I find it difficult to accept some (or is it most?) of the things taught among believers today. We discuss issues of predestination only to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, you know, to search out, as it were, the secret things of the LORD which has not been revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29). And a lot of these have turned the body of Christ into fractured parts, that are divided along the lines of every conceivable section of biblical thought, taken too far, and losing it’s complementary position in the midst of other doctrines (teachings) in the entire counsel of God.
Every doctrine of the word of God is a piece of the puzzle. No one piece is the entire puzzle. Just like no one believer or no one group is the entire body of Christ. The only way to understand God’s word, without creating unnecessary factions in the body, is by putting every single teaching in scriptures, side by side, precept upon precept, fixing the puzzle as it were, in order to arrive at the image of Christ. If most of us believers will do this one thing, we will find more than 80% of our seeming differences resolved, without any extraordinary intervention.
Many of us are holding on to certain interpretations of God’s word that excludes other factors stated in the same scriptures, but which we have willingly chosen to be blind to.
A candid check
I have a suggestion for you. Can you check what you or your group believe in the light of the rest of scriptures? Is there a clear rebuke from scriptures against the extreme you have taken certain interpretations you have of an aspect of God’s word? Why would you not want to reexamine what you believe? Obviously traditions are very powerful, and people will rather die believing errors than allow the whole counsel of God’s word to put them in order.
Take for instance the issue of predestination. I have wondered why it has always been discussed in the light of Esau and Pharaoh, which creates this nagging doubt in many believers, wondering whether they can ever be sure of their salvation. Yet, in those same scriptures, we see God saying some strong words to every one who believes in Him, which if we simply believe, we will experience the end result of what He said. Here are a few scriptures:
Ephesians 1:4-5 KJV
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
John 10:28-29 KJV
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Romans 8:28-29 KJV
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
The case of Esau
You see for yourself that these scriptures are not written for our debates, rather it is written for our understanding, which if we believe, we will receive the result He promised. The question of not been sure we have been predestinated or not really does not arise from these scriptures. Even in Esau’s case, you only need to compare scriptures to see that the result of his life was his choice, as it is with the rest of us. Please compare Genesis 25:22-23 with Romans 9:10-14.
God’s declaration of hatred against Esau happened after the fact. You will see that in Malachi 1:3. The only thing stated in Genesis was the fact that the elder shall serve the younger. And that is not strange as we see in the case of Joseph, who being the youngest after Benjamin, was served by his entire family, not for any wicked reason, but as Joseph himself said, to preserve a posterity (Genesis 45:7). Hence, the fact that God said the older (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob) doesn’t look like wickedness at all.
It was merely a matter of function, an office of divine assignment that Jacob was called into, to serve his own generation. Remember that age is not always the yardstick for a higher responsibility in God’s programme. David was the last son of Jesse, forgotten in the fields with the family livestock, yet he was God’s chosen king for Israel. And you know what I mean, while age could mean seniority, it is not always God’s priority for determining who will lead.
What about Pharaoh?
Here is one rule we must always have in mind: while predestination is within God’s province, decision (choice) is given to all of us, to allow every man to freely choose the course of his own life and the end that results as a consequence. I believe, according to God’s word, that God knows the end from the beginning, but that is not a knowledge He shares with anyone (especially as it relates to the eternal fate of man) since it directly violates the condition necessary for man to choose freely.
Yet, we can know how we will end by simply believing His word of promise and obeying it. Those who don’t believe and refuse to obey can also be sure of their end. Hence, it is not a matter of God determining a person to fail such that he has no choice in the matter; rather it is a matter of God equally giving us the opportunity to choose. Please note that ‘whosoever’ in John 3:16, which means anyone, is free to come to Jesus to believe, and scriptures emphatically declares that they shall be saved. In the same vein, anyone is free to refuse the call to salvation, and God’s word is equally clear about the destiny of such a person (John 3:18, 36).
The fact that the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart was an action taken after a period of “longsuffering” (bearing with him in the hope of a change), which marks the giving up of a person “…to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28 KJV). So we see in Romans 9:16-23, two types of vessels, vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy (v. 22-23), which are also called vessels unto dishonour and honour in verse 21. These are the two categories of people that God has determined. The analogy of the potter and the clay in verse 21 again reinforces the idea that we all have a choice in the matter. You are the clay, God is the potter; if you cooperate with Him, you will turn out a vessel of mercy (v.23), and if you don’t, then you have chosen to be “…fitted for destruction” (v.22), a vessel of wrath.
Romans 9:19-20 KJV
“Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it , Why hast thou made me thus?”
The reason why you can’t question God about the outcome of your life, as it says in verses 19 and 20 above, is that you have been made exactly as you have chosen. Yes, God is sovereign and He knows the end of all things, yet within the scope of our own human understanding, we enter into either of the two possible outcomes (vessel of mercy or wrath) simply by choice.
By faith, you can become a vessel of mercy like Paul and by unbelief, you can become a vessel of wrath like Pharaoh. Now look at this in Exodus concerning Pharaoh: “And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.” Exodus 10:3 KJV.
Now, let’s be honest, if God determined Pharaoh to be destroyed, why was He asking him this question? Did you know that all the 10 plagues of God’s wrath against Egypt were not just an arbitrary display of power, it was God giving Pharaoh the opportunity to choose what kind of vessel he will become? Even when Pharaoh finally released the Israelites, after the 10th plague – the death of his firstborn son and all first borns in Egypt – he still arose in anger to pursue them to the red sea, where he destroyed himself. So, we see that God gives everyone the opportunity to choose the outcomes of their lives.
What is your predestination?
If you have come to Jesus, you need to take God’s word seriously, for all its worth. Why should you be clueless about how you will end when He has revealed in His word (unless you don’t know) that He has “… chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4). As you can see, the one who is saved already should read and learn that he has been chosen to be holy and blameless. This is God showing you “the good pleasure of his will” for you which if you believe, you are (then) “…predestinated… unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself…” (Ephesians 1:5)
It is your choice! Just as the new birth occurred by faith, the entire Christian life is by faith. That’s why the scriptures say, the just shall live by faith, that is, the one who has been justified and declared righteous will continue in this state of righteousness only by faith. By believing that God has chosen me to be holy and blameless in Christ, that is how I am able to partake of His divine nature, and by that experience I confirm my predestination as a vessel of mercy and honour.
Once you believe, it will produce the effects mentioned in John 10:28-29 and Romans 8:28-29. Jesus spoke so strongly and it is only for those who believe. What will be the proof of my faith? That which His predestination was designed to produce in me must then be seen by men (Matthew 5:16).
Matthew 5:16 KJV “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Remember in Ephesians 1:4-5, God’s predestination will produce holiness of life. It is not your works but His own works done beforehand (Ephesians 2:10), which your total trust and rest in the Saviour will make manifest. So the works that God has already done before the foundation of the world actually gets done in our lives as we believe; and those are the good works we do as a result of His new life in us. (Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14, 2 Timothy 3:17, Hebrews 10:24, James 3:13, 1 Peter 2:12).
If you are still postponing the time of your salvation, the only thing you can be sure of is the outcome related to your current condition of sin, and not a future condition of righteousness. You cannot expect to receive the consequence of a life that you have not yet chosen. So, “…To day if ye will hear his (Jesus’) voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” (Hebrews 3:15 KJV – parentheses mine). The only time you are sure of choosing heaven is when you have chosen Jesus. He is standing at the very door of your heart now, waiting for you to open to Him (Revelation 3:20). Let’s pray together:
Lord, I am willing to open to you. Please come into my life now and make me whole. I repent and forsake my sin and I receive and embrace your righteousness. Help me to trust you and take you at your words. Let me live henceforth with the certainty that comes with your new life in me. Thank you Lord. In Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.
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