Here’s a little window into my thought process as I re-hashed some old biblical interpretation battles from seminary:
I was reading Ephesians the other day and I had to deal with this word “predestination” again. In Ephesians 1:3-6 Paul writes
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
There’s been a debate among Christians about predestination for a long time. How exhaustive is God’s foreknowledge? How capable are we to choose to believe? What is the math? How do we calculate salvation? Some folks read these verses and argue in favor of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s sinfulness, concluding that everything is part of God’s plan. Others read these verses and lean heavily into the “when you believed” in verse 13, concluding that our decision to follow is a result of our free will as influenced by the Holy Spirit. In seminary I was encouraged to join a camp because seminary is a lot about choosing sides in ancient fights. I made my decision based on what I thought would motivate me and those I told the message of truth to continue the mission of telling our Story about the One God loves. What did it matter if I spoke the truth or not if those who heard it were going to believe or not regardless of what I did or said? It seemed to me that my experience in deciding to follow Jesus was indeed, a decision. How did describing it otherwise further the cause that Christ gave us? It seemed debilitating, even if the categories of God’s power and humanity’s power were neatly separated and correctly identified. Their proper taxonomy (def. a scheme of classification) yielded a Church ready for taxidermy (you know what that means).
So does my logic of experience trump their logic of categories? I think so, but I still had to deal with this word again. It needed to be taken seriously if I was going to keep taking the Bible seriously. When I read it, I choked on the word a little because it brought up the old debate and with it some of the unsettled feelings I have about it. I can’t just ignore the word even if those in the other camp use it to perpetuate a theology that is killing the Church.
This is a reason not to engage in such debates because my feelings were more about how small I felt when engaging brilliant people who disagreed with me and the inadequacy that comes with that than about the actual content of our discussion. I was freed from that feeling when I had a new little spark of insight: Of course we are predestined– because God knew that we, an ever growing number of us who have heard the message of truth and believed, would respond to his call to participate in the redemption of the world. God chooses you to participate in the family business. Your adoption brings with it the inheritance which you get to use now for the further growth of this family. God chose this way to do it. He chose us to be the agents to achieve his purposes. He doesn’t want to do it any other way. That’s a much better feeling to have.
I hope you can receive that inheritance and respond to those around you. You are essential.
One response to “God Chooses You”
Reblogged this on Circle of Hope and commented:
Ben White’s blog…