Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 9
Thesis: Predestination is an inescapable fact upon which we build our lives.
Introduction: Romans 8 is all about Paul's attempt to get his readers to maintain a legitimate "Love/Faith" relationship with God in the face of a militant opposition designed to get them to live sinfully in angry rebellion against God. In this conflict, the opposition uses pain/pleasure, fear/security, and humiliation/exaltation as its instruments of "persuasion" while God uses the declaration of Truth as His instrument of "persuasion". The opposition counts on ignorance; God gives revelation.
In God's methodology of using Truth to undergird "persuasion", the issues of Love/Faith are always subject to the combination of increasing deceptiveness by the adversaries because our grasp of the Truth is partial, and often tentative. Therefore, there has to be, at some point, a definitive "grounding" of our "Love for God" in the character and actions of the God Whom we "love".
It is the desire to "definitively ground" our love for God that moved Paul to deal with the most basic of the actions of God so that we might better appreciate the character that drove those actions. In his dealings with these most basic actions, Paul addressed a most fundamental issue: the "purpose" that drove the actions.
We have spent two weeks looking, in one way or another, at the fact that nothing is done by God or men that does not have a "purpose" behind it. When the objections begin to arise regarding predestination and particular election, the first question that must be addressed is this: Who has the prerogative of determining the driving purpose? Since it cannot be supposed that one can simply eliminate purpose, the question must be answered. There are only three possible answers: God; some other, necessarily lesser, being; or "I". No issues of Love or Faith can be addressed until this answer is given. For Paul, God's action in Christ (5:8), combined with the essential ignorance of all "others" and the inherent sinfulness of all "men", gives as clear an answer as it is possible to give: God, by dent of creation and redemption, has every rational right to not only set and pursue a "purpose", but to also expect His redeemed ones to gladly and quickly yield to it.
So this evening we are going to move one step further into Paul's argument that God ought to be given our loyal love and joyful confidence. In the details of that argument we come to what Paul said about predestination.
March 11, 2008
- I. The Meaning of Predestination.
- A. It was coined to identify the reality of determinate causes that existed prior to the time frame of the person attempting to deal with them.
- 1. The primary preposition "pro" ("pre" in English) introduced the "time" factor so that it was understood that the action of the verb was "before" the time frame in view.
- 2. The verb involved is used in the New Testament to refer to the action of setting boundaries.
- 3. The meaning, as it was coined, was "to set boundaries ahead of the time frame in view".
- B. It is used consistently with this original meaning.
- II. The Inescapability of Predestination.
- A. The entire creation operates according to predetermined "laws" which undergird every action that creatures undertake.
- 1. Many actions are undertaken in ignorance of those predetermining factors, but they do not alter them; they alter the understanding of the ignorant.
- 2. Many actions are taken because we depend upon those predetermining factors in order to pursue our own purposes.
- B. The entire subject of "purpose" cannot exist apart from "predetermination" because that is what "purpose" is: a prior intent that governs all choices and actions according to the degree of intelligence possessed by the one establishing "purpose".
- 1. When Paul introduced the issue of being "called according to purpose" he jumped on the slippery slope that inevitably leads to predeterminism.
- 2. When Paul made "foreknowledge" the first issue of "calling according to purpose" he made predeterminism an automatic issue.
- a. Omniscience is not the basis for foreknowledge because foreknowledge is "intentional knowledge", not "knowledge of data".
- b. But there can be no "intentional knowledge" where there is no predetermination.
- C. There could not be any such thing as "prophecy" without the presence of "predeterminism".
- 1. This would mean that there could be no sure knowledge of God.
- 2. This would also mean that there could be no preparation for action of the kind mentioned by Peter in 2 Peter 3:17.
- III. The "Problems" of Predestination.
- A. At the philosophical level, there is a tension between "choice making" and "fatalism".
- 1. The philosophers say that if a thing is "predestined" there is no real choice involved after the fact.
- 2. But the philosophers also realize that people make choices all day long every day of their lives.
- B. At the relational level, there is a potent resistance to predestination because it removes a person's ability to be in control if there is a desire for a purpose that is contrary to the one "predetermined".
- 1. The problem here is the problem of competing "purposes".
- 2. The delusion of "Life" apart from the purpose of God is entrenched.
- 3. No one cares if a matter is predestined as long as they want it to come.
- C. At the theological level, predestination within the context of a real Hell, tends to spook folks badly.
- 1. The problem with the theologians is that Hell exists by predeterminism whether a person runs with "fatalism" or "freedom": there is simply a difference in the assignment of "blame".
- 2. The problem is that Hell does not get any better just because "blame" can be established.
- D. At the practical level, predestination has both a static and a dynamic reality.
- 1. Whatever is determined affects everything afterwards: this is a static state.
- 2. But determinations are made every day that have the ability to affect everything beyond the day: this is a dynamic reality.
- IV. The Biblical Concept of Predestination.
- A. Biblical Christianity is not "fatalistic".
- B. Biblical Christianity does not encourage people to believe in their "free will".
- C. Biblical Christianity posits a sufficiently wise God that His "judgments are unsearchable" and His "ways are past finding out" (Romans 11:33) and that He declares a kind of "purpose" that "predetermines" the boundaries but leaves a great deal open to personal choice.