The Tabernacle of Moses

May 7th, 2022

How are the articles of the Tabernacle related to God’s plan for man or the lives of believers?  Thank you for your assistance.

Many Bible scholars place a lot of significance upon the symbolism of the tabernacle and the furniture in it. Basically, the tabernacle symbolizes the Messiah, but I think that we have to be careful about how much symbolism we apply to the articles in the temple. This is because the New Testament does not offer a lot of information to confirm some of the symbols that some see. (For example, some have claimed that the four pillars of the tabernacle symbolize the four gospels of the New Testament, but I think this is a stretch.) Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the Tabernacle was modeled on a heavenly pattern (Hebrews 8:5), and he used it to give meaning to the priesthood and the atoning work of Christ (Hebrews 9:9), but without excessive symbolism.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the particular furniture and materials used in construction of the tabernacle may have been chose, at least in part, by culture, necessity, and availability, and they had purpose and significance to the Jewish people even aside from their symbolic meanings. Still, I believe that the following symbolism is quite obvious:

The ark is the throne of God–the visible sign of His presence (1 Samuel 4:7). Jesus Christ, who “tabernacled” (John 1:14) among men to make God present and known.

The table of shewbread (“bread of the face of the Lord”) suggests the constant (fresh) dedication of the 12 tribes to divine service, indicating that they were always before the face of the Lord. I believe that this can also be applied to us as Christian believers today.

The lampstand was the only source of light for the holy place, indicating that God is the ultimate Source of Light. There was no provision in the holy place for natural light, just as there is no need for light in heaven other than the light of God (Revelation 21:23). This gives meaning to the claim of Jesus to be the Light of the World and to His challenge to believers to allow their light to shine (Matthew 5:16). This is further understood Revelation 1:12-20 where the seven churches of Asia are represented by seven lampstands, with Christ standing in their midst.

The altar of incense symbolizes the ascending prayers of men to God.

The bronze altar, with its many sacrifices, symbolizes atonement and reconciliation, and it points to the ultimate, all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The laver, used for washing, signifies the necessity of purity, cleansing, and confession (1 John 1:9) in our approach to God.

The desire of man to draw near to God and God’s willingness to be approached are clearly visible in the furniture of the Tabernacle.

I hope this helps.

Thanks,

Owen

Losing Salvation; and, the Concentric Circles

April 13th, 2022

Can a born again Christian lose salvation, and can a person always be in the inner circle if always confessing sin and praising the Lord? Explain the circles again in simply terms.

No, a believer cannot lose his salvation. There are many passages on this, such as John 10:27-30 which says, “27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Yes, a believer can essentially always be in the inner circle of fellowship with God if he learns to practice the technique of confessing all known sins.

Re. the concentric circles: This is just an analogy to help us better understand the importance of confession of sin. The inner circle is called temporal fellowship (fellowship in time). This circle is completely contained within a larger circle which is eternal fellowship. When a person is saved, he is instantly moved (from outside both circles) to inside the inner circle, so he is in both temporal and eternal fellowship with God; and, he will never again be moved outside of the outer circle. When he sins, he is moved outside the inner circle of temporal fellowship, but is still inside the outer circle of eternal fellowship. When he confesses all known sins, he is moved back inside the inner circle.

Thanks,

Owen

President Biden is a Racist

March 23rd, 2022

Before President Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, he said that the nominee would be a woman of color. Only 12% of the population of the United States are people of color. Since approximately half of these are women, this means that President Biden picked Ketanji Brown Jackson from a pool of only 6% of the population of the United States. The other 94% were not even considered at all. In technical terms, and in terms of Supreme Court eligibility, he believed that 94% of the population was inferior to the other 6%.

The definition of a racist is: “a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a particular racial group is inferior to others.” The definition of misogyny is: “ingrained and institutionalized prejudice against women.” This clearly makes President Biden both a racist and a misogynist.

One can take that 6% number even further. A reasonable prerequisite would be that the nominee should be a lawyer, and every single justice on the court, dating back to John Jay, has been a lawyer. As of 2020, Black attorneys make up roughly 14.6% of all lawyers, and women comprise only 36.8% of all lawyers. This means that roughly 5.37% of the 1.3 million lawyers in the U.S. are Black women. So, President Biden picked he nominee from a pool of only 69,830 Black women lawyers, or only 0.02% of the population. He displayed racism, misogyny, and prejudice against the other 99.98% of the population.

What Should a Christian do when he sins?

March 11th, 2022

What must we do as Christians if we still sin from to time to time?

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, Christians do continue to sin after salvation even though we have power over sin. Please see my related article entitled Do Christians Sin? However, God has made provision for this in His plan of salvation.

Just as John 3:16 is the most important verse in the Bible for unbelievers, 1 John 1:9 is the most important verse for believers. 1 John 1:8-10 says, “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Although a believer’s eternal fellowship with God is never in question, his temporal fellowship can be quite volatile while still in this fleshly life. We can think of this as two concentric circles where the outer circle is our eternal fellowship, and the inner circle is temporal fellowship. Upon salvation, we’re moved from outside both circles to within the inner circle, where we can bring the ultimate glory to God through our spiritual gifts. At this point, we will never move outside of the outer circle again. However, in our daily walk, we can still sin, and sin can knock us out of the inner circle.

So, if we have eternal salvation, yet sin is keeping us from the ultimate experience of daily fellowship with God, we have a problem. How can we get back inside the inner circle? 1 John 1:9 gives us the answer. We must simply confess those sins which have formed a temporary barrier. We simply admit to our sins by naming them to God. This clears the way, and we’re immediately back in temporal fellowship with Him. In addition, there are further benefits for us:

Regular confession can actually help us to sin less. It’s like weighing every day’–we subconsciously turn down those desserts because we know that we will be weighing again tomorrow (by habit). Confession also helps us to avoid depression, without those lingering unconfessed sins hanging around to cause guilt (another sin). Finally, confession renews our liberty. We restore the freedom of our salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord.

I hope this helps.

Thanks,

Owen

Salvation for All

February 18th, 2022

What happens to the souls that died before Jesus Christ was born died the redemption of our sins, will they have the opportunity for salvation or have they already received it or will they have a second chance for redemption as implied in Revelations?

While in bible study, this question was asked and there were three possible difference references, one from Romans chapters 1 &2, regarding the conscience. There was the other 2, offering that the opportunity was originally done by Christ himself (during the 3 day period of time when Jesus was in the tomb & traveled to redeem the dead) and finally from Revelations. Can you provide any comments and references? Have a blessed day!

Thank you for your question. It’s a difficult one, and I hope that I have an answer that satisfies you.

All believers are saved by grace through faith, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Old Testament saints were saved by looking forward in time, via prophecy, to the cross. New Testament saints are saved by looking back in time at what has already occurred on the cross.

Apparently, when the Old Testament saints encountered death, their souls were not taken directly to heaven, as is now the case with New Testament believers. Instead, the Old Testament believers were taken to a place called ‘paradise’ (Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, Revelation 2:7), or ‘Abraham’s bosom’ (Luke 16:22-23). Then, upon the event of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, these Old Testament saints were
resurrected. Today, now that Christ’s resurrection has already occurred, when Christians die, we are taken directly to heaven.

This also seems to explain the difficult passage in Matthew 27:52 where “the saints rose from their graves and appeared to many…” Apparently they were resurrected from ‘paradise,’ or ‘Abraham’s bosom’ and taken to heaven by the Resurrected Christ (Eph. 4:8-9).

Incidentally, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:23 refers to a place called “hades,” which is where the rich man was. This seems to be the “opposite” of the place of “paradise” where Lazarus was. This would imply that, in Old Testament times, those who died were taken to one of these temporary chambers, awaiting their transition: either from paradise to heaven; or from hades to hell. This probably also explains the origin of the (somewhat distorted) Catholic doctrine of purgatory, which would equate to Hades in this case.

Thanks,

Owen

Saints

January 18th, 2022

Matthew 27:52-53 says the saints arose from their graves and appeared to many in the holy city. Is there any more info on this in the bible?

Thank you for your question. This is a tough one, and I’ve often had questions about it. There is a wide range of views on it, and it’s such a difficult passage that many theologians don’t even address it. First, let me quote from various commentaries:

Barnes – “It is probable that they were persons who had recently died, and they appear to have been known in Jerusalem; at least, had the ancient saints risen, they would not have been known, and would not so soon have been credited as those who had recently died.”

Gill – “… these were saints, and such as slept in Jesus; and of whom he is the first fruits that now rose; and not all, but many of them, as pledges of the future resurrection, and for the confirmation of Christ’s, and the accomplishment of a prophecy in Isaiah 26:19. And they rose in the same bodies in which they before lived, otherwise they could not be called their bodies, or known by those to whom they appeared: but who they were is not to be known; some have thought them to be the ancient patriarchs, as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, &c. In the Septuagint on Job 42:17, Job is said to be one of them, and a tradition is there recorded, which runs thus:

‘it is written, that he rose with whom the Lord rose.’

But it should seem rather, that they were some later saints, such as Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, John the Baptist himself, good old Simeon, Joseph the husband of Mary, and others, well known to persons now alive. Some think they were such, as had been martyrs in the cause of religion; and so the Persic version renders the words, ‘and the bodies of many saints who suffered martyrdom, rose out of the graves.'”

Wesley – “… (Perhaps Simeon, Zacharias, John the Baptist, and others who had believed in Christ, and were known to many in Jerusalem,) And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, went into the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many – Who had probably known them before: God hereby signifying, that Christ had conquered death, and would raise all his saints in due season.”

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown – “… These sleeping saints (see on [1377] 1 Th. 4:14) were Old Testament believers, who-according to the usual punctuation in our version-were quickened into resurrection life at the moment of their Lord’s death, but lay in their graves till His resurrection, when they came forth.”

Falwell – “This incident is stated only by Matthew and indicates that the Old Testament believers were resurrected after His resurrection and appeared unto many. It is properly supposed that they were resurrected from ‘paradise,’ or ‘Abraham’s bosom’ and taken to heaven by the Resurrected Christ (cf. Eph. 4:8-9).”

Now, although this is not definitive, I believe that when the Old Testament saints encountered death, their souls were not taken directly to heaven, as is now the case with New Testament believers. Instead, the Old Testament believers were taken to a place called ‘paradise’ (Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, Revelation 2:7), or ‘Abraham’s bosom’ (Luke 16:22-23). Then, upon the event of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, these Old Testament saints were resurrected. Today, now that Christ’s resurrection has already occurred, when Christians die, we are taken directly to heaven.

Incidentally, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:23 refers to a place called “Hades,” which is where the rich man was. This seems to be to “opposite” of the place of “paradise” where Lazarus was. This would imply that, in Old Testament times, those who died were taken to one of these temporary chambers, awaiting their transaction: either from paradise to heaven; or from Hades to Hell. This probably also explains the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, which would equate to Hades in this case.

I hope that this helps to answer your questions on a difficult passage. If not, please reply.

Thanks,

Owen

Election

December 15th, 2021

This is why I struggle mightily with election. It would mean that some men, irrespective of the good works they choose to do and irrespective of their sins, are pre-wired to succeed or fail. Some are pre-wired to attain eternal bliss, and some are pre-wired for eternal torment. There are the approved and the disapproved and neither can change their pre-determined judgments. This immutable, predetermined final judgment seems to completely negate the exhortations of the apostles, and all their lessons about self-control, patience, alertness (lest he come like a thief in the night), etc. After all, why bother if the decisions have already been made and the seal of the Spirit on the approved can never be broken no matter how great the sin (even though we are warned repeatedly not to “grieve” the Spirit, lest God remove our lampstand – Revelation 2:5)? And why would the disapproved man care either? Nothing he can do can change his predicament.

Many defenders of election respond: Because we don’t know if we are saved or not. But think about that response for a moment. What kind of loving God would play such a dirty trick on His children? Why would he EVER implore ALL men to seek him, when he already KNEW beforehand some COULD not? Notice I didn’t say WOULD not. Because again, if election is true, and God made all His decisions before man arrived in the garden, and God does not look down the corridors of time to see how men will choose, he has granted only SOME the ability to seek him. Some can, and some can’t, period. Thus, the idea that BELIEF is a decision man can make is a false teaching in the Bible, because again, if some men are pre-wired not to seek God, they certainly would not have the ability to believe in Him. “Whosoever believes” becomes false doctrine. Instead it should read “Whosoever he has pre-wired and pre-selected to believe.”

And what of sin? Your contention is that SIN–NOT God–has condemned the disapproved man, but how can that be so when 1) God chose the elect BEFORE mankind sinned in the garden; 2) God discarded the “disapproved” man before the man was even born and committed his first sin?

If the great election happened PRIOR to sin, and God does not look down the corridors of time, then God based His decision on something other than sin, and thus sin is irrelevant in a discussion about pre-determined salvation and cannot be used as an explanation of why some men are saved and some men are not Once man chose to bring sin into the world, a barrier immediately arose between God and man. Man no longer had a relationship with God because God can coexist neither with sin nor with sinful man. At that point, man was spiritually dead, deserving of hell, and incapable of reconciliation with God since any sacrifice that man then brought to God was stained by sin. It was only because God instituted His plan of grace that man had any hope of being redeemed.

It seems you are suggesting every single man was doomed until Jesus came. I don’t agree based on the relationships Abraham, Moses, Job, Joseph, and many others enjoyed with the Lord. Recall what God said to Satan about Job. Job was declared righteous as was Abraham. Certainly, these great men of God co-existed with him. Clearly, though not perfected, some of these men were heavenly favored by God for their obedience. God loves us, and he wants a relationship with us. However, due to the sin of man, He had to sacrifice His own perfect Son for us, as we have nothing clean to offer Him. So, it was sin (not God) that crippled man’s intellect.

Again, I’m not sure how sin is relevant in a discussion about pre-election. Election maintains God chose, before man existed, who goes to heaven and who doesn’t. And since, by your own admission, His election choices are not based on him “looking down the corridor” at the choices we will make (i.e. choices to obey him or sin), then OUR sins would not be factored in any more than our WORKS are, because the Doctrine of Election holds that God’s grace alone (NOTHING we have done or not done) saves. So, again, sin is something we DO, and since salvation is not based on ANYTHING we do, it seems irrelevant here.

On the contrary, it was the amazing power of God’s love that brought His plan of salvation. If God chooses some for salvation, those chosen are extraordinarily blessed by grace. If He didn’t choose others, those who are not chosen deserve what their sin has brought upon them.

I see a conflict in this theory. On one hand it states God’s grace alone saves, but then on the other hand it states people’s sin condemns.

Re. “a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3): I would argue that Paul was speaking only to believers here (the recipients of his letter to the church at Rome). He was pointing out that each believer has a spiritual gift, and each must use his gift in the context of the church (as explained in the subsequent verses).

Yes, one might be able say that all are capable of being saved; however, all will not be saved. All that anyone has to do is to present himself to God without blemish–with no imputed or personal sin. Since we all have such sin, this is impossible. Only by God’s grace (one might say, by His “election) can any of us be saved.

Yes, we who are among the elect are members of an elite group. However, this privilege is not accomplished through any effort on our part. All that we can do is to thank God for His grace (giving us what we don’t deserve) and mercy (not giving us what we do deserve).

Yes, you are right that my illustrations of God “looking down the corridors of time,” and His creation of the elect “in the past” do seem to bound God by time and space. Although these might be poor illustrations, I still believe that they are among the best that we (who are indeed bound by space and time in this life) are capable of understanding. So, I do not believe that one can reject the doctrine of election because we cannot find an apt illustration for it. In fact, in a way, this seems to strengthen the argument for election. Since it is indeed inappropriate to bound God to “looking down the corridors of time,” then it is likewise somewhat silly to think that an omniscient and omnipresent God was capable of creating man without complete foreknowledge and predestination; i.e., How could God (in eternity) create man outside of the doctrine of election?

Re. Acts 16:30-31: I see no conflict with predestination here. My position is, in fact, that one does need only to believe, by grace through faith. It would be a misrepresentation to claim that I am saying that they must also be pre-selected. I would say it this way: God, in eternity, predestined some to be saved, and those whom He predestined would, in time, believe the gospel message.

Re. the claim of C.S. Lewis that “All may be saved if they so choose:” Whether or not this statement is consistent with predestination depends upon how he meant it. If he meant that “all may be saved if they so choose, but some will not choose because the Holy Spirit hasn’t moved them to so choose,” then it is consistent with predestination. However, if he meant that sinful man, in his limited freewill and through his own efforts and will can choose to be saved outside of the sovereign will, veracity, and integrity of God, then this is inconsistent with predestination.

The doctrine of election can be a difficult one. However, I believe that it is easier to understand and accept once one approaches it with the same humility with which he accepts the gospel message; i.e., once we realize that our salvation is completely God’s doing, and by no merit of ourselves.

C.S. Lewis on Pre-Determinism

November 23rd, 2021

In The Great Divorce, CS Lewis observed: “All may be saved if they so choose.” Is this statement consistent with pre-determinism?

Another question: What of Acts 16:30? How does it fit with the idea of Pre-Determinism? “30 He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31 They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.” 

The apostles said one only need believe to be saved. But it seems you are saying they must not only believe, but ALSO be pre-selected, isn’t that right? Hence, it would appear that in Acts 16:30 the apostles have only stated half of the proposition. In other words, if what you say is true about pre-determinism, then why didn’t they say something along the lines of: 

“Try to believe in the Lord Jesus, and IF you have been pre-selected, that is IF the Lord has not hardened you and crippled your ability to choose Him, you and the others in your house who have been pre-selected will be saved!”

Thank you again for your questions and comments. You have done a good job of arguing the position of Arminianism (favoring man’s free will over election) against my position of Calvinism (favoring election over man’s limited free will), and you have made me think. Let me first offer some general observations before I speak to the various specific points that you made.

Throughout your arguments, you repeatedly mentioned God’s (supposed) decision of election in chronological reference to various events of mankind:

“… before man ever arrived in the garden” “… before each exits the womb” “… before man even arrived on earth” “… before the existence of man and sin” “… before man sinned for the first time” “… when God made the election decisions”

However, God exists in eternity, beyond the realm of time and space. To us who are limited by space and time, eternity is a great mystery. In eternity, somehow, events don’t occur in chronological order. We can’t even aptly describe this in words. The best we can do is to say that in eternity events all occur at the same “time,” but even then we’ve interjected our limitation of time into our description. To say that one event occurred before another in eternity probably doesn’t even make sense. I too have been guilty of this by referring to “eternity past” just because this is my best notion of this great mystery, but I know that this is inadequate. So, words like “time,” “before,” “after,” and “when” have no place in a discussion of God in eternity. Likewise, the argument that the doctrine of election was established “before” man sinned is a weak argument; and, probably much more so if we were indeed capable of understanding eternity.

Aside from this, you stated that God stamped (or pre-wired) some men as disapproved, and that He thus discarded them before they were born. This isn’t technically true because He did give them life and grace, and thus He didn’t discard them before they were born. Of course, I do understand your point here, and I will address it further below.

Re. the matter of sin: When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, we were in Adam’s loins, so we too were guilty of his sin. All of us have both imputed sin from Adam, as well as personal sins. Even if a person never committed a personal sin, he would still be guilty of the imputed sin of Adam (his federal headship). (Please see my complete article on Imputation.) So, what all of us really deserve is an eternity separated from God. However, God, in His love, instituted the grace plan of salvation where be sacrificed His Son Jesus, who was the only One who lived a perfect live without sin. As a result, God was free to elect whoever He desired for salvation. God is first a God of justice, but through the sacrifice of Christ, God (who is also a God of Love) was able to satisfy His justice in exercising His love for His elect.

As a result there is no conflict in noting that one’s sin condemns him while God’s grace alone has the power to save him. Election does not nullify the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. However, if left to ourselves, we sinners would never be able find God on our own, if it weren’t for His seeking us through election.

Also, I am definitely not suggesting that the Old Testament saints (such as Abraham, Moses, Job, and Joseph) were not saved. They were indeed saved, looking forward to Christ’s sacrifice, just as we today look back in history to His sacrifice.

Although you have made some good points in your arguments, I believe that the final word and truth about predestination is very clearly articulated for us in Romans 8:28-30: “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

I would have to say that I reject the notion that God deliberately cripples the intellect of some men, and thus denies them the freedom to choose to love him and follow his Laws. This is not a valid description of the doctrine of election. I would argue that sin (not God) crippled all men’s intellect in the Garden of Eden.

Before I respond, first let explain what I meant when I said the doctrine of election seems to suggest God cripples one’s intellect. I meant if the doctrine of election is true, and God really chose to save some and not save others—before man even arrived in the garden and sinned for the first time—then some men are pre-wired to seek and come to know Jesus, and others are not. And by pre-wired I mean at birth some have been granted the “ability” to discern, supplicate, repent, etc. and others have not.

So, if election is true, and thus all men are already stamped approved or disapproved before each exits the womb (and before man even arrived on earth), and thus the approved man has the pre-wired “ability” to seek and come to know God and the disapproved man does not, then clearly the disapproved man has been “crippled” — but NOT by sin as you suggest, but by God.

Furthermore, IF the doctrine of election is true, and God approved and disapproved all men prior to the existence of man and sin, and at the same time God does not observe a man’s sins to determine his ultimate destination (i.e. God doesn’t look down the corridors of time to see how a man will choose), then your assertion that sin has condemned man is, quite frankly, impossible.

To be clear: I think we agree that if election is true, it happened BEFORE man arrived in the garden and thus BEFORE man sinned for the first time. Hence, SIN cannot be the explanation and cause of the disapproved man’s condemnation when 1) Sin did not exist when God made the election decisions; 2) God does not look down the corridors of time to see who chose what.

Pre-Determinism

October 22nd, 2021

In The Great Divorce CS Lewis observed: “All may be saved if they so choose.”  Is this statement consistent with pre-determinism?

Another question: What of Acts 16:30? How does it fit with the idea of Pre-Determinism? “He then brought them out and asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.

The apostles said one only need believe to be saved. But it seems you are saying they must not only believe, but ALSO be pre-selected, isn’t that right? Hence, it would appear that in Acts 16:30 the apostles have only stated half of the proposition. In other words, if what you say is true about pre-determinism, then why didn’t they say something along the lines of: 

“Try to believe in the Lord Jesus, and IF you have been pre-selected, that is IF the Lord has not hardened you and crippled your ability to choose Him, you and the others in your house who have been pre-selected will be saved!”

Thank you again for your questions and comments. You have done a good job of arguing the position of Arminianism (favoring man’s free will over election) against my position of Calvinism (favoring election over man’s limited free will), and you have made me think. Let me first offer some general observations before I speak to the various specific points that you made.

Throughout your arguments, you repeatedly mentioned God’s (supposed) decision of election in chronological reference to various events of mankind:

“… before man ever arrived in the garden” “… before each exits the womb” “… before man even arrived on earth” “… before the existence of man and sin” “… before man sinned for the first time” “… when God made the election decisions”

However, God exists in eternity, beyond the realm of time and space. To us who are limited by space and time, eternity is a great mystery. In eternity, somehow, events don’t occur in chronological order. We can’t even aptly describe this in words. The best we can do is to say that in eternity events all occur at the same “time,” but even then we’ve interjected our limitation of time into our description. To say that one event occurred before another in eternity probably doesn’t even make sense. I too have been guilty of this by referring to “eternity past” just because this is my best notion of this great mystery, but I know that this is inadequate. So, words like “time,” “before,” “after,” and “when” have no place in a discussion of God in eternity. Likewise, the argument that the doctrine of election was established “before” man sinned is a weak argument; and, probably much more so if we were indeed capable of understanding eternity.

Aside from this, you stated that God stamped (or pre-wired) some men as disapproved, and that He thus discarded them before they were born. This isn’t technically true because He did give them life and grace, and thus He didn’t discard them before they were born. Of course, I do understand your point here, and I will address it further below.

Re. the matter of sin: When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, we were in Adam’s loins, so we too were guilty of his sin. All of us have both imputed sin from Adam, as well as personal sins. Even if a person never committed a personal sin, he would still be guilty of the imputed sin of Adam (his federal headship). (Please see my complete article on Imputation.) So, what all of us really deserve is an eternity separated from God. However, God, in His love, instituted the grace plan of salvation where be sacrificed His Son Jesus, who was the only One who lived a perfect live without sin. As a result, God was free to elect whoever He desired for salvation. God is first a God of justice, but through the sacrifice of Christ, God (who is also a God of Love) was able to satisfy His justice in exercising His love for His elect.

As a result there is no conflict in noting that one’s sin condemns him while God’s grace alone has the power to save him. Election does not nullify the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. However, if left to ourselves, we sinners would never be able find God on our own, if it weren’t for His seeking us through election.

Also, I am definitely not suggesting that the Old Testament saints (such as Abraham, Moses, Job, and Joseph) were not saved. They were indeed saved, looking forward to Christ’s sacrifice, just as we today look back in history to His sacrifice.

Although you have made some good points in your arguments, I believe that the final word and truth about predestination is very clearly articulated for us in Romans 8:28-30: “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Thanks,

Owen

Predestination (Faith vs. Works)

September 26th, 2021

I read your piece on predestination. I found it very interesting. The one part of it I cannot reconcile is the idea that God doesn’t grant the unsaved the WILL to turn to Him. Yes, I know the Lord “hardened” men in the Old Testament, but to me, the idea that He would deliberately “cripple” the intellect of some men, and thus deny them the freedom to choose to love him and follow His laws seems inconceivable. We are told in the New Testament that ALL are granted “a measure of faith,” and that “all” are capable of being saved, not just an elite group of pre-determined people.

I also see a conflict in the idea that God “looking down the corridors of time” would mean that He is in time, when in a different place you say the elect was created “in the past.” The “past” would also imply a time bound decision and put God in time, wouldn’t it? Hence, if the time-bound rule stand; that is, that any explanation that puts God in time can be impeached, then it seems the entire idea of “pre” determinism can be impeached, no? …

Thank you for your questions. You have touched upon some difficult issues, but I’ll do my best to try to shed some light on them. Yes, I believe that evangelization includes acts of human effort. However, neither this nor any other human effort is required for one to be saved. If there is any merit in a believer performing evangelism, then he will be rewarded for it at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but it has nothing to do with his salvation.

Yes, I do believe in the doctrine of election (or predestination). Specifically, you asked, “What is the point of evangelicals going out and communicating/preaching to the unsaved that they can be saved, if God alone can choose to save them, and they have no choice in the matter whatsoever?” First of all, the point in performing the evangelism is that we are commanded to do so (Matthew 28:18-20). Also, we do not know which people are among the elect, or even which people are truly saved, since we don’t truly know the heart of any other person. So, we must spread the gospel to everyone.

You also asked, “Why would I go tell an unsaved man that he can repent and believe and be saved, when in reality he can only repent and believe and be saved if he has been pre-determined to be saved?” This, of course, is the more difficult question. I believe that it is technically true to tell an unbeliever that he can be saved if he believes the gospel. However, it’s also a fact that the non-elect person simply will not believe. It’s still true that he would be saved if he believed, but the Holy Spirit will simply never move his will to make him believe. If, on the other hand, the person that we explain the gospel to is among the elect, the Holy Spirit will (at some point) move upon his will to believe the gospel. In some cases, it will be our explanation of the gospel that finally compels that person to believe, and in other cases, it will not be.

For a full explanation of my position on election, please see my article entitled Predestination.