07 – Predestination and free will


Theological conflict over “predestination” and “free will” dates back at least 1,600 years. The undercurrent of secular political intrigue beneath centuries of arguments and church trials casts a pall over the whole discussion, right up to the 18th-century debates between John Wesley and George Whitefield.

It is customary, often required, to choose sides in theological debates.

Yes, the Bible clearly teaches that, before the foundation of the world, “God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son.” (Romans 8:29 NLT) No one should shrink back from teachings that may not sit well with popular opinion, like “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14 NLT) or even the scandalous declaration about “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.” (Romans 9:22 NAS)

At the same time, the Bible also clearly teaches that all people have a choice about honoring God and following Jesus – and that God holds us responsible for our choices. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 KJV) “Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b NAS) If choices did not matter, why did Jesus preach, “Repent and believe the Gospel?” If salvation is only a matter of God’s election, why is it “through faith” that we are saved by grace? (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I’m not fond of clubs that require prospective members to ignore entire themes of Scripture in order to be accepted. I’m skeptical of people who insist on forcing the mysteries of God’s ways into the neat little “either/or” categories of human logic. Twenty centuries have not resolved paradoxes like the doctrine of the Trinity or the teaching that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. If the election/free will debate has lasted 1,600 years, maybe we ought to classify it as paradox too.

I believe Scripture says apostasy is a real danger to genuine believers. I contend the teaching doesn’t contradict the equally biblical truths of election and eternal security. In fact, I believe a biblical teaching on apostasy heightens the significance of those doctrines and sheds light on many Scripture passages previously regarded as puzzling.

If you’re even the least bit curious about how the parts of this puzzle fit together, hang around and we’ll talk.

Next installment

Chapter 8
Security is for believers

Copyright © 2007, Kainos Press. All rights reserved.


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