Posts tagged ‘predestination’

Our Prognosis

Whenever there is a patient with a newly discovered medical condition, one of the first questions families ask the physician is, “what’s the prognosis?”. They do this because they want to know what the eventual outcome will be for their friend or family member. There is a measure of comfort in knowing what to expect, for we generally fear the unknown. As nearly as possible, the doctor gives the expected outcome so that people can make intelligent decisions about medical care. With that in mind, doctors are very careful about the prognosis they give, since life and death decisions are often made based on their professional opinion. If they are wrong, the results can be tragic.

We serve a God who also makes a prognosis. And when He does, it is always accurate and we can make decisions of eternal significance based on what he says. We can do that because Jehovah has foreknowledge. The Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “foreknowledge” is the word “prognosis”. Unlike with humans, when God gives a prognosis based on His omniscient foreknowledge, it is never wrong. Let’s see a few times this word is used and look at what it tells us about our Heavenly Father.

During the apostle Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he made the following statement about Jesus Christ:

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (Acts 2:22, 23 NIV)

The crucifixion of Jesus was not an unforeseen hiccup in the plan of God. One of the things that made it “the fulness of time” for Jesus to come was that Jehovah knew that if Jesus came in the flesh at this point in history He would be crucified. That was the point, since Jesus was coming to seek and save the lost. Does that mean God manipulated those responsible and somehow forced them to crucify Jesus? Of course not! Fore knowing something and foreordaining something are two very different things. God foreknew what evil men would do and simply accommodated it into His plan.

But why would The Father allow that and even plan for it? Out of love for us and for our salvation. God had planned that all who would come to Christ for salvation would be saved. He didn’t foreordain some to come and others not to come. Our election was based on foreknowledge that we would come to Him(1 Peter 1:2). And knowing that, He made provision for all who would come to make it from justification to glorification. What was necessary was for us was to be “in Christ”.

But this says something more profound about his love for us. Paul, in the letter to the Christians at Ephesus, says that our election (which we already saw was according to foreknowledge) occurred before the foundation of the world.

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love (Ephesians 1:4 NASB)

He chose us by choosing Christ as our Savior. In doing so, He was choosing all who are “in Christ” as well. That means, before the world existed, Jehovah God knew what would happen to His creation and looked down through time. In His foreknowledge He knew each of us individually who would respond to the Gospel. He looked at each of us, knowing how we would blow it, and how we would be helpless, but also that we would come to Him someday, and said “yes, I will go to the cross for every one of them that come to Him in faith.” He looked down the corridors of time and saw John, Tom, Susan, Whit, Cory, Hannah, (your name here), and even me, and said “they are worth it. I will go and suffer and give my life, because if I do, they will come to me and I can save them.” Stop and contemplate that for a minute, or an hour, or a day. Jesus’ prognosis for each one of us was that if He would bleed and die and pay the debt for our sins, we would respond. And based on that, He had compassion on us, emptied Himself, and took the form of a servant, being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2). There is something to dwell on the next time you take Communion.

A few years ago, a song was recorded by Hillsongs Australia called, “So You Would Come” and I think the words are an appropriate way to conclude this post.

Before the world began
You were on His mind
And every tear you cry
Is precious in His eyes
Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come

Nothing you can do
Could make Him love you more
And nothing that you’ve done
Could make Him close the door
Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come

Come to the Father
Though your gift is small
Broken hearts, broken lives
He will take them all
The power of the Word
The power of His blood
Everything was done
So you would come

(Copyright 1997, Hillsongs United)

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Arriving At Your Predestination

There some words that can stir up strong opinions when discussing matters of Christian faith. Predestination is one of those words. I am a big fan of word pictures that help to explain things, and there is one that I have rolled around in my head and want to share. It has to do with “in Him” and its relation to what “predestination” really means.

There is an airline, and all of its flights are on time, are never too full for one more passenger to come along. (Okay, remember this is only an illustration)
The planes are scheduled ahead of time for specific destinations. You could even say they are predestined to go there. By default, all of the seats on that plane are also predestined to go to the same destination as the rest of the plane, since they are bolted in.

We all have the opportunity to get a ticket, but they cost more than we could ever hope to pay. Flights to heaven, via stopovers in justification, sanctification and glorification, are not cheap! We could give up hope, but someone has been kind enough to point out that there are all the tickets we need, and the price for them has already been paid. The tickets are being offered to us, and all we have to do is believe it, go get the ticket, and proceed to the gate, where we will board the plane.

Well this is Good News, so we do just that. We go accept the ticket and go to the boarding are, where we then get inside the plane. You see, the plane has been prescheduled, or predestined, to go to its destination. And so are we, by virtue of the fact that we are in the plane (i.e. in Him). Before the foundation of the world, it was determined that all who were on board would go to where they needed to go.

Unfortunately, there are some people who don’t make it onto the aircraft. Some didn’t believe that anyone would be so generous as to pay for such an expensive ticket. They don’t believe the announcement and never go and take the ticket. We’re they destined to be left out? Collectively, yes they were, since it was determined that all who did not board the plane would be left.

There is another group who went and got the tickets, but thought they could go on staying inside the safe and comfortable terminal. They run around telling everyone that they got a free ticket, but since they never act on it and obey the instruction to get onto the plane, they are left behind as well. Plus, those who did not believe the message in the first place see them as fools, since in the end they are no different than the ones with no ticket at all.

So when you get a chance, read about what it is like on the plane. Read Ephesians chapter 1 and look for the phase “in Him” and remember what privileges and benefits there are to being onboard with Jesus.

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Picking A Different TULIP

Picking A Different TULIP

On many occasions I encounter staunch Calvinists, who hold to a system of doctrine that uses the acrostic of T.U.LI.P. These letters stand for:
Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace, and
Perseverance of the Saints.

As with many doctrinal systems, there is an element of truth in each of these doctrines if one defines their own terms. Well, I have decided to pick a different TULIP, using my own titles to make the acrostic work. Plus, finding away to make anything memorable out of chrysanthemum was just too hard.

Total Natural Inability – Apart from an encounter with the Word of God, and the Spirit which makes that Word living and active, the natural man is incapable of, and unwilling to, find salvation and regeneration. Only when the Word of God is heard and understood can there be faith (Romans 10:17) and without faith it is impossible to please God. Left to his own devices, a natural man is totally unable to find salvation.

Unconditional Corporate Election – God has predestined that all who are “in Christ” will be justified, sanctified and glorified. This election is one of the group, or corporate, vice individual in nature. The gift of salvation is free to “whosoever will” appropriate it. At that moment, one is in Christ and has access to everything else that is in Christ, such as redemption and justification.

Limited Efficacy of Atonement – The atonement, purchased for the elect at the cost of the blood of Christ and through His finished work on the cross, is only beneficial (or efficacious) for those who are saved. It’s value is sufficient for all mankind, but only efficacious who believe and obey the Gospel.

Irresistible Love and Grace – Once a sinner whose heart is prepared (i.e. good soil) hears the Word of God preached and truly comprehends the love that God has shown him in his lost state through the sacrifice of His Son, he or she will repent and run to Jesus Christ for salvation. Those who reject this invitation either do not comprehend, or have hearts which have been hardened to the point of inability to receive the seed of the Word.

Perseverance of the Saints – Those who are saved and are faithful to the end, or at least by the end, have persevered and receive the crown of life. The saints should continually be encouraged to persevere, so as not to grow weary and quit the race. In the vast majority of cases, salvation is not lost; it is left. The secret to final victory is this – don’t quit!

I know there will be points of agreement and disagreement, and there is probably some verbiage that could be tweaked to make what I am trying to say more easily understood. But the purpose is to provoke to discussion and to individual searching of the scriptures like the Bereans in Acts 17:11.

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