Monday, August 23, 2010

Double Your Predestination, Double Your Fun!

Whenever Calvinists talk about God’s Sovereign Election of sinners to salvation, non-Calvinists always object to the implication of “double predestination.” [Insert ominous music here] “Double predestination,” simply put, is the belief that God has predestination all those going to heaven as well as all those going to hell.

Just this past weekend, I came across this clear rejection of God’s sovereign election and the basis of the rejection is clearly “double predestination”:
What I know about calvinists – pretty basic concept – only the “elect” get to heaven, and you can’t choose to be the “elect” – you are pre-chosen for heaven, and pre-chosen for hell. Um – no.

“Double predestination” is largely a derogatory term, and it leads to misconceptions of the Calvinist position. The term is usually meant to imply some sort of “equal ultimacy”; the idea God is as active in the reprobation of those people on their way to hell, as He is active in the sanctification of those people on their way to heaven.

Except for Open Theists, (An Open Theist is someone who would deny God’s sovereignty and do not accept that God can know the future with any absolute certainty.) all Christians accept that God knows perfectly and precisely all future events, including who exactly is destined for both Heaven and Hell.

This is one of those things they can keep you awake nights and/or give you headaches. If God knows perfectly the future, for instance what I’m going to have for lunch today, am I a free to eat something else? If God’s perfect knowledge of the future is that today I will eat a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch, can I have a chicken salad sandwich instead? Just how free am I? Unless you embrace Open Theism you will have to say that I’m not free, but that I am predestination to eat that ham and cheese sandwich.

Now here is where the question gets really sticky, just how does God know that I will eat that ham and cheese sandwich for lunch? Given that God knows the future perfectly, there are only two options as to how He knows the future: 1) He knows the future because He has the ability to look across time and see what is going to occur in the future; or 2) He has decreed all things that will occur by His sovereign will and all things will occur as He has decreed.

In the first option, God is a passive observer, who sees what is coming, but has very little control over it. God has little or nothing to do with whether or not I choose ham and cheese over chicken salad. But in the second option, God is the sovereign ruler over His creation and He is an absolute control of every detail, including my choice of ham and cheese over chicken salad. Furthermore, God has a purpose in decreeing that I choose ham and cheese over chicken salad. Which of these options best represents the God of the Bible?

I would contend that the Bible plainly teaches that God is sovereign. Isaiah 46:8-10 says, "Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'.” If that is not a clear declaration of the sovereignty of God, then what is it?

And Isaiah 46:8-10 does not stand alone, there are other scriptures that trumpet God’s sovereignty; He is sovereign over the governments of men (Daniel 4:17, 35; Proverbs 21:1.) He is sovereign over the destinies of both birds and men (Matthew 10:29-31.) And He is sovereign over salvation (Acts 13:48; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11.)

John MacArthur has said, regarding any discussion of the ramifications that flow from the Doctrine of God’s Sovereign Election, “Before you start debating all of the fall-out, you need to affirm that the Bible teaches election and predestination… Because before we start, ‘Well, what about this? What about this? What about this?’ I think people are into the ‘What about this?’ before they've ever established the doctrine… Then on the other side, you have to also establish that the Scripture holds the sinner completely accountable and culpable for his sin. That's clear, too. I think before you start messing around in the middle, you need to establish those two things very, very clearly.”

Do the scriptures teach election?
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, (Ephesians 1:4-5)
[See also 1 Peter 1:1-5; Romans 9:10-13; and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14]

Since the Bible clearly teaches that God elects and predestines some for salvation, it is equally clear that he passes over others. The destiny of those not elected by God is determined just as much as the destiny of those who are elect (cf. 1 Peter 2:8; Jude 4; Romans 9:22.) But, remember, the Bible teaches that everyone has a sinner, and that we are all responsible for our own sin. It's our own fault that we face God’s judgment. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and therefore, everyone is under the just condemnation of God’s judgment; Romans 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

“Without excuse.” As Paul, in Romans 2, tells us, we know that everybody knows that lying is wrong, because everybody gets mad if somebody lies to them. We know that everybody knows that stealing is wrong, because everybody gets mad if someone steals from them. And so on and so forth. Romans 1 covers the first 4 commandments, and Romans 2 covers the rest. No one, faced with their own works on judgment day, will be able to say that they did these things unknowingly. Romans 2:1-3 “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

We shouldn’t think of God picking through a box of neutral people while saying, “Heaven; Hell; Hell; Hell; Heaven; Heaven: Hell…” and so on. People are not neutral; we are all in sin and rebellion and are judged already. John 3:18-20 – “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

Instead of starting with a neutral pool of people and saying “This one goes to hell, this one goes to heaven” God is looking at a waterfall of people plummeting full speed towards hell, and He saves some, for His glory & His purposes, & not because those saved merit salvation in any way. Unless God saves us, there is no salvation for us!

Basically, the Calvinist position is this:
  1. All mankind are sinners are in rebellion against God and justly bound for hell (Romans 3:23)

  2. God in His grace & mercy has elected to save some (Ephesians 1:3-12; 1 Peter 1:1-5)

  3. God’s elect will come to Jesus Christ by faith and be saved (John 6:37)

  4. The rest (i.e. those “passed over” by God) continue on their way to the just punishment for their sin and rebellion.

I must say that it seems to me that all of the objections I have seen and heard to the Doctrine of God’s Sovereign Election have been based in emotionalism, sentimentality, and human pride and not on sound exegesis of the scriptures.

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