2, 2013

Lisa,

Apologies if my responses are coming through slowly but I have been rather busy of late and don’t get as much time to blog as I would like to.

Anyway, you have raised some interesting points but I don’t necessarily believe that they support the view that one was predestined or not to be saved and I will explain why. If predestination means that one was pre-selected to be guaranteed hell or heaven as the case may be and that individuals can do nothing to change the course of their ultimate destiny, then this flies in the face of scripture. Let me just say however I believe that God is indeed sovereign and that God can and will do according to His will in selecting people (by pre-ordination) to fulfil His purpose.

The question then is this, when Paul uses the terms predestination and election is he talking about what I have defined above? I do not think he is. Indeed the scriptures say that God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world (Eph 1:4). Remember that we are all sinners who have come short of the glory of God so how did God choose us? To put it simply, through the election of Grace (Rom 11:5). It is by grace through faith that we are justified before God. The same Paul who wrote the scriptures on predestination in Romans and Ephesians is the same Paul who wrote in 1 Tim 2:4 that God, “would have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” The same Paul also wrote in Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to ALL people.”

The sovereign Lord also said to Ezkiel:

Ezekiel 18:32
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

Ezekiel 33:11
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

Isn’t this why God has NOW (that grace has come) called everyone everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30)?

The only way to look at predestination therefore is from the standpoint that God pre-ordained salvation to everyone who believes and eternal damnation to everyone who refuses to repent otherwise the scriptures will not be in harmony. The context of Romans 9 suggests that Paul is using historical examples to illustrate the position of Israel against the state of the Gentiles.

One of the key questions to ask is whether according to scriptures one is indeed guaranteed salvation simply by process of having been “pre-ordained” in the context of what I defined earlier, requiring no effort on our part? If this was so then how do you explain the following scriptures:

23Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luk 13)

11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Heb 4)

Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position (2 Pet 3:17)

11. Fast Freddie - October 2, 2013

Wow Henry! Do you think that verse in 2 Peter 3:17 is warning that one could fall from grace and lose their salvation?

12. Lisa - October 7, 2013

Henry—Sorry for taking so long to respond….things are very busy around here trying to adjust to home schooling 7 kids! Anyway, in response to your last comment, I don’t believe that God “choosing” or “electing” a person for his purposes or salvation, etc. means that the person is “guaranteed hell or heaven and that he can do nothing to change the course of his ultimate destiny.” That is never what I understood predestination to mean. I always looked at it more as something like this: Over a year ago, my husband and I decided to adopt from Bulgaria. We chose three boys who we felt would be good additions to our family. Then we went to Bulgaria, visited the boys, brought them gifts, played with them, tried to win their hearts, etc. etc. and we told them that we wanted them in our family. But two of the boys, because they were over 10 years of age, had to give their consent. They had to stand before a judge and answer questions and tell the judge that they definitely wanted to be adopted into our family. They had the right to say no, but thankfully, they told the judge yes, and we brought them home in early June. So, this is similar to the way I see election.

Look at what Jeremiah writes in Jer. 1:4-5: The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Now, I know God is talking about setting him apart to be a prophet, but it would naturally follow that if Jeremiah complies with this calling, then he will also have eternal salvation. But, Jeremiah could have refused the Lord. Also interesting is how God said he “knew” Jeremiah. Could this be the same type of “To whom he foreknew” that we read about in New Testament scriptures?
All of your points about God wanting all men to be saved are completely scriptural and I agree with them 100% and I do believe that all men have the opportunity to come to Christ. But there are also many scriptures that show that God does set people apart for himself….and even if they are only being set aside to do certain works for him, they will naturally also find salvation….IF, of course, they respond favorably to his call. Though we would like to believe that the Holy Spirit “woos” all people equally, I think scripture and experience show otherwise.
It seems that when two scriptures don’t appear to agree with each other, you tend to choose one side and then interpret the opposite scriptures in a way that will make them go along with the side you believe. But I think, with this discussion, you can have both at the same time……ALL men can be saved and do have the opportunity, but there are also people that God sets apart for himself for whatever reasons he chooses, and those people will be very unlikely to reject the voice of the Holy Spirit when he makes himself so real to them. He doesn’t do this for everybody though, and so some might see it as unfair, but like you said…..he is sovereign and does according to his will.

13. Henry - October 10, 2013

Fast Freddie,

Isn’t the question you raised the crux of the Calvin argument? That one has eternal security, i,e., once saved always saved? I however do not know of a scripture that gives such assurances but rather what I see in scripture are many warnings such as the verse I quoted. Lets look at it again in the context of the preceding verse then tell me whether or not the verse implies that one could lose their salvation:

14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Peter 3)

I think the warning is evident don’t you think? But there are many other scriptures we could look at to support this, for example the warnings to the churches in Revelations 2 and 3. But look at John 15:

2Every BRANCH IN ME that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (JOHN 15 – Emphasis added)

14. Henry - October 11, 2013

Hi Lisa,

This is why it is good to have these discussions because I now understand where you are coming from. I defined predestination in the way I did because 3-point Calvinism defines predestination in this way. The implication of three point Calvinism is that one person can be saved whether or not he is pursuing righteous works and that another person could be damned even though they were pursuing righteous works. The doctrine plays off the sovereignty of God against election to ascertain that one is either eternally secure or eternally damned from the foundation of the world.

Contrary to your assessment of my application of scripture however I fully support that God sovereignly chooses people according to His purpose. He chose Paul on the Damascus road for example and no human taught him the gospel. This however should be separate from the process of the Gospel being delivered to all that all might come to repentance. Three point Calvinism on the other hand would suggest that not all can attain to repentance because particular individuals were set apart to be damned before the world began – if this was the case before the advent of the Gospel, this is certainly not the case since the Gospel has been preached. That is my point.

Lisa - October 12, 2013

Yes, I was starting to think, after your last comment, that perhaps we weren’t on the same page as to what we each meant by predestination. I was not familiar with Calvin’s teaching on the matter. I have read, though, that some people believe that God chooses those who will be saved but not those who will be damned–and I had a difficult time reasoning how God could do one while not automatically, by default, doing the other. It is only from this discussion that I’ve done the research necessary to come to a strong conclusion. I can’t ignore the many scriptures that show that God has set aside certain people from before they were even born….and predestined them for salvation among other things (still their choice to accept or reject, but kind of hard to reject when the Holy Spirit himself is making himself known to you). But I totally agree with you that salvation is offered and available to all mankind and that God does not wish that any should perish. I also agree with you that a person can “lose his salvation”. Some people say that if you turn away from Christ then you were never really saved to begin with, but I don’t believe that is supported in scripture. Blessings! Have a great weekend. Lisa

15. Henry - October 12, 2013

Lisa,
I am glad we have found commonality on this topic in so far as scripture is concerned. I have enjoyed the discussion and hope it will be of benefit to others who have been struggling with this topic. If you have time check out another blogger friend of mine at http://www.thegospelaccordingtothegospel.com. He has done a lot of write up on this very topic.

Have a great weekend yourself.
God bless.

lisa - October 13, 2013

Love the name of his blog. I’ll check it out:)

16. Fast Freddie - October 15, 2013

Henry and Lisa Guys…..growing up Southern Baptist….. we were taught you could never, ever lose your salvation. However in the last 12 years I have come to believe a little differently on the matter. I must say this….”lose your salvation” is not maybe the best term . I would say we don’t lose it, but we actually throw it away. To lose it kinda makes me think of an accident…. like you didn’t mean to. You lose your keys, and you’re upset cuz you can’t find them. Your walk with the Lord, your faith in Him, you don’t accidentally lose…..you throw that away very willingly.
Think about how we are saved…..it’s by faith in Christ as you have been drawn to Him by God……Jonh 6: 44……..” no man comes unto me unless my Father Who sent Me draws him” I don’t think I’m taking this out of context here, but if you’re saved this way, then how could you un-do that….accidentally….it would have to be an act of your will. I do believe you can do this. What do you guys think of the warning we have in Hebrews 6:4-6 where it says it is impossible to those who were once enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gift and were made partakers in The Holy Ghost…. and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance seeing they crucufy to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame?
Thankyou both for this awesome study we are having together!

17. Henry - October 21, 2013

Fast Eddie,

The teaching might be right but the application might be wrong. The question is this, do we have salvation now or is it something we received at the end when Christ returns? If it is something we receive at the end then we cannot lose something now that we don’t yet have. I think the mistake we make as a church is to believe that we have salvation at the point of first conversion. If this is so why does Paul say we are running a race? Why do we persevere and endure? Why does Peter say we should make our calling and our election sure. Indeed we cannot come to Jesus unless God draws you but God draws you through the Word. See John 6:45: “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”

The other point to note here is that not because God “draws” you means that you are guaranteed salvation at the end because you also need to abide in Christ. See John 15:2-6 for example.

Look also at 2 John 1:8, and I particularly like the Aramaic translation: Pay attention to your souls, that you do not lose anything which you have cultivated, but that you may receive a full reward.

Isn’t it for this same reason that Jesus (and some of the apostles like Paul) warn us so streneously to watch out that we are not deceived?

But if we needed any more proof that we don’t yet have salvation and that you can still lose your soul even after God draws you, look at the examples of the seven churches in Revelations 2 and 3. This is a message to the church – for God did first draw the Laodicean church for example but they did not abide in Christ and so Jesus threatened to spew them out if they did not turn and repent. I think the scriptures are clear but I think for us we find them too scary so we would rather not believe what we are reading.

18. Fast Freddie - October 21, 2013

Very good point, and well received…..had not thought of this but that may be a good topic for a discussion later…….Will be chewing on this for a few days….thanks Henry! 🙂

lisa - October 21, 2013

Very well put Henry. Changing the subject for a moment, do you have anything researched/written on the start of the Catholic Church? I’ve been doing some research myself, in order to come up with a clear, concise counter to Catholics’ claim that they are the original Church of Jesus Christ. Finding some good stuff out there….please let me know if you’ve done any research on this topic. Thanks

19. Henry - October 23, 2013

Lisa,
In the past I did some research into the Catholic “church” – in those days I sued to write my findings an another blog I frequented but I haven’t put up any topics here on them. One thing is clear is that they are not the church that Christ started. There so-called apostolic succession does not have a lineage to Peter and Peter was not the first pope – there is no evidence that Peter even went to Rome. You can examine for example the Catechism of the “church” and see how they are completely at odds to scripture. I don’t want to start a separate discussion under this particular post though. Maybe I could send you some info via email.

lisa - October 23, 2013

Sure–my e-mail address is LisaGarcia@bellsouth.net Only if you already have info saved….I’m not asking you to do any new research on the topic. Thanks so much


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