Monday, February 21, 2011

A Familiar Yet Unusual Greeting Pt. 2 - Titus 1:1-4

In this post, we will dive in and begin to chew on the last words in verse 1.  Titus 1:1 reads as, "Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect, and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness."  Now, the last part of this series revolved around expounding the familiarity of a Pauline greeting, while, in this post, we will center our attention around expounding the unusual.  The unusual piece of this Pauline epistle, though, begins with for the sake of God's elect.  This statement, for all intents and purposes, actually answers the question of why Paul became an apostle.  Paul became an apostle for the purpose of encouraging and building up the faith of God's elect in the midst of guiding them in the way of truth, which in the end accords with godliness.  That is the basis of the last part of verse 1.  But, as you read on past verse 1, you realize that the sentence continues on.  For now though, I am going to make the end of verse 1 the cut off point.  However, as I move onto my next post, I may have to refer back to verse 1, so I am forewarning you.

Now, the word "elect" is mentioned at least eight times in Scripture and the words "chosen by God" is definitely mentioned far more times.  With these two facts, I really need to ask the question: what is God's elect?  Well, Warren Wiersbe has a view.  Wiersbe says this, "'God's elect' are those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:1-5)." (1)  Makes sense.  If you have trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior, then yes, you are one of His elect.  How about Calvin?  John Calvin says this in regards to salvation, "By 'the elect' he means not only those who were at that time alive, but all that had been from the beginning of the world." (2)  Right on!  I agree with both.  In looking back at the purpose of Paul's apostleship, the elect of God are those that God has chosen, at one point in time, to be built up in the faith by Paul's encouraging words.  Paul, chosen by God, became an apostle in order to strengthen the faith of those whom God has chosen ever since the beginning of time.  

Then, how do we reconcile Paul's words to the elect, who were long dead before Paul was even born like Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, etc.?  The answer is found in Psalm 119:89.  It says, "Forever, O Lord, your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens."  The Word of God has been firmly fixed in the heavens, the Word of God is firmly fixed in the heavens, and the Word of God will be firmly fixed in the heavens from now until eternity.  All of God's elect definitely know how to be strengthened continually with God's words that were written by Paul.  No matter if you are talking about Abraham or the old lady, who is a firm believer, across the street.  Each has the opportunity to be built up with Paul's words (Abraham in heaven and the old lady on earth).  So, the faith of God's elect has a lot to do with the familiarity of Paul as an apostle. 

Now, what makes this greeting written by Paul more unusual than it already is is the fact that their is a possibility within this verse of the merging display of two doctrines?  Let me explain.  If any of you know me, you understand that I am a big proponent of the doctrine of predestination.  Well, I once was, because of this verse.  Predestination is one of those doctrines where God's sovereignty supersedes (trumps) human free will.  You were once dead.  What does a dead person do?  It cannot move, because it is lifeless.  Nothing is capable of bringing the dead person alive unless something supernatural happens.  This is where God comes in.  Thus, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit creates an awakening within the once dead person to life.  He can move, walk, breath, stand, shout for God's glory, and is not chained (enslaved) to the old way of life.  Got it.  Well, those are the underlying seeds that make up the doctrine of predestination.

However, Titus 1:1 makes a counter argument along with predestination.  The "elect of God" marks the initiation of predestination.  God has chosen us out of death to life.  We were once dead, and He is the only one who could have possibly made us free.  We definitely do not deserve a choice in the matter.  But, here is where the counter argument begins to fashion into a definitive place.  It lies in the words, "and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness."  Do you remember when we looked at the introduction to Titus and I said the main theme was good works?  This portion of Paul's greeting not only introduces us to the main theme of the book of Titus, but it creatively merges predestination and free will as an unknown mystery that only God can fathom.  How does it merge? We looked at the predestination side of things.  Now, let's ascertain the free will portion.  Is God going to force you to love Him?  No, he created man to make viable choices.  Is one of those choices salvation?  Let's see. 

As I mentioned before, Paul iterates why he is an apostle.  He is an apostle for the purpose of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness.  So, Paul wants them to understand the truth.  Paul is engaging us by yearning for us to understand the vitality of being filled with an overflowing measure of truth.  He wants God's elect to increase in their understanding of truth.  But, this truth accords with godliness.  Now, this is where the meshing takes place.  Right here.  Do you know if you want to be a Christian right off the bat?  Some do.  Well, I have a friend, at the moment, who is talking to an unsaved person.  This unsaved person has been asking my friend for information about God and Christianity for about a month or so.  He still has not made a decision to follow Christ.  Why is that?  The Christian life from the outside looking in is scary.  We know what it is like because we have tasted and seen the beauty of what the Christian life gives to us.  It is a difficult pursuit, but very rewarding nonetheless.  

When deciding whether or not they should follow Christ, three potential disciples at the end of Luke 9 were eager to follow Christ (the full story is Luke 9:57-62).  But, when you read the passage, it literally seems like Jesus was dissuading them from following him.  Why is that?  Because the Christian life is filled with magnificent difficulties.  Also, in Luke 14:28, Jesus explains to potential disciples that they should first count the costs of persevering in faith as disciples of Christ rather than simply making a hasty, insecure decision to follow Him.  You should first count the costs, and then make a decision.  Will you or will you not follow Him?  So, you need to make somewhat of a potential choice.  This is not because God is not sovereign.  It is because Paul wants the elect of God to see that their election stems from their acceptance of the knowledge of truth, which is held together by the chords of godliness.  Will you make that step once you see that you are able to persevere in godliness? 

Because, if you do persevere in godliness, the truth, that was at stake, becomes yours, because of the blood of the Lamb that was slain.  And, you become one of the elect that holds fast to the truth, stands for truth, and devises ways to make that truth known to all the world.  You yearn to know, to associate yourself with the truth in order that others might see the godliness portraying out of you.  It is truly amazing.  So, with that said,  I can say for certainty that free will and predestination, though conceivably mysterious, somehow mesh together to form a beautiful array of God's sovereignty and human freedom that bursts onto the scene.  However, God's sovereignty will always have the upper hand because he initiates the regeneration, which makes me wonder all the more of how human freedom plays a role in this God created doctrine.  

Sola Deo Gloria!!!!      



May Amelia said...

Interesting stuff here! That's what I mean when I say I believe in the balanced view of predestination and free will. There is proof of both, but I'm pretty sure only God knows how it all works. =P There's some stuff in the post about predestination that I don't agree with, but I do agree with you for the most part about the meaning of "elect."

Lilac Bud Gal said...

Thank you for sharing this.. It was extremely interesting to read.
Predestination vs. Free will has always been rather confusing to me in the sense that God doesn't FORCE us to love Him (freewill), but He knows who will love Him (almost like predestination)... so, your post was really neat to read.
I do not believe a lot of what predestiation-ers believe, yet sometimes I think a few things make sense.
I guess what has always bothered me most about the whole 'predestination' idea is that if we are already predestined to go to heaven (or not), then why even bother trying to do God's will, to follow Him, etc, etc? If it doesn't matter whether we are faithful to Him, because we are going to heaven any way, doesn't that kind of defeat the whole purpose of the Bible, encouraging us to stand strong and have faith in God, believe in Him, etc?

In Christ's Service,

Joshua said...

What kinds of things don't you agree with on predestination? I would like to generate some godly conversation. :)

♥Bleah♥Briann♥ said...

I love the header! :)

And and in the design section, you can put the actual name of your blog not just the "." and then below in the options click display image INSTEAD of title and description.



Joshua said...

Thanks Bleah. :)

May Amelia said...

Basically what Sarah said sums up a lot of what I have trouble with about predestination (lol thanks for typing all that up for me so I didn't have to Sarah XD). In the post, you say that we as humans could not have chosen to come to Christ (paragraph five) without God. (Your exact words were: "God has chosen us out of death to life. We were once dead, and He is the only one who could have possibly made us free. Our own choosing had nothing to do with it.") The part I'm focusing on is the last sentence of that quote. How can we NOT choose? God doesn't force us to love Him! To do so would be likened to a false love.

I know people who say that we as humans cannot do anything apart from God. I have to disagree. That leaves out Satan and sin. If I can't do anything apart from God, then if I went and robbed a bank, is that His "will" for me to do that? Of course not! But as far as predestination goes, how am I supposed to take that?

I think I've explained this before, but regarding everything else (not in your post) about pred./freewill, I understand the tulip view of Calvinism. I've been in Bible study for 5 years with extreme Calvinists (which I didn't know at first o.O) so I'm pretty familiar with what they believe. The main thing I have a serious problem with is that they ("they" as in extreme Calvinists) believe that Christ died only for the elect. I'm not sure what moderate Calvinists believe regarding this.

I'm going to try to type what I believe regarding the whole issue and you can try to figure out what I mean haha. ;) I believe that God has created us with free will, but it is not total free will because God is sovereign and sin is in the world. The only humans that had total free will were Jesus Christ and Adam and Eve before the Fall. In all his infinite and sovereign knowledge, God knew before the world began who would come to Him. Therefore, because He knows everything, He knew those people would be the elect. And in His foreknowing, He predestined those people to heaven. Does that make sense or is that confusing?

Again, I like what Sarah said, "God doesn't force us to love Him, but He knows who will love Him."

And that was probably way more than you bargained for so I'm sorry about that but I hope that answers your question. ;) If I've misinterpreted something, please feel free to explain/correct. =]

Joshua said...

Hey May,
Thanks for catching that. I contradicted myself in the post, because I did say at the end that we do have a choice. You know what. Bleah had the exact same question. I will just post what I told her, because it addresses your very concerns.

"I thought I was pretty clear in the post. I don't believe strictly in predestination anymore. I believe in a combination of the two. How God works human free will in the matter is strictly mysterious? It beats me, but the Bible is pretty clear that you are given a choice. Really, you don't deserve a choice in the matter, but it is offered. Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. You must make a direct confession, but the confession is directed under the power of the Holy Spirit. A dead person is not able to make the confession. Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2 makes it very clear that we are dead in our transgressions and sins before we are saved. You are a lifeless, dead person before God regenerates your dead spiritual body. So, in that case, your choice is the free will, but God initiates the conversion under His Sovereign power (predestination). That is what I believe. It seems to make direct sense from Scripture itself."

Really, I think what I should have said was that we do not deserve a choice, because honestly we don't deserve a choice one way or the other. But, God gives us the opportunity to make that choice under His direct sovereignty. He does offer us the ability to make a choice.

So, I am completely sorry. ;) It is my bad that I did not catch that in the post ahead of time. However though, thanks for bringing it up, because it definitely needs to be changed.

But, as far as humans can't do anything apart from God, you need to reword your thinking a bit. Christians cannot do anything apart from God (John 15:5; read all of John 15 for that matter, it is awesome stuff :). Not all humans are Christians, so you cannot place everybody in that category. So, that actually answers your question with sin and Satan, because sin resides in unbelievers (they are enslaved to sin). Christians are capable of sinning (I sin everyday), but our constant pursuit towards sanctification is to lay aside the very weight of sin that so easily entangles us in order to run the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:2). But, are you capable of robbing a bank as a Christian, as a true born again believer? Not likely. But, is it God's will for us to sin? Of course not! (your exact words by the way ;). God's will for us is the exact opposite. God's will is that we are not conformed to the pattern of this world, but instead transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). So, we agree on that front, and I believe you would come over to my line of thinking on the other parts as well.

Joshua said...

Continuation of Top....

Also, I have one more issue, and we may agree to disagree on this one. It is that Christ died only for the elect (limited atonement as it is called). Really, I was a Calvinist before, so I know exactly where you are coming from on all these fronts. The Calvinistic viewpoint on Limited Atonement makes clear sense from the viewpoint of Scripture. I really have no idea why people argue over this issue, because Christ's blood is sufficient for the elect. Is Christ's blood sufficient to save all people? Yes, but did he save everybody. No! So, did Christ shed his blood for those who are in hell? No. If he shed his blood for everybody, then Adolf Hitler would be in heaven, Nero would join the team, and so would Marilyn Monroe. Did their lives reflect Christ? Did Christ save them? So, did he die for them? Don't get me wrong. His blood is sufficient enough to save all men, but the question that remains is: Are all saved? In that case, the sufficiency of salvation and the reality of salvation work their way toward two different ends. Yes, Christ's blood is sufficient for all, but the true reality of salvation lies in the shedding of Christ's blood for the elect. :)

If you have anymore questions, feel free to ask. I am open to any and all questions. Also, thanks for pointing out my mistake. :)

In Christ,
Joshua :)

Joshua said...

Why even bother? ;) Well, in Philippians 2 I believe, Paul tells us that we need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. So, even though we are predestined (Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:4-5), it is vitally important to persevere in the faith. Because even though we are saved by grace, we are saved by grace through our faith (Ephesians 2:8). We need to walk in faith constantly. If you don't know what faith is, read Hebrews 11:1. God gives you a picture perfect definition of faith. It is pretty cool. :)

I think this is it though. Even though we are predestined, God still expects us to walk out our lives in accordance with the faith He has given to us. And, these faith instances are filled with an abundant of choices. That is where I believe the whole free will/predestination controversy merges together so beautifully. I don't know how it meshes, but God knows. That is why I will leave that mystery up to Him. ;)

If you have anymore questions, fire away. I would be glad to answer them. :)

In Christ,
Joshua :)

May Amelia said...

Joshua, thank you for clearing that up. :) So you believe in a combo now huh? Can I ask what changed your mind/solidified your thinking?
And, I wasn't saying that I believed that humans can do nothing apart from God, I was saying that that is what the extreme Calvinists that I know believe. (My exact wording: "I know people who say that we as humans cannot do anything apart from God. I have to disagree." Just had to clarify that ;) )
That's the name I was looking for--limited atonement. This is such a confusing concept for me. Ok, so this was what I was trying to say in my other comment. Jesus didn't shed his blood so everyone would go to heaven. He shed his blood so everyone would have the option to go to heaven. He died so we could have that choice. I wasn't saying that because I think that Jesus died for everyone that everyone has to be saved. That's not it at all. Do you have a Scripture passage in support of limited atonement? Believe me, people have tried to change my mind about this countless times and none of what they explain makes any sense because they can't support it with Scripture. Are you referring to an open covenant? I heard that term used before with limited atonement and that says that if Jesus died for everyone then those who didn't come to Him wouldn't finish the covenant or something like that... eh, I don't really understand that so I probably shouldn't have brought that up lol.
What about John 3:16? "For God so loved the WORLD that He sent His only begotten Son..." It doesn't say, "For God so loved the predestined..."
The fact remains that if we knew everything about God, then He wouldn't really BE God then would He? =]

Lilac Bud Gal said...

To your last comment.. finish up John 3:16... "For god so loved the WORLD that He gave His only Son so that WHOEVER believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life."
So, back to what Joshua said about whether he died for everyone, etc. Yes, He died for everyone, but not everyone comes to Him.
I guess what I have always has trouble with is the predestination.. Ok, let me back up otherwise I will just confuse y'all...
We were at some friends one day (most of which were calvinists). One family was not present because they were traveling to see a grandfather who was on his deathbed. As the rest of us gathered around to pray for the grandfather (I don't know if he was or wasn't a calvinist, but I want to say he was, if I remember correctly), the man who was praying said, "If you have ordained it that he comes to you in Heaven, please let it be so." Ok, so right there are two contradictions, in my opinion. 1. If he WAS a true believer, than he would be going to heaven because he accepted Christ's blood to save him from his sin. 2. If he WASN'T a believer, then he wouldn't be going to heaven because he had NOT accepted Christ's blood for his sins. So, I guess that I can't say I believe in predestination at all. And referring to the verses you gave me... First of all, God is all knowing. The Alpha and Omega. He knew us before we were born.. He knows everything until the end of the world. He is all knowing. period. So, when I Read those verses, I kind of get that He knew who would come to Him. He died for all, but He already knew that not all would accept the gift He offered and repent.
So, in a way, I could say that I DO believe in predestination from the sense that He knew already, from the very beginning, who was going to believe in Him and repent of their sins, and who was not.
But I have also heard calvinists say that once God has called us, we can't resist Him. Do you believe that is true? I mean, that would almost sound as if we were given some secret potion so that we couldn't walk away (which does not sound like the God who wants us to love Him freely). First of all, I don't think Satan will let us go that easily.. In fact, I know satan won't let us go so easily. He won't let us just go to God freely. There will be a struggle over us.
I guess my point in my other comment was that, if it is like what that one man prayed, then if the grandfather was NOT a believer, but God's will was to have him in Heaven, then that means that we don't *have* to be saved, we don't need to ask for repentance if God is going to bring us to Heaven any way (which is predestination, in my thinking). Does that make sense?
Any way, your welcome, May, for typing up that other comment for ya *wink*!!

In Christ's Service,

May Amelia said...

Oops, thinking I need to clarify something I said. This is what I meant to say: Jesus died on the cross for our randsom, to pay for our sins. But didn't He die for everyone's sins? Didn't He die for those who are Christians and for those who aren't? Anyways, sorry, I just thought I had better make a little bit more sense, but I'm not sure that I did. Haha =]

Joshua said...

Yes, I do believe in a "combo" of the two now. Really, the primary motivation behind it was God. He was showing me how arrogant I was in how adamant I was in my firm Calvinistic viewpoint. And, I realized I was not helping myself one bit by spurning off other people since I thought had everything correct. I thought I was right, and I thought I knew no one was going to correct my stance. How wrong was I? God seems to know when to throw down the 2 by 4. ;) During that period, I was not showing any love whatsoever. It was pretty sad to say the least.

But, the journey truly began when I posted that Spurgeon quote on my blog. I talked to my friend who believed in the combination of the two doctrines, and I talked to one of my other friends who believes only in free will. We had some good conversations partly because I gave them the floor. I told them specifically I would not object to anything they would say, because I was at a fork in the road. I did not no which way to turn. Then, I studied. I studied, searched, dug, delved, traversed ;) along the path of trying to figure out the truth. Also, your comment (I believe it was your first comment on my blog :) helped a lot in showing me that some things belong only to God (Deuteronomy 29:29).

As you said, you were with a Bible Study that believed in the Calvinistic viewpoints and you came to the conclusion that the combination of free will/predestination made perfect sense. When you said that, I studied more. Prayed, studied, read the Word, prayed..... Then, I made my conclusion near Thanksgiving. The conclusion I came to was the one I shared with you in the post and my latest comment. So, that was the journey.

Now, I am sorry again. ;) I guess I was tired when I commented last night that I did not read your comment correctly. Thanks for clarifying. So, we do agree on all parts of that front. Sweet! :)

And yes, I have a few Scripture passages to support limited atonement. I really do not know why I did not support my claim with Scripture in the last comment, but I will definitely give you verses that support limited atonement. Jesus said in John 10:11 and 10:15 that he lays down His life for the sheep. Paul also speaks of "the church of God which He obtained with the blood of His own Son." (Acts 20:28) Also, in Romans 8:32, Paul says that Christ gave Himself up for us all, but he clearly limits the application of this to those who will be saved in the next verse when he says, "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?" (Romans 8:33).

You can also look at Ephesians 5:25. That is the verse where husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Jesus gave Himself up for the church. But, I think the real nail in the coffin for me was John 17:9. It says with Jesus speaking, "I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours." Which this verse leads me into your question of: What about John 3:16? Usually, when Scripture says anything about the world, it is usually in regards to sinners.

Joshua said...

Continuation of Top....

A really helpful resource that I refer to often is Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. He has this to say on passages where the "world" comes into play: "Several passages that speak about 'the world' simply mean that sinners generally will be saved, without implying that every single individual in the world will be saved."

And, me as the skeptic I am :), checked out the Greek. And, he was right on target. Most people often confuse the word "world" to mean that Jesus or Paul is talking about everybody, when that truly is not the case. When you look at other places in Scripture like say 1 John 2:15. That verse says to not love the world and the things in the world. This Greek word "world" is the same word that is in John 3:16. The "world" that is literally talking about the generality of sin in regards to sinners. Or, Romans 12:2 and 1 Corinthians 1:21 are other great examples.

So, hopefully that answers your questions on those fronts. ;) I think it also answers your last comments concern as well, so I will not go deeper into that. Anyways, great comment, and fire away if you have anymore questions. :)

Joshua said...

Oh yeah May, and so you can rewrite John 3:16 like this:

"For God so saved sinners (world) that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life"

That is the what the word "world" means in the Greek in regards to John 3:16.

Joshua said...

I also wanted to clarify that I did not say that Jesus died for everyone. I said that His blood is sufficient to save all men, but He did not save all men. He did not die for everyone. That is the basis of the Calvinistic viewpoint of limited atonement (read the last two comments for May I posted. It will be a major help.)

However, I think you are not grasping what predestination is. Predestination is a complex doctrine, but you are thinking way too hard. It really is not as hard as some people make it out to be. So, I will try to take you through it step by step as simply as I can. :) Here we go:

Predestination, based on the Calvinistic viewpoint, is a doctrine that describes God's choosing to elect you even though you did not deserve to be elected (saved). Hyper Calvinists (extreme) would say that you have no choice in the matter. I do not believe that at all. Basically, this doctrine stems from the term "total depravity". You are completely dead in sin. You are dead. You have no hope. But, God valiantly comes to the rescue through the death of His Son.

As you know, we are the "guilty" party. With our being in the guilty party, God has every right to punish us, to pour out His justice upon us, since we have sinned magnificently against Him. But instead, God chooses to save you. That is what predestination is.

As I said, Hyper Calvinists would say that we have no freedom to make a choice, because we are completely dead in our sins. God chooses who is or who is not to be saved. Your opinion is not valid one way or the other, according to them.

My stance is that God gives you a choice to an extent in that your choice is clearly directed by the power of the Holy Spirit. You have freedom to choose, but once you make that confession, your confession is simply a glorious display of God taking you out of death to life. He regenerates your once dead heart. That is why He initiates the conversion. Your choice is initiated with the Spirit's power. So, that is what I believe.

If you got anymore questions, I would be glad to answer them. May God bless you as you search His Word for the very truth Sarah. :)

Prairie Momma said...

Boy, I had a long response written out in a word doc yesterday, had to leave the house, came back today to read what was written, and I must confess I am really confused. You definition of Calvinism is nothing that I've ever come across in my research or visits with Reformed/Calvinists. I do not believe in predestination from the viewpoint of what you stated as hyper-calvinism. Scripture is quite clear that we do not deserve anything but hell because of our sin and inability to be perfect in order to gain admittance into God's Kingdom. Therefore, God in his mercy, sent His Son to die for us so that we could be redeemed by His blood - undeserving as it is - that's grace, though (Eph 2:8-9). If you are saying your Calvinist stance is that you believe that we were predestined to salvation THROUGH Christ, then I must confess I am right there with you. If you are saying that we have the free will to accept or reject this gift of salvation, then I'm right there with you. If that's the case for both, then does that make me a Calvinist?? I'm not so sure my Calvinist friends would say so, but that's what I'm hearing as I read your last response. I would also say that the entire Calvinist dogma gets sticky for me in that if God chooses some for heaven (predestines them to heaven) then by the same token, He also chooses some for hell. Would you then say that this is just a hyper-calvinist point and not a Calvinist point?? Before I jump into the discussion, I guess I am struggling to understand what is really being said here. Thanks!!

Joshua said...

Prairie Momma,
I think I did not make myself as clear as I could have made myself clear. Sorry about that. :) To answer your question with what you said in regards to whether you are a Calvinist or not, no, in believing those viewpoints you described, you are not a Calvinist, because Calvinists would say that your free will is limited. You referred to the fact that you believe we have free will. I agree with you.

On the other hand though, most Calvinists admit to the fact that a person must make a genuine confession in order to be saved. They agree that genuine human beings are not robots, and that God has allowed us to make free choices and decisions. But, our choice, in the matter of our salvation, is vastly limited (like 90-95% limited), because of our deadness in sin.

While, Hyper Calvinists are on the extreme. They believe that a humans free will is completely subject under God's absolute sovereignty. God clearly defines and makes the rules. You have no choice in the matter of whether or not you are saved. God is the ultimate judge, and what He says is final.

The last part of their statement I agree with. Of course, God is the ultimate judge, and He will decide what will or what not happen. But, He has given us a choice. Jesus himself said in Luke 14:28 to count the costs before you make a decision to follow Him. Your decision is genuine, and you have a choice in the matter. Living the Christian life is not always easy, but it is very rewarding. That is why many people struggle through whether or not it is the right decision to follow Christ or not. It is a life-changing decision. It is the most significant decision a person will ever make in their life.

But, if God truly has chosen you, whenever you make that confession He overcomes your resistance to Him. You can resist the Holy Spirit all you want too, but when it comes time to make your decision, God has already been preparing your heart to follow Him, and He ultimately overcomes your resistance to Him. It is all His doing. As a matter of fact, your choice really had nothing to do with it, because God was moving you in the right direction out of love from the very beginning. You still ultimately made the decision, but the Holy Spirit was directing you to make that final decision to follow Christ. That is what I believe. It clearly falls between the free-will point of view and the Calvinistic point of view.

In the case of rejecting the gift of salvation, of course people reject the gift of salvation. They usually reject the gift of salvation by their lives. Some reject it with their mouth, but they usually reject God's salvation plan with the way they live their lives. They do not want to be held accountable in that they would rather want to run their lives they way they want too.

So, I agree with you on all those fronts.

For God predestining some to hell, that viewpoint is held by all Calvinists since Calvinists believe that human freedom is vastly limited. Because human freedom is vastly limited, God makes the decrees. He elects some and disregards others. God's sovereignty trumps all. As you know, Hyper Calvinists also must agree with that concept as well. So, yes, God's election continues in regards to the elect and the reprobate according to them.

I also agree with you that it is a very sticky issue, and it is horrific to comprehend. So, we agree on mostly everything for the most part. Also, thanks for joining in the discussion. If you have anymore questions, ask them. May God bless you. :)

Lilac Bud Gal said...

Sorry I haven't commented before this.. kind of got busy.

Ok, what you said makes a little more sense. To be extremely truthful, I have never *studied* predestination/freewill, but I have listened to many conversations on both sides, though I know that doesn't qualify me as a professional on that field. ;)
Thanks for answering my questions. It definitely helped to clear up a few things. I think this subject is definitely a difficult one. Still, it is good to discuss it and see the views from both sides.
On a side note, I was just reading through the comments again and realized I came across wrong with my comment 'why bother?' I was actually being facetious. ;) I really do believe that we have got to constantly be working on our faith. We can't just let it sit after we confess our sins and accept Jesus' gift. We have to, like you said, work it out in fear and trembling (actually, what the Bible said, but what you pointed out.). Any way, sorry I gave that wrong impression.
And my last comment was rather hastily written, so I may have not gotten my thoughts out like I wanted them to. Sorry about that.

Thanks so much for letting this conversation start up!

In Christ's Service,

Joshua said...

No problem. It was a blessing being able to start this conversation, and I am glad that we resolved the matter rather well. Yes, I completely agree that predestination is a difficult matter to comprehend, but I am thankful it is a part of the Christian faith along with free will. Thanks for the comment again and may God continue to bless you and your family.

In Christ,
Joshua :)

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