We Need to Talk About Predestination

I am well aware that ideas like 'predestination' and the 'elect' and who's in and who's out are conversations for theology nerds like me. And that big theoretical conversations like that can ultimately serve as a giant distraction from the part of the Bible that can actually change our hearts. But I DO think that having a basic understanding of what God controls and what he doesn't has a big impact on how you live your life. How you see yourself. How you see the world. And probably mostly: how you see God.

Weddings & Funerals "Lord gives / takes away."

One of my great pleasures at this church is doing weddings. It's just such cool thing to be a part of peoples celebration. And I get to eat great food and be in beautiful pictures. And it's a great honor for me to also perform the majority of funerals here at the church. There's something sacred and beautiful and about setting time aside to honor and remember a loved one who has gone before us. I will say this though: Doing a funeral for someone who has lived a great long life and has all these children and grandchildren vs doing a funeral a young person, where it's always a tragedy is a very different experience. Performing a funeral for a young person and being with a family who has experienced incredible loss is something that's incredibly hard. Pastor Brad, who's the new youth pastor here has really jumped in with both feet to this reality.

One thing that really breaks my heart when it comes to families who have suffered tragedy is that it inevitably brings up the question of what part God had to play in all this. And often times families who have suffered unbelievable tragedy end up falling back to this place of 'It's God's fault' if they're not versed in religious talk or 'It's God's will' if they're religious folks. Really, it's saying the same thing. Which is 'God had a bigger plan here.'

Christian people will use verses like 'The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.' Which is a horrible misuse of scripture. That's the words of Job, who gets rebuked by God for saying ignorant things.

But it's a comforting idea isn't it: That everything that happens is ultimately part of God's 'script'. That way you can rest easy, because there's no good and bad, everything is good, if it's all God-ordained.

Is life a book that's already been written or is it possible to alter and reshape our destinies and the destinies of others?

Lose - motivation - make - world better. Here's the problem with believing that life is just a script that we're living out: If you believe everything that happens is part of God's predefined script, you will lose your motivation to make the world better.

Adoption Community - Predestination saps motivation. We're involved in the adoption community. Now imagine that we think that everything that happens in these precious kids life is the 'will of God'. And there's nothing we can do to change it. Well that saps all of my motivation to help these kids, because ultimately it's already been written who goes where. Who goes to a kind loving family and who doesn't. Can you see how that ruins motivation to make the world better?

But people read the Bible and there's scriptures about predesination and people don't know what to do with them. The word predestination occurs 6 times in the Bible so it's by no means the emphasis, but what we do we do with them?

Why I’m bringing this up - Not to argue with you - Not to help you argue with other people

Predestination is a Good word - Bible word - Shouldn’t be afraid - Shouldn’t give up


What Is Predestination?

Someone / somethings destination - decided beforehand.

Many people - God has chosen who he will save and who he will NOT save. - Can’t blame them

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (Ephesians 1:4)

he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (Ephesians 1:5)

Romans 9:14-22

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! (Romans 9:14)

For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15)

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16)

For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17)

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:18)

One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” (Romans 9:19)

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” (Romans 9:20)

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:21)

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:22)

“Before you were born or had done anything good or bad God decided whether to save you or not.” (Well Known Pastor Guy - John Piper)

“We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is fore-ordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” (John Calvin - Institutes of the Christian religion)

Monstrous God I'll go ahead and show my cards and say : I believe the idea that everything that happens: tragedy, cancer, genocide, while in a way comforting and may even make you sleep better at night, ultimately ruins people's faith. It paints a truly monstrous God.

It makes us more loving that he is, which is a horrible way of seeing the world. Just because you're chosen, doesn't mean you're precious baby son or daughter is. You could be chosen while your loved ones aren't.


Tribes

Bible - God’s tribe - Israel

  • Tribes = family, bloodline, home, identity, everything.

Everyone belonged to a tribe.

  • Worked for well being of tribe - Everyone did.
  • Fought battles - built things - made alliances - preserve your tribe.

For protection

  • Brutal time
  • W/O protection - Enslaved or killed.

Tribes had gods/goddesses worshipped

  • Protected them - Blessed them - Guided them
  • Battle - your God battling their God

Genesis 12 - God called Abraham (Abram) - father of a new tribe "and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

The story arc of the bible is about Abraham's tribe and their journey. It's not about Abraham the individual. It's about Israel the tribe.

The OT ≠ God’s relationship w/ person - tribe. In the Old Testament, when God's talking to humanity, he's talking mainly to a tribe. And his promises are promises to a tribe and his judgements are judgements of a tribe.

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. (Jeremiah 29:10)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Who’s he talking to? A person? Nope. A tribe. All tribes? Nope. A specific tribe. Called Israel.


You means ‘yall

TRAINS - DC

When I was young, we as a family took a train ride (actually it was multiple train rides) to Washington DC. If you want to go to the right place, you’ve got to get on that right train.

Trains are predestined. Their destination is predestined. Their schedule is predestined.

What's not predestined is whether or not you'll get on.

When you get on the train, what’s predestined for the train, becomes predestined for you.

  • OT Chosen People: Israel
  • NT Chosen People: Church (New Bride)

Once you’re ‘in’. A lot of things become predestinated for you.

How do you become a part of the new tribe?

But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (Romans 3:21)

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, (Romans 3:22)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24)

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith. (Romans 3:25)

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7)

The train is still predestined. You get on the train by faith.


Classic Predestination Scriptures

Paul is a first century jew, so he understands the concept of being 'chosen' and how that's not about individuals but about tribes.

Romans 9:14-22

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
(Romans 9:14)

For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
(Romans 9:15)

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
(Romans 9:16)

For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
(Romans 9:17)

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
(Romans 9:18)

One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”
(Romans 9:19)

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ”
(Romans 9:20)

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
(Romans 9:21)

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
(Romans 9:22)

“Look! God chooses to love and save some people and he chooses to not save others!”. Hopefully you have the tools. If not, give me 2 minutes

Paul is talking about how God is choosing a new tribe.

Not about nationality, race. - Faith

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; (Romans 9:30)

but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. (Romans 9:31)

“Hey jews, it’s not about you anymore. God has a new tribe.”

“That’s so messed up! How could he do that to us?!”

“He made all of us! He has the right to choose whoever he wants!”

“God chooses who to show mercy.

Through faith.

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7)

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)


Opt-In/Opt-Out - By Choice

Interesting:

Even in OT - people becoming a part by choice.

HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ISRAELITE? Born into it

Was that the only way? Nope.

Genesis 17 onwards - God told Abraham ”anytime anyone wants in, let them come in.”

Embracing the jewish faith (Circumcised)

Was there any way out? Anyone can come in, anyone can leave.

Certain laws in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Break them - “Cut Off” from the tribe.

Renouncing their faith - “Apostasy”

Ephesians 1

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (Ephesians 1:4)

he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (Ephesians 1:5)

We shouldn’t read it as these individuals as opposed to these individuals. But tribes.

Notice that Paul doesn’t say that God chose us to be in or not in Christ. He rather says God chose us who are in Christ to be holy and blameless. What God chose from the foundation of the world was that whoever is in Christ will be holy and blameless and adopted into sonship.

Not predestined who gets on the train. What's predestined is that all who board the train will be Holy and blameless.


Ex: Me Preaching

Example: Me teaching on predestination. You may ask "When did you decide you were gonna preach on predestination? The answer would be two weeks ago. But I did NOT predestine who was going to come. You had the freedom to choose that. But if you DID choose to come, what's predestinated for the group becomes predestined for you.

OF COURSE GOD: Work in us / Awaken our hearts / Tear down walls of resistance / Breathe life into us / Empower us to have faith.

Will not force us.

He wants everyone to comes.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

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, (Ephesians 1:13)

This is a picture of a God who wants everyone to come

  • Loves everyone.
  • Do everything possible so that they’ll believe in Him
  • But he will not force them

Breathe a sigh of relief - b/c you know that a God who may or may not choose your precious baby girl to go heaven. He may choose her to glorify him by burning eternally. That that looks a little different than Jesus.


If faith - Jesus Christ.

If you are one who’s put your faith in Jesus Christ. In tribe. On train.

You’re predestined - Holy, Blameless, live eternally through Christ. - Everything that’s in His kingdom is predestined for us.

(Prepare - Communion)

“Pre” - important -- - life - crazy.

“Pre” destination is important, b/c this life can be crazy.

  • Walking through life
  • Confused / Lost / Discouraged / Afraid
  • “What can you really trust?”
  • World seems - hopeless, broken, stupid.

If our hope is in our goodness or our government or even our religion then we are toast!

Paul: “good news” 1 train - predestined - settled ahead of time.

Ephesians 1 - Things that are predestined for you.

You are predestined to:

  • 3 be placed in the heavenly realms
  • 3 be blessed with every spiritual blessing
  • 4 be holy and blameless
  • 5 be lovingly adopted into Christ’s own sonship
  • 6 be one who magnifies God’s glorious grace
  • 7 be completely redeemed and entirely forgiven
  • 8 have God’s grace lavished on you
  • 9 receive the revelation of his will in Christ
  • 10 experience all things brought to harmony under Christ
  • 11 have God work out everything in your life according to His will
  • 12 exist for ‘the praise of his glory’
  • 13 be marked with the ownership seal of the Holy Spirit
  • 14 enjoy the guarantee of an inheritance as one who is ‘God’s possession’

Everything that’s true for Jesus becomes true for you

  • The fathers perfect love
  • Every spiritual blessing
  • The kingdom

Life still won't be perfect. But it's harder to be depressed when you know you're in HIS tribe.

Closing Statement

To properly understand the bible, we need to remember that God deals with tribes. The bible is the unfolding story of God’s tribe. In the Old Testament, Israel was God’s tribe. But since Jesus, God’s tribe is a community known as the church. You become a part of this new tribe by receiving Jesus through faith. It’s not about nationality, gender, upbringing, skin color, circumcision, or anything else. And when you become a part of the tribe, what’s predestined for the tribe becomes predestined for you. God loves everyone and wants everyone to get on the train. But we know that there will be people who choose to stay off. But don’t let that confuse you about God’s incredible love, patience & kindness towards every single one of us. So when you see your friends and family who are far from God, rest assured that God has his arms open wide for them. There’s space for them on the train. God’s love knows no limits.

(Pass)


Tonight - talked - God who welcomes all - come to Him.

Tonight we talked about a God who welcomes all to come to Him. And this is true in communion. This is a sacred act that is symbolic of receiving Christ. - All are welcome.

Your: past, mistakes, shortcomings, future shortcomings, - Don't disqualify - communion w/ Christ.