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!

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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 

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