Subject: Predestination

 

Goal:   1. repute the doctrine of

            2. reinforce the greatness of Gods grace for everyone

            3. reinforce human responsibility

 

 

Introduction:

 

Problem description:

The Ruler of Liechtenstein. He is both ruler and judge. There are five people that have to be judged because of a murder that they committed together. All five should be sentenced to death. But the Ruler needs some painters for the renovation of his palace. And that is the reason why he gives grace to two of the murderers who are painter of their profession.

 

Is this righteous?

 

You will understand that I do not tell this story just for jun. There are a lot of christens, particularly from the Calvinistic corner who think that this is the way God is working. They believe that out of all bad people God takes a restricted number for Him selves, for eternal life. Just read the “Doctrines of Dordt”. Because I think that knowing God is of utmost importance I want to enter into the matter of Gods sovereignty, his grace and his power and our freewill and our responsibility more deeply. And I will try to do this the way Paul describes in Acts 17:2

Acts.17:2                    And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ."

 

 

Here my point is not what Paul explained but the way he did it. We sometimes find it boring when a speaker mentiones to many verses from the Bible. It should not be to difficult. May be we sometimes suffer from laziness. But Paul does not treat this subject just in one sermon, but he needed three weeks about one subject. The subject that I want to tackle this morning in fact is also to complex for just one morning. Yet I will try to give you more insight in the relationship between Gods grace and our freewill and our responsibility.

 

Analysis of the text::

 

Ezechiël 33:11            Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

 

Here already we see the attitude of God. He has no pleasure in man, being the crown of his creation being lost . But He desires people that strayed away from Him turn back to Him. From the call to repent we see that man has the ability to repent. So there is nothing in man that makes it impossible to repent!

 

2Thes. 2:9  9  The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

 

So these people do not get lost because they were so predestined, but because they refused to love the truth. It was offered to them, but they themselves did not want it. They should have accepted the offer. Then there should have been salvation for them. They might have been saved.

 

 

1Tim. 2:3     This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.

 

 

In verse 3 the word "all" has a universal meaning. So no one is excluded. If this is what God wants, why does not it happen? He is sovereign is He not? So everything He want will take place isn’t it? The word "want" here should be read as "desires". It is Gods great desire that all will repent and consequently be saved. But God also wants that it be voluntarily. He does not want to make us puppets. He wants there to be love for Him. And love can only exist voluntarily. You cannot command someone: do love me.

There is only one mediator between God and men. Here too the word "men" is universal. It concerns the whole mankind. The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to redeem the sins of all men. Christ not only died for them that will be saved, but for all people, so also for them that will get lost. So it does not anymore depend on god whether you will be saved or not. He did everything from his side that could be done. He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

2 Petrus 3:9    The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

 

Here we find the same word "all" as in 1Timothy 2. these verses show that it is beyond doubt that god does not exclude anybody from eternal life but that people themselves do not repent. Men has a freewill and can choose before or against God.

 

Freewill:

 

There has been a lot of writing and discussion about the question whether men has a freewill or not. Luther said about it that men is like a donkey that is rid by God or satan and has him selves no influence whatever. He does exactly what his rider lets him do.

Erasmus, more or less forced to react answered to it:

            If freewill does not exist anymore, I do not see how the question of righteousness and mercifulness can be brought to a solution.

and

            it is a gift of God that we can direct our minds to what serves as our help and that we can cooperate with grace.

 

Did Adam and Eve have a freewill? And why do people think that freewill does not exist anymore now? They choose to disobey to god with their freewill. And nowhere in the Bible we find that anything changed with their freewill after the fall of man.

 

2 Tim. 2:10     Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

 

For them that believe that the christians are the choosen this is a very remarkable verse. Why speaks Paul as if it strongly depends on him that people are saved? If God determined already before the creation who would be saved then Paul should not be worried at all. And then there is no need for him to endure anything isn’t it? And what about the little word "also" in this verse? All translations do have this word. Particularly the translators of the Dutch Statenvertaling, real Gomarists, probably did not realize what this meant. If the Christians were the choosen, then the word “also” should not be there and it would be a terrible mistake of Paul. But when we accept what is written and also accept the word “also” , what then is the meaning of this verse? So obviously there is a group of people that are saved and apart from this group there is another group, the “choosen”, of which it is not clear whether they are saved and to which Paul feels a close relationship. Who might be thes people?

Could it be the people of Israël? For they are the chosen people of God. (Deut. 4:37; 7:6; Ez. 20:5;)

Could that also be the reason why Paul states so clearly in verse 8 that Jesus Christ is from the family of David? I think so!

Paulus makes clear in Rom 9:1-4 how much his brothers, the Israelites lay to his heart.

Rom 11:14 tells us about the same as 2Tim. 2:10

                        Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

 

 

 

Romeinen 8:18           I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                                    For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;

 

Romeinen 8:28           We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

                                    For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.

                                    And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

 

Verse 18 is in the future tense and vers 30 in the past present tense. Yet both verses speak about the glory. Are there two different things at stake?

This is a very abvious verse for people who believe in predestination and for them who do not believe in it a very difficult verse.

However it is the question whether these verses indeed do speak so clearly about a predestination in the sense of  the doctrines of Dordt.

In the first place we see that they who are called have to fulfil the condition that they love God. It follows from nothing that they start doing this after being called. This is a thought that does not prove predestination, but it follows from the idea of predestination.

The thought that you should first love God is in correspondence with the Bible verse that tells us that all who seek Him sincerely will also find Him (Matth. 7:7) De gedachte dat je eerst God moet liefhebben is in overeenstemming met de bijbeltekst die zegt dat allen die Hem oprecht zoeken Hem ook zullen vinden. (Matth.7:7 Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.)

This bible verse tells us also that it concerns people who God fore knew.

 

Matth 7:21-23  Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'

This verse shows us that God does not know people that do not live according to His will. God knows people that seek Him and want to live to His honour.

 

 

Before

 

Now I want to talk a little about a very important word in these verses, being the word: BEFORE.

The word ‘before’shows up a few times in these verses. Some people may think that it is meant to say before they were born’. But I think there is no reason for that. It seems to me to be much more probable that the meaning here is: before the moment of the comeback of Christ, viz. the glorifying of which verse 30 speaks. Or before the moment of the conformation to the image of the Son about which verse 29 speaks. This part, from verse 29 is written in the past tense but then, looking back from the moment of the comeback of christ. Because verse 30 ends with :" those whom he justified he also glorified ".

But we are not at all glorified yet. The verses 18-23 in fact tell us that we are still waiting with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God  and we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons. 

Yet the end of verse 30 is written in the past tense. This proves that the word ‘before’ means: before the coming back of christ.

Also in Col. 1:5 the word ‘before’ shows up as follows:

                        because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel  which has come to you.

Again it is clear that here is meant the preaching of the gospel that taks place before a moment in the future.

Another verse is 2 Peter 3:17 where you find:

                        You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

 

 

Knew

 

As a matter of fact, also the meaning of the word ‘knew’ in Rom.8:29 gives rise to this explanation. The explanation the Online Bible gives of the word ‘ginosko’ is:

1.      to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive. This means a coming to know that takes place before the coming of Christ.

2.      to become acquainted with. So it speaks of people that God comes to know during the time before the comeback of christ.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

So what have we learned from what we heard so far?

1. That the doctrine of predestination that states that God foreknew already before the creation who would be born and that He already then determined for everybody whom would be saved, which is teached in so many churches does not correspond with the Bible.

God does not choose anybody before his life and He does not exclude anybody.

His grace is sufficient for all people. His grace is not too small and to restricted in such a way that there is not enough room with Him. I think this is really a very serious accusation to the address of God.

It is His desire that everybody repents and believes in Jesus Christ as their Saviour. 

 

2. because God did not determine before our birth whether we will be saved or not, we are ourselves responsible for our attitude towards God. We are responsible for our repenting. Again and again we read the call to repent and nowhere we find that we should just wait until we are repented. We must start believing that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. That is not a good work, because work and faith are two totally different things! Jesus Christ, our Saviour has fulfilled the redemptive work on the cross of Calvary. That is sufficient for our redemption. By believing, we take part in it. That faith should be seen from our lifestyle is another but also very important thing.

 

Jogchum Reitsma