2001-08-08 - Predestination
Summer Questions: 7
Romans 9:15,16 For He says to Moses, '" will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
The Question: "What is your take on predestination? If it is like the scriptures say, that God chose us and we did not choose him, then why do we witness to others? If God chooses who is in the family of Christ, wouldn't our efforts to bring others to him be in vain?"
Several of you had questions regarding predestination. I have used this question because it is shorter than the others and yet can still lead to some practical applications. Predestination is a topic many don't like to hear about because they are themselves predisposed against the concept. However, you will have to take out your razor blade and cut out much of your Bible if you ignore or rail against this doctrine. So we need to deal with it.
Predestination is not only a term used in Scripture, Romans 8:29, but it is also a concept that is found throughout Scripture in many passages, including Romans 9. There really is no way to avoid it if you spend any time in your Bible. It is found in the Old Testament, Psalm 65:4: "How blessed is the one whom you choose and bring near to you..." Some other passages to examine in the Old Testament would be Isaiah 63:17, Jeremiah 1:5, 24:7, Proverbs 16:4, and Psalm 33:12, just to name a few. The New Testament has so many verses related to this that you simply need to pick up your Bible and read.
The question of predestination is not "if it is in the Bible," but rather "what do we do with it since it is there?" For example, we could ask, "how do we view predestination and the free offer of the Gospel?" This is essentially what the above question is struggling with. What is the point of sharing our faith if everything is predetermined anyway? Why should we bother if God has it all figured out? I am sure most of you know that this is a question asked all the time and one everyone should try to obtain an answer for.
God in His wisdom is pleased to use us in reaching those whom He saves. We are part of the process of God bringing grace to lost sinners. It is a high honor He has given us to work with Him as the grace of Christ works on the sinners heart. The Gospel really is for all, but not all who hear the Gospel will respond to it. Scripture clearly says that the Gospel is for "whosoever," John 3:16. It is simply part of God's plan to use us.
God could have brought salvation to sinners in anyway He wanted. When He wanted to get the attention of Moses He used a burning bush, Exodus 3:2. But God has chosen to use us. Predestination is simply God granting everlasting life to one who deserves His wrath and justice. However, we don't know who will accept the Gospel because we don't know who will have their hearts of stone softened by God as they receive the message. So we share the message that God's grace is available to sinners in hope that they will respond.
I know that this will not satisfy many as to the validity that the Bible
teaches predestination. I would like to remind those who really don't like
this doctrine, of what Paul says in Romans 9. In verses 10-13, he is presenting
the story of Jacob and Esau. He mentions that even before they were born,
God loved Jacob and hated Esau. It seems that in verse 14, he is being asked
a very similar question, as we are looking into today, regarding what he
had just said. Paul responds by saying:
This is a really hard passage to explain if you deny predestination.
The real issue we each have to deal with individually is how will we respond to the offer of the Gospel. It really doesn't matter how we come to grace and faith in Christ as much as it matters that we do come. This is why I usually shy away from issues of doctrine in these devotionals. More than hashing out how we receive salvation, we ought to be making certain that we have received it and that we are growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is really where our focus ought to be. Doctrine can be a fun avenue to explore, but practically living for Christ is so much more important. Let us try not to lose sight of this, no matter what we feel about Predestination.
Soli Deo Gloria,