Well, it's time for chapter nine and some good doctrinal debate! I've found this chapter has really caused me to go back and wrestle again with the doctrine of grace. I think this doctrine is where many Christians either have no idea there's a difference, know there's a difference and lean distinctively toward Calvinism or Armenianism, or are a mixture of the two. Last week we touched a bit on the differences in the doctrine of grace. Here are the five differing points on the view of this doctrine.
Perserverence of the Saints
This week talks more about point two, Unconditional Election.
Let's just go ahead and jump in and discuss more as we go along.
How does it make you feel knowing that God chose you even though you did not deserve it?
Now, I'm not a Bible scholar so this is just from the teaching I've received and the research I've done.
Clearly the Bible teaches about the "elect" (chosen), but the question is "How did God determine who the elect would be?" The Calvinist believes that there was no condition upon which God chose His elect, He just chose them. But, the Armenian would say that God chose them based on the fact that he 'foreknew' those who would choose to place their faith in Him. We've actually been discussing this with our kids the last few weeks.
On the Calvinist side, it doesn't seem "fair" that God chose some people and not others to be saved. But, really, our view of "fair" isn't God's view. Our small minds can't wrap around how God chose whom he chose. But, we do know that regardless, God is good and perfect all the time. So, when God chose them, he made a good and perfect choice, not a choice that in our small view would be "fair".
Now, on the Armenian side, whose to say that the "elect" are not the ones that God foreknew would receive His gift of faith? Sure, we may be totally depraved that we cannot receive salvation on our own, but that doesn't mean that after God beckons us to Himself (and it seems that according to Scripture, we are "dead in our sin" beforehand, Ephesians 2, so He must initiate that salvation, John 6:44, and Romans 3:10-12 that there is none righteous) that we can't choose to receive or reject the salvation at that point. Otherwise what do you do with 2 Peter 3:9 '.....but is patient toward you not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.' Does that mean that God is waiting for all the elect to believe? Does that mean that some of the elect could perish if He didn't choose to wait meaning they could choose to not accept salvation? Does that mean that He has beckoned any/all ("none") of us to Himself and He is waiting for us to make the choice to receive Him? What about Romans 28: 29-30? Are the ones He foreknew the ones He knew would receive Him or are they just the ones He "chose"?
MacArthur explains it that God chooses those whom he chooses, but then the chosen have the responsiblity to turn from their sin and trust Christ.
All five points of this doctrine really overlap. And, as I'm working through Slave, I'm really examining this doctrine all over again. And, I know that it really goes deeper than the points I've brought up here. I do lean toward Calvanism, I just don't have it all entirely solidified in my mind, if that makes sense.
Anyway, to just answer the question.....I feel that if it weren't for God's amazing grace, I would still be out there. lost in sin like so many other people. And, I'm so, so grateful to God for saving me. Well, I guess "grateful" really isn't a strong enough word, but I'm not sure I can come up with a word strong enough to expess it. It's also very humbling, because, really, why me? Why would He choose to save me, of all people?
Why do so many professing Christians remain entangled in sinful lifestyles (1 John 2:4-5)?
According to this verse, if you aren't obedient to Christ, if you don't keep His commands, then you are not a Christian. Well, why do so many profess it then, but are not? Many will say "Lord, Lord" and He will say, "I never knew you". I think many may want to identify with the Christian lifestyle, but they are not truly willing to give up their sin and obey Christ.
John 8 : Only Jesus will make you truly, really free.
2 Corinthians 4:6: Jesus is the only light that could shine in the darkness of our hearts, and reveal the knowledge of God. If not for Christ our hearts would remain in darkness since darkness by itself cannot create light.
Ephesians 2:4-5: We were dead in sin, and God through His grace saved us and made us alive.
2 Thessalonians 2: 13-14 What does this passage say about you and God's purpose for your life?
That we may gain Christ's glory.
Romans 8:1-2 Which law is controlling your life? How do you know?
I've never had any doubt about my faith since I gave my life to Christ 18 years ago. I'm really not a half way person. If I choose to do something, if I commit to something, I do it 100 percent. I jump in with both feet. So, I've never had any doubt that I might not be saved. I have always absolutely known since receiving Jesus that I was completely free from sin and death. Now, at the beginning of my faith, I might not have been able to put that into such words, but I have always known it.
I think at this point in my faith, pretty much everything I do, I do to wholly serve God. Now, I'm not saying that everything I do is selfless, serving, and worshipping God, because, I do have that sinful nature that wants to be selfish and self serving. But. as an overall theme to my life, I do make daily choices through the lens of Scripture as to what would be glorifying to God and what wouldn't be. I think the freedom comes in knowing what that choice is. You don't have to debate and fight with yourself on what that choice should be. Will this be glorifying to God? Is this in line with His Word? You know what God's Word says and all you have to do is obey Him.
Please chime in with any thoughts you have on this doctrine of grace. It seems to be a little more prevalent an issue for me since we currently attend a Free Will Baptist church that leans more toward Armenian! I know. I know. More discussion of that later.
What are your thoughts?