"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
The doctrine of predestination teaches that God has unchangeably decided whatever comes to pass concerning the salvation of men and women. John Calvin explained: “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” (Christian Institutes, 3:21:5, cited by Robert Shank, Life in the Son, 345)
The Bible does not teach any such doctrine. The Bible does teach that God chose to “save us in Him (Christ, jrp) before the foundation of the world; and “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:4-5). It is God’s good pleasure to save sinners “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:9). Since “all” have sinned against God and the gospel is God’s power to save “all” who believe, we rightly conclude that salvation is available to all sinners and not, as Calvin taught, only limited to “the elect” who have already been individually chosen for eternal life (Rom. 3:23; 1:16). God desires the salvation of all men and has made salvation available to all “in Christ” (1 Tim. 2:4).
So, what about Judas? Did he “have” to betray Jesus? Did he have and exercise free will in the matter?
Jesus certainly said of Judas, “one of you is a devil” (Jno. 6:70). And, the devil put the betrayal of Jesus into the heart of Judas (Jno. 13:2). And, “Satan entered him” at the supper (Jno. 13:27). Did God predestinate Judas to a fate worse than birth without any free will (Matt. 26:24)? Would this not make God responsible for tempting man to sin? We dare not take such a wrong and blasphemous view (Jas. 1:13).
Satan cannot enter a person’s heart unless room is made for him; the devil can be resisted (Jas. 4:7). Yes, Jesus chose Judas to be an apostle, but Judas chose to make room for Satan in his heart. Judas chose to be a thief (Jno. 12:6). Judas chose to go to the chief priests, arrange payment and seek “opportunity to betray Him” (Matt. 26:14-16). Judas chose to sin.
One should understand that God’s foreknowledge of human events (such as recording them Old Testament prophecy) does not rob man of his free will. There is no conflict between God’s omniscience and man’s free will. The Bible affirms both. God predestined how He would save sinners (in Christ). Sinners must choose to be saved by His gospel, or they remain lost in their sins (Mk. 16:15-16; Rom. 1:16-17).
Those who are committed to defending the false doctrine of Calvinistic predestination offer up what they believe to be Scriptures that present insurmountable problems if the doctrine is false. Let us consider some of them for a moment.
1. John 6:65-66: And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Who does the Father permit to come to Jesus? Allow the context to tell us. In John 6:37 Jesus had said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” Who then, does the Father give to Christ? In John 6:44, Jesus said that only those who are drawn by the Father can come to Him. So, the Father will draw people to Christ; these are the ones who are given to Jesus (6:65) because these are the ones who come to Jesus (6:37, 44). And who might that be? The next verse tells us: “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (Jno. 6:45). Note please that “everyone” who is taught by God (by hearing and learning from the Father) comes to Christ; not “the elect” of Calvinistic conjecture. It is Jesus who taught the words of the Father (Jno. 7:16; 12:49-50). Earlier Jesus said, “he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…” (Jno. 5:24). So, by teaching the gospel (hearing and learning the words of Jesus), the Father draws people to Christ. When one hears and believes the gospel (saving faith is an obedient faith, Lk. 6:46; Matt. 7:21; Jas. 2:17-26) he is “given” to Christ; not because of a predetermined choice God made of each individual in eternity past, but because God has chosen to save every person who hears and believes Jesus. On that day, many chose to turn back and no longer follow Jesus because His words offended them; they did not believe (Jno. 6:60, 64). God was drawing (teaching), but they refused to be drawn to Christ.
2. Acts 13:48: Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. “Appointed” (ordained) means “set in place.” Those “set in place” to eternal life are none other than those who heard and learned the gospel on that day (v. 48; Jno. 6:44-45). The Gentiles were “set in place” to be saved because they heard the gospel and believed it. On the other hand, the Jews rejected the gospel because their hearts were filled with envy (Acts 13:46). Did God put the envy there? No. They chose to be envious and unbelieving. The Gentiles chose to honor the word of God. Here then are two contrasting states of mind; individual decisions toward the gospel were made (free will was exercised), not predestined selections of each individual by God.
3. Rom. 9:10-18: The overriding sovereignty of God is the context of this passage; no one is in a position to question or fight against the purposes and choices of God. Free will was never forfeited in any of the individual lives of those named in this passage. For instance, not only did God harden Pharaoh’s heart, but Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Rom. 9:17-18; Exo. 8:15, 32; 9:34). Two points of view are noted: God’s choice to use Pharaoh in fulfilling His purpose (Rom. 9:11), and Pharaoh’s choice to refuse to let Israel go free. The lesson: We must not resist His will (Rom. 9:19). If free will is removed, then how can it be said the Gentiles “have attained to righteousness” (Rom. 9:30)? Free will is not removed. God chose to save Gentiles and Jews by faith in Christ. The Gentiles chose to hear, believe and obey the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:16-17). The Jews, in general, did not (Rom. 9:31-33). What is your choice?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Mark 6:1-6
1. Jesus became
poor so we can be “rich” – Phil. 2:5-8; 2 Cor. 8:9.
I. TRADES JESUS DID NOT CHOOSE.
A. He was Not a
Shepherd, yet He is the Master Shepherd, Jno. 10:2-11, 14-16, 26-28; 1 Pet.
2:25; 5:4 (Ezek. 34: 23-24).
II. JESUS IS THE MASTER CARPENTER.
A. Jesus Built
the Universe, Jno. 1:1-3; Rev. 3:14 (Col. 1:15-17; Psa. 139:14; 19:1; Rom.
1. The quality &
magnificence of a product says a lot about its builder: The universe, the
church & the Bible (Rom. 1:20).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10
1. Sin is not
sin by society’s definition (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-7). “Addiction,”
I. THE NEW OBSCENITY: “I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!”
A. Result of
Humanistic, Evolutionary Thought, Rom. 1:18-23.
II. THE BIBLE SAYS WE ARE MORALLY RESPONSIBLE BEINGS.
A. We are the
Product of Divine Creation, Gen. 1:26-27.
III. TEMPTATION, SIN & FREE WILL, 1 Cor. 10:13.
A. We Have a
Choice (Josh. 24:15); Jas. 1:14-15; 4:7 (2 Sam. 11:2-3).
Pumped into Cars
ConocoPhillips confirmed Thursday that contaminated gasoline had been delivered from its refinery in Ferndale, WA to gas stations in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Cars that got the bad gas are having performance problems from clogged fuel injectors. ConocoPhillips has pledged to pay car dealers for repair costs (The Bellingham Herald, 20May05).
This reminds us that we must not contaminate the gospel of Christ with false teaching. Just like bad gas, false teaching clogs the heart with error, causing one’s life to spit and sputter rather than perform the will of God (Matt. 7:21-23). The “light of the gospel” is veiled by the traditions and innovations of men (2 Cor. 4:3-4). So, we are warned to not deliver or receive “bad teaching:” “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9).
This also reminds us of the contaminating effect of sin. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). We should not be deceived into thinking that the sin of others cannot affect us. Like bad gasoline in the tank, sin in the world will influence those who allow it to flow into their hearts (Mk. 7:18-23). Taking filth into our minds will clog our hearts, hardening them and preventing good and righteous living (cf. Matt. 13:13-15).
We are also reminded the importance of keeping ourselves pure in word and deed. “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). If there is sin in our lives we must immediately cleanse ourselves: save yourself (Acts 2:37-41), or if you are a Christian, repent, confess and pray (Acts 8:22; 1 Jno. 1:9).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA