28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
29 For those whom he foreknew (προέγνω) he also predestined (προώρισεν) to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those whom he predestined (προώρισεν) he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Did you ever hear the old joke about the Baptist women who heard that the Presbyterian minister down the road was going to teach on predestination? They went that Sunday to hear him. When they returned the following Sunday, all of their friends wanted to hear about the message. Their reply was classic, "Well, the preaching wasn't so bad, but the Scripture verses were just awful!"
As someone who was raised Baptist, you can imagine my trained aversion to such horrible doctrines like 'predestination'. Even as I grew older, it seemed to go totally against my logical belief. Does this mean that God elects some for Hell?- never be! Doesn't this remove all motivation for evangelism and the Great Commission? Is there a free offer of the gospel?
Even my early years in Seminary were filled with push back and panic. As I studied the Scriptures, though, it became clear to me that not only was this doctrine of unconditional election Biblical, it was also logical and glorious.
By the way, the largest and fastest growing branch of the Baptist church right now are those who teach God's sovereign plan in unconditional election including John McArthur, John Piper, Steven Lawson (Mobile, AL) and the head of the Southern Baptist Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler
Let me point out a few of these points that finally clicked with me:
A God who planned all of this before the foundation of the world is more powerful and glorious than the 'hand wringing bystander' who hopes it all goes OK.
The ordering of my salvation is more secure in His plan than it resting on my strength and faith.
I have done nothing to merit my salvation- it is a free gift.
Without God's merciful election, I would have no hope of turning to Him. He can offer all He wants to... I'm not taking. A dead man can't repent.
I have no boasting to do at all about my conversion- this glorious doctrine humbles me.
I am free in evangelism- it is not my prayer or my effort or successful technique- I have a privilege of sharing the gospel guilt free.
His plan is foolproof- I am secure.
His offer of the gospel stands... those who reject Him send themselves to Hell. He is letting them have their way. Hell is a prison locked from the inside.
God is not fair...AMEN- He is merciful.
I pray to Him because He alone can elect. If it is up to me, why pray?
I don't know who the elect are, so I eagerly seek out the lost- It hastens the return of Christ!
Still unconvinced? Try spending some time on the texts below. It jumps off the page in an unmistakable way... God planned, God executed, He chooses, He will lose not even one of those who is in that plan.
How awesome is your God? Can he do even that which seems to defy your natural thinking?
Happy hunting and thinking!
Biblical Examples and Texts for Unconditional Election
The Election of Abraham (Joshua 24:2-3, Gen. 12:1-3, Gen. 15:6, Gen. 17:7)
The Election of Jacob (Gen 25:21-22- 25:23- 28:15- Romans 9:10-13- Mal. 1:2-3)
The Election of the Nation of Israel (Deut. 4:37- 7:6-8-10:14-15- 14:2)
Election in Synoptic Gospels (Mark 13/Mt 24- Mk 13:20 especially)
Election in the Gospel of John (Jn 6:35-45/ 10:26-30/ 15:14-19/ 17:2,6,9-10,24)
Election in Acts (Acts 13:48- 18:9-10)
Election in Revelation (Rev 3:5/17:8/20:12,15/17:8/ 3:5,13:8,17:8, 20:15, 21:27)
Election in Paul’s Letters (Romans 8:28-30/ Ephesians 1:4-5,11/ Romans 9:6-24)
These texts are from Dr. Robert Peterson “Why I Am Not an Arminian” IVP 2004
We must crush the spirit of this age under our feet that says, “I don’t want to think, I want to feel”. You may say, “Who can understand domain of theologians?” But theological lumber is something you cannot live without. It is not a philosophical conundrum for the intellectual elite. God’s sovereignty is a soft pillow for a weary head. To comfort a church under attack and Christians facing opposition, even martyrdom. Come up to the control tower and watch what must take place. People are not stupid; they just don’t have enough experience to know categories they can’t even imagine.”
Rev. Art Azurdia
Hi there Jay, I ran across your blog while searching for Arminian resources. Let me take the liberty to answer these questions from the Arminian view. I hope you don't mind me jumping in uninvited.
"A God who planned all of this before the foundation of the world is more powerful and glorious than the 'hand wringing bystander' who hopes it all goes OK."
I see the opposite. A.W. Tozer wrote: "A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so."
God is big enough and strong enough to handle giving a measure of freedom to his creatures. He is not too weak or afraid to manage a world where his creatures have some liberty. That was part of his design in the first place. Freedom might cause us to wring our hands, but it doesn't stress God in the least.
"Without God's merciful election, I would have no hope of turning to Him. He can offer all He wants to... I'm not taking. A dead man can't repent."
I agree with your first statement. Without God's merciful election (the elect are those who believe in Christ) we are all without hope. I disagree with the second statement, over the definition of the word "dead". Dead does not mean "unable to make a decision". Dead means "separated from God".
In the parable of the Prodigal son (Luke 15) The father states: "My son was dead, but now is alive!" The son was not a rotten corpse lying in a field, rather, he was he separated from his father. The biblical definition of death is "separation".
Further, the father did not go to the foreign land and effectually drag his son back into his house. He left the the decision whether or not to return up to his son.
When the son went back, this did not make him sovereign over the Father. One the contrary, he was at the mercy of the Father. The father owned the farm all along, without regard to the decisions that his son made. Thankfully for the son, he had a loving Father.
The parable provides an excellent Biblical illustration of the way God works. Simply put, God is calling the shots, but he lets us leave if we desire to (to our own detriment). He wants us all to come back. If we don't come back, he still owns the farm.
"I have no boasting to do at all about my conversion- this glorious doctrine humbles me."
Amen. We are saved by grace through faith. Salvation is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. It is a gift offered to everyone, and given to everyone who receives it.
On the other hand, Calvinists teach that only a few are chosen, and the rest are arbitrarily damned by God. This teaching causes boasting and an elitist attitude. The Calvinist can rightfully claim that he has been given something that the reprobate can not possibly have.
"His offer of the gospel stands... those who reject Him send themselves to Hell. He is letting them have their way. Hell is a prison locked from the inside."
This sounds exactly like what an Arminian would say. To clarify further, God's offer of salvation is genuine. It is a bona fide offer, made without fraud or deceit. By definition, a genuine offer is one that can be accepted by those to whom it is offered.
"God is not fair...AMEN- He is merciful."
Amen. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Rom 11:32
"I pray to Him because He alone can elect. If it is up to me, why pray?"
The Calvinist asks the Arminian why pray if he can make decisions. The Arminian asks the Calvinist why pray if the fate of everyone has already been predetermined. Perhaps we can simply both pray and trust that God will move. I pray because I believe God listens and responds to my prayers. As James says, the prayer of a righteous person avails much.
Thanks for letting me stop by and do a "drive by comment" :) God bless, Kevin
Thank you brother- I appreciate your comments. I suspect the divide won't narrow, but I will not let it get outside the family.
The book I referenced is excellent by the way: IVP put out 2 "Why I am Not an Arminian, and Why I AM Not a Calvinist-
I'm so happy that someone actually read my blog- blessings and peace!
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