Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Regards to Yesterday's Post...

Given the language, the grammar cannot be disputed, therefore it behooves the believer to go to God in honest prayer asking God to give us insight into these great and marvelous mysteries that are over our head. At least, to accept the truth given by the Holy Spirit to the writers of the these epistles such as Paul's. Remember, Peter wrote to his churches that they should recall the things that Paul wrote even though they were hard to understand.

It is no surprise to me that these biblical truths are difficult for believers to grasp. They go against the grain, they strike at our pride, they lower us into the dust as dead, depraved, and darkened sinners as these truths should. No doubt the human heart hates them, despises them, and recoils from them. These truths remove all boasting, all the initiative, and the human partnership that serves our pride.  It isn't difficult to see man who elevates himself as the master of his domain and destiny to shake his head at these glorious truths, roll his eyes, turn up his nose, or just simply say, "it ain't so."

A man persuaded against his will is of the same opinion still, so I will not attempt to "convince" you of the veracity, authenticity, and awesomeness of these biblical truths. However, you asked two very good questions which I shall answer. The simplicity may astound you but they are the answers.

I hope I understand the first question; why should any of those who are not chosen attempt to do any good or be considerate of others?

First, no one knows apart from the Triune God-head  who has been elected and predestined to be adopted as sons of God. Neither the elect (believer) nor the non-elect (the non-believer) knows who has been chosen by God before the creation of the world. No one knows. 

Second, God's standards, laws, and commitment to holiness and righteousness applies across the board to all. God commands all peoples to be obedient, subservient, and to be considerate of others. The naked truth is that only by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit can we fulfill these demands of God, therefore until the unbeliever is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, those without the Holy Spirit cannot please God nor keep these standards in and of themselves. This is why God gave the conscience, parents, teachers, society, government, and laws so that there would some manner of restraint against lawlessness. Unbelievers who do not know whether they are elect or not (by the way, unbelievers do not care nor have any desire to know) are to be good and to be considerate of others. The basis for doing good and being considerate is not predicated on whether one knows if they are "the elect" or have been predestined to adoption as the son of God. The basis for doing good and being considerate is predicated on the fact that God revealed His standards for behavior and He is worthy of all mankind submitting to and keeping those commandments.

As to why Christians should be exhorted to spread the gospel is a question that first, is self-answered by the Scriptures. Second, I think it is a smoke screen to be hidden behind in order to resistance the necessity of wrestling with tough doctrines of the bible. This question is truly beneath most who ask it. The reason is three-fold:

First - God commands it. He gave this command in Matthew 28 and in Acts 1. It actually began in Genesis and has never been rescinded. We, who have believed and have been transformed by the good news are commanded to go into the world, beginning in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. This includes the hedges, highways, by-ways, and every place human beings reside. God told us to preach the gospel. What more do we need? I can't imagine that being not a sufficient reason for spreading the gospel.

Second, no one including the elect knows who has been chosen prior to the creation of the world. Therefore, we need to preach the gospel to those who have not heard. Those who are unbelievers are dead, (Ephesians 1) absolutely unable to respond to any spiritual thing. No unbelieving person seeks the God of the Bible. There are no who seek God, none who want salvation, (Romans 1 and 3) The heart is dead, darkened, and deceived. Therefore no one will come to the good news. The good news must be brought to the unbeliever in the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

Third, linked to both number one and two, it is the only means by which God has authorized to reach the elect. Even the elect will not come to Christ until someone in some form or fashion has shared the word of God with them. Faith comes by what? Hearing, hearing what? The word of God. The elect will not automatically one day wake up "saved." The elect must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, repent of sin, and turn in faith to God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.  Being the elect is not a magic trigger that will one day mysteriously go off producing a child of God. The good news must be given in order for the Holy Spirit to regenerate and save them. This is the only means God has given - the preaching of the gospel. Yes, to some foolishness, and to some a stumbling block, but the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes.

If we were able to design a black light, ultra-violet light, a sonogram, or such to determine the elect then maybe we would need not preach the gospel. But we don't know. Therefore, we must preach the gospel or be disobedient and worse than murderers.

I sympathize with your first concern, brother. I sympathize with the toughness of this doctrinal and biblical truth. It goes against everything the  proud, sinful, anti-God human mind can imagine. I struggle with the same charity over the age old and well-worn question of why we should preach the gospel, it is patently obvious. The plan of God was not obvious. It is a mystery that has been hidden for ages and was given primarily to Paul and others to make known and clear. It is hard to set aside previously incorrect teaching, personal prejudices, and human pride in order to wrestle with and grasp these truths.

Grasp them we must. It is imperative that you wrestle with them and grasp them for a number of reasons. 

First, this is the only "means" of redemption that gives God the absolute and complete glory. 

Second, it colors your understanding of the gospel and whether you have opportunity to boast or not. 

Third, it is the only hope that the unsaved, unredeemed, and unconverted have of ever being converted. 

Fourth, it colors or determines how you live out your life. How do you view redemption? How do you view God's glory? What does redemption mean to you. We live out what we believe.

Fifth, it colors or determines how you do "evangelism." It determines how you pray for the lost, how you feel about the lost, what your responsibilities are to the lost. It determines how you preach the gospel. What means do you use? It determines whether we have churches full of Matthew 21:7 people. If we resort to tactics, gimmicks, altar calls, pressure, manipulation, emotional appeals and any other man-made techniques, then you will have people who pray prayers, make decisions and remain unsaved. 

I hope this gives you something to pray about and wrestle with God in all earnestness and honesty. It is not something that we can simply agree to disagree on. It is something that we both must exercise love, patience, long-suffering, grace, and Christ-likeness until one of us have our eyes truly opened. Agreeing to disagree would suggest that both views are right. This is not the case. 

The sinner is either dead, unresponsive to any stimuli, must be chosen for redemption, must be given an acceptable sacrifice for sin, regenerated by the Holy Spirit as He breaks down the sinners natural resistance, given faith and the desire and ability to repent, and then preserved by God until the end of this age or not.This biblical truth is not  schizophrenic

So, our only course then is to agree to be gracious and Christlike. Believe me, I am not suggesting that you have ever been anything but gracious or Christlike in all of your dealings with me. This post, these points, and this pronouncement is for all who will visit this page and read this post. 

Thanks, however, for stopping by and commenting. Your comments always encourage me! I appreciate you dearly!

In His Grip for His Glory,



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Scott said...

Thanks for taking the time and effort to make this response. I admit I struggled with the issue of election/predestination for some time. I eventually had to let Scripture speak for itself and stop trying to make it say what I wanted it to say. It is a difficult teaching, one that only God can bring us to accept, especially in light of our strong, American, independent, self-made man kind of thinking. Good work.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the follow up. i am thankful God sees Christ in me, because if not I'd be doomed.

Cathy M. said...

I can remember almost the exact moment my eyes were opened to this understanding of grace. I was reading a book by R.C. Sproul. I set it down and prayed that God would help me, because I wanted to know Him more accurately, but I didn't want to believe something that wasn't true.

Once I surrendered to the biblical teaching, I saw the doctrines everywhere. I was so much more aware of the Holiness of God; but also of His great kindness and tenderness in His care for not only the elect, but also for his rebellious creatures who refuse to love Him. How merciful he is to his enemies, of whom I was once one.

Arlee Bird said...

Thank you for your eloquent explanation.
I by all means do understand concept of The Great Commission--since it is a command then we are expected to obey.
I will continue to keep the other things in my prayer so I may be able to understand it better, though as we know much of God's plan is a great mystery to us. However many questions still beleaguer me and I hope you won't think me blasphemous or contentious when I bring them up, but they are the same kinds of questions that I heard asked and discussed often. To tell someone that it's all a mystery sometimes just doesn't work very well.

Let me ask just one for now:

Can a person go through life thinking they are a beleiver, living a good life, being active in the church (including what we might think of as non-traditional types of churches), sincerely conviced that they are following to the best of their ability every law laid out by God and still not be among the elected and be predestined to eternal separation from God in Hell?


Persis said...

Amen, Gregg. I was just reading Romans 9 this morning which is clear that it is according to God's mercy, not human exertion or will. This is a tough doctrine, but one that I believe is Biblical and glorifies God because the work is then His from beginning to end.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Thanks for taking the trouble to explain.
See you when I return from my holiday, going tomorrow.

Brad said...

Great post more than dotted all the necessarily "i"s and crossed all the "t"s on this one.

Hi Lee,

"Can a person go through life thinking they are a believer..."

Sure, anyone can be self-deceived. This is why the Gopsel not only tells us what to believe, but shows us what true belief in Jesus looks like in the believer's life, and all to help us make sure that we are not self-deceived.

"..sincerely conviced that they are following to the best of their ability every law laid out by God."

Did you mean sincerely convinced that they are trusting in Christ's sufficiency (his cross, his blood and believing in his resurrection) with all their being and living their lives with a clear conscience? If so, it would be impossible for them not to be among the elect.