A Letter to a Friend

 

***This article is part of a book entitled THE COMING EPIPHANY which provides a Biblical explanation about the "things which will shortly come to pass."  Click HERE to find out more.***

 

(This letter was written in response to a friend asking me to listen to a Sproul teaching CD)

 

Dear Ed

 

THX for letting me listen to the CDs.  It has been a long time since I have delved into the subject.  It was good to have my memory refreshed.

 

Within Christianity there are many different theological systems that deal with many different issues.  The way to determine if a theological system or doctrine is correct is to compare it to all of scripture.  If the doctrine agrees with all of scripture then it is correct.  If it disagrees with or contradicts any of scripture then it is not correct.  Thus to judge the correctness of the theology of predestination we will compare it with all of scripture to see if it agrees or disagrees with it.

 

First we will briefly outline some of the fundamental teachings of this doctrine.

 

1.      The total depravity of man causing an absolute dependence on Godís grace for salvation

2.      God is sovereign.  God has fore-ordained everything

3.      God has chosen some to be fore-ordained or predestined to heaven

 

I agree with statement 1 for it agrees with the Bible ďfor by grace are you saved.Ē 

 

I disagree with statement 2 because it contradicts scripture.  The predestination thinking goes like this; God is sovereign and being sovereign He chooses what His will is for the world, this foreordination of events is then brought about by His grace.  In summary form it would look like this; Sovereignty - Godís will Ė foreordination Ė grace - it comes to pass.  This is the basic predestination doctrine.  If this doctrine is true and God foreordained everything then we would never see anyone going against Godís will, because of His sovereignty He would always foreordain His will and through grace would bring it to pass.  However we do see on numerous occasions people going against Godís will.  ďO Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!Ē  (Mt 23:37)  This verse clearly shows that it was Godís will for Jerusalem to repent and come to Him.  But they refused.  Godís will was not done.  Another scripture tells us that it is Godís will for Christians to abstain from sexual immorality.  ďFor this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.Ē  Unfortunately many Christians do not follow Godís will and are involved in this sin.  And here is a verse where it shows that a person can choose to do Godís will or not.  ďIf any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.Ē  (Jn 7:17)  So here are a couple of many examples where Godís will is not done thus the doctrine of predestination has contradicted scripture and is therefore not correct.

 

I also disagree with statement 3, which is really an extension of statement 2. If people have been foreordained or predestined to heaven then it naturally follows that people have also been foreordained or predestined to Hell.  It also follows that if God knew who would be saved then Christ would only have to die for the sins of the elect.  These precepts all contradict numerous scriptures.  For God to have foreordained some to heaven and some to hell would mean that not everyone could be saved only the elect.  Thus salvation would only be limited to and offered to the elect.  However in scripture we see verses that indicate that the invitation is open to all.  ďWhosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33.  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.Ē  (Mt 10:32,33)  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.Ē (Rom 10:13)  If the invitation is open for all then Christ had to have died for the sins of the whole world and not just the elect.  Again this is what scripture indicates.  ďThat whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.Ē  (Jn 3:15,16)  So we see again that the theology of predestination contradicts some of scripture and thus cannot be correct.

 

The correct view of these topics, which does not contradict scripture, is as follows;

 

1.      The total depravity of man causing an absolute dependence on Godís grace for salvation

2.      God is sovereign and in His sovereignty has given man a free will.

3.      God has a foreknowledge of all things.

4.      God bestows His grace upon individuals to bring them to the point where they want to choose Him.

5.      Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, those who would choose to be saved and those who would not choose to be saved.

6.      A person can choose to do Godís will or choose to reject His will.

7.      God foreknew those who would choose to do His will and be saved and are predestined to become like Christ upon entering into heaven.

 

 

In my analysis the error that promulgates the other errors is the predestinarians weak view of the sovereignty of God.  They believe that God is sovereign but not to the point where He can allow man to have a free will but must foreordain all that occurs.  Sproul goes on to make a very arrogant comment that if you do not believe that God has foreordained all things ďthen you are basically an atheist.Ē  I was highly offended that because of his weak view of sovereignty, causing him to not recognize Godís ability to give man a free will and yet still maintain His sovereignty, that he would call everyone else an atheist.  His arrogance is typical of many predestination teachers that I have met.  They feel as if they have arrived intellectually and have attained to a higher plane of knowledge, and that their less enlightened brothers and sisters are just too stupid to understand these deep truths.  But it is the exact opposite.  The proper view and stronger view of the sovereignty of God is one in which God bestows His grace upon people who have a right to choose or reject Godís will and yet all the while God still maintains His sovereignty. 

 

Besides a weak view on the sovereignty of God those who adhere to the predestination theology also open themselves up to beliefs that may lead one into sin.  For example if one really believes some are actually predestined to salvation then nobody on earth will be able to do anything to prevent that person from becoming saved.  Thus salvation does not depend on man but God alone.  If this were true then there would be no need to evangelize.  If someone is predestined to be saved then God does not need me to tell them.  This logic goes directly against scripture and can lead one to a terrible error of not evangelizing.  Another danger of predestination thinking is that it fosters the belief that since all is foreordained then if one falls into sin it is not really their fault because after all ďit was predestined to happen.Ē  This in essence shifts the blame for sin from the individualís choice to God.  Not only does this thinking lessen ones responsibility of sin but it can also weaken oneís initiative for if everything is fore-ordained then what will be, will be and thus whether I try or not all will come about in accordance to Godís fore-ordained will.

 

Mr. Sproul has characterized the various camps in relation to this theology as

 

1.      Pelagianism:  Man has capacity to be saved apart from Grace

2.      Semi-Pelagianism:   Man needs Godís grace but man must choose.

3.      Augustinian:  Man has an absolute dependence on Godís grace for salvation, there is no choice.

 

First I object to Sproul calling the middle group as semi-pelagianism.  Since Pelagianism is in error then to call something semi-pelagianism is to call it Semi-error.  It is no more semi-pelagianism than it is semi-Augustinianism.  Pelagianism is in error just as Augustinianism is in error.  The middle view is what the Bible teaches; man is dependent on Godís grace for salvation and at the same time man has free will wherein he can accept or reject Godís grace.  Letís just call it salvation by grace through faith because that is what the Bible teaches.  The label of Semi-pelagianism is inaccurate and offensive.

 

People of the predestination thinking like to claim that we all believe the same thing and that we are just differing over semantics.  That is not true or there would not be separate religious denominations and colleges that teach these doctrines.  It basically boils down to the predestination crowd thinking that God has foreordained everything.  On the other hand those following the teaching of all of scripture believe that God has fore-knowledge of everything that will occur, God bestows His grace and people, who have been given a free will, can choose to follow Godís will or not.  So the teachings are not the same, there is a big difference. 

 

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