Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 10
Thesis: Biblical determinism is neither fatalistic nor indeterminism.
Introduction: In our study last week we looked into the issue of predestination as the Bible addresses it. We noted that because we live in a cause/effect universe and actions taken are purpose driven, the idea of some form of predestination is an integrated part of our lives. We also saw that "prophecy" as the biblical apologetic for the identification of the True God is impossible without predestination. As soon as the One True God says a thing "will be", it "must be" in order for Truth to mean anything. And "must be" is the basic definition of predestination -- something determined before its time. So, predestination, of itself, is simply a fact of life that we need to understand and take into account as we go about our activities.
But, as we wound up our study last week, we were looking into the real reasons for some people's aversion to "things predestined". We saw that there are two major issues. One is the "problem" of predestination "forcing" something to happen that "I do not want to happen". This is an agenda and control issue that has no place in the life of a "believer" who is supposed to consider the call of God as a summons to yield to His purpose. The other is the "problem" of eternal judgment. As soon as predestination enters into this picture, people get pretty antsy. After all, eternal condemnation is a pretty serious matter even though the vast majority of people do not think it of sufficient importance to make much of an effort to find out if it is unavoidable, or not.
Therefore, this evening we are going to look a bit further into the biblical concept of predestination to see what clarity we can gain by the effort.
March 18, 2008
- I. The Biblical Position Between Fatalism and Freedom.
- A. The verb used in the word translated "predestine" is a word that consistently refers to the setting of boundaries.
- 1. This creates an immediate implication: though the boundaries are set, there is no claim that all of the details within those boundaries are "determined".
- 2. This implication is illustrated in the real world.
- a. There are hosts of "results" that can be achieved in more than one way.
- b. Even within the mechanical world we have what is called "tolerances" that are accepted.
- 1) If we identify "tolerance" as the willingness to permit something less than the perfect ideal, we actually have some "freedom" -- called "slop in the gears".
- 2) Though there are several issues involved in whether a thing will "work" as designed and "predestined", one of those major issues, in respect to "tolerances" is what we simply call "mass".
- a) The greater the mass, the more "tolerance" can be allowed into the system (wind and rain can be allowed during the pollination period because of the "mass"ive amounts of pollen generated for the fertilization of the seeds).
- b) In the "mass"ive universe in which we live, there is a lot of room for "tolerance" in most cases (the larger the clock, the greater tolerance there can be between the gears).
- c) In a very real sense, even the death of Christ was such a massive over-supply of the satisfaction of Justice that all kinds of sins can and are forgiven under divine "tolerance".
- 3) So we see in both the relational and physical worlds that there can be certain boundaries that are "set" and there is "freedom" within them.
- B. The things "determined" by biblical declaration.
- 1. In our current text, what is "predestined" is that the "called according to purpose" will be conformed to the image of Christ so that He will be "the firstborn among many brethren."
- 2. In Acts 2:23, what was "predestined" was the "delivering up" of Jesus of Nazareth.
- 3. In Acts 13:48, what was "predestined" was those who would "believe unto eternal life".
- 4. In Acts 4:28, what was "predestined" was the actions taken by Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel against Jesus.
- 5. In 1 Corinthians 2:7, what was "predestined" was the "mystery" wisdom of God that was to result in "our glory" -- a wisdom that, had the rulers of this world known of it, would have kept them from crucifying the Lord of Glory.
- 6. In Ephesians 1:5, what was "predestined" was those whom He was to "adopt as sons".
- 7. In Ephesians 1:11, what was "predestined" was those of us who are to fit into the purpose of Him Who works all things after the counsel of His will.
- 8. In Romans 9:17, what was "predestined" was Pharaoh's rule over Egypt at the time when God demanded that Israel be allowed to leave (note Exodus 9:16) and that purpose was actually enforced by God Himself as He "hardened Pharaoh's heart".
- 9. Perhaps the most interesting text in this regard is Matthew. 19:28. In that place Jesus responded to Peter's question of what his abandonment of all to follow Jesus would bring him. He said, among other things, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
- 10. Psalm 139:16 says that the days of the psalmist's life were ordained before they had come into existence.
- II. The Corruptions of Deceit That Have Been Thrust Into This Truth.
- A. Satan's first and major "accusation" about God is that He is neither "good" nor "truthful".
- 1. "Good" has a different definition for the godly than it has for the wicked.
- a. For the godly, "good" means "serviceable for Life" under the "servant" thesis.
- b. For the wicked, "good" means "serviceable for life" under the "dominion" thesis.
- 2. Since "predestination" takes the form of "set boundaries" where "life as dominion" is only tolerated for a season, it is no accident that Satan uses "predestination" as a way to impugn God's "goodness" because He refuses to permit "life as dominion" to have any lasting existence.
- a. How is "predestination" always presented by those who object to it?
- 1) It is always presented as "It's not fair to not give people the freedom to make their own choices."
- 2) It is always presented as "Those who are not predestined do not have a chance to be saved."
- b. What is the biblical stance?
- 1) The insistence that people should have the freedom to make their own choices is fundamentally rebelliousness: this is exactly what Satan's entire kingdom attempts to foment while being enslaved (2 Peter 2:19).
- a) Should boundaries be in place in regard to people's "own choices"?
- b) If any boundaries are legitimate, what is the problem of imposing any particular one upon people?
- c) What has the freedom to make one's own choices brought into the world?
- 2) The notion that people do not have a chance to be saved if the issue falls under predestination is exactly backwards.
- a) People who are enslaved to the delusion of personal freedom as a basic component of Life have consistently used their freedom to turn from God.
- b) Predestination, instead of "blocking" people out, is actually God's determination to "bring" people in.
- B. Satan's major "flaw" is his lack of Love which he hopes to keep secret while he attacks the lack of Love in God.
- 1. God was willing to endure Hell for the redemption of sinners.
- 2. Satan is not willing to endure anything for the sake of another.
- 3. Instead of being "unloving" to subject someone to Hell, the Bible presents it as the highest form of Love -- or the Gospel means nothing.
- a. According to the Bible, the only workable "Love" is that one which makes whatever sacrifices are necessary for the "Life" of the beloved.
- 1) The ultimate illustration of this was the death of Christ for sinners.
- 2) The example of Paul in Romans 9:3 followed closely on this thesis.
- b. According to the Bible, what do those who refuse to love deserve?
- c. How, then, is God "not good" for pre-determining to deliver some from this absence of love?