Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Election, Free Will and Evangelism

If man comes to Christ through only free will, and not through the sovereign election of God, then that means when you (if you are a Christian) witness to someone, if they do not accept Christ, it is at least partially your fault, because if you had done a better job presenting the gospel, they might have come to Christ. So therefore, their eternal damnation could be in part because you did not do a good job evangelizing. So therefore, from that perspective, we are partially responsible for someone's salvation or damnation. If the lost person is free to choose or reject the gospel, and if it is completely up to them alone, then if the Christian who is witnessing to them doesn't present the gospel in a way that persuades that lost person to want to accept it, then that Christian presenting the gospel is at least partially at fault, because if they had done a better job, that lost person might have been saved. When a Christian witnesses to people and presents the gospel to them, and people do not respond – if that Christian really thought that it really depended on them (the fact that the lost person didn’t respond), it is feasible that the Christian could possibly even become extremely depressed and, in guilt and anguish...well, I could even imagine an extreme instance where a Christian who believed that, might even go home and pull out a knife and plunge it into their heart because they were such a failure, and because that lost person, or those lost people, going to Hell would be partially their fault, because their gospel presentation was not compelling enough.

On the other hand, if salvation is up to God's sovereign election, then when we witness to someone, all we are responsible for is to tell them, and we don't have to worry about the outcome, because that is up to God.

Ultimately, the salvation of souls depends upon the Lord God, and he has graciously given us the opportunity of being instruments in the accomplishment of his work. We (if we are born again, regenerated Christians whose lives have been radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit) are called to partner with Him and share in the great and glorious work of the Great Commission. We get the easy part (telling), and He does the rest. No higher calling could any individual ever have than being a co-worker with the Lord.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Engaged To Be Married To Christ

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The Greek word translated "deposit" (arrabon) speaks of a down payment that was made to secure a purchase. The moment you were saved, the Spirit of God became the down payment on God's final installment of your eternal glory. In modern Greek, arrabon includes the idea of an engagement ring, a deposit securing something in the future. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that Christ will come again and take us with Him. In that sense, we can view the Holy Spirit as God's engagement ring to his Church, a sign of His deep love and His guarantee to keep His promises. Jesus and His Father give us a guarantee of His promise to marry us. If that marriage in Heaven does not happen between Him and us, then God did not honor His guarantee. So, if a person can lose their salvation, then God is a liar.

Christ purchased us. If He purchased us, He owns us, and we cannot get out of it. Therefore, a person cannot lose their salvation, because Christ bought them. He did not purchase every single person, for if He did, then every single human being would go to Heaven. He only purchased the Elect. And if He purchased us, then our belonging to Him has to do with Him, not with us. “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

Salvation is the work of God, not of man. It has to do with the sovereignty of God. The fact that salvation is the work of God, and not of man, works to the praise and glorification of God. But if it is up to man, then it works to the praise of man.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Election: The Most Difficult Doctrine To Accept

I have not posted any blog article here for the last seven months. But yesterday, a Facebook Friend prompted me to write a new blog article, so here I go. I will also try to schedule several new blog articles every few days, at least for a few weeks or so, as well. One thing that theologians and Christians have disagreed on for centuries, I think, is Free Will vs. Predestination, or Election vs. Free Will, or Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Well, I'm going to devote the next few blog articles on this, and I know that there are many Christians who will disagree with me. But then, I've learned that, no matter who the person is, if you spend enough time with them, you will eventually disagree over something. No two people on this earth agree on every single subject; eventually, they will disagree on something. And when it comes to the things of God, even though a born again or regenerated Christian knows God personally, no human being understands God's nature to its fullest extent. Otherwise, God would not be God. God is unique and unequaled. So, with that in mind, let's proceed.

I used to believe that God 'elects' or 'chooses' some for salvation simply because He knows the future, and He knows who will accept Him and who will reject Him. However, if I could look fifty years into the future and see who will be President then, and say that I will elect and choose who will be President fifty years from now, it's really not me electing or choosing him, just because I merely know who will be elected and who the people will vote for fifty years from now. My knowing who will be elected to be President fifty years from now is not the same thing as my choosing and electing and controlling who will be President fifty years from now. Therefore, mere foreknowledge is not the same as choosing or electing. Knowing what will happen in the future is not the same as causing it to happen.

I now believe that, if God chose no one to be saved, then everyone would go to Hell, and God would be perfectly justified in allowing that to happen, because we all fully deserve Hell, so that would be completely fair to send everyone to Hell.

However, God is not only just and righteous; He is also love. So, to demonstrate His grace, mercy and love (for His glory), He chose a remnant to be saved.

In the Bible, a remnant was always saved...for example, only Noah's family was saved, while the rest of humanity was drowned in the Flood. Only the Jews were chosen in the Old Testament, while all other nationalities were left to follow after their false gods.

If God allowed all men to be saved, then there would be no real justice, because there would be no real and true and final punishment for sin. However, if God sent all men to Hell, then He would not be loving.

So, He chose some to demonstrate His love/mercy/grace upon, and some to demonstrate His justice on. On the surface, it seems unfair to us, but we need to remember that God is sovereign, He owns us all, and He can do with us as He pleases. And He is perfectly just to allow any or all of us to go to Hell if He wants, because all of us are wicked and rebellious sinners. So He has no obligation to do even the slightest good for any of us. Yet He sends rain on the just and the unjust, and He saves some of us, even though He is not obliged to.

The way I look at it is that all of us, as fallen, corrupted, rebellious sinners, were headed for Hell. But God, demonstrating His love, chose some of us to be saved from Hell. The others are left to their own free will, and free will, left to its own, will reject God every time, because the heart is wicked and deceitful above all things, and those who are dead in trespasses and sins are unable to have saving faith in Christ, because they are spiritually dead, and a dead person is unable to do anything. The spiritually dead, lost person is also blinded by the god of this world (Satan) and cannot see the Truth, and therefore, will never accept Christ. To accept Christ would be to submit to a Being (God) Who is the Ultimate Authority, and a person in rebellion against God is never going to submit to God, because they are in rebellion. Only the Holy Spirit can open that blind person's eyes, and therefore, it takes intervention by God to enable them to accept Christ. And God never fails, because God is all-powerful.

The offer of salvation is extended to all: “whosoever will.” But God chose some for salvation and left others in their sinful state. The Bible is full of instances where God chose a remnant. God saves some, and leaves the others alone, leaving them in their own rebellion. Anyone is free to come to Christ if they choose, but God insures that a remnant will indeed come to Him, and the rest He leaves up to their own free sinful will, but in that sinful free will, they reject Him.

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Ephesians 1:4-6)

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." (Ephesians 1:11)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)

"Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?" (Romans 9:10-24)