Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reformed Theology: the P Word

In the last two weeks we saw the sorrow of total depravity and the joy of the Christ's penal substitutionary atonement.  This week, we will see the glue between those two concepts: Predestination.  Again, this is from the series by Adam Kaloostian at URCLearning.org. 

1. Fill in the acronym TULIP, and notes some of the significant Bible passages that teach these truths.
Total Depravity: Ephesians 2:1, you were dead in your sin and by nature a child of wrath.  Genesis 6:6, their thoughts were only evil all the time.  Romans 8:6, the mind of the sinful man is death.
Unconditional Election: It has nothing to do with our worthiness.  Acts 13:48, and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.  Ephesians 1:11-12, in love he predestined you.
Limited Atonement.  This is the last one that I accepted.  I had so much trouble with this petal and still do, but ultimately, it is true and this is why I find so much security in Reformed faith.  But let's break this one down:

a. Christ sacrificed is life on the cross to take the punishment of his chosen.
b. Because Christ died for them, those saved by his death on the cross will never have to be punished in hell.
c. If Christ died for everyone, then there would be no one in hell.
d. We know from the Bible that people are going to go to hell.
e. It would not make sense to send someone to hell if Christ already paid their price.
f. Ergo, Christ did not die for everyone.  Only his elect will have their sins atoned.

John 10:24, you do not believe because you are not my sheep.  1 John 2:12, I write to you dear children because your sins have been forgiving [note, he didn't say they need to make a decision or will lose salvation.  Their sins are forgiven now.]  Ephesians 2:8, for it is by grace you are saved, from faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God.

Irresistible grace -- if God chooses to save you, he will make your dead heart alive.  Ezekiel 36:25, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  Acts 9 -- Paul could no longer resist Jesus and keep persecuting the church.  Christ has blinded him, and now Paul surrendered completely.
Perseverance of the saints, my favorite -- He will preserve them by his grace by means of grace in the church.  John 6:35, Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."  John 6:39, And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  John 6:44, no one comes to me unless the Father draws him.

2. Does this teaching turn people into robots, or entice those who think they are elect to sin all the more, or thwart our EV zeal?
We are not robots.  We have responsibility.  There is a mystery and paradox: all our days are ordained, yet we still make decisions.  I don't feel like I was dragged into my faith against my will.  I was nurtured and fall more in love all the time.
No to the second question.  If a person truly believes, their response will be thankful, humble obedience.
Yes to Evangelism, and no, the P word does not thwart it.  God uses that to reach elect.  We must always beg God to have mercy on those we love.  I secretly believe that God will save people based on if we loved them, although it is only by Christ's mercy either way.  We probably would not love them had God not loved them.

On last common objection: what if I praise God all my life and get to heaven but can't come in because I'm not elect?  Answer: it will never happen.  The reason you love Christ now is because God has elected you.  Those in hell will be in ultimate agony, but they will never be ashamed that they did not accept Christ as Lord.  They will never regret it and always wallow in their self-worship despite their endless pain.
But those Christ saved will come to heaven and can be secure in their salvation now. 

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