Election and Predestination as a Minority Theological Stance

19 09 2007

My experiences in evangelical churches in Colby and western Kansas and elsewhere in the regions of Iowa and Nebraska that I have lived in have shown me that relatively few people have a calvinistic or reformed – oriented understanding of the biblical doctrines of election and predestination.

It is no surprise and in fact expected that unsaved people would recoil at discussions of the sovereignty of God in matters of personal salvation. To acknowledge that God is sovereign and in control would be an affront to the rebelliousness of sin that sinners apart from God live in, and to acknowledge that they themselves are not “the captain of their own ship.” The only recourse for people that are not born again is to hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ told, preached and taught to them through faithful witnesses so that they too may be saved. God will do the leading and convicting of sin in their hearts inspite of the “foolishness of the message” (from their unsaved point of view).

That believers in Christ also recoil from and reject these doctrines is more frustrating to deal with on my part (yet in some ways understandable). Some have never been adequately taught from the bible in their churches about election and predestination. Some have heard teaching on these subjects and instead chose to orient their beliefs toward man’s responsibility or “free will” as opposed to God’s sovereignty in working out their salvation. My perception is that at least as many if not the majority of evangelical churches in this region of Kansas orient their teaching towards “free will” as opposed to “God’s sovereignty” in regards to these theological matters.

A document provided by Pastor Bob DeWaay at Critical Issues Commentary provides a list of bible verses and passages which address the doctrines of election and predestination. Follow this link: http://cicministry.org/scholarly.php and select the MS Word document on “The Biblical Doctrine of Election”.

Instead of the raucous discussions and disagreements that we believers so often engage in when this subject is brought up, lets instead examine what the bible presents, and prayerfully allow God to lead us with clarity, spiritual power and insight to the understanding He desires for each of us to have on this subject. Regardless, the study of this subject is so closely associated with the divine sovereignty of God that it cant help but lead us to worship if our hearts are right in approaching it. Praise God for His powerful work in saving unworthy sinners such as myself!

So, the bible does speak volumes about election and predestination. If God determined to tell us of these truths in His written word, then we choose to ignore or discount His message to us at our own peril.

All this said, these doctrines can be very difficult to wrestle with – especially as we try to understand the paradoxical issues of man’s responsibility for his sin while at the same time greatfully acknowledging God’s sovereignty in election and predestination. My hope is that each person would be edified and encouraged in his or her heart as they grow to understand the workings, love, justice and sovereign control of God in these matters.

In Christ by the sovereign grace of God,

A church layman

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2 responses

20 09 2007
dec

So true!

Too many feel that these doctrines remove responsibility from us. Of course they don’t, but as you say, it is difficult to “understand the paradoxical issues of man’s responsibility for his sin while at the same time greatfully acknowledging God’s sovereignty in election and predestination”. And even among believers, we are responsible to obey His commandments, and He is working in us both to will and to work His good pleasure.

I’ve struggled with the concept of my responsibility to obey humanly-impossible commandments. I’ve come to partially understand that, just as Jesus gave the impossible order to Philip to buy food in the middle of nowhere to feed the 5,000, He gives us impossible commandments, that on our own we struggle and fail to obey. These commands are a test for us as they were for Philip. Will we struggle in our own power to obey, or will we fall on our knees, humble ourselves, and depend on God to work His good pleasure.

20 09 2007
churchlayman

DEC,

These are heavy issues to consider. Thank God that we have His promises of the grace of God in Christ Jesus to rely on when it comes to our failures and sinfulness. Gods’ ways are not our ways, and He wouldn’t of set these paradoxical issues of human responsibility and grace before us to wrestle with if it wasnt foreordained to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps the only insight I can offer is that “gracious – these struggles sure keep us humble and reliant on Him”. Thank God that we have the avenue available to us to be greatfully devoted to Him in Christ Jesus!

Take care and keep the faith!




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