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Dr. Harry Ironside told of a man who gave his testimony, telling how God had sought him and found him. How God had loved him, called him, saved him, delivered him, cleansed him, and healed him. It was a tremendous testimony to the glory of God.

After the meeting, one rather legalistic brother took him aside and said, “You know, I appreciate all that you said about what God did for you, but you didn’t mention anything about your part in it. Salvation is really part us and part god, and you should have mentioned something about your part.”

“Oh,” the man said, “I apologize. I’m sorry. I really should have mentioned that. My part was running away, and God’s part was running after me until he found me.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Predestination and Election

Election is God’s deciding who gets on the plane bound for heaven.

Predestination is his charting the route the plane will take, the schedule, the accommodations both during and after the flight, and each passenger’s safety. With God as the pilot of the plane and the plane itself, all who board the plane make it to heaven. Predestination means God himself makes sure the elect actually board the plane. Their response of faith in Christ is like checking in at the gate with a boarding pass.

The gospel call, in contrast, is like advertising for the trip. The church is commissioned to get the word to the whole world. Unfortunately most people treat God’s free offer as “junk mail” and throw it in the trash. However, those whom God has elected to salvation he also moves to accept his free offer. Many are called, but few are chosen. Yet all who are chosen are predestined to end up in heaven. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


(see also ELECTION)

Hyper-Calvinism. In the past, many strict Baptist Chapels have disdained even the simple notice board outside the chapel. They feared lest one of the non-elect might slip in and be converted. Hyper-Calvinism is a fluid term; as one pastor notes wryly, "Everyone who is more Reformed that I am is hyper-Calvinistic. 

Baptism in Britain, Vol. 24, No. 7, April 4, 1980.

"In the wounds of Jesus is predestination understood and found, and nowhere else." 

A History of Christian Doctrine, p. 317.

Who says doctrine doesn't have social effects? Try this from a staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal: "Iran must have the wildest drivers in the Middle East. It is a country of fatalists who believe that all accidents are preordained by Allah. Thus highway safety is really in higher hands and not of concern to mere motorists. Judged by the accident rate in Iran, it would seem to be a vengeful deity indeed." 

Eternity, October, 1977, p. 12.

Einstein gave grudging acceptance to "the necessity for a beginning" and eventually, to "the presence of a superior reasoning power," but never did he accept the doctrine of a personal God. Two specific obstacles blocked his way. According to his journal writings, Einstein wrestled with a deeply felt bitterness toward the clergy, toward priests in particular, and with his inability to resolve the paradox of God's omnipotence and man's responsibility for his choices. "If this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?" Seeing no solution to this paradox, Einstein, like many other powerful intellects through the centuries, ruled out the existence of a personal God. 

Huge Ross, The Finger of God, Promise Pub., 1991, p. 59.

"Paul begins here to extend as it were his hand to restrain the audacity of humans, in case they should clamor against God's judgments. We cannot by our own faculties examine the secrets of God, but we are admitted into a certain and clear knowledge of them by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And just as we ought to follow the guidance of the Spirit, so where He leaves us, we ought to stop there and fix our standing.

"If anyone will seek to know more than what God has revealed, he shall be overwhelmed with the immeasurable brightness of inaccessible light. But we must bear in mind the distinction between the secret counsel of God and His will made known in Scripture.

"For though the whole doctrine of Scripture surpasses in its height the mind of man, yet an access to it is not closed against the faithful, who reverently follow the Spirit; but with regard to God's hidden counsel, the depth and height of it cannot be reached." 

John Calvin.

The story is told of a group of theologians who were discussing the tension between predestination and free will. Things became so heated that the group broke up into two opposing factions.

But one man, not knowing which to join, stood for a moment trying to decide. At last he joined the predestination group. "Who sent you here?" they asked. "No one sent me," he replied. "I came of my own free will." "Free will!" they exclaimed. "You can't join us! You belong with the other group!" 

So he followed their orders and went to the other clique. There someone asked, "When did you decide to join us?" The young man replied, "Well, I didn't really decide--I was sent here." "Sent here!" they shouted. "You can't join us unless you have decided by your own free will!" 

Today In The Word, August, 1989, p. 35.

In Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer attempts to reconcile the seemingly contradictory beliefs of God's sovereignty and man's free will:

"An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.

"On board the liner are scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port.

"Both freedom and sovereignty are present here, and they do not contradict. So it is, I believe, with man's freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history." 

Douglas G. Gerrard.

Some have argued from Romans 8:29 that predestination is based on God's foreknowledge in the sense that God looked down the corridors of time and saw who would freely choose to believe, and then predestinated them. This position assumes that foreknowledge here only means "knows in advance." In the Bible, however, knowledge is often used in a sense of personal intimacy, as when Adam "knew" Eve and she conceived a son (Genesis 4:1). God's foreknowledge is linked to His foreloving. We see in Romans 8:30 that everyone who was "foreknown" was also "predestined, called, justified, and glorified." 

Does God glorify everyone? Does God justify everyone? No. Clearly then, in terms of what this passage is dealing with, God does not call everyone, does not predestine everyone, and does not foreknow everyone. In Romans 8:29-30, "foreknowledge" must have the sense of intimacy and personal calling, and can refer only to God's elect. God's predestination does not exist in a vacuum, and it is not simply for the purpose of saving us from sin. Verse 29 shows us the goal or purpose of salvation: that we might be conformed to the likeness of His Son. Ultimately, the reason God has saved you and me is for the honor and glory of His Son, "That He might be the firstborn." The goal in creation is that God would give as a gift to His Son many who are reborn into Christ's likeness. 

R.C. Sproul, Tabletalk, 1989.