Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Have I BEEN Saved or Not? Thoughts on Biblical Election

 *Apologies for technical difficulties with the formatting. Hold the Control key and hit + until the print is no longer microscopic.
** This is a re-post.
He loves me, he loves me not...
Why is there so much confusion over election?  In my experience, election is commonly understood as predestination. Predestination is the idea that God, from the foundation of the world or even earlier, determined that some particular ones of the souls he created would be saved and go to heaven for eternity, and the rest would be eternally lost. 

According to Noah Webster (1828) one who is "elect" is:
chosen or set apart
taken by preference from among two or more
selected or designated to eternal life
designated by God to salvation
predestined to glory
or set apart as a peculiar church and people.

Webster once said that a dictionary contains more errors than any other book in the world, and in the case of this particular definition of his, he is right! I am very happy to know we don't derive our doctrine from the dictionary, but from the Bible, which is never in error!

Who are God's elect?  If I am absolutely certain I am one of the elect, could I be wrong?  What if I am deceived by my own heart? Jeremiah said, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (17:9) 

Could you ever really have the "peace that passes all understanding" if you thought there was the slightest possibility that God had not designated you to eternal life?  How could you witness to people with the confidence that if they were willing to receive Christ, he would save them from their sins?  And, if God has ordained some to hell to begin with, and others are destined for heaven whether we tell them about Jesus or not, what is the point of the Great Commission?

I submit to you that predestination, in the sense that God has pre-ordained some to eternal life and others to hell, is a false doctrine.

At its root, "elect" means to be specially chosen.  According to God's word, his elect, specifically, is his Son, Jesus Christ. The first Biblical mention of God's elect is in Isaiah 42:1,  Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. This was fulfilled in Matthew 12:15-18, so we know the prophesy of Isaiah is speaking of Jesus Christ: But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.

Election, or pre-destination, is based on being found IN CHRIST, who is God's elect. If I am "in Christ", then I am elect. Simple. My righteousness is in his righteousness, and my election is in him also: 2 Corinthians 5:17,21:  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  [. . .]  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Back to our dictionary definition, with better understanding we can say that one who is "elected" by God is: 
chosen or set apart because he is in Christ
taken by preference from among two or more because he is in Christ
selected or designated to eternal life because he is in Christ
designated to salvation because he is in Christ
predestined to glory because he is in Christ
or set apart as a peculiar church and people who are in Christ. 

It's like this. Say an airplane is scheduled to fly to New York. We'll say it is predestined to go to NY.  If you are in that airplane, then you are predestined to go to NY with the airplane. If you are not in the plane, you don't go. If you are in Christ, you are predestined to go to heaven. And if you are NOT in Christ, you are under the wrath of God and NOT destined for heaven until you repent of your foolishness and your unbelief and receive him as your Savior. John 3:36, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. The airplane illustration isn't perfect. Could one leave the airplane before it takes off, or jump after it is in the air? Yes. But one can not be IN Christ and then OUT of Christ. I addressed that in a different post.

We are chosen of God according to his foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2), that is, that he knew from the beginning who would be his. And who would those people be?  Those who receive Jesus Christ.  John 1:12, but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.  I could not have been elected or predestined for heaven before I knew Christ, while I was still in my sins! No one is elect who is still in their sins! You have to be saved from your sins before you can be elected to eternal life.

A parenthetical thought: What does it mean to receive Christ?  Well, what does it mean to receive a guest into your home?  You open the door and invite him in and provide for his wants. But Jesus doesn't just want to be a guest. Give him the entire house to do with as he pleases. Open the door and get out of his way. He wants to clean out all the dirty secret places of your your heart and completely remodel you, make you over again, birth you into his family. Let him take over. End parentheses.

Election seems rather simple.  So then, why IS there so much confusion over this?  Well, it's because of verses such as Romans 8:29, Whom he did foreknow, he predestinated... Predestinated to what? To be saved and go to heaven?  NO. be conformed to the image of his Son.  And, as the text goes on to say, those whom God predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ, he also called, and justified, and glorified.  So, those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour are predestined, according to the foreknowledge of God, to be made like him.  And is that not our goal as Christians, to be more like Jesus every day?

And then there's Ephesians 1, which says, According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, [...] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Christ Jesus to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, etc.  Well, whom is the letter written to?  The saints at Ephesus.  Saved people.  People who are IN CHRIST.  Turn there in your good ol' KJB and see how many times the words "in Christ" or "in whom", referring to Christ, appear there. It's all based on the foreknowledge of God, not pre-determination.

People who teach predestination say that the will of man is so depraved that we could not possibly choose, on our own, to receive Christ as our Saviour from sin. But the Bible says differently. Look at the invitations we are given to come to him! God wants us to respond to him!
Mark 8:35 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Matt. 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
John 7:37[...] Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
Rev. 22:17  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ is available to EVERY soul on earth.  The Bible says so.
John 7:37  [...] Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Romans 5:18 [...] even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
1 Tim. 2:3,4  [...] God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1 Tim. 2:6  Who gave himself a ransom for all, [...]
1 Tim. 4:10  [...] the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Titus 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men,
Hebrews 2:9  But we see Jesus, [...] that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
2 Peter 3:9  The Lord is [...] not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1 John 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Incidentally, from the standpoint of simple logic, it doesn't even make sense that God would predetermine some, from the foundation of the world, to a hell that he did not create for man in the first place. Matthew 25:41, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Well. That's pretty plain. No one is predestined to go to hell. All can go to heaven if they choose the right way and get IN the way -- Jesus.  He said,  I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Writing these posts is good for me. It helps me to learn the Bible better and to verbally defend my faith.  (Hey, I should  have my kids do this!)  I think one reason people are hesitant to talk about their beliefs is that they don't know how to defend them.  I want to be able to open the Bible and show someone what God says.  I always learn something when I do this, and I hope you do, too.  :) Thanks for listening!

*   *   *   *   *

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, 
it was needful for me to write unto you, 
and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith 
which was once delivered unto the saints.
Jude 1:3 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sometimes life takes a wild turn.

There was a little commotion at the front door on Thursday at suppertime, and, busy at the sink, I assumed that it was my dear husband coming in with his arms full after a long day at work. Amy looked in the direction of the door and cried, "What?? What is this?" And I thought maybe Mr. Diamonds was hauling in the biggest ever bouquet of roses. I turned to see, and no, it was a sight much lovelier than roses! Alison, our daughter whom I just told you would not be home until next Christmas, had waltzed through the door ahead of her dad! We girls all had a happy and teary reunion! It is so wonderful to have Alie home, even if it's just for a very few days. ♥♥♥

Help Me Remodel.

So we now have a parsonage to paint and do magic remodeling tricks on. Anyone care to offer suggestions for this east-facing kitchen? I think we'll be putting in some darkish wood-looking floor surface, something not shiny. What would that be? What's like laminate, but not shiny? And not expensive? Someone said we could paint the kitchen cupboards with chalk paint. I like that idea--there's very little prep work involved and the paint goes on easily, so they say, but I've never done it. Also need an idea for a light fixture replacement. And what about that part of the wall/ceiling above the cupboards? Do we paint that a different color? Do we paint the ceiling? What should I do with the window?

I'd love to pull out that bank of glass door cupboards and possibly the counter and cabinets underneath, for more flow into the living area, and replace them with a big island with storage and stools. This is just not my thing. I want a professional to come do it all, but that's not going to happen, so I'm relying on you all. Make it pretty, please.

And what about this living room? It faces east and south. What's a good color in that sort of lighting? I'm thinking something neutral but warmish, and NOT yellow-to-gold. There's enough of that in the church building. Window coverings? Do we paint all the trim white (what a job)? Or leave it? This area will have the dark flooring, too, and we will need a way to break up the crazy visual length of the house. Area rug?

So there you have it. Please submit your ideas in the comments. Lots of them, please. If I use your idea, I'll take you to Caribou and buy you a coffee. :)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Years in Review

Hello. My name is Sally. Remember me? Back in the days when I had a brain and a measure of creativity, I used to write here, back when we used to live in the desert, where everything was a novelty to us. You know, all the extremes. Extremely hot. Extremely windy. Extremely dry. Extremely different from what we were used to. Extremely fun to brag about. There was a lot of blog fodder in our previous locale.

Then we moved to the Midwest. This place has its own extremes. It's extremely friendly. Extremely do-gooder-ish. Extremely traditional. Extremely homey. We love it here. But somehow I lost my ability to write about it. My family has missed nearly four years of mom's blog escapades, and I feel as if I have let everyone down.

Where do I begin with The Years in Review? Those of you who used to follow me (when I was going somewhere) will remember that I used to regularly post the Month in Review. The last time I did that was in... 2012. So let's see, that would be 48 months to make up... it's a lost cause. (Yes, I know no one subscribes to this blog any more. This is just for posterity.)  Here's the more recent summary of our lives:

Mr. Diamonds is busy busy, being a husband and dad, pastoring our small church family, and driving hither, thither, and yon for a courier delivery company. He needs a break, but that is not likely to happen soon. Even our vacations are mostly ministry-oriented and require unpaid time off work and rushing home to return to said work. I would like to kidnap him and take him away somewhere where he could focus all of his attention on ME. :)  It has been fun to watch the Lord work in his life and force him to grow in areas I never thought would change. I hope he can say the same for me. The Lord has given me a good man. Not a day goes by that I don't feel grateful for his character.

Alison is away at school and loving every moment of class, ministry, music, Bible instruction, and fellowship. Proud mom moment: She made the school record high score on a 167-question Bible knowledge test. That kind of knowledge is gained by reading the Book over and over again, and I'm so grateful for that good foundational habit in her life. She's teaching women in the prison, playing her violin, singing in an advanced choral ensemble, and being big sister to her dorm mates. I miss her like crazy and can't wait to go out for coffee again with my adult daughter friend. Alison will be accompanying a music group on tour in the South this summer, so we won't see her at home again until next winter. Boo hoo.

Amy is spread thinly among four or five families, one of them being her own. We do see her occasionally... She has a new PCA charge (not the kid in the photo) and is learning all sorts of things about autism, special needs kids, and large family logistics. She will never lack for work, as there is a list of moms who would pay dearly to have her help. Amy is our church piano player, sound man, janitor, and kitchen coordinator. It is a blessing to have kids who know they are an important part of the ministry. Amy's calendar is full of remodels, play dates, overnight babysitting escapades, homeschool co-op classes, visits with loved ones in other states, and get-togethers with friends. Amy's somewhat recent gluten and dairy intolerance combined with my new eating strategy is a serious challenge to a mom who never makes a meal plan.

Elisabeth (but we call her Betz) is a diligent, hard-working student in our homeschool co-op. She meets deadlines, gives complete, educated-sounding answers, and strives for 100% or better. She is a principled young woman with some strong opinions and some rigid self-expectations. More introspective than her sisters, Betz thinks harder and writes more than the rest of us combined. Her new blog, which I'm not sure I've been cleared to share here, is a window into her soul. She has no use at all for literary analysis or geometry but thinks chemistry is easy. I'm thinking her talent with office applications and her love for old folks may have her instructing them in the world of technology someday(?). Betz has a spirit of adventure and she has enjoyed some new outdoor experiences this year. A big one coming up is a camping and canoe trip in the BWCA with the girls in her chem class. Hopefully the mosquitoes won't carry them away. These days I really enjoy our mostly grown-up discussions centering on principles, paradoxes, and personalities.

Emily is almost a teenager. (Can that be right?) Because she has had no good friends in the neighborhood, I am grateful for some of the great families in our co-op. Em spends as much time as she possibly can with her friend Winter, and she even agreed to clean house with her once a week in order to spend more time together. The offer of a wage helps, too. :) Her environmental science class has challenged her in some good ways this year, and we have seen great strides in maturity. She loves on our old people at church and takes care of the young'uns, too. Em is excelling like crazy at the piano; just think how far she'd be if she actually practiced! She loves to cook and create in the kitchen. A good gift idea for her would be a Ninja blender, since she is wearing out my cheap smoothie maker. She is looking forward to family camp and all of the excitement that the early summer promises for our family.


Shortly we will begin updating the parsonage that the Lord gave us with our new church building. Since we will no longer live two minutes from Walmart (we call it home), I am going to have to learn to do meal planning. House cleaning will be a new thing too, since we will be likely to receive more surprise visitors than we currently do. ...I've heard that a house building or remodeling project is one of the events most likely to destroy a marriage and family, and when we all walked through the house last week to make a list of all the needed upgrades, I realized that rumor may be true. Our marriage survived the first onslaught of polar opposite opinions (and exasperation between one party who has strong opinions and one who has none at all), but the parent/children relationship may have suffered a bit that day. I resolved on the long drive home that I would firmly choose my paint colors and then stay out of the rest of it. The girls are anxious to make choices and get started and create something. They are not at all interested in planning carefully or counting the cost; their parents think MUCH too slowly for their liking. However it turns out will be fine; I've lived in an apartment over a storefront, an old mousy farmstead, a too-small travel trailer, and in a house with NO built-in storage, and I survived. I will make do. Having my druthers may never happen this side of heaven, and that's okay. Sometimes I don't even know what my druthers are. I will have a roof over my head and the people I love close by.

 More to follow, and that's a promise. For someday. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Generation Abyss

Welcome me to the 21st century! I finally got a touch-screen phone. My "old fashioned" Walmart Trac-Fone was an embarrassment to my children. While I am really happy now to have something that doesn't make a beep every time I touch a key and can supposedly text photos (so far it doesn't), I do find myself in yet another steep learning curve. Is any other human being mocked, as a mother is, for her technological ignorance?

Daughter #3: "Mom, you hold your phone like an old person. Teens hold it like THIS."
(Mother meekly adopts more youthful phone handling technique.)

Daughter #2: "Mom are you seriously texting me from the bathroom?? You act just like a teen!" (Yes, I was texting her from the bathroom. I'm finding that sending my kid a text is a really good way to get her attention.)

Hey. Am I supposed to text like a teen or not??

*   *   *

I find myself behaving just like I did when we first got an email account, checking for mail every three minutes. The phone is with me at all times, and if it hasn't notified me in a while, I turn the screen on just to be sure I haven't missed a text or anything.

*   *   *

I'd very much like to go back to the day when all you had to do to contact someone was pick the telephone receiver up from the wall phone and dial. Now you have to remember which of your friends still answer the phone, which ones only text, which friends can only be contacted via Facebook, which ones still actually read email, and which of them are likely to have lost their phone entirely.

*   *   *

Via Google, I did come across a helpful list of texting shortcuts for old people:  
ATD - At the Doctor's
BFF - Best Friends Funeral
DWI - Driving While Incontinent
FWIW - Forgot Where I Was
LOL - Living on Lipitor
OMSG - Oh My! Sorry, Gas
WAITT - Who Am I Talking To?  

Google is awesome. Google knows everything, even how to find the elusive emoticons on my particular phone. Google plus daughter #3, that is. Me having a new techie gizmo and expecting to make sense of it by myself is a lot like moving to a new planet and trying to communicate vital info to aliens. I'm totally helpless--totally and insufferably helpless. **Feels steam building...**

*   *   *

Yes, I must admit my fault, this new phone does gives me "moments" (ref. Moms' Night Out).  That is why I bought that cute and happy protective case. I hope it will be strong enough to keep my phone from being damaged in the event I should throw it against the wall. Because I've been really tempted to do just that.

*   *   *

The attitude here will probably improve a little bit when the sun comes out or when I am surprised by a clean kitchen or someone takes the trash out without being asked. ...Now that I found my emoticons, because I need at least the happy and sad smileys and one heart, I am feeling a little bit better. Still can't text a photo, though... and would I care if the phone wasn't supposed to text photos? No. But it is. I think you should get what you pay for. ...Which is probably exactly what I got!

First world problems...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Signs of Spring

EVEN THOUGH it is only about 42 degrees out this morning, my heart is happy.

The sun is shining, there are birds singing, there is a soft strong breeze in the air. The pollywogs have become frogs hopping across the roads at night. A little haze of green is beginning to appear over the top of the lawn. And we had our first thunderstorm yesterday, complete with pouring rain, shocking lightning, and BOOMING thunder.

Big smile.

Spring is good for many reasons, but today it's good because of what it does to my soul. I've been set free from the prison of winter!


Thank you, God.

One of these spring days my Fair One is going to call me away...

*     *     *     *     *

My beloved spake, and said unto me, 
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; 
the time of the singing of birds is come, 
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, 
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. 
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Amazing Mom

After living in this home for nearly four years, I am finally putting stuff on the walls. My mom's stuff. Someday she is going to be famous, and I don't want to be one of those people who has had famous people's stuff stashed in the attic for decades and it goes to Goodwill by accident, and some smart thrift shopper recognizes it as a masterpiece and buys it for $5.

(Thanks, Mom! It's starting to look like a home in here!)

If you're in the SoCal area, see her work at the huge South Bay Lexus Service Center,
or visit Tustin in April to see her work in the Chemers Gallery/TAFCA 8th Annual Juried Exhibit. :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Can I Just Say...


Other than a pair of white go-go boots that I had in 6th grade, 2014 winter was the first time I ever wore boots as shoes. I mean real boots, boots that are not clunky Sorrel snow boots.Yes, despite my having lived for more than twenty years in northern climes, this is true. I just always put off buying them. Last fall I bought a second pair of real boots, combining all my Kohls coupons and deals, for $6 and no guilt.

About this time last year I lamented the return of warm weather for this reason only: I had to find something else to wear on my feet. I must have managed, but I don't remember how I solved my dilemma.

This year, what shall I do, what shall I do? I'm beyond wearing tennies with everything, as I did when I was a young (and not-so-young) mom, too tired and frumpy to care about fashion sense. Now that I'm one of the older women who are supposed to be teaching younger women "good things" a la Titus 2, I'm trying not to be quite so frumpy.

To go from boots to sandals means wearing boots until at least June, or wearing flip flops while the temperature is still only 45. Is there something in between? Something that looks okay with a skirt? And that is comfortable but not frumpy? And that can be worn with bare legs?

Speaking of bare legs, there's another reason I love boots.



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