Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 28th - Predestination

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Bethany's mom's cousin's wedding
Geil homecoming
Allison from Riverfest Witnessing

Text – 1 Thessalonians 1:4

Last week I made a mistake, we were talking about the priesthood of believers and Hannah asked, “We’re priests?” and I said yes, but that is minorly wrong, Hannah, you’re a priestess, which is equal to a priest, just in the feminine.

In the same way, who do you think is a saint? Is it a really really good person? Is there such thing as any good persons? Again the Catholic Church has mixed up the Bible by saying that some believers are saints. The word for saint is in Greek Hagiazo, this word means something that was terrible, dirty, unworthy that has been cleansed, purified, and consecrated (made holy). Every person purchased into the family of God and cleansed by the blood of Christ is a saint.

But it’s not the same as priest and priestess…there aren’t saints and saintette’s, and if you call someone a saintette they probably won’t like it. The fact that there aren't degrees of Christianity, but that you are either saved or not saved, is a matter relating to today's topic.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

First things first, when Paul writes this to the brothers or brethren, this is an all encompassing word that is referring to all believers at Thessalonica.

Beloved and chosen are two similar things, describing people who are saved. This is a hot-button issue that has led to huge fights in the past, but the Bible says what it means and means what it says. A person can be a Christian on either side of this debate and I encourage you to ask your parents what they believe about this.

The first place we see someone being chosen is the people Israel, who we see through the Old Testament had no redeeming traits on their own but were chosen only to show God’s goodness, patience, and mercy. They are constantly referred to as stiff-necked people. What stiff-necked means is in the context of guiding a horse, a well-trained and good horse can be guided by just moving the reigns, but a stiff necked horse has to be pulled and beaten to get it to obey.

Israel is in the spotlight on their disobedience, but really no other people group is any better.

God chose Israel, Israel did not choose God. This is directly related to the issue of predestination, the doctrine that God chose those who he would save before time began. The reason that people get mad at this is because they think everyone should have an equal opportunity to be saved. It is a gross misunderstanding of the sinfulness of sin and the holiness of God. God, if he were fair, would send everyone straight to Hell for their transgressions, but because God is not fair, he is better than fair, he chose to save some despite our total depravity.

The issue stems from the human beings ability to do good.

Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Romans 3:11-18 None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Faith is good, repentance towards God is good; if these things are good, we are incapable of doing them. We’re always talking about salvation being a “free gift” that will cost you nothing, but it’s really a free gift that will actually cost you everything. Jim Elliot puts it this way, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Every religion in the world, except for Christianity, believes they are working their way to Heaven and that their good deeds will be weighed against their bad. We know that good deeds have no influence on our bad deeds, try it in front of a judge, “Judge, I know I got pulled over for going 85 mph through a school zone, but I washed your car this morning before court…” It’s not going to work, is it?

Christianity is counting on works to get to Heaven too, but the works are accomplished by God through Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary’s cross and the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration in our soul. We are required to repent and believe in order to be saved, both of these are works, but we can’t do them, they are gifts of God.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

2 Peter 1:1 To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…

It comes down to why Christ came. It is really popular these days to say that God created the universe because he was lonely or because he wanted to see who would choose him. I will unabashedly call these paganism and heresy. For one, if God were trying to convince people to believe, he did a very bad job at creating the universe to have all this incredible evidence of him that requires the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit to see. Also, God doesn’t get lonely, because he has perfect fellowship in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of this world is show several things;
First is the creativity and power of God; he created an infinitely big universe where no star, no human being, no snowflake is exactly the same as another.
Second is to show us how bad sin is, that it has led to the death of everything, that it causes unbelievable suffering, and that it is contagious.
Third is to show us that good can only come from God, and apart from God, not even the angel Lucifer can put together a working planet, having been labeled the ruler of this world. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out that Lucifer is not purposefully evil but is trying his hardest to make earth a godless utopia.
Fourth is to put these three together; it shows how amazingly good and genius God is, that he is capable of saving us from sin but only by willingly going to the cross and taking our punishment, then showing his power by defeating death and bestowing his goodness on us.

This is what is called a Supralapsarian view, that God is above the fall, he knew it was going to happen and has led history to happen precisely in order to better magnify himself, demonstrate the sinfulness of sin, and show his amazing grace.

A very brief exposition on the varying views of the fall (lapse) are:
Supralapsarianism - Everything that has happened exactly as God has intended for it to happen, including Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden, every historical event, and Christ's propitiatory atonement which was intended to save a certain number of prechosen people from Hell. He is concerned with definitive examples of the sinfulness of sin in order to magnify his saving grace.
Infralapsarianism - God gave Adam and Eve a choice in the Garden, he was prepared for them to stay obedient or fall, and after their fall has used it for his glory.
Sublapsarianism - God was surprised by the fall. Because he is powerful, he was able to save many despite the unexpected nature of sin. This view is heresy of the highest order, but is becoming more and more popular in the Methodist and Episcopalian churches. It is also known as "Open Theism" which limits God's power and knowledge while constraining him to time.

The Westminster Confession, one of the greatest nonbiblical documents ever written (except for article 28 which is almost completely wrong), which reads like the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 which Summit follows, says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. It is not to choose God or pick God, or accept God, it is to be a trophy of grace rescued from despair by the God of Salvation.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…

We will pick back up on this subject next week and delve into personal responsibility more.