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Discussion on Predestination and Election

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Butero said:

This thread has been going on for a very long time, and no matter how much evidence I present, Shiloh is going to just keep claiming I haven't proven anything, so I am just going to close things out.  

From the standpoint of “evidence,” you have not produced all that much that an objective person would call “evidence.”   You had a limited pool of biblical references that you kept re-presenting over and over and over again.  And you hold up your point of view as “evidence.”

Your standard of “proof” in your presentation is whatever is enough to convince you.   Most of the evidence is really just stuff you made up in your mind and now you try to make the Bible agree with what you want to be true.   Just because you can work something out in your imagination doesn’t mean you have proven it. Just because you are convinced, doesn’t mean it is objectively true.

And that is not evidence.  Not only that, but you have tried to mold the Bible around what you want it to mean, rather than demonstrating that the biblical references, in their immediate context actually support your position.   And to top it off, you have presented flawed definitions of predestination, God’s sovereignty, foreknowledge and election.   So, there is a lot for me to correct and straighten out.

If you want to close out, that’s fine, but I have not presented my evidence for my position yet.  All I have been doing is responding to your so-called “evidence.”  So now since you have bowed out, it is time for me to follow up on the other side of this debate and give my evidence.

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You can go back to the beginning and read the foundation I laid.  I explain how the Bible is a complete book about the beginning of creation to the new heaven and the new earth, but God's book is far greater, as it shows all that will ever happen in between.  All of us exist in God's book.  He knows everything we will ever do, and he is our creator.  As such, this is far more than foreknowledge.  He is the author of our lives.  Just as a book will always have the same things happen, no matter how many times you read it, what God has written will come to pass.  We cannot change it.  

This is not how the Bible presents the way that God interacts with our lives.  The Bible does not say that that God has written down or predetermined every action we make.   That is not the biblical definition of sovereignty.  Again, I will correct this flawed line of thinking when I present my position.

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We do make choices each and every day, but God created us and has written in his book all we will ever do, and that cannot be changed. 

Again, not in the Bible.  Nothing in the Bible says that.   This is something YOU have made up.

 

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Just like Peter had no choice but to deny the Lord three times, even though he seemed to be acting upon free will, we will ultimately do what God designed.  All those scriptures in the Bible about the elect are based on God's design of who he created to be saved.  They are not saying that if you say a sinner's prayer, you are guaranteed to remain saved no matter what you do.  

The Bible nowhere says that anyone is created to be saved.   Part of your problem is that you operate from assumptions you have never bothered to actually prove, but that did not stop you from moving ahead as if they were proven. 

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I mentioned this earlier, but I will one more time.  There is no question that those who hold to unconditional eternal security have their favorite Bible verses they use to back this up, and others they try to avoid.   Those who oppose unconditional eternal security have their favorite Bible verses they use to back this up, and others they try to avoid.  They must reconcile these altogether.  What you have is very strong arguments on both sides with their favorite verses, and very weak arguments trying to reconcile the other verses.  I came to a point where I saw the pattern and took this to the Lord.  What is the truth here?  I was traveling down the highway in a tractor-trailer truck when I asked for an answer, not reading the Bible or considering what was going to happen.  Suddenly, the truth was imparted to me.  I knew the answer was predestination and election.  I knew there were teachings on this subject in the Bible, but I always rejected the notion, figuring in my mind the whole idea was unfair.  Once I realized I had been closed off to this truth, and that was the key to understanding how everything fits together, I had no more issue with "hard scriptures."  Hard scriptures meaning those I had to reconcile to my views.  Everything went together perfectly.  

The problem is that you don’t operate from a scriptural definition of predestination.   You operate from a secular model known as hard determinism and you have tried to make that the working definition of predestination.   You have not really done truly scriptural study on either predestination or election.   What you have been arguing for is your own homemade version of those biblical concepts.

 

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The arguments against this are claims this goes against the nature of God somehow, but it really doesn't. 

To be truthful, just about everything you have presented in this debate amounts to a libelous assault on God’s character, making God responsible for sin, making God party to the very sins He commands us not to commit and then claiming that God creates people to destroy them.  None of this is biblical, but is an attempt by you to reconcile the irreconcilable internal contradictions that exist in your theology.

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God created Lucifer, and no matter how you believe he came to rebel and become Satan the adversary, God allows him to continue to deceive people.  He let him tempt Job and destroy his family and all he had.  He could have sent him straight to hell.  God sentences people to hell for simply not believing in Jesus, even if they are good moral people.  People are sentenced to hell for being in a cult religion, like the RCC, where they believe in Jesus, but don't fully understand the plan of salvation.  How is that any different than creating someone who is a mass murderer?  The murder of someone is horrible, but over fairly quick.  We are talking about people being tormented forever if they wind up in hell.  It can be that kindly woman who volunteers in the soup kitchen and works to stop abortion.  It can be that lady who donates nearly all she has to the poor, and loves everyone, but never got saved.  Eternity in hell, while Shiloh says it goes against the nature of God to create someone to throw all male babies in the river, which led to Moses winding up where God intended.  One is a fairly quick death, while others are tormented forever, and Shiloh's attitude is so what, they sent themselves to hell.  All the while, the Bible states that if we believe, it is because God revealed his Son to us.  

Because you operate from a secular hard deterministic worldview, you cannot accept that God allows things to happen that He hates.   God allowed Job to be tempted, and God allows a lot of adverse things to happen, but the Bible never lays the responsibilities for those things at God’s feet.   God is never charged with creating sin, with causing anyone to sin and is certainly NEVER says that God creates people to destroy them.   That is YOUR view and it is the Bible view of God.  

To say that God allowing Satan to test us, is the same as God creating someone to be murderer, is nothing short of absurd. 

God did not create anyone to murder babies in Egypt.  That is simply not in the Bible, but is based on your flawed perspective of foreknowledge that God knowing what happens means that God created it to happen.   No one operates from that kind of logic in ANY other context in life.  There is no context where we say that if you knew something would happen, that your foreknowledge means that you caused it. 

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We are really going around in circles and have been for a while.  I was asked about the issue of how you can have two classes of saved persons.  I will give examples to show how that is possible.  Remember that in the mind of God, he knows your beginning from the end as he wrote your life's story.  He created you, knowing all you would ever do.  I will give you an example of each kind of saved person.  

First, there is Bob.  When God created Bob, he knew Bob would get saved at age 21.  He would meet a nice Christian girl, who would introduce him to the Lord, and he would get saved in church.  He would wind up marrying this girl.  He would continue to serve the Lord faithfully, and even volunteer to clean the church each week.  This continued until he was 28, and his wife was stricken with cancer.  He was devastated.  They prayed together for her healing, but she died.  He became bitter.  How could God let this happen, and he stopped going to church.  He completely backslid, and wound up drinking himself to death at the age of 43.  Before he was created, God knew all of this would happen, as it was in his book.  Had the man died before his wife died, he would have gone to heaven, but he wasn't of the elect.  As such, he lost his salvation and died lost.   

Next, there is Gracie.  When God created Gracie, he knew she would get saved as a child.  God gave her Christian parents, and they told her about Jesus all the while she was growing up.  She accepted the Lord at age 8, and continued to serve him all of her days.  When she died at 88, she still loved the Lord and died a Christian and went to heaven.  There was never any doubt she was saved those 80 years.  

 

Again, that is based on your making up two different classes of Christians in your mind because of the internal contradiction of believing that people can lose their salvation (a free will doctrine) with the idea that every action, decision, thought, etc. is already predetermined (hard determinist argument).   Both cannot be true, unless there are some Christians that are scripted to stay saved, but some are saved but will ultimately be sent to hell for his sins.  

There are some problems there.   First of all, according to your view, two people are saved, but God knows that one will backslide (free will) and the other is elect (pre-determined for heaven) but God doesn’t tell us which one we are.    That means that NO Christian has any reason to believe that He will go to Heaven if there is no way for us to know who is or is not elect.   So, there is no hope, no confident expectation for anyone since no one has any idea if the are elect or not.  That makes salvation a complete sham.  People are putting trust in a God who will not be faithful to them and will send them to hell even though He promised them that they could trust Him and have peace, hope and Heaven. 

Secondly, your view bases losing salvation (free will) on someone backsliding after you have labored to make the case that creates people to go to Hell.   If God scripts someone to go to Hell, then how can they “lose” what they never truly had.   If you make the argument that they got saved and God already had predetermined that they were not elect, and predetermined that that they would go to Hell, then when they put their trust in Jesus, they were believing a lie because God never intended to save them in the first place.   So any argument that says a person can backslide contradicts the hard determinist view that EVERY action is predetermined.  In order to backslide, I need to be able to choose to rebel.  A rebellion that was scripted to engage in, is not backsliding.  I didn’t would not have chosen it; it was chosen for me and thus the one who chose it, in this case, God, is responsible for my sin.   He gave me no choice but to engage in sin.

Salvation is by grace through faith, not hard determinism.  Faith is a free will concept.  I am putting my faith in Jesus because Jesus has proven Himself faithful.   I know that I can trust Him.   Faith, belief, trust and hope are all based on the existence of free will.   If everything is predetermined, there is nothing for me to hope for or trust in.  It’s all ready done for me. It's already decided how I will respond and I have no hope, or assurance of anything.

 

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How is there different types of saints, some that endure and others that do not?  It all depends on how God created them in his mind before the foundation of the earth.  Simple.  Nobody that accepted Christ and lives for him will be turned away, so it is not like you have to fear that.  If you don't make it, your actions will be responsible, but your actions were already known by your creator before the foundation of the earth.  That is how scriptures that speak of the elect remaining saved and the scriptures that show a Christian can lose salvation can exist together without any contradictions. 

No, that is an inherent contradiction.   Again, to endure means that I have to actively press forward and put forth my best efforts to stay the course.   Enduring something requires me to have patience, to be diligent, to be intentional in continuing on a present course of action.  If salvation is based on my endurance, then it is not based on God’s grace.   That makes salvation something that has to be earned, and thus not a gift (Rom. 6:23).   You are making salvation based on works by saying if you live for Jesus you won’t be turned away, that salvation is rooted and based on your efforts.   

Then you state that you are responsible for your actions and at the same time God already knew and thus predetermined that you would be saved or not.   You keep making free will arguments and yet hold to hard determinism that contradicts the notion that you are responsible for your actions.   If you have no choice but to do a certain thing, if God has set forth that you will commit a certain act and you have NO choice in the matter, then you are not responsible for that action, God is.

There is not ONE verse in the New Testament about anyone losing salvation.   And there is nothing in the New Testament that says salvation can be lost.   “Losing” salvation is a free will Arminian concept, not a hard determinist concept.  And if you are going to say that free will is an illusion, then no one has ever “lost” salvation.   You can’t lose what you never really truly had.

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There is what we see, as opposed to what God sees.  We see what is in our immediate line of site, while God sees the big picture.  I am not confusing foreknowledge with creating things to happen.  The difference is that those of us who might be given foreknowledge, like a prophet for instance, didn't create the people who act things out.  It is more than simply knowing what will happen when you create people knowing what they will do, down to the last little detail.  

You ARE confusing foreknowledge with foreordination.  You are completely confusing those two ideas.   And the Bible is careful to keep those two things separate.  I will cover that in my next response when I present my arguments.  Knowing what will happen is not the same as ordaining it to happen.  

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Did I prove my case?  You won't find scriptures that come out and say God created Judas Iscariot and made him betray the Lord, but you will find scriptures that tell that he will betray the Lord, down to small details like how much he will get for doing so, how he will throw the money away, it will be used for the Potter's field, and he will kill himself.  No, it never says God made him with no choice but to do those things, but it tells you all he will ever do, so this is an awful fine line.  The Bible never says God made Peter betray the Lord three times, but the Bible says he will do so, and he does.  The Bible never says God made Peter to be crucified, but Jesus states that will happen, and it does.  The Bible never says God created a wicked King to rip open women with children, and do other atrocities, but God said that would happen through a prophet, and it did.  The Bible never says God would make the son of Solomon take bad counsel that would lead to Israel being split into two nations, but God said the split would occur, and it did.  Yes, Shiloh is technically correct that the Bible doesn't say God created Moses and made him to be the deliverer of the children of Israel, but God said it was so, and it happened.  Did God make Moses do it?  You decide for yourself.  It comes down to common sense.  

Well, since you admit that the Bible doesn’t say what you have been trying to say that it does say, I will leave off reposting the same stuff as above.   Common sense doesn’t confuse foreknowledge with foreordination.

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I had thought about continuing with this exchange for a while longer, but what more is there to be said?  It is all out there.  I even had one person say they had seen enough of all sides where they could predict what each person would say before they said it, and that is likely true.  I understand both sides of the OSAS position to the point I could argue each one back and forth.  It is not that hard to do.  With that said, we have 13 pages here in this debate.  That would take a very long time to go through.  I know.  I set up my computer to read back some of it to me when we re-started and it seemed to go on forever.  If you want to see both of our positions on this subject, it is all here.  

I want to acknowledge Shiloh for stepping up to the plate to participate in this debate, and the moderators, especially Steve, for setting it up.  I appreciate George giving us this platform to have this kind of exchange.  Hopefully, it was of value to the readers.  The fact of the matter is, I have a lot of things going on, and going around in circles has become an exercise in futility.  If there was really something new to discuss, it would be different, but I can't think of anything that hasn't been covered at some point in these 13 pages, and I have no idea how many will actually take the time to read through all of them.  If you do, you have a lot of patience.  If you read the first few pages, you should get the main points we are making.  

 

That’s fine.  You can go on do what you need to do.   I will remain for those who want to read it, I will finally get to present my case, now.

Edited by shiloh357
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Posted (edited)

What is the Biblical Doctrine of Predestination?

 

Predestination is a biblical concept that has been, tragically, removed from its biblical context by many in the Church.  It is has become a source of division and frustration even though it is one of the greatest of biblical doctrines found in the Word of God.   My purpose at this point is to return the doctrine of Predestination to its proper context as we find it in the Scriptures.  In order to accomplish this, we are going to look at the following theological issues:  Foreknowledge, Election, the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty and finally, we will see how all of these fit inside a full orbed understanding of the biblical doctrine of Predestination.

 

Foreknowledge

 

Foreknowledge, for our purposes in this particular debate topic pertains to God knowing beforehand what the future holds for us.   This speaks to God’s incommunicable attribute of omniscience.   God is all-knowing and He knows and sees the past, present and future all at once.   God is, Himself, timeless and exist outside of linear time, but does intersect with and operate within linear time in His dealings with humanity.   He is all-knowing and thus knows all that is and can be known (Isa. 46: 9-10).

 

With respect to our conversation here, God knows all there is to know about each of us, as God micromanages the universe He created.  He knows the number of hairs on our head (Matt. 10: 30) knows when a sparrow falls to the ground and He knows what we have need of even before we ask (Ps. 139:4; Matt. 6:8).  Nothing is hidden from Him (Heb. 4:13).  He even knows our very hearts (I Kings 8:39).

 

Because God can see and know the past, present and future and know them perfectly, God knows every decision we will make and every repercussion of those decisions.   He knows who will accept Jesus as Savior and He knows who will reject Jesus as Savior. Even more, God already knows each time we will fail Him.  He already knows each time we will break His heart.  There is nothing we will ever do that will take Him by surprise. 

 

The foreknowledge of God plays a part in God’s plans and purposes and we see that Jesus was delivered up to be crucified according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts. 2:23).   We are the “elect” according to the foreknowledge of God (I Pet. 1:2).  God had appointed Jesus to die.  God’s foreknowledge is connected to His counsel (purpose/will).   But those are not the same thing.  It is important not to conflate God’s foreknowledge with God’s will.    We are going to continue examining God’s foreknowledge and how it fits with the other issues pertaining to predestination.

 

Election

 

Election follows logically in our discussion because God’s foreknowledge is Scripturally tied to the election of the believer.   The Bible refers to our election in many places even without using the word “election.”   Election is present in function even though it is not mentioned specifically.   A good example is in this passage in Romans: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the 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. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30)

 

God only predestinates the elect.  Notice the connection to foreknowledge in v. 29.  “Those He foreknew, He predestinated…”   God knows who will be saved.  He knows the end from the beginning.   And Paul states that He predestinated them because He foreknew who would be saved and thus He predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus.   It does not say that God chose them to be saved.  Rather, He foreknew their decision, their acceptance of Christ and on that basis, He predestinated them.

 

This is in line with what else Paul says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Eph 1:4-5)The elect are chosen (before the foundation of the world) to be holy and blameless before Him in love.  God’s choosing is first of all based on what He knows will happen and His choosing is not regarding who will be saved, but rather what He has chosen the elect to be. So, there is no election unto salvation.   If there were, it create theological problem for us because in the Old Testament, Israel was also considered God's "elect"  (Deut. 4:37, I Chron.  16:13) albeit that term is not used in connection with Israel in the same manner it is used in connection with followers of Jesus.   Jesus is also called God's elect servant (Is. 42:1). So while there is no election unto salvation, one thing that can be maintained is that election always pertains to service, not salvation from sin. 

 

One of the most important chapters in the Bible pertaining to election is Romans chapter 9.   Romans 9 is part of Paul's appeal to the Gentiles to be blessing to Israel.  It is part of an appeal that actually covers chapters 9, 10 and 11 of Romans.  In chapter 9, Paul is defending God's choice to use Israel's leaders and their stubborn rejection of Jesus for His purposes as touching how Gentiles were brought into the Kingdom of God.   Romans 9 is not about God choosing some to be saved, as the Calvinists teach, but rather choosing them for service.   This choice goes all the way back to Jacob and Esau and how God chose one over the other for His purposes.  All of the analogies and metaphors that Paul uses in Romans 9 pertain to service, and never salvation.   

 

The word “chosen” isn’t used the same way that we “choose” an apple over a pear.   God doesn’t choose one person over another. Even in the case of God choosing Israel as His elect, it was not a matter of Israel being better than anyone else.  "Chosen"  doesn't mean, "favorite."  Rather God has chosen all of us, in Him, who are elect, and predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ, and He has chosen us to be holy and blameless before Him in love.   And He has predestined us to have an inheritance (Eph. 1:11).   So, election and predestination are concerned with what we will be in our fully sanctified state, in Christ.  All of this is connected to His foreknowledge of how we will respond to the Gospel.

 

We are the elect of God.  “Election” is a title that God gives to all believers.   If you have trusted in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are “elect.”  You are chosen in Him to end up in a certain place.   The word “Predestine” means, “to mark out ahead of time.”   God has “pre-destined” you.  He has a spiritual destiny for you, and that destiny is for you to be conformed into the image of Christ.  That is God’s destiny for your life.   He wants all of us to look like Jesus.  To emulate His character through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to the extent that it is possible for us to do so.   So election isn’t about how we get saved and it is not the case that God chooses some to be saved and passes over others.   Rather election is about our sanctification and God choosing or “electing” us to become more and more like Jesus, every day until that final day when we are all transformed and have our incorruptible, glorified bodies and our sin nature will fully and finally eradicated.

 

Sovereignty

 

Election speaks to God’s choosing those He knows will be saved, to be like Jesus.  This is according to His sovereign will.  When we talk about God’s sovereignty, what do we mean?   And how does God’s sovereignty relate to our personal responsibility as believers?

 

When we are talking about the Sovereignty of God, we are talking about God’s complete and absolute control over everything in the universe.  There are no rogue molecules in the universe.   God sovereignly micromanages our universe right down to the last atom.   He knows all of the stars by name and controls their courses through space.  He is complete control and that our baseline understanding of what sovereignty means.

 

The question is, how much control does God exert?   Does God dictate every action, every thought?  Or do men have choices?    To what degree or to what extent does exercise control?   To be sure there are events in Bible prophecy that God has ordained will happen.  There will be Tribulation, there will be a bodily return of Jesus to the earth.   God will build a temple in Israel during the Millennium.   Thee will be a New Heaven and New Earth.  There will be a Great White Throne judgement.

 

At the same time, there are times when God’s sovereignty is less direct.    Israel’s ability to enjoy the Promised Land was conditioned on their choice to be obedient:  See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deu 30:15-19)

Israel is called upon to choose whom they will serve, namely the gods of the nations or the God who brought them out of bondage.  Joshua made it clear what He had chosen:  Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”(Jos 24:14-15)  

 

There are other places in the Scriptures where people have made conscious, intentional choices to serve an obey the Lord (Psa. 119:30, 111, 173; Prov. 1:29, 8:36; Isa. 56: 4; Luke 10:42).

 

We see in the book of Jonah where Jonah had been given a message for Nineveh that they would be destroyed in 40 days (Jon. 3:4).   Nineveh repented and their repentance at that time stayed God’s Hand (John 3:10).   So, we can see that it is possible for there to be events in which our response to God’s decree affects His actions toward us.    God was still sovereign and still in control, but yet allowed for a freedom of choice with respect to the Ninevites.   There is an absolute aspect to God’s sovereignty and there is an indirect aspect, as well.  One is not less than the other. It is God’s indirect sovereignty where He allows us to choose to obey or disobey and yet He remains perfect control regardless of our decision.   Jonah was allowed to rebel, but God brought about circumstances that changed Jonah’s mind and he made the right decision the second time around.   The point is that even if God allows to us make choices, that in now way inhibits His sovereignty.   He sovereignly allows us to choose how we will respond to Him. 

 

What we want to avoid is assuming that because God is sovereign, that everything that happens is because God wants it to happen and if something happens that God doesn’t want to happen, He must not be sovereign.   An example of what I am talking about is this:   Peter wrote, “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.  (2Pe 3:9)   Some object that this verse means that God absolutely wills for everyone to come to repentance because if God wanted everyone to be saved, they would be saved.   So, they have to re-interpret it to mean that God is not willing that any He has chosen to perish.   That is not what Peter said.    They have locked God’s sovereignty into a box where either everything happens the way God wants it to happen or God is not sovereign.   But that is not what we see in Scripture.   

 

God brought Israel to Mt. Horeb and gave them a set of Laws, what we know as the Torah or the Law of Moses.    God tells them what they are to do and what they are not to do.  These are called “commandments.”  They are not suggestions, or good ideas.  They are not food for thought.  They are commandments.    God commands them to obey, but we know Israel chose to disobey and it wasn’t long after the Torah as given that they disobeyed.  The Children of Israel had a pretty long track record of toggling between obedience and disobedience.     We know that God was in control because they suffered the exact consequences He said that He would bring upon them if they chose to disobey. 

 

At this point it is important to highlight between God’s sovereign will and God’s permissive will.  God has a perfect, sovereign aspect to His will as can be demonstrated through bible prophecy, but God also has an aspect of His will wherein He permits what He hates.    God hates murder, lying, adultery, idolatry, fornication, homosexuality, cheating, and a whole host of things that continue to happen quite frequently here on earth.   God also hates people going to Hell.  But if a person chooses to reject the offer of the salvation found only in Jesus, then God will honor that choice.  

 

So, God’s sovereignty is not a matter of predetermining every action, every deed, every word spoke or every thought that we have, but that it is simply the idea that we have a God who is cares about us and is not merely a passive observer but is an active participant in our affairs and is steering the world in the direction that He wants it to go.

 

All of these issues occur within the context of predestination.   Predestination, biblically, has nothing to do with the 5 points of Calvinism.  It is not about God only loving and sending Jesus to die for a  select group of people.  No such doctrine exists in Scripture.   Salvation is for “whosoever believeth in Him” (John 3:16).  His will is for all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:4).    God loves us, Jesus died for us and if we will trust Him, He will save us and keep us saved.

 

 

Edited by shiloh357
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Predestination and Eternal Security

 

 

            One of the most controversial issues in a discussion about predestination is the doctrine of Eternal Security.   It is controversial because it is assumed by some that if we are saved and salvation cannot be lost, there is no impediment to sinning.  It is assumed that if a Christian cannot lose salvation, there is nothing to stop him or her from living a completely rebellious life, or even coming to the point where one is apostate.   Those kinds of assumptions are based on a very shallow understanding of the nature of salvation itself.   So, first, we have to examine the doctrine of salvation itself, next will examine the tenets of the doctrine of Eternal Security and thirdly we will examine the effects Eternal Security (hereafter, ES) has on the Christian life and how it contributes to a life where the believer is growing in holiness.

 

The Doctrine of Salvation

 

The doctrine of salvation, also known as “soteriology” is the doctrine of how men are saved and how men are kept saved. This is not going to be a full-orbed discussion on soteriology as we are only interested primarily at this point, in how it speaks to us in terms of a personal relationship with the Lord.  It is the doctrine of God’s salvation which is by grace through faith without the mixture of any effort or merit on our part (Eph. 2:8, 9).  This is true of salvation whether a person has been saved for 5 minutes or 50 years.  From start to finish our salvation is by grace through faith.   

 

I want to first point out the unique wording of Eph. 2: 8, 9 where Paul states that salvation is by grace through faith.   Salvation is not granted by the agency of our faith, but by the agency of God’s grace.  We are saved BY grace.   But, we are not saved BY faith.  Faith is the means through which we receive God’s grace.  But salvation is always BY means of grace THROUGH our faith.   We are justified by faith on the grounds of Jesus’ righteousness and His finished work on the cross.  Justification is not the whole of salvation, but as it is applied in Romans 4, it means simply that we are placed in legal right standing with God.  This is possible only because the merits of Jesus have been credited (imputed) to our account.   We receive this, again, through the conduit of faith.

 

Every single one of us are born sinners.  It is our default state before God.  It is what we are born into.   Human nature is at enmity with God. Romans 3 bears this out: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:10-19).  None of us are right before God and all of us are guilty sinners in His presence.  It is the result of being born human.  

 

Human nature wasn’t always that way.  Man was created sinless.  There no sin in our forefather, Adam.  But we read in Genesis 3 how Adam deliberately disobeyed God and ate of the tree, which He was forbidden to eat from. His act of disobedience brought sin into the world. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” (Rom 5:12-14)   Adam’s sin nature is passed down to all of us. “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Rom 5:19).  So, the purpose of God in salvation is directly related to the problem that Adam’s sin created.   God’s purpose is to restore the relationship that was broken due to Adam’s rebellion.   That is why Jesus is the “Last Adam.”  Jesus is identified with Adam because it was Jesus’ obedience on the cross that reversed the curse of the fall brought on us by Adam’s disobedience.  For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore 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. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 5:17-21)

 

Scripture reveals that salvation for us occurs in three separate stages:  Justification, Sanctification and Glorification.  And so, we need to briefly cover those parts.

 

Justification pertains to the believer being placed into legal right standing with God.  This happens one time.  We are justified when we trust in Jesus for salvation and receive God’s grace through faith.   God declares us righteous.   He is NOT declaring us innocent.  We are not innocent; we are guilty, but we are declared to be in right standing with God based upon Jesus’ merits. It is His righteousness imputed to us in the same manner that Abraham was jusetified by faith before God. “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (snip)  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Rom. 4:3-5, 20-25)

 

The second “phase,” if you will, of salvation is sanctification.   This is the present state we are in now.   God is working in us and conforming us into the image of Christ.  We are learning to be more like Jesus and growing up spiritually.  It is a process where we are supposed to be growing in holiness by walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit.   Meaning, we are putting on the positive divine attributes that we know as the fruit of the Spirit.  At the same time, we are led by the Spirit as we remove those things from our lives that inhibit the fruit of Spirit from being borne in our lives.   It is important to point out that our justification is not dependent on our sanctification.  Our failures do not reverse God’s judgment in declaring us to be in right standing because our right-standing isn’t connected to what we do but is based wholly on Jesus’ merits.

 

The final phase of our salvation is when we will one day realize the fulness of our inheritance and all that will be ours.  We will receive our rewards for service and we will fully transformed into the image of Christ and able to fellowship with Him face to face in his unfiltered glory. 

 

Salvation is not based upon or conditioned upon us. We are not saved by what we do and we are not kept saved by what we do.   It is, from start to finish, 100% a work of God in our lives.  If He is to get the glory, then it is He who saves and He who keeps us. 

 

In my next post, I will deal with the doctrine of ES.

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The Doctrine of Eternal Security

 

As stated earlier, ES is best understood only after we have an understanding of the nature of salvation.   A salvation where you have no assurance, never really knowing if you are saved or not is no salvation at all.  If you have to keep looking over your shoulder, never having any real peace or hope for an eternity with Christ, then what do you really have?   And how can you witness to others the peace and joy and assurance that comes through Christ if you don’t really any those things yourself?  If I can’t have the peace and joy that comes from knowing that I am saved to the uttermost that I am secure, then what good is salvation?  I can have doubt, fear and uncertainty by living in the world.  I don’t want those kinds of things in salvation. 

 

ES is also known is OSAS is a doctrine that people either swear by or swear at.  The purpose here is to clarify the doctrine apart from the caricature that its opponents often assign to it.  We are gong to examine the biblical basis for ES as it relates to the unconditional nature of salvation and the concept of predestination and we are going to answer an important question, namely who is eternally secure?

 

Biblical Basis – Abrahamic Covenant

 

One of the interesting pictures of salvation in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 15.  This is famous passage where God demonstrates the serious nature of His promise to Abraham to give him an heir.   God has Abraham prepare a blood covenant where he lines up a group of clean animals, kills and splits them down the spine and pools the animal blood between the halves to create a walkway of blood between the halves.  Ordinarily both parties of a covenant would walk between the halves symbolizing a joint responsibility in the covenant.   But God breaks with that tradition.  We read in Gen. 15:12-17, “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.” 

 

So, Abraham doesn’t walk with God between the halves.  That means that the responsibility for maintaining the covenant did not at any point, rely on Abraham.   God wanted all of the glory for the covenant and the promises He had made.  This is a foreshadowing of the New Covenant cut in the blood of Jesus.

 

Another point that needs to be made is that a blood covenant in Abraham’s world was the strongest covenant you could make. It was unbreakable.   Your responsibilities in a blood covenant only ceased with your death.   But to violate this covenant was to incur the wrath of the other party involved.  And the penalty for doing so was that your family would be annihilated into extinction.  That is why this was the strongest covenant you could make and one that you did not enter into lightly. The thing is, that you could not be in a blood covenant and then out, and then in and then out again, and in again.  If you got out of the covenant, you would not get back in.  So, God obligated Himself to Abraham in the strongest way possible to communicate to Abraham just how serious He was about given him an heir.   By the way, that explains why Abraham had so much faith that God would either provide a sacrifice or raise Isaac out of the ashes in Genesis 22 when he want up to Moriah to sacrifice Isaac.   He knew that one way or the other, he was coming back with Isaac because God had sworn and obligated Himself in a blood covenant.

 

You will notice that when Abraham was asleep, by way of a vision, he saw two things walking between the animal halves:  A burning lamp and a smoking furnace.  He saw fire and smoke as God promised that He would deliver His descendants from slavery.  And we read in Exodus that it was fire and smoke that led the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness.   I believe that Abraham saw the Father and Jesus represented by the fire and smoke walking together between the halves.   Abraham was the beneficiary of the blessings of the covenant but it was the Father and Jesus who were the guarantors.

 

In the same way the New Covenant was cut in the blood of Jesus.  It is a blood covenant, the strongest kind of covenant that one could enter into.   God used, again, the strongest form of a covenant that one could make to show just how seriously He takes our salvation.   But we are beneficiaries not the guarantors.   The New Covenant is cut between the Father and Jesus, not between God and man.  You and I receive the blessings of the New Covenant that was made between the Father and Jesus. We have nothing to do with keeping the covenant because there is no way we could perform well enough to stay in covenant with God.

 

The crux of ES is that we have nothing to do with salvation in terms of how it is obtained or maintained.   Going back to the doctrine of salvation, it was noted that we are made right with God legally through the merits of Jesus Christ being imputed to us on the ground of our faith in Him.   That removes any possibility that we could ever do anything to change the fact that we are in legal right standing with God. 

 

There are many people who fail to understand that God’s standard for us isn’t about being good enough to deserve Heaven, which is what is at the core of those who reject the doctrine of ES.  For them, we have to maintain a certain level of obedience to be saved, and if we don’t, then Heaven is forfeit.   But God’s standard isn’t “goodness.”   If it were, no one would make it to Heaven.  God’s standard is righteousness and that is something that can only be granted; it cannot be manufactured by any effort of our own.  It is a pure and free gift of God’s grace and mercy.

 

Let me draw a modern analogy.  When you sign for an internet filter that makes it impossible for your computer to be used to watch pornography or to engage in things like online gambling, the company that supplies the filter maintains the settings on their end.  Typically, you do not have any control over the critical functions of the filter on your computer. Everything is maintained on the server side, so that your kids cannot jump on your computer and disable the settings.   

 

It is the same with salvation.  The New Covenant is not our doing.  The only ones who can “keep” the New Covenant is the Father and Jesus.  Our obedience to God has nothing to do with keeping the New Covenant because we didn’t cut the covenant.   God is not in covenant with us.   The New Covenant in which your salvation abides, is maintained in Heaven by the Father Jesus.  It is essentially maintained on “the server side.”

 

The nature of salvation is such that it always unconditional with regard to our actions.   To many this appears to be a license to sin.   But that is not the case.   Salvation is transformational in nature.  We discussed that the purpose of God in salvation is to conform us into the image of Christ.  Salvation isn’t a matter of a mere change of status.  Our name is not simply moved from one side of the ledger to the other.  We are new creations (II Cor. 5:17).  We are new people, changed and transformed.  We are set apart for God’s purposes and we are indwelt by the Person of the Holy Spirit who witnesses to our Spirit that we belong to God as His children (Rom. 8:16).  True followers of Jesus are not out looking for ways to sin.  They have transformed heart that characterized by a sincere desire to serve the Lord.   There is nothing in them to prompt degenerating into a life of reckless sinfulness.  They may stumble at times, but the true follower of Jesus is grieved when they stumble and they are repentant and truly have a heart set on pleasing the Lord in all things. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee." (Tit 2:11-15)  Grace is not license to sin; it is the stamina we need to live a holy and pleasing life for the Lord.

 

Who is Eternal Security For?

 

Finally, ES is predicated on two primary things.   Firstly, it is predicated on the genuineness of salvation.   Only those who have been truly born again, can be assured of eternal salvation.   There are many who believe they are Christians but for reasons that have nothing to do with Jesus.  They believe they are saved through Church membership, or because of baptism, or because they have done great humanitarian work.   But salvation belongs only to those who have obeyed the Gospel and those who have truly put their faith in Jesus as their personal Savior are true followers of Jesus and they alone have the assurance that comes from the biblical doctrine of ES.

 

Secondly, ES is predicated on the faithfulness of God.  We know we are saved because God is faithful to His promises.  We know that we are eternally secure because God is not going to renege on His promises tomorrow and take away salvation from us.   He has proven His faithfulness to us and we can be assured that our faith in His promises is not misplaced or misguided.  

 

You can know that you are saved today and for all eternity. 

 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (Joh 5:24)

 

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1Jn 5:11-13)

 

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1:13-14)

 

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.   (Rom 8:14-17)

 

These passages tell me that I am already passed from death to life.  I can know right now that I am saved.  I don’t have to hope or guess.  Eternal life is always “right now,” present tense.  They tell me that I can know I have eternal life because I have Jesus.   And they tell me that His Spirit bears witness that I am God’s child and that I have an inheritance and have already received the down payment, which is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.  And that’s the best part of our salvation!  The gift of the Holy Spirit is the best part about being saved!.

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1Pe 1:3-5)

 

I have a living hope, a confident expectation that is based on the resurrection of Jesus and it is a hope of an inheritance that does not fade away and is reserved in Heaven right now for me.  And I kept by the power of God through faith.  I am kept by Him, not by my efforts.  I don’t keep myself in Him. He is the one who keeps me.

 

These are rock solid biblical bases for the doctrine of ES.

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