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Core 52 Chapter 24 - Election and Predestination

Turning the page in my CORE 52 book this week led me to slightly gasp as I read the title, “Election and Predestination.”  There was a bit of excitement and yet, at the same time, a bit of nervousness.  The topic of Election and Predestination has been a dividing point, or according to some, “a hill worth dying on,” for more than several centuries. It really came to a tumult in the 16th century with John Calvin and even a bit earlier with the teachings of Augustine. The modern theological dogma of Calvinism is deeply rooted in these two terms and the specific teachings related to the roles of God and man in the salvation story of creation.

I find it ironic that this is a debate with little to no influence on someone’s initial conversion or acceptance of the gospel, but usually rears its ugly head after one has had time to study God’s Word and place themselves in some manmade theological camp (Calvinist, Arminian, Reformed, Molinism, etc.) of which they potentially become belligerent advocates of such tenets of faith. I cannot recall a single conversation with a new believer or potential convert that contained anything resembling the following dialogue:

                Convert: “So, if I accept Jesus and I am obedient to Him then I’ll go to heaven?
                Teacher: “Yes, that’s correct.”
                Convert: “So does that mean I AM predestined and God has loved me the whole time and I just   didn’t know it?”
                Teacher: Well, Yes…. I guess.
                Convert: “But if I had said no, it would have meant that God never really wanted anything to do with me and hadn’t chosen me to begin with?
                Teacher: Uhh, no, that’s not quite right…., I think.
                Convert: “And so if I accept Jesus today, but let’s say in 20 years I decide to change my mind and                not follow him. Does that mean I never really followed him to begin with? And that God never            really chose me, either?”
                Teacher: “Okay, can I just dunk you in the pool and we can talk about this later?”

In other words, these theological debates where we try to figure out the mind and will of God – the Creator and Sustainer of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE (insert loud echo-y voice here) – never really happen until we think we know enough about God to tell everyone else all that we know about God and how important it is to believe about God what we believe because we have it all figured out.

Do you get where I’m going with this?

Instead, we could make it simple, and just let the Word of God say what the Word of God says.  And to be even more specific, we could be sure we use exactly what Jesus – the Son of God, God in human form, physical aspect of the Trinitarian dimensions of God – said.  Fortunately for us, Jesus did talk about this in a parable and summarized it in a way for us to simply understand: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

In the context of the parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22), Jesus makes it clear all were invited. Jesus makes it clear not everyone listened. Jesus makes it clear some rejected it. Jesus makes it clear many who were invited did accept the invitation. Jesus makes it clear there were expectations that went along with that invitation and its acceptance. Nowhere in the parable does it say that God chose some and not others. Nowhere does it say that some were not invited. Nowhere does it say God’s message was ever one about those who could not come, ever.  The invitations were sent – at different times and to different people, but the message is clear – all were invited, but not all chose to attend.

I think it would be worthwhile for us to spend less time arguing about who’s in, who’s out, who’s really in, who was never even on the invite list, who thinks they’re in, but in the end, they won’t be,….and on and on and on, and start fulfilling our role as ambassadors of Christ who have been “created to do good works…” (Eph 2:10).

There is a time and a place for doctrinal debate, but in my opinion, only after the work of the Kingdom is complete. I have a feeling God would be glorified and honored more by our acts of love, service, compassion and grace than our debate tactics and theological dissertations.  Let’s try to argue less and serve more and know that the Kingdom will grow and God will be glorified because of it.

Be good, be God’s,
Pete Ramsey