I don’t usually do things like this because this is such a deep topic, and one that has so many sides to it that sometimes it’s hard to figure out who really believes what and what it all really means.
But this struck me when I was reading through one of Spurgeon’s sermons (yes, I do things like that), and I wanted to flesh things out here so that I can get a better grip on it and so that we, as a Church, can figure out our own stance.
So, for those of you who are not aware, Charles H. Spurgeon is a Calvinist: he believes in Predestination.
Predestination in a nutshell is basically the belief that, before God created everything, before anyone was ever born, before life itself exist outside of the Godhead, God chose, for lack of a better term, who would be saved and who wouldn’t be.
This also means that the death of Christ was only for those that God had chosen to accept the gift of Jesus Christ and eternal life through faith in Him. Salvation, therefore, is unavoidable.
In a nutshell, predestination states that if you accepted Jesus as your Saviour and are living the life of a Christian, you had no choice in the matter. Your free will was overridden and your choices and desires were ignored because God said so.
I disagree with this completely. I understand that all throughout the New Testament, particularly in Paul’s writings, predestination and the elect, etc., is used when speaking to and about Christians.
However, predestination has a sour note to it that a lot of Calvinists have taken a hold of, and it is that certain people are predestined for heaven and others are predestined to hell. And this is a major problem.
If some people are predestined for hell, then it doesn’t matter if they profess Christ as Saviour and bear spiritual fruit and walk intimately with Christ. They’re going to hell, because God said so.
Same goes for the most sinful people in the world. Let’s say that Hitler was predestined for heaven. Therefore, God doesn’t care about all the people that Hitler had killed or all the oppression and hatred he caused. He walked through heaven’s gates because God said so.
All of this completely disregards God’s justice and completely ignores the atoning work of Jesus.
So, this got me thinking: what do I believe? Where do I stand on this whole issue?
I am in the camp of foreknowledge. Some people label this Arminianism, but I am not a full Arminianist.
However, let me put it this way: I believe that God knew ahead of time who would and would not accept Jesus and follow Him. He did not and does not force people to believe. People have to choose it.
I believe in free will. While God is sovereign, He allows us to make our own choices, regardless of the damage we might do to ourselves. He can and might intercede, but we are free to make our own choices.
I believe that when Paul speaks of predestination and the elect, they are those who God knew ahead of time would accept the free gift of salvation of their own free will, not those he specifically chose/forced to accept it, regardless of their input on the matter.
I think of the quote from Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, where Gabriella Francini tells the Mexican general, “Even God can’t make us do the good. We must choose the good.”
In his first letter, Peter writes that Christians were “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…” (1:2).
Not because God chose, but because God knew.
I realize that this is a confusing subject, and I am certain that we will never be fully certain what Paul’s meaning is when he uses the words “predestined” or “elect”. At least, not until we reach His Throne.
But we must try to understand the texts as clearly as possible and hold to our beliefs until someone proves us wrong by Scripture and by plain reason.
Be blessed, Church.