Saturday, April 22, 2006

# 141: Predestination Demystified

When someone takes the first small steps toward understanding predestination, even that small amount of knowledge makes it much easier to believe, trust and obey God. That is why I have undertaken this much-misunderstood topic. The idea that the physical universe—with its unfathomable intricacies and vastness—and the spiritual world–which we know even less about—already existed in God’s mind before He created them according to our laws of physics, is not an unheard-of concept. I truly believe that it couldn’t have been any other way, that God knew and still knows the entire future. You and I are included in that future right along with our free will. God also plays His part in that future as He intermingles with us through Christ.

The word “predestination” seems to imply that we have no part in this process—if it could be called a process—but this is not the case. God’s chosen are just that. He chose us because of his prior knowledge that we would believe and obey. There is one qualification, though: Since God claims to be a God of love, then in order for love to exist, our free choice to love and be loved by God must have played a part in Him choosing our destiny. The New Testament attests to this fact, if you hold it as the authority of truth. In Ephesians 1:4, Paul says, “For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will . . .”

To think that God created us to love Him—to the point which He dictates what our free will must be—takes away the precious joy and sanctity of choice. For love to be such as we humans know it, that love cannot be forced. Before time began and when we only existed in God's mind, repeating, God chose only those who would believe Him and predestined them to be His. One point that I believe might provide some controversy is that God himself plays a very important part in all of life, continually inspiring (lovingly coaxing) His people to think and act as He desires. That sounds great to me. Some of those who are not His by their choice, He manipulates or forces His will on them, above and beyond their free will, to accomplish His purpose, and He does this without their knowledge. The Bible tells us that He can and does do this. Case in point: The Lord continually hardened Pharaoh's heart so that His greatness might be made known to all the nations, and they would fear Him and His people because of His mighty power (Exodus, Chapters 8-11, paraphrased). In just about every book of the Old Testament, one can see how the Lord manipulates people and circumstances so that what He said would come to pass. While He can manipulate people’s actions, however, He does not manipulate their thinking (changing their nature or thoughts to where they might love Him). If He did, that love would be worthless.

This concept of predestination puts awe and confidence in my continuing quest to believe, love, trust and obey God. To believe this way puts God in control of my complete life, above and beyond my free will. I love it. Therefore, I can unequivocally say that our lives have already been lived in the mind of God, and to Him, we are only living like an instant replay. All we have to do is be sensitive to His inspiration and desire to respond accordingly. His inspiration is never—I say never—contrary to His Word, the Bible. It is most reassuring to trust and obey when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control. This is one reason the Apostle Paul said, “We will be content in all circumstances.” Even if we occasionally do something very stupid or totally out of character for a good Christian, fear not; God will use that stupidity or reckless action, somehow, to our good and for His glory. But, as I have indicated, we must never use this as an excuse or rationalization to sin in any manner. To validate this concept, read Romans 8:28. This just might be everyone’s favorite verse. Let me say ahead of time: This verse is not for those who merely call themselves Christians, but for only those who have been called according to His purpose. How does one know for certain he/she is called according to His purpose? Check your life of faith. Is it expressing selfless love? How can anyone have Christ’s Spirit and not live according to his dictation? There’s your answer. True belief in this concept gives a person such confidence in living the Christian life that every day is an exciting adventure in God's eternal plan. All we have to do is ask, “What's next, Lord?”

The sad part is that when we are doing our own little thing, if even in God's name, He is powerless to inspire us to accomplish His purpose. If push comes to shove, He can manipulate us to do His will, but He is limited, so to speak, as to the degree of manipulation (arm-bending) He can do, according to His own law of love. When we continually refuse to comply with His will, He is powerless to force us to believe and love Him. In such cases He must, though unwillingly, let us go our own way; again, into the arms of our secret love: Satan. When I use the word “our” pertaining to God’s chosen, I mean we must always remember that we too are not immune from the inclination to go our own way, though we know at this time we belong to God and believe we will never leave Him. It is possible to stray from God unknowingly, slowly slipping away by unbelief and disobedience, ultimately going to the grave believing we belong to God. Though God is almighty, He is constrained by love. He cannot stop us from doing so, but if we do, it’s our tough luck. God cannot force us into His kingdom of love when we do not desire to love. That is why continuing unbelief in Christ is such an affront to God.

Satan the devil, the greatest of all magicians, that beautiful deceiving monster, has his people roaming this planet today just as he is referred to as roaming about before Job was tested. Knowing beforehand that Satan’s people would not choose His life, God has predestined them to be with that culprit for eternity. Many of them truly believe they are Christians, blithely unaware of their eternal destiny. Likewise, God has many of His people in the world at this time who are not aware of their salvation, whom He has predestined to be with Him. God will, of course, hopefully with the help of this blog, lead these people of His to those of us who are living according to His complete will. As He makes them known to us, we must show and tell them the complete will and word of God. We must make sure that they are not sucked into the spiritual vacuum of mere “christianity” as it exists today: Lots of words, a big show, and no life. We must also make them aware, through God's grace, that the real Christian life is all-demanding, but extremely wonderful because Jesus Christ, our boss, is extremely wonderful.

Then there are those of God’s people who are practicing religion for what they believe it has to offer, but who do not know what God expects of them. These will be more difficult to reach because they believe they are already saved. There is something different about these people than many of the lost, because deep down in their hearts they know something is missing in organized religion—and consequently in their lives—but have no idea what it is or what to do about it. When we show and tell the lost world about who Jesus Christ really is, we are reassured that we will reach, without exception, everyone that God has chosen to cross our path.

This is no excuse for us to goof off. We cannot adopt the attitude that regardless of what we do or don't do, God will have His way. Rather than an excuse, it is in fact the reason to make our maximum effort for the cause of Christ. When we give our all, we don't have to worry about a certain loved one or close friend who won't respond to God's call. We do and say what Christ would do and say in the same situation, and leave the rest up to God. Jesus Christ cannot be forced onto someone who has not been predestined to be a Christian just because they are a friend or relative. There always is logic behind God’s power to have His way, though many times we fail to understand it. He is not a magician. We must be sure our lives are the best example to all, being one in purpose with Christ. So, ask yourself: “Do I desire to be the best Christian in the world? Is my realistic and active desire such that Jesus Christ is clearly visible in my everyday life?” In seeking proof that one’s belief is acceptable in God's sight, the kind of lifestyle which demonstrates belief, love, and obedience is sure evidence.

On the other hand, we and our message will be rejected by all who have not been predestined to belong to God. To these we will still preach Christ, but mostly with our lives. We can't give up on them, since we don't know who His chosen are. At the same time, we must not waste our time throwing our pearls before people who give indications that they are swine. Some will accept and some will not; God will direct us in these circumstances. Believe it.

You who are reading these few lines today may be the ones whom God can use to get His message to all who will hear, but that message must be complete, right down to the letter. We must not leave out the disagreeable, hard-edged parts of discipleship as displayed in post # 127—namely, death of self-interest. One good definition I can come up with to explain the death of the old self is this: We must abandon all the things and attitudes that produce security, comfort and pride, etc., which most often are silent. These attributes will feed the ego (desires of our human nature) and it is the ego that must be destroyed. Ego—regardless of the amount—is perceived as one of the most valuable possessions around; most people hate to part with it, even if they could.

We also must not propagate greasy or easy grace, which in reality is no grace at all. Grace forgives our past life of separation from God, but it is also grace which enables us to live and believe as God desires. When we desire to change our motives for living, God will inspire us to do that, even though it, most likely, was God who gave us the desire in the first place. Then the door will be open for his Holy Spirit to enter and do His work. But as I said before, God's predestination process will not and cannot violate the free will of our hearts. Our hearts dictate to God what we really desire, despite what we say with our words.

Bottom line, simply put: Since God knows beforehand which people are going to believe and obey Him according to their free will, in God’s sight, their destiny is a done deal. They are the only ones God will choose to be with Him for eternity. Predestination is that simple.

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