Post by Mike Miller on Sept 25, 2007 15:59:25 GMT -5
Tiffany, I not only do not mind discussing this topic, but it delights me to do so. However, I must say that many, many books have been written on the topic, as it is quite extensive, so what I can do here is but a surface treatement. Also, I am swamped right now, but I will try to have a satisfactory answer to you by the end of the week. Bear with me
Last Edit: Sept 25, 2007 16:02:16 GMT -5 by Mike Miller
Post by twillhelm on Sept 25, 2007 19:28:50 GMT -5
Thank you for responding so quickly! I appreciate the fact that you have created this board for people like me (despite the fact you have so much on your plate) so please do not feel rushed to get an answer posted! I am eager to learn so much but one thing God is teaching me is patience! Take your time!
In the meantime, here are some terms and definitons that may be pertinent to the discussion. These are taken from the Westminster Dictionary Of Theological Terms.
Predestination - God's actions in willing something to a specific result. It is also called foreordination. Some Christian theologians, particularly in the Reformed tradition, have seen it as indicating God's eternal decree by which all creatures are foreordained to eternal life or death. It may also be used synonymously with "election" and indicates God's gracious initiation of slavation for those who believe in Jesus Chist.
Double predestination - The view that God both predestines or elects some to salvation and condems others to d**nation, both by eternal decrees.
Single predestination - The view that God predestines or elects some to salvation by means of a positive decree while those who are not saved condem themselves because of their sin.
Predetermination - A term used in the work of Thomas Aquinas for God's free decision to allow humans to perform actions while infallibly determining beforehand what the humans will do.
Free will - The term seeks to descibe the free choice of the will which all persons possess. Theological debates have arisen over the ways by which and the extent to which sin has affected the power to choose good over evil, and hence one's "free will."
Last Edit: Sept 28, 2007 10:41:52 GMT -5 by david76
Post by Mike Miller on Sept 28, 2007 18:46:29 GMT -5
Here we go. First, thanks to David for his input from the WDTT. I will not add further definition (which was the first part of Tiffany's question), but I will only clarify on a point or two. I'll simply provide some of my thoughts on the matter, which I expect will serve to spur further questions. That is good. But this post will only address some preliminary issues. I'll get to the theology in the next.
Now, I want to say to anyone reading this that theological discussions like this are healthy for the church. Too often Christians are guilty of either pretending the hard doctrines are not there or acting in an un-Christian manner toward those with whom they disagree. It is possible to have differing views on predestination and still be Christian. We need to respect our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Having said that, however, I will say that the views which carry the day are those grounded in Scripture. Please feel free to ask any questions, but when you take a position, please provide biblical support, and please do so with humility.
And finally, let me encourage you simply to take Scripture for what it says. We all come to the Bible with some preconceptions. The hard part is looking beyond them. If you're like me, you were taught certain things about the issues at hand (as well as many other things), and frequently, a Bible verse or two was used to support it, and when we came to the text that contradicted what we had been taught, we read it through the lenses of our preunderstandings. When we did that, we twisted the Scriptures to make them line up with what we already believed. Let us endeavor to let the text say what the text says and humbly accept it--even if it's hard and even if it goes against what we've always believed.
So . . . tune into the next post where the action begins.
Post by Mike Miller on Sept 28, 2007 19:29:18 GMT -5
In reference to the aforementioned definitions, I will only say that, while predestination and election are indeed used synonymously at times, they do not necessarily carry the same meaning. Election always refers to people (even in Romans 11:28, the election is of the people of Israel). Predestination, however, can refer either to people or events (see Acts 4:28 for an example of the latter). Also, "the elect" always refers to the saved; never to unbelievers. These are small points, but I want to be accurate. The bottom line is that predestination refers to God's willing and perfectly bringing about a certain result (such as the crucifixion of Christ and the salvation of the elect). Election refers to God's choosing certain people to salvation. It never refers to his predestining some to hell. There are some people I respect who are double predestinarians, but I am not one of them. I believe in single predestination as defined in the post by David. The term we use to describe what happens to the lost (non-elect) is "reprobation." They are simply left to suffer the justified consequences of their own, willful sin.
I believe like I do because I believe Scripture leaves me no other choice. John 6 & 10, Romans 8-11, and Ephesians 1 are but a few of the passages I can refer you to (and the most thorough). In addition, Scripture makes it plain that we are all spiritually dead because of our sin (Ephesians 2:1-10) and that we are incapable of seeking God on our own (Romans 3:10-11; John 6:44, 65; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16). It is also clear that God's plans are always carried out perfectly (Isaiah 14:27). So if He wants to save someone, He will, and we are not strong enough to derail His perfect plan. Therefore, the only way a person can be saved is if God gives the ability to believe (John 1:12-13; Philippians 1:29; Romans 12:3). We know that He does not give this gift to everyone because not everyone will hear the Gospel (which is necessary for salvation, Romans 1:16-17; 10:13-14). For example, a person who is born in Iran with no access to the Gospel has obviously not been called by God to salvation. If God determined to save that person, He is all-perfect and all-powerful, and He would get the Gospel to him. The fact that He doesn't give everyone the opportunity to hear the Gospel means that He is either unjust or unloving. He is neither, which means that His perfect plan does not include the salvation of that person.
Some will ask, then, "Well, doesn't that make God unjust?" That's what Paul brought up in Romans 9:14, 19. His response: "Who are you to question God?" (Mike's paraphrase). But we need to realize two things: 1) God is never unjust in sending anyone to hell. Everyone has sinned and deserves it (Romans 1:18-20; 3:23). 2) God doesn't have to save anyone. That He saves anyone who so richly deserves hell (like me) is a demonstration of His unfathomable grace.
In a nutshell, then, my belief is this: 1) All people deserve to go to hell because we have feely chosen to sin. 2) Everything God wants to do, He does, and no one can thwart His will. 3) If God wanted to save everyone, he would. 4) Prophecy of Scripture makes it clear that not everyone will be saved, but that some people from every nation, tribe, and tongue will be saved (Revelation 7:9-10). How can that be unless God ensures that it happens? 5) Since we are all spiritually dead, no one can be saved unless called and enabled by God. 6) Everyone called by God unto salvation will be saved (Romans 8:29-30). Therefore, all the elect will be saved. 7) All the non-elect will be left to suffer the just punishment for their sin. 8) Therefore, no one deserves to be saved, but because of God's grace, some are elect unto salvation--not by any merit of their own. 9) It is because of God's grace and power that he will lose none of those He intends to save (John 6:39, 44, 65). 10) All glory belongs to God in all things!
Probably should think about this one a little more before asking but why (other than to spread the word of Christ) would it be important to speak to others about Jesus? Could it be because perhaps maybe we are a part of the plan for someone who is predestined to hear it directly from? That may not be coming out quit right but I am trying to get a better understanding as to why sharing the Gospel would have any control over someone's salvation. Jesus is the reason for our salvation I know that and you must have faith I get that to but does he not have to be the one to make that change?
Another thing. I love praying and worshiping and honoring our God however can you explain why by us praying helps alter (if thats a good word) Gods plan for us or by him being all knowing that was already something he new we were going to do? I could go on and on causing much confusion but I will stop here!!!! Hopefully you get what I am trying to say!!!
Great questions! These are issues most everyone asks.
First, we share the Gospel because people cannot be saved without hearing it. The means by which God has ordained that people be saved is the preaching of the Gospel. As Paul said in Romans 10:14, "But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" Could God have devised another way to save people? Sure. He's God. He can do whatever He wants. But He didn't. Instead, He graciously allows us to be part of the saving of souls. People are saved by grace through faith, and in order for them to believe, they must hear the Gospel in which they are to place their trust.
Also, we share the Gospel to glorify God. Declaring the Gospel is not just to save people, it is to declare the grace, power, and majesty of God to all peoples. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that the Gospel would be preached to all nations as a testimony. God is to be proclaimed and glorified to the ends of the earth, and we do that through the preaching of the Gospel. Again, how wonderful that God involves us in the spreading of His fame.
You see, I think that we sometimes think that our mission is to win people to Christ. That is not entirely true (stay with me here). While we are to strive to win people to Jesus, which is a glorious thing to be involved in, our mission is to be His witnesses. Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel. The good news about that is that every single time we proclaim the Gospel, we are fulfilling the mission. When people don't repent and come to Jesus, that is not failure. Of course, we want people to be saved, but every time the glory of God is declared in any way, He is magnified, and that is success.
So, why do we tell people about Jesus? So that God will be glorified and people can be saved. I have to say that, personally, discovering these truths in Scripture has fueled my fire for missions and evangelism. The more I ponder these profound truths, the more I want to tell the world about my God.
Second, we pray because prayer is the means by which God does things. It isn't that we alter God's plans. That can't happen. No, but God calls us to pray before He acts so that He is the one who receives the glory. He does things when we pray so that no one else can receive the credit. "But," someone will say, "won't God do those things anyway?" Well, (and this might sound like an evasive answer, but I don't mean for it to) that's none of my business. God tells us to pray, so we pray.
But there is another aspect to prayer. As you said, you love praying. Yes! Prayer is a wonderful endeavor. Prayer means fellowship with God. Why pray? If for no other reason, we pray so that we can spend time with God. Oh, what a privilege that He beckons us into His throne room for divine fellowship with the Creator of our souls! Check out Romans 8:26-27 and Hebrews 10:19-22. Through Jesus, we don't need a human priest to approach God. We can go to Him any time we need to and find comfort, strength, and direction. And in addition, He involves us in His sovereign plan by leading us to ask for the things He intends to do (Romans 8:26), thereby glorifying Himself through our praying.