Monday, March 3, 2014

Destination: Known

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. [Romans 8:29 NIV]

Some (quite a few, actually) have been led to believe in John Calvin’s view of predestination.  If you are not familiar with it, Calvin asserted that our Heavenly Father created some for glory and all others for destruction.

It is argued that Romans 8:29, along with the rest of the passage, supports Calvin’s view.  For it is written: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns?  No one.  Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:28-39 NIV]

Of course, it could be also argued that the passage supports the Doctrine of Universal Reconciliation, which is that all of mankind will be reconciled with our Creator someday.  For if nothing can separate us from the love of our Heavenly Father, then nothing can keep us separated from Him.

It all depends upon just who are us—does it not?  Another passage in Romans makes it quite clear that it is not everyone.  For it is written: I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.  Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.  Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!  Amen.  It is not as though God’s word had failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.  Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.  On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.  For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”  Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac.  Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”  Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”  What then shall we say?  Is God unjust?  Not at all!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.  For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.  One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us?  For who is able to resist his will?”  But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?  “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?  What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?  What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?  As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”  and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”  Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.  For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”  It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”  What then shall we say?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal.  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.  They stumbled over the stumbling stone.  As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” [Romans 9:1-33 NIV]

Hmm, what was the promise made to Abraham?  Was it not that all nations would be blessed through him?  For it is written: So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.  Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. [Galatians 3:6-9 NIV]

No, that cannot be right.  For faith in our Creator (or even His Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ) would be irrelevant if no one is given a choice of who they want to belong to.

Alas, the points and counterpoints on this issue could go back and forth until the time for this world to end comes to pass.  For whom from among us has the wisdom to naturally understand what our Heavenly Father has wanted to accomplish in this world?  Yet, have not many of us been given opportunities to experience it (to a certain extent) for ourselves?

Be assured that I have—both the good and the bad of it.  For Arlynda and I look forward to celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary on the fifteenth of April this year, and the relationship I have been allowed and enabled to have with her has been so very good.  Ah, but before she was placed in my life, my heart had been shattered into a thousand pieces far too many times for my comfort by ladies, who did not want me to have and to hold until death did us part.  Furthermore, I have three children by two of those ladies, who do not want me as their earthly father.

No, it should not be thought that I needed to experience all of those bad relationships before I could fully appreciate the good one I now have.  For how could I have been so miserable before without having much of an idea about what a good relationship should be like?

Yes, there is a big difference between knowing about something and actually experiencing it up close and oh so very personally, and it is because of all my bad experiences that I can more fully understand where the wrath that our Heavenly Father will pour out upon the wicked, come Judgment Day, is coming from.  For I have been allowed and enabled to feel the excruciating pain of rejection.  In fact, I still am in respect to reaching out to those I have been given to help with truly having a very close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father—only to often have what I have been given to say to them summarily dismissed before it has been fully presented.

The work that I have been called to help with would certainly be so much easier if it could be taken not so personally, but how is this possible?  For when you offer your heart to another, there is a risk of it being torn asunder.

Not so when it comes to our Heavenly Father’s heart.  That is, if it is indeed true that He created some for glory and all of the rest for destruction, of course.

So, what justifies the wrath that He will pour out upon the wicked, come Judgment Day?  After all, if it is indeed true that they were created for destruction, what reason would our Heavenly Father have to be so angry with them?

To those who will want to humble themselves enough to accept it, the absolute truth of the matter is actually very simple.  For our Heavenly Father created all of mankind to give Himself opportunities to receive a very special kind of love from us.

It is the same kind of love that I have been allowed and enabled to receive from my longsuffering wife, Arlynda.  For she has never seen me physically healthy, which has kept me from earning a good living while we have been married.  In fact, she has earned much more money than I have the past twenty years, and yet, she delights in being married to me!

This is what our Heavenly Father wants from us, despite it appearing much more likely that most (if not all) of us were created to be the objects of His scorn—certainly not His affections.  For even what we would naturally consider to be the best of lives in this world is nothing in comparison to the glory of the worst of lives in His Kingdom of Heaven, and He could have placed all of us in His Kingdom of Heaven to begin with.

Is that not what He did with the angels?  Were they not created without need of clothes, shelter and food?  Were their bodies not created to be incorruptible by disease and decay?  Therefore, how much more valuable to Him must be the kind of love that He can receive from us after He has made us live in this world as we naturally are.

Of course, in order for the kind of love that He can receive from us to be of the most value, it must be accepted that our Heavenly Father has actually did all that He has done.  For there would be nothing to give Him the full benefit of our considerable doubts about if He had nothing to do with our plight in this world.

It is in respect to our Heavenly Father truly being in full control of all that happens that there is some truth to predestination, which is what Romans 8:28-39 is actually addressing.  For who becomes financially rich or poor is entirely in His hands, which also applies to who lives a physically healthy life and who does not [Job 12:13-25], with it all depending upon what He wants to accomplish in and through each individual [Isaiah 46:8-13].

Be assured that what our Creator most wants to accomplish in this world is for each and every one of us, on an individual basis and without exception, to want to accept Him as truly being their own Heavenly Father and to want to truly be one of children by faith.  For it would not accomplish His purposes to force anyone to spend all of eternity with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven as an heir to all that is His in glory against their will, and if they had no choice in the matter, the kind of love that He could receive from them would be of far less value than if they were given the freedom to reject the love that He has always had for them.

Yes, it is naturally inconceivable to most that the Creator of all that exists (apart from Himself, of course) would purposely subject Himself to all of the anguish that He truly has.  I know that I would not naturally want to love someone when I knew that they would break my heart, but unless it is conceded that our Heavenly Father must not care, it must be accepted that this is exactly what He has done.  For if it is indeed true that He is all-knowing, it has to be true that He has known since before He created Adam and Eve just who would and would not want to accept Him as truly being their own Heavenly Father and want to truly be one of His children by faith.

Quite sadly, far too many in the Christian community have been led to believe that our Creator only loves those who love Him.  Does this not require some more thought?  For if Heavenly Father can actually be that cold-hearted, just how wonderful could spending all of eternity with Him really be?  Besides, it is written: We love because he first loved us. [1 John 4:19 NIV]

No, it is not a matter of injustice.  For our Heavenly Father has the right to do with what He has created for His own good pleasure as He sees fit—even by the corrupt legal standards of this world, but what does it tell us about His heart if He is indeed capable of creating so many for destruction, without any opportunity to be saved from having to face what we all deserve to receive in the end, which is eternal spiritual death [Romans 6:23]?  Moreover, what does it say about your own heart if this is okay with you?

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Susan said...

Hi Jerry,

Your last sentence holds the key to why I disagree with your premise. The Bible tells us that none are righteous,NO NOT ONE.

You say:

"Moreover, what does it say about your own heart if this is okay with you?"

The Bible tells us that our human heart is "desperately wicked", we deceive even ourselves, in fact we deceive ourselves even more than we ever deceive others, because it is often clear to others how we truly are, but it isn't clear to ourselves, and we still try to claim some tiny smidgen of righteousness that would be able to do something right without God's assistance.

Yes, I am a "Calvinist" in the sense that I take all of the Bible to be more true than we ourselves can figure out. I am not a "hyper-Calvinist" that says there is no reason to evangelize. God uses us imperfect beings to do the work and to change the lives as He sees it needs to be, perfectly, not imperfectly as our understanding thinks "it should be", and it requires His giving faith to those He determines to give it to. If that is "unfair" to us, it is because our idea of "fair" and "unfair" is skewed, not because God is a monster. He gives when we ALL are deserving of hellfire, so if even one receives forgiveness He is more than generous...fair would be that we all go to hell. I do not want "fair", I desire grace, and it is ALL from Him, not even a tiny smidgen from myself, or it wouldn't be grace.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Thanks for stopping by, my dear Susan!!! For it is written: Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! {Ezekiel 18:31-32 NIV}

Is it not the work of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit to conform His children by faith into His likeness—albeit only partially, which all depends upon what He wants to accomplish in and through each individual? Yes, it is indeed true that there nothing good/righteous about any of us, apart from Him, and it is that last part you are missing. For those who have truly accepted our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit into their hearts also receive the mind of Christ. For it is also written: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. {1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV}

Now, hardcore Arminians will point to both of those passages as being proof of the fact that it is expected of us to clean up our own acts, but to believe in such a way is the epitome of wickedness—be assured. For being conformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus is purely a gift of our Heavenly Father’s immeasurable grace {Philippians 2:12-13}, and if it be by grace, it cannot be by works {Romans 11:6}.

I am sorry. For I do not see where anything in the article denies any of that. If I am missing something, please tell me.

Susan said...

"... but what does it tell us about His heart if He is indeed capable of creating so many for destruction, without any opportunity to be saved from having to face what we all deserve to receive in the end, which is eternal spiritual death [Romans 6:23]?"

The part where you say "without any opportunity to be saved"...the fact is that there are many that aren't and won't ever be, and it isn't because God isn't able to save them because He can do anything, and that is why many believe Him to be "unfair" because therefore they never had the equal opportunity as those who received His mercy and grace, because those who receive His mercy and grace are not more or less undeserving as those who never get then, is He "unfair"?

He chooses. He chose Israel to be His separate people, even though they were (and are) very undeserving in every way. He chooses His "elect"...the very word elect (NT) means the same as the word chosen (OT).

It isn't we who are able to do anything, repent, have faith, tell the truth, etc, unless it is He who gives that ability. He chooses those who will be infused with that ability. That is what it is to be born of the Spirit. It is born of His Spirit. He does it. We receive it, mercy, grace, completely unmerited in every way. We can only choose to stay enslaved. He frees us (chosen) from such a fate. Does that make you prideful? I find it humbling.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Susan!!! For it is written: For many are called, but few are chosen. {Matthew 22:24 KJV} How can it be that not all who are called are also chosen if none of us are given a choice in the matter? Moreover, why would our Heavenly Father call to those He has created for destuction, who cannot hear Him, nor accept the gift of His immeasurable grace?

Susan said...

They cannot hear with the true gift of hearing unless it is given unto them. See John ch 6. Many followed after Jesus to get free food and to listen to some good sermons. However when it got a little tougher and He challenged them a little, many stopped following after Him (John 6:66) Then:

Joh 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Joh 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Joh 6:69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Joh 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
Joh 6:71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

In another place the disciples/apostles asked Jesus why they could understand His parables yet the rest of the people couldn't, and He told them it was because it was given unto them to know, and it wasn't given unto the others.

Is that unfair?

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

No, that was not at all unfair, my dear Susan. For it all depends upon what our Heavenly Father wants to accomplish in and through someone that determines when (and to what extent) He will allow and enable them to enter into His absolute truth, and He kept many in the dark so that it looked like the crucifixion of His only begotten Son, who truly is the Lord Jesus Christ, was a completely natural occurrence. For it is written: We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. {1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NIV}.

Now, if they were kept in the dark and not allowed to understand—let alone actually accept Christ Jesus as truly being their own personal Lord and Savior, that would have been grossly unfair, but I know that this did not happen. For our Heavenly Father has personally revealed to me that no one will be able to honestly say that they did not fully understand everything He wanted them to, come Judgment Day.

Hence, the source of His great wrath that will be poured out upon the wicked, come Judgment Day. For after proving countless times just how much He deserved to receive all of their love and trust, far too many simply refuse to care.

Susan said...

Hi again Jerry,

The thing of it is that they are all "in the dark", just as we were, and cannot (physically, spiritually,etc) come to understanding unless it is God's Spirit that makes it so. Many cannot accept that and say it is "unfair" and that a God who would have it so is some kind of "monster" or something terrible...however the fact is that we were the "monsters" or the "something terrible" and He chose to reclaim some, and how He devised this was His doing, not ours. It is too much for us to know all of the particulars in the how and why at this time, so your speculations about it are just as faulty as mine are, because we cannot fathom it. Yes we are given "the mind of Christ" when we are born of His Spirit, and yet there are so many things that still are not within our ability to fully comprehend, hence He just asks us to trust Him. Is it a "blind trust"? Perhaps somewhat, but the scriptures say that at present we see things as if we see them through "a glass darkly" (a mirror, in shadows---and a mirror still shows things in reverse). So at this point in time I cannot say I agree with you, I cannot agree with me either, lol, however I agree that the Lord who is in charge of all of these things knows alot more than you and I and a whole many other people all put together, and He is managing everything just fine. ;-)

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

A few hours ago, He reminded me of something that provides written confirmation of the coup de grace to any argument in support of the Doctrine of Election (or predestination) and the Doctrine of Eternal Security (or once saved/always saved). For it is written: For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. [Hebrews 6:4-6 NAS]

Is it not reasonable to think that the elect would be enlightened, and even if that cannot be accepted, how could someone created for destruction receive the gift of the indwelling of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit? Therefore, Hebrews 6:4-6 blows completely out of the water the righteousness to accepting that both the Doctrine of Election and the Doctrine of Eternal Security are truly of our Heavenly Father.

Yes, our Heavenly Father has every right to have mercy upon those He wants to and to condemn to eternal damnation those He wants to, but there is the unpardonable sin to consider. For it is also written: And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. [Matthew 12:31-32 NIV]

Is that not what Hebrews 6:4-6 is also addressing? Yes, be assured that it truly is, and it is on account of you not knowing any better that you did not commit the unpardonable sin by doubting the power of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit to allow and enable us to see things as He does.

By the way, we have been given written confirmation of what our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit can do for those who will accept it. For it is written: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. [John 14:26 NIV]

Be assured that I know where you are coming from. For I was raised to believe in once saved/always saved, without any help from the good Christians around with understanding higher spiritual matters, such as the work of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit, as you should remember from reading The Crackerhead Chronicles.

Susan said...

Hi Jerry,

I admit that the book of Hebrews is a difficult book to understand, however if you understand the audience: Hebrews; you will understand that the author (perhaps the Apostle Paul or Barnabas are the two main contenders that most people think might have been who penned it) was addressing a certain mindset of having to continually sacrifice in the OT sacrificial system, and the writer is making the comparison that Jesus sacrifice is superior to the OT system which had to be repeated over and over, His is once and for all. The way you are interpreting it you make it sound like a threat instead of the good news that it actually is, and you aren't the only one who makes that mistake so you aren't alone.

Anyway, like I said the Lord has this one, He promised in the gospel of John that He loses none of His own, unlike what you just stated, so I'll trust Jesus at His word instead...but it was nice chatting with you.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

In what way am I making it sound like a threat that the absolute truth of the matter truly is that Christ Jesus paid the debt in full for all of our sins? For what Hebrews 6:4-6 is providing written confirmation of is that truly accepting Christ Jesus as your own personal Lord and Savior at one point in your life is not like a contract that cannot be broken by either party.

Now, we can have confidence in the absolute truth of the matter truly being that we were all created to be our Heavenly Father’s children by faith and that He has always wanted each and every one of us to spend all of eternity with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven as an heir to all that is His in glory, but in order for the integrity of the relationship to be pure and true, we are given the freedom to both make up and change our minds—just as our Heavenly Father can change His mind about us, which keeps faith in Him in place forever. Yes, He openly declares that He is not One to change His mind, but that is not something to take for granted, which is what once saved/always saved promotes.

Besides, there is also: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” {Matthew 7:15-23 NIV} Of course, the standard counter is that the evildoers were never truly in Christ Jesus to begin with, but without the witness of His Holy Spirit, how can any of us really know what is the absolute truth about anything?

You want to believe that what I have been given to say to you about predestination and eternal assurance is merely a matter of my opinion that is based upon figments of my imagination (at best) because of how contrary it is to what you have come to accept as being the truth, which is understandable. For that is a very natural reaction, and I believed as you still do for the first 35 and a half years of my life. Then our Heavenly Father started making Himself real to me (as opposed to merely being the God of the Bible). Nothing has been the same to me since, and I hope this happens to you much sooner than later. Be assured that all it requires is a humble acceptance of what He actually says is absolutely true, but far too many would rather cling to their religious traditions, which keeps them in the darkness of Spiritual ignorance instead of truly walking in the Light of His absolute truth.

Susan said...

" and I believed as you still do for the first 35 and a half years of my life...."

I was listening to a wonderful sermon by Phil Johnson a couple of nights ago and he said something about those who stray from the truth of God's absolute sovereignty inevitably have their theology suffer in all sorts of other ways to their own unraveling...and I agree.

If you put even the slightest emphasis (and I'm talking miniscule to the extreme) on yourself having been the deciding factor in your salvation "experience", then you have robbed God of His sovereign will having performed that miracle in your life. It will be the chink in your armour that leads to many other errors entering in and defiling the truth of who God is and what He does for us. It is ALL GRACE, and ALL MERCY, and none of it involved our decision to finally be "good".

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

(Part one of two.) I fully agree with that, my dear Susan. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is that there is nothing good about any of us—apart from the actual presence of our Heavenly Father, within and without us.

Alas, back when I merely knew of our Heavenly Father, which is as different from actually knowing Him as darkness is from light, I took great comfort in believing that my place in His Kingdom of Heaven was secure as a matter of law that even He could not break on account of His righteousness. For I could not fathom Him actually always wanting me to spend all of eternity with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven as an heir to all that is His in glory because of the wickedness of my own heart—even after truly accepting His only begotten Son, who truly is Christ Jesus, as being my own personal Lord and Savior.

Now that He has allowed and enabled me to actually know Him, which had nothing to do with me proving myself worthy of such a great blessing, I know that He has always wanted each and every one of us (as in all of mankind) to want to truly accept Him as being their own Heavenly Father and to want to truly become one of His children by faith. Placing too much emphasis upon His absolute sovereignty leads away from that.

No, it does not take anything away from our Heavenly Father’s absolute sovereignty in the least to accept that He has given us a choice of who we want to belong to. For we would not have a choice unless it was given to us by Him in the first place, and we would not know how to choose unless He allowed and enabled us to know how.

On the other hand, it greatly tarnishes the image of our Heavenly Father’s righteousness in the eyes of this world to believe that none of us are given a choice of who we want to belong to. For that portrays Him as being a cold-hearted monster, who is perfectly capable of condemning billions to eternal damnation, without any of them being eligible for redemption.

It also greatly tarnishes the image of our Heavenly Father’s righteousness in the eyes of this world to believe that no one can actually leave His family after they have been accepted into it. For wanting to have a very close and personal relationship with the likes of us is the most glorifying thing about our Heavenly Father, and that cannot happen with someone who does not want to have all that much to do with Him. Therefore, teaching that what we do does not matter makes being one of His children by faith appear to be a matter of a contract that cannot be broken by either party.

Of course, hardcore Arminians take that way too far—much to their ultimate destruction. For encouraging people to think that it is because of their own actions (albeit merely in respect to choosing to believe in the absolute truth of our Heavenly Father’s Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ) that they are loved by our Heavenly Father is the epitome of wickedness. For not only do we love because He first loved us, it is solely because of His actions that we can choose to love Him back and want to do what is pleasing in His sight.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

(Part two of two.) Again, I invite you to take a good look at your marriage to your husband. Is it not that He wanted to marry you that made it so special to begin with, and it is not because of him wanting to stay married to you that makes it remain so special? Would it still be so special if the truth is that neither one of you had any choice in the matter?

Years ago, I met a couple who had been married for over 50 years while living in separate houses that were built next to each other because of not being able to stand being around each other for longer than a couple of hours and believing that it was an abomination before our Heavenly Father to get a divorce. Be assured that there was little happiness in that marriage.

Now, think about spending all of eternity in such a relationship. Yes, our Heavenly Father’s children by faith will be remade into His likeness to a much greater extent than what we can even start to naturally comprehend, which will most certainly include our character, but what makes His true children by faith so special to Him is that they want to spend all of eternity with Him—not because of avoiding being cast into the Lake of Fire, nor because of how wonderful living in His Kingdom of Heaven will undoubtedly be, nor because of the riches that will go along with being an heir to all that is His in glory, and in order to keep the integrity of the relationship in place, the gates to His Kingdom will remain open so that anyone can leave when they no longer want to stay.

Yes, I can see where there would be great happiness to spending all of eternity with our Heavenly Father in His Kingdom of Heaven as an heir to all that is His in glory—even if no one is given a choice in the matter, but our Heavenly Father would know that the love they have for Him is not real. Even if this is something that you cannot accept, why do you think He allowed Satan and his horde of rogue angels to rebel, and even if this was something that He made happen, why do you think He did so if it was not on account of wanting to further prove to us that we are given a choice to make?

Susan said...

I believe that the problem in our communication is that you have no idea what I am trying to tell you, lol.

I give to you an example which might help a little in what so far seems to have escaped in the understanding of it.

The problem with thinking it is my (or your) choice is closely connected to how we view religion of works. I doubt I shall get through to you, but I shall give it this last try.

In order for anyone to be free enough to be able to "choose" the Lord, they first have to be made free of the tyranny of sin, which the Lord alone can do. It is not in our capacity to be able to do such a thing for ourselves and thereby free ourselves to choose to be saved by the Lord.

Consider this situation as an example of how any kind of works, including the work of choosing to be saved, evades our fleshy ability:

You are sitting on your porch and witness a child running out into the street after a ball. He immediately gets struck down by a car. Do you think to yourself: "Jesus wants me to go help the boy, therefore I choose to do so"...? Or do you simply dash out there without even thinking of what Jesus wants you to do and try to do all that you can to help the poor boy? The first one is the religion of choosing. The second is the condition of having been regenerated by Jesus, to do what conforms to His way through His Spirit, it does not come from ourselves or our decision.

If you still do not understand, perhaps the Lord will decide to show you later. :)

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

You may be right about me just not getting what you have been trying to help me understand. For it seems to me that you keep jumping from the one extreme of no one being given a choice about anything to the other extreme of everything being by our choice as the basis for your contentions and examples while I remain consistent with my contention of the absolute truth of the matter truly being that it is only in respect to the choice we are given to make concerning whether or not we want to truly accept our Creator as being our own Heavenly Father and want to truly become one of His children by faith that we can be confident of there not being any divine intervention because of Him always wanting as many as will from among us to freely choose to be His.

The best example coming to mind at this time of what I have been given to say about the matter is that one can lead a horse to water, but they cannot make them drink, which is actually a fairly poor example. For not only does our Heavenly Father lead us to the water, He can also make us drink it, but He chooses not to on account of wanting us to want to drink it without being forced to. It should not be assumed that this applies to everything about our lives in this world, however. For our Heavenly Father truly is in full control of all that happens to us, and even though we can bring more hardships down upon ourselves than would be absolutely necessary to accomplish His purposes, none of us are absolutely free to do as we like—regardless of whether right or wrong.

Alas, the absolute truth of the matter is really just that simple, but I cannot make you accept it. Thankfully, it is not up to me to make a difference, and there will soon come a day when none of us will be able to honestly deny what our Heavenly Father actually says is absolutely true. May we both be given the grace to let go of what we have been deceived about before it is too late.

Susan said...

Before being saved we were not free at all to do anything, let alone choose the Lord. That is why it had to be Him choosing us, but you can continue to believe anything you want, Jerry, and perhaps the Lord in His mercy chose to save you despite your thinking it was all about you choosing Him. Take care. :)

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

That is certainly a very wicked way of looking at it, Susan. For no one can choose to be one of our Heavenly Father’s children by faith without Him allowing and enabling them to in the first place, and this is something very personal to Him—be assured.

Your belief in no one being free to do anything before they are saved is also a perversion of what our Heavenly Father actually says is absolutely true. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is that all not truly in Christ Jesus are enslaved to sin, and it is through the acceptance of His free gift of grace that they are set free from facing the consequences of their sins, which is eternal spiritual death. However, even the most vile of sinners can chose to repent of their sins and want to be as holy and righteous as our Heavenly Father truly is as part of their acceptance of Christ Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior, which is strictly by His power and will.

As you have been told before, I used to believe as you now do before our Heavenly Father started making Himself real to me. So, I know where you are coming from, and I know that you are most sincere in your convictions. However, are there not billions of Catholics, Muslims, Orthodox Jews and others, who are also most sincere in their convictions?

Of course, I may be woefully deceived, but if what you now want to believe is true is indeed true, what does it matter? For if I am in, I am in, and if I am not, I am not—right?