I guess if you are crazy enough to ask for Bible Questions, you will very shortly come up with the one we are going to wrassle to the floor today.
Ok – so since you know I am wrasslin’ - you know – I'm not sure who is going to come out on top.
The question came in via email, so I will not announce who sent it in, but you can ID yourself if you care to. Here it is:
God offers the gift of salvation to EVERYONE because He wants everyone saved, but it's each person's choice. So what say you--about the other argument, that God has already ordained/appointed who will be saved and who won't?--referencing Acts 13:48, "...and all who were appointed for eternal life believed".
Let me start by saying there are great Christian minds on both sides of this argument, and I am not talking lightweights here either.
If I remember my reading, this is the main issue that kept John Wesley at arm’s length from the man who brought him to the Lord, George Whitefield.
Is every man’s fate sealed from creation, and is evangelism simply a matter of obedience, or does every man have a free will, with a best destiny, desired by the Creator, but not unchangeable.
OK – so no matter what I say, someone will disagree, and I am ok with that. I hope you are too.
Let’s start with a couple scriptures (admittedly standing alone and not in context)
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9
Then a little further down the page:
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you ~ 2 Peter 3:14-15
Here is another important verse for consideration:
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Or arguably the most famous verse in the Bible –
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
There are plenty more verses where these come from, yet we must deal with some of the predestination scriptures as well, such as the one mentioned above:
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48
Or this from Jude
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out (before ordained KJV) for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 4
Or Paul in Romans 8
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; ~ Romans 8:29
As with the free will scriptures there are plenty more that lean this way as well.
So here are a few things to think about.
First, God is was bigger than this wonderful theological box that I built in my basement to keep Him in. I just can’t get Him in there as hard as I try (and believe me, I have tried to fit God in a box.)
Some one recently told me that the western mind cannot be satisfied with a breach in logic, so it tries to solve every apparent discrepancy with an air tight argument, but the Hebrew mind is OK with ambiguity.
You know what – I am ok with ambiguity.
Where do I stand? I heard a preacher say (and I honestly don’t remember his name, it was on a CD at someone house, so I never saw it written down) anyway he used a phrase that flipped a light switch on in my understanding.
He said God who know all possible outcomes for every decision you could ever make…
WOW – so God’s foreknowledge is not simply – He knows all my decisions before I make them (and by the way – I am ok with that too, since He is not bound by time – like we said 2 weeks ago) but He knows every choice I might make, and can follow each of those rabbit trails to their ultimate consequences.
Even if that does not answer the question all by itself, it will certainly give you something to ponder for a century or two. (LOL)
My statement of faith – I believe that God knows the end from the beginning, and that everyman can choose Him. I believe that even men who have never heard the gospel have enough evidence in creation that they can follow and God will provide a way for them to meet Jesus.
I also believe that we – the Church – must preach the good news to every man, woman, and child, and give them their best opportunity to repent and believe the gospel.
I sure hope that helps.
What do you think – am I way off base? There must be one pure bred Calvinist here to dispute – I would actually love to here a well reasoned Calvinist response. If you want to blog it, and link, or just go to town in the comments section, I welcome my Predestination brothers to join in.
Just don't forget the rules:
Thanks for pondering these big ideas with me.
Do you have a question? Head over to the side bar and click on the Friday Q&A banner, and we will take a whack at it.