Posts Tagged ‘Predestination’

Soteriology

Posted: April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Soteriology is the doctrine or the study of God’s means to bring salvation to human beings. There are different beliefs as to how and why God saves humans and soteriology will answer those questions.

What is grace? Grace is “God’s goodness towards those who deserve only punishment (Grudem 1243)?” Or grace is God’s unmerited favor towards those who deserve wrath (Matthew 5:44-45). All men deserve wrath or eternal punishment (Ephesians 2:1-2). Within the word, grace, there are two types of graces that are often explained. There is common grace and special grace.

Common grace is God showing his goodness or favor to those who are Christians and to those who are not Christians (Luke 6:35-36; Acts 14:16-17). An example would be when the sun is out shinning. The sun shines in both the believer and unbelievers lives. This is a very generous, yet common grace from God.

This leads to what is known as special grace or saving grace. Special grace is the goodness of God that is given only to those who are believers in Him (Christians) (Romans 9:15). God chooses to grant this special grace to believers at conversion and forever. One outcome of this special grace that God gives to us is to be declared Holy by God (Romans 5:1), this doctrine is called justification which will be addressed later. Without special grace from God, not one will turn to God (Romans 3:10-12).

God does give grace to all men! Every single human has received some kind of grace, but not all grace has been given equally to all men. Some were given special grace while some were given common grace. Both are gifts from our Maker!

This leads us to the doctrine of “election” or the more common known word, “predestination.” Election or predestination is the act of God who sovereignty, before creation, chooses who will be saved and who will not be saved (Ephesians 1:4). God does this electing before the world was created and thus happens before sin has entered into the world (Ephesians 1:4; Romans 9:9-11). God, in his sovereign justice chose some humans for his honor and chose some for to bring dishonor (Romans 9:22-24). Why does God elect?

God elects some to be saved because no one would choose God (Romans 3:10-12). God elects people so He can extend His grace to those He has chosen! God elects because He desires to extend His grace to men and women who would not come to Him unless He did so. Romans 3 says one does good, no one will seek after God; and if no one will seek after God, there is no good in men to cause God to want to elect us. What are the effects of predestination?

Predestination is the only reason one can come to God (Romans 9:16). Election should be viewed as a comfort (Romans 8:28). God works for our good (Romans 8:29-30)! Jesus is our ultimate good and is election causes us to be conformed to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29-30). The point is, if someone sins, they do not need to think they are not elected. One should think, “I am saved because I am elected” and focus on God’s grace and praise Him for election. Another reason is to praise God (Ephesians 1:5-6, 12). Christians should praise God because God has chosen them (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Wayne Grudem makes an excellent point by saying, “Understood in this way, the doctrine of election does increase praise given to God for our salvation and seriously diminishes any pride that we might feel if we thought out salvation was due to something good in us or something for which we receive credit (Grudem 674).”

A very common misunderstanding of election is that Christians then should not evangelize. If this is the conclusion then election is not understood correctly. For the Apostle Paul writes about election yet encourages evangelism (Romans 10:14-15). It should be encouraging that God may choose to use us to save some men and women, but we must not think that it is up to us, God is the one who does the saving, and we are a vessel of His (Romans 9:22). Because God chooses to use us, it encourages us to go and preach the Gospel (Romans 10:14-15) and essentially God is saying, “I guarantee some will be saved.” Grudem says, “It is as if someone invited us to come fishing and said, ‘I guarantee that you will catch some fish—they are hungry and waiting (Grudem 674).’”

One must conclude that God chose some in Christ because He chose to demonstrate His love to many (Ephesians 1:5). The only conclusion one must accept is that election is unconditional and should cause humility.

What about the atonement? There is much disagreement around the atonement. Even among those who accept election and are usually Calvinists. Calvinists do differ slightly on this point—the extent of the atonement. Some Calvinists refer to themselves as Moderate Calvinists or 4-point Calvinists if they reject the doctrine that is called, “Limited Atonement” or to put it in the positive, “Particular Redemption.” This doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ’s blood is sufficient for all, but Jesus’ blood covers those whom God has chosen to same; a particular purpose (John 10:11).

Jesus came to earth to die for the sins of His disciples and for His entire sheep (John 10:11; Hebrews 9:28) who the Father has given Jesus (John 10:15; John 17:9)! Christ died for His sheep, but how is one made righteous? Romans 5:19 says that Jesus died on the cross so that Christians can be made righteous. This doctrine is called the imputation of Christ. Christ transfers His holiness, his perfection to His sheep so God looks down and see’s Jesus’ blood covering us. There is absolutely no other way to be made holy than by the blood! Those who are imputed by Christ are justified and Christ’s free gift has become our own (Romans 5:17; Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6; and 1 Corinthians 1:30). “It is central to the heart of the gospel to insist that God declares us to be just (Grudem 727).”

This leads us to justification. Justification is the Christian doctrine that says God declares one righteous. Or that God views one as if they have never sinned. Justification is a legal stance before God. As mentioned earlier, no one would choose God and all are sinners (Romans 3:23) which means one should be sent to hell (Romans 6:23). God is declaring us righteous if you believe on Jesus Christ (Romans 3:26; Galatians 2:16). Romans 5:1 says we have been justified by God, declared righteous, through our faith in Jesus and we now have peace with God. Justification is amazing and another reason to praise God.

What is the difference between the Gospel Call and the Effective Call? The effective call is a call that God gives to those he has predestined (Romans 8:30). This insists that the effective call is an act of God, not man (Romans 8:29). Those who are elected are called to belong to Jesus and to conform into His image (Romans 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9). “It is an act of God that guarentees a response (Grudem 693).” Dr. Wayne Grudem gives a great definition, “Effective calling is an act of God the Father speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith (Grudem 693).”

In order to have an effective call, there must be a gospel call (Romans 10:14-15). The gospel call is a general call to unbelievers to repent and accept Jesus Christ. The main distinction is that the gospel call is communicated through human beings and is not a supernatural act of God (Romans 10:14). The gospel call is a call for people to understand everyone is a sinner, the penalty of the sins is death, but that Jesus Christ paid for the penalty of the sins. This then leads to a life of forgiveness and the future hope of eternal life with God (Grudem 694-695).

The gospel call and the effective call do work together. It is really cool how God chooses to use humans to accomplish His will in saving people. Acts 16:14 is a very clear example of God opening a heart using the gospel call/gospel message yet God was issuing a effective call. A human presents the gospel call (Romans 10:14), yet God issues the effective call (John 6:44).

What is regeneration? Grudem is correct in defining regeneration as, “…a secret act of God in which he imparts spiritual life to us (Grudem 699).” When one understands that everyone is inherently sinful, how can that person choose God (Romans 3:10-11)? By themselves they cannot choose God (Romans 3:11). God imparts regeneration moments prior to conversion (Romans 3:11). Once regeneration is given to a person; the outcome is a new convert in Jesus (Grudem 700) (Ephesians 2:4-5; Colossians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3). A similar connection is irresistible grace where God gives the special grace to an unbeliever and God draws him or her to Himself joyfully. Regeneration happens only once since conversion follows shortly. Ezekial 36:26-27 speaks of a prophecy of regeneration of God giving a new heart and a new spirit inside His converts! The source of regeneration is God Himself regenerating us to have spiritual life again, but what are the effects?

The effect of regeneration is conversion or a new life in Jesus Christ! In Acts, once God opened this girls heart, she believed (Acts 16:14). The effect of regeneration is that one will be born again (1 John 5:1). What grace has God given to humans in that they wanted nothing to do with God and yet He saves them anyway! Regeneration is the start of a new life in Jesus and this life in Jesus will forbid someone to keep on living in their sin (1 John 3:9). Someone who loves like Christ has been regenerated (1 John 4:7). Regeneration is from God alone and the effects of it, is being born again living like Jesus.

How role does faith and repentance play in conversion? Faith and repentance must go hand in hand in order to be converted. Repentance is turning away from sin and joyfully walking in obedience to Christ (Acts 20:21). While faith is trusting and depending on God for what He says and accepts all that God says to be true (Acts 20:21). All men are commanded to repent (Acts 17:30). God’s goodness and common are given to humans in order that God’s goodness may lead men to repent of their sins (Romans 2:4). There is a call to repent, and a call for faith (Galatians 2:20). Repentance and faith must go together which makes conversion (Romans 10:9). One must remember that this is still an act of grace from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith and repentance are crucial in conversion, without it one simply cannot be converted.

What does the Bible say about a person losing his or her salvation? The Bible does not teach one can lose his or her salvation (John 10:27-29). Some argue that no one else can cause you to lose your salvation, but John 10:28 says that no man can snatch you out of the father’s hand. No man can! That includes any human! Christians have a guarantee that God will keep you until He comes back (Ephesians 1:13-14). One of the most strongest and blunt passage in the Bible that says God will finish the work He started is Philippians 1:6. If someone can lose their salvation, then God did not finish his statement here and would cause God to be a liar. Obviously this is not the case.

There may be some people who think they are believers or who are pretending to be part of the family of God, but they are not true believers and no inheritance in the kingdom of God (Hebrews 6:1-6). Again, the Bible speaks of false brothers in sisters in Christ who are only pretending (Galatians 2:4) and they disguise themselves as servants of God (2 Corinthians 11:15). Jesus speaks of those who are believers in Him will be continue to be His in the parable found in John 15 verses 1-7. There may be a period of time in a believers’ life when he or she backslides or acts like the world. This is very hard for other believers to determine if he or she was a real believer or one who was pretending (Galatians 6:1). However, we should be praying and try to restore the backslider (Galatians 6:1).

The term eternal security is misleading because it implies that you can continue to live in sin and still be a believer. This is not what is meant by Perseverance of the Saints. The correct understanding is that a true believer will not want to keep living sin but that God will finish the work He started and that no one can remove the salvation that was given to him or her (John 10:28; Philippians 1:6). This doctrine should be encouraging to know that even when we do sin, God is faithful and will forgive us and that we are still a child of His (1 John 2:1-3).

These are the doctrines involved in sotereiology. God is the giver of such grace and gives so much to us. A closer study of soteriology should cause great humility and praise to God who is in heaven!

Works Cited
Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000. Print.

My Pastor has been going through a sermon series where he is biblically answering some questions his flock has asked through email. It has been two weeks through the series and he has addressed election and the culture, masturbation, and homosexuality. I want to share with you these resources with you!
Election
More election resources
Sexuality

Here is a something I wrote to a friend a couple years ago. This may not make sense until you have listened to the sermon on “election.” Below is what some call “double predestination” or “reprobation.” My fear is that some will misread or misinterpret or that I would have miscommunicate. This should cause us to be joyfully humble that God has called us to Himself just like He did with the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-19). However, if I am wrong biblically, please let me know. Also, please feel free to ask any questions if I was unclear:

This essay assumes you believe in the TULIP, that is the 5 points of Calvinism. I will not try to defend each point of Calvinism, but rather trying to explain why believing the “U” in the TULIP—unconditional election, is actually the same as Double Predestination.
According to Wayne Grudem, he defines Election as “Election is an act of God before the creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of foreseen merit in them, but because of his sovereign good pleasure.” Grudem also defines Reprobation as, “the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice.”
Double Predestination is mainly used by Arminians who are attempting to break down the Calvinist way of thinking. Calvinist stress God’s sovereignty over man’s will.
I think the issue here is in understanding the doctrine of reprobation. Romans 11:7 says “The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.” Paul says here in Romans that those who were not elected have been hardened. This type of hardening has not been for those who happened to sin, but for those who were predestined to sin—mainly, humans.
1 Peter 2:8 says, “they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do so.” On a note in Grudem’s book, Systematic Theology, he says that “the verse does not simply say that God destined the fact” that they would sin. But rather they were destined to sin and disobey. The word “destined” here does not mean that because they acted a certain way they become “destined” to hell. This is not the same terminology that when we act a certain way we may say, “You are destined to do such a thing”. The Greek word for “destined” here has the possibility of being in the passive tense, however the word can also mean to “ordain” but it is impossible to “ordain” a person in a passive manner.
Before I continue at looking at a few different verses, it has come to my attention that this “double” side of election is one that we should not rejoice in it, because God does not take pleasure in it. Sure, it brings Him glory, but it does make Him sad (Ezek. 33:11).
“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction” (Rom. 9:22; Italics mine). Notice the word made. It does not say, “the vessels of wrath that had chosen destruction” or “the vessels of wrath that is in sin on their will”. But what does it say? The vessels made for destruction. Why would God do this? To demonstrate His power! I do not know of another way to understand the word in the text, “made”. If God made something for a purpose, He is actively involved in causing them do whatever they were made for. Ultimately His glory, but we all have had different tasks to do for this very purpose. Some were made “for honorable use and another for dishonorable use” (Rom. 9:21)?
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, (Rom. 9:17-22)

Why was Pharaoh created? Answer, to exemplify God’s magnificent power throughout the whole earth. God shows mercy to whom He wants and hardens whom He wants. Again, to harden someone has to be active in some way. This could be by removing some grace from one’s life and the person will naturally seek sin—which is hardening his/her life. Pharaoh wanted to harden His heart. This was His desire, but God cause it to happen!

For the brief reasons listen above, I have to accept the fact that God predestined some to spend eternity in Heaven and He predestined some to spend eternity in Hell.

Theology Proper is the study of theology that specifically spends its focus on the doctrine of God Himself, in other words, the doctrine of God. A doctrine that should be studied.

God verse false gods

God (of the Christian faith) is a God who is personal and who keeps sustaining the earth that humanity inhabits (Acts 17:25; 28). God created the earth out of nothing, which theologians refer as “ex nihilo (Genesis 1:1).” Unlike other gods, God created man for his glory (Revelation 4:11).
Pantheism is a common belief that “the whole universe is God, or a part of God (Grudem 268).” This view denies God’s immutability since the universe is constantly changing in one aspect or another. This is communicated in the best selling movie, “Avatar.”
Dualism is another common view and claims that God and the universe has always existed and therefore cannot be sure if God will triumph over the evil since both are eternal. Dualism is seen in the popular movies titled, “Star Wars” where the “Force” has both a good side and an evil one (Grudem 270).
Deism is another false religion that says God created the universe but is distinct from it and has no involvement in it. Wayne Grudem says God is viewed as a clock maker and wound up the “clock”, in reference to the earth, and let it go and now it runs on its own. This view denies the whole history of the Bible (Grudem 270).

The Trinity

The trinity is a very difficult concept to grasp but a very important one! Stealing Grudem’s definition, “God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God (Grudem 227).” The Trinity is implied all the way back in Genesis (Genesis 1:26). We were made after God’s image. Genesis says God said, we were created after “our” image which implies the Trinity. Also, when we understand God in all of the Bible, we see He is a Triune God. God does not change and the Trinity has always existed. In Isaiah says that God’s people grieved the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10).
God is three persons, each person is fully God, and there is one God (John 1:1-2). John 20:28 is strong proof that Jesus is Deity. The Holy Spirit is Deity (Matthew 28:19; John 13:26; Romans 8:27).
Each person is 100% God, yet there is only one God (Exodus 15:11; 1 Timothy 2:5).
So, God is one, yet has fellowship with Himself (three persons) and each person is fully God, not each person is 33.333% of God that makes 100% God, but each person is fully God!

God’s Character

God is independent and does not depend on anything or anyone except for Himself. We were created for God, not God for us (Revelation 4:11). God is immutable. This means that God does not change and has never changed (Psalm 102:25-27). God is eternal and has no beginning and no end (Job 36:26). God is omnipresence, which means that God is everywhere and may not be confined by anything (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 139:7-10). God is in unified with Himself. All of God’s attributes are completely unified together (Ex. Exodus 34:6-7). God is a spirit and does not have a physical body like man (John 4:24). God is invisible (1 Timothy 6:16). God is omniscience, that is communicating God is everywhere (Job 37:16). God is the definition of wisdom (Romans 16:27). God is true and faithful (Jeremiah 10:10-11). God is good, which means He is the standard of truth and goodness (Psalm 34:8; Psalm 119:68). God is love, and gives Himself to others which is the most loving thing He can do to His children (1 John 4:8)! God is merciful, graceful, and patient (Psalm 145:9; Romas 9:15) (Pink 93). God is Holy (Isaiah 6:3) (Sproul 30). God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33). God is a righteous God (Deut 32:4). Jealousy is another attribute of God, which is God wants to be praised (2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 4:11). God is a God of wrath, because God is a righteous God, His righteousness demands Him to be wrathful (Matthew 3:7). God is a sovereign God, and is in control of everything (Psalm 135:6; Psalm 115:3; Romans 9:18) (Pink 41-45)! God is beautiful, and this means that He has all the desired qualities (Psalm 27:4; Psalm 73:25). These are many of God’s characteristics that He has communicated to us and we reflect many of these to one extent or another (Grudem 160-219).

Man’s will verse God’s sovereignty

God is in absolute control. That is, everything that happens is either caused directly or indirectly by God. Nothing is a surprise to God. Yes, men do still make choices. Calvin was wise to not use the phrase, “free will” as it is very misleading and it can imply that God is not sovereign. Man makes choices, man does things, man is held responsible, yet God also communicates that salvation is not based on man’s will (Romans 9:16).
I cannot make perfect sense of this. I make choices, yet God is above my choices. My finite mind is unable to understand it perfectly; however God is sovereign in all of creation and of my life. Because God is in complete control, it spurs me on to pray to Him and to trust Him!

How old is the Earth?

I hold to a young earth. My estimate is between 6,000-10,000 years of age. Some scientist, certainly not all, but some will disagree with my estimate and say it has been scientifically proven. They will say this because of their dating methods of the earth. However, their dating methods have been flawed. “Most radiometric dating techniques must make three assumptions:
1. The rate of radioactive decay is known and has been constant since the rock formed.
2. There has been no loss or gain of the parent or daughter isotopes from the rock.
3. The amounts of parent and daughter isotopes present when the rock formed are known.
The major problem with the first assumption is that there is no way to prove that the decay rate was not different at some point in the past. The claimed “fact” that decay rates have always been constant is actually an inference based on a uniformitarian assumption (Patterson).” It is sad that many scientists make assumptions, and say they are fact. If you sent a rock to 4 different scientist to date it, you would get 4 different answers back. Could the scientist assumption be true? Yes, it could. However, it seems unlikely. It seems the most logical and consistent biblically to either believe that God made the earth more mature than an infant earth, like He created a mature Adam, or that during the whole earth flood (Genesis 6-8) the impact and pressure of the water made the earth older than it once was. Perhaps it was both. God created the earth to appear mature and then even older once the flood happened.
The origins of humans is that God created Adam, the first man (first!) out of the dust of the ground in God’s own image (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7). Then God created Eve, first woman, as a perfect helper for the man, who is also created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:22).
The doctrine called, “Theology Proper” is very important as it impacts how one looks at creation, God’s involvement, and the nature of God. It is of importance and one should study it in order to know God better since we are created for Him (Revelation 4:11).

Works Cited
Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000. Print.
Patterson, Roger. “Chapter 4: Dating Methods – Answers in Genesis.” Answers in Genesis – Creation, Evolution, Christian Apologetics. Answer in Genesis, 06 Jan. 2011. Web. 04 July 2011. .
Pink, Arthur Walkington. The Attributes of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006. Print.
Sproul, R. C. The Holiness of God. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1998. Print.