|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Knowing God”
Our Bible verse for today: “For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself …” Ephesians 1:4-5 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “You have been chosen”
Today I will venture where angels fear to tread. I’m going to gently (and with love) lead us into what is a raging debate in the Christian community, including in my own Southern Baptist world. It’s the question of Calvinism verses Arminianism. Although there are degrees and variations in each school of thought, in general, Calvinists believe in predestination. They believe that before time began God chose who would be saved and who would not be. Arminians believe that people must use their freewill and choose to place their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins or they will not be saved.
This debate, of course, gets to the heart of what we were considering in yesterday’s devotional about the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, and it gets at the very nature of God Himself. If God makes the choice for us, then what happened to the free will of man? But if we make the choice for ourselves, then what does that mean about the sovereignty of God?
There are plenty of verses in the Bible which seem to support both schools of thought. Ephesians 1:4-5 (above) is one of the verses which seems to teach predestination. God decided who would be saved and who would not be. But if God made the decision for us, if He chose us (or not) before we even breathed our first breath or committed our first sin, then what does that say about the nature of God? It would seem then that some of us were created by God specifically so we could spend eternity in hell.
Then there are plenty of other verses, like those we considered a few days ago (Ezekiel 33:11; John 3:16, John 5:24, Romans 10:13, John 1:12, and 1 John 1:9, just to name a few) which seem to teach that it’s God’s desire that “none” be lost and He wants us to choose to place our faith in His Son Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. But if that’s what He really wants, then why doesn’t He just make it so? After all, He is sovereign and He is all-powerful.
What do we do with this issue? Good Christians – intelligent and well-intentioned Christians, have been engaging in this debate for two thousand years and we haven’t resolved it yet.
Personally, I’m in the camp with Billy Graham and David Jeremiah – I consider myself to be a Cal-Minian. I’m a little bit of both. On the one hand, I believe that God did in fact predestine us to spend eternity in heaven. He chose and called all of us to be part of His heavenly family. But on the other hand, we still have to accept the invitation. God doesn’t force it on us. I believe it is His desire for none to be lost and it is His will for all of us to be in heaven with Him. But as we learned yesterday, in order for our relationship with Him to be based in genuine love, we must have a choice. In order for our love for God to be genuine, we must have had the choice to exercise our freewill and to choose Him instead of anything else or anyone else.
Whether you’re a Calvinist, an Arminian, or something in-between, you can be assured that God is good, He is just, and He loves you deeply.
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