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All Christians Believe in Predestination

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 3, 2020 12:01 am

All Christians Believe in Predestination

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 3, 2020 12:01 am

Why does God choose to save some and not others? Is that unfair? Today, R.C. Sproul explains why Christians should embrace and delight in the doctrine of predestination.

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Coming up today on Renewing Your Mind. Predestination is not something invented by Luther were invented by St. Augustine or contrived by John Calvin or Jonathan Edwards or any of the others whose names are so often associated with the doctrine, but this doctrine comes to us patently from the pen of the apostle Paul L. Predestination is certainly looked upon these days with some degree of skepticism is sometimes with downright hostility.

The word predestined, though, appears several times in the New Testament, so we need to understand what it means and how it relates to our celebration today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul will look at some of the misconceptions and caricatures of this doctrine and will explain why Christians should not only embrace it, but rejoicing in the study of theology. There's that one it is spoken often strikes terror in the souls of the fainthearted, and that word is the word predestination. I know whenever the subject comes up at the seminary where I teach the students think that it's the most juicy and delicious of all theological subjects and it has a tendency to evoke instant controversy and debate and were going to look briefly in this session at this concept of predestination. But before I do that I want to give one word of caution, I think that the doctrine of predestination is difficult, and it causes a great deal of perplexity and bewilderment whenever it is discussed and whenever it is studied and it's a question that requires I think not only caution care and diligence, but also a special measure of patience with each other as we struggle over the manifold implications that can easily be drawn from it, but I'm also convinced that as difficult as the subject may be, it is equally or even more important for us to study it. Martin Luther, for example, when he was engaged in the leadership of the Protestant Reformation. Of course, focused his teaching on the central issue of that time, the doctrine of justification by faith alone. And Luther said of that doctrine, namely justification by faith alone that it is the article upon which the church stands or faults. That is, he was trying to underscore as emphatically as he knew how the importance of the doctrine of justification to the Christian faith when it came, however, to the doctrine of predestination or the doctrine of election.

Luther had this to say doctrine of election is the core place via the heart of the church. In fact, when he engaged in debate with Erasmus of Rotterdam on the subject of election and predestination.

He thanked Erasmus who obviously disagreed with Luther on the matter.

He thanked Erasmus that Erasmus had not pastored Luther on trivial matters, but that he had undertaken to debate on matters to go to the very heart of the Christian faith.

And so what I'm suggesting is that this doctrine of predestination is not a peripheral tangential secondary matter of concern for biblical Christianity.

Also, as I say that I realize that in the popular understanding of our culture. We hear statements frequently like the following two statements, one with the Bible doesn't teach predestination and to that nobody in this day and age, believes the doctrine anyway.

I like to speak to both of those popular statements that I regard as erroneous statements and misconceptions and take them by looking at the second one first, because it's the easier of the two to refute the statement that nobody believes in predestination anymore.

I may refute it with a simple syllogism syllogism goes like this. I am a body guy. I believe in predestination. Therefore, somebody does believe in predestination and if I am the last in the world to do so, I apologize for my office in NC and have my being so pass and out of date, but as long as I'm breathing and living.

It is simply not true to say nobody believes in predestination because I most certainly do. And of course I'm being facetious because I'm not into the Elijah syndrome where I have to say I alone am left, there are tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands indeed millions of Christians in the world today who still believe in predestination and I think the chief reason for that is the reputation of the first premise that I mentioned a moment ago.

The statement that the Bible doesn't teach it.

The reason I'm convinced that millions of Christians still adhere to the document. Predestination is because the Bible teaches it, and I might add. The Bible teaches it clearly and on ambiguously, so clearly and unambiguously, dear friends, that virtually every denomination in church history that has taken the time to articulate their confession of faith to write a creed of their beliefs has been constrained to confess some statement about predestination but I'm saying simply, as virtually every church has a doctrine of predestination. Now not all of those churches agree on the meaning of the doctrine of predestination or the extent of the doctrine of predestination or how the doctrine of predestination touches people's lives where they live. Because the Bible so clearly speaks about it. Every Christian church has been constrained to say something in their creedal statements regarding predestination loses take a moment to read a couple of statements that may be of interest to you from church history. First of all, from the classical expression of faith that came from in the early days, formative days of the Church of England there classical confession being the 39 articles of the Church of England, and of the Episcopal churches.

It says this predestination to life is the ever lasting purpose of God whereby and then (before the foundation of the world was laid in the parentheses. He has constantly decreed by his counsel's secret to us to deliver from curse and damnation. Those whom he has chosen in Christ out of mankind and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honor near the Church of England professed faith in a predestination that was found to life and was by God's eternal secret counsel and decree designed to bring the elect to Christ as vessels of honor. Here's another one from the 17th century, from 1689 we read this statement those of mankind, who are predestined onto life.

God before the foundation of the world was laid according to his eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him there on to eventually must've come from the Westminster confession of faith are the Helvetic confession or the boundaries confession or some other Presbyterian and reformed tradition. Maybe from the pen of John Calvin of this comes historically from the Baptist confession of faith, of 1689 statement articulating the document predestination in terms so precise and concise.

That would have delighted John Calvin in his most sanguine moments. Again I say why are these churches and other churches making such a confession regarding predestination because predestination is not something invented by Luther were invented by St. Augustine or contrived by John Calvin or Jonathan Edwards or any of the others whose names are so often associated with the doctrine, but because this doctrine comes to us patently from the pen of the apostle Paul, we direct your attention for moments to Paul's letter to the Ephesians in the first chapter Paul and giving his greetings to the saints at Ephesus says grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him in love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed upon us in the beloved. Verse 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to his purpose who works all things after the counsel of his will.

I want everyone to know that in the 16th century people like Baeza and Calvin and Knox and Zwingli and Luther didn't run back into the text of Ephesians and stick that word predestination in their that word was in there from the beginning and the word in the Greek Pro order itself means to for ordain to choose in advance or as we say in English to pre-Destin. Now we all know what the word destination means or destiny when were about to take a trip we may go to the travel agent and asked to buy some tickets for an airplane or the trainer. The ship or whatever and obviously the agent has to know what what is your destination that is where are you going what is the terminus point toward which you are heading now what the concept of predestination means is that our destiny, our destination in some sense has been decided in advance pre-destination and as we read in these confessions is simply a reflection of what the apostle is telling us in Ephesians that the pre-the reference point of the pre-is defined biblically as being from the foundation of the world. But before the world was created, God had a plan and that plane according to his secret counsel, and according to the good pleasure of his will, he made a decision to do something a sovereign decision to do something, namely to predestinate something for some reason and I think we will see clearly that what he predestines are people and what they are predestined on two or four is as we are told here in the Scripture adoption in the beloved in Christ that we are predestined in Christ unto salvation. If you are a Christian before you were ever born before your mother was born before your father was born before Adam and Eve were made. God determined from all eternity.

Your destiny in Christ that you have been chosen in the beloved.

Unto salvation, and that you are his craftsmanship unto eternal life. Now if that is true, that is an extraordinary matter antimatter that again may be very perplexing, but I would think would be the cause of great rejoicing among Christians who understand that God's grace is so powerful that God's grace extends back so far into tall that in the sovereign Creator's plan for the ages. He determined to shed his grace on you to prepare a place for you in heaven. The New Testament speaks of the time when Jesus will say, my beloved, inherit the kingdom which the father has prepared for you from the foundation of the world right I haven't said anything controversial, yet really again, just about everybody who struggles with the document.

Predestination understands that predestination is rooted in eternity and that predestination is concerned for personal salvation in Christ and that it is a wonderful thing properly understood, but where it gets sticky where it gets controversy old is when we asked the question on what basis does God make his choice, how and why.

Upon what conditions does God determine who will receive this amazing gift of saving grace does God potentially predestined everyone to salvation or does he only predestined some to salvation and if so what about those who want predestined the salvation they have no chance, no opportunity, no hope. I remember once when I was sitting in a seminary classroom and the president of the Presbyterian seminary happened to be the lecturer that day in one of the students raised his hand and said Dr. so and so do you believe in the doctrine of predestination and this is the president of the Presbyterian seminary is bound by vowel ordination file not only to believe it but the teacher he reacted as if he were having an allergy attack to the document, predestination, and he said no.

He said I don't believe that God brings some people kicking and screaming against their will into the kingdom who don't want to be there while at the same time refusing admittance to others who desperately want to enter so that this professor this is a trained, skilled theologian who understood predestination to mean that God coerces and forces some reluctant sinners into his kingdom and arbitrarily refuses entrance to others who so much want to be there.

What a horrible caricature of the Presbyterian and reformed doctrine of predestination.

Let's take a moment and look at some of the cardinal features of the different approaches to the doctrine of predestination. The doctrine found its earliest point of theological debate in the fourth century when a monk in the Roman Catholic Church took issue with the Bishop of hippo, the great, and certainly the greatest theologian of the first millennium of church history. A really us. Augustine this monk whose name was Pelagius will put his name appear. We want to always remember Pelagius. Pelagius responded in outrage to a statement that Augustine had made. And that statement that Augustine had made and it taught was this was in a prayer really Augustine had written.

God command what thou wilt and grant what thou command list command what thou wilt and grant what thou command and what Pelagius didn't like about that was that it seemed to suggest that God required from people something that they wouldn't be able to do unless God gave them extra grace to make it possible will this I have to say for Pelagius. He understood exactly what Augustine was say Augustine was in fact saying yes, oh God, I cannot do what you require me and command me to do, unless you intervene somehow and give me the power to do it. The Bible says of man in his fallen condition that he's dead in sin in trespasses and that he is by nature a child of wrath since the fall in Adam and goes on to say that the natural man is at enmity with God, and he doesn't obey the law of God, neither can he obey the law of God. Jesus teaching and debating with the Pharisees on the extent of the fallenness of the human race made this extraordinary comment no man can come to me unless it is given to him by the father prior to my beloved brothers and sisters that if you find this doctrine distasteful. Look at it again just got a letter from a fellow the other day who said he hated this doctrine. He read my book chosen by God, and I was so glad it was useful to him. He said I picked it up. I said I want to find the flaw so I could refute. He said I took copious notes. I everything I got the last page message. You could find. This is what I decided to use it is I decided to read the Bible through from cover to cover three to he said 90's and it seemed like in Stockton was on every page and when I was done with my searching at the Scripture. He said not only did I embrace the doctrine began to see the beauty of it and to rejoice in it of love and how many times have I heard that testimony from people who have kicked against the ox goad of God's grace until they saw the sweetness of his mercy and the purity of his power, and so that we can humbly confess of God. We couldn't in our natural state have possibly turned ourselves to Christ. We had no inclination towards Christ. We were altogether indisposed towards Christ. We were like these people. Paul talks of Ephesians were dead and sit in trespasses we walked according to the course of this world, according to the part of the prince of this world, and so on.

Just like everybody else but God, who is rich in mercy, brought us into his kingdom, kicking and screaming, against our will, because what is electing grace does is to make us willing and eager to pursue the Christ. We formally hated the love the Savior we formally despise to embrace the truth. We previously ran from. That's what predestination, grace is all about. And once we understand that, and once we discovered we get on her knees and resale God command without and grant with the helpdesk is Dr. RC Sproul with a message titled all Christians believe in predestination you're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Sunday and I'm glad you're with this timely web and that I know that there are many Christian traditions simply don't like that idea of predestination, and in fact can understand why anyone would believe such a thing. I was right there with them.

At one point but when I studied it when I really delved into this doctrine that I could escape the fact that the Bible teaches the doctor to predestination not just in Paul's letters, not just the next, but throughout the Bible, old and new Testaments.

If you're in a similar place. I hope you'll consider it and study it. Today's lesson is from Dr. Sproles classic collection. 10 of his most requested messages covering several important theological topics will be happy to send you the collection on 10 audio CDs when you contact us today with a donation of any amount. There are couple of ways you can reach us. You can go online to Renewing Your Mind.org or you can call us at 800-435-4343 on the CDs you will find the message we heard today on predestination, plus Dr. Sproles teaching on suffering atheism and the nature of truth, among others, will send you all 10 messages for your donation of any amount again. Our number is 800-435-4343 and her web address is Renewing Your Mind.org and on behalf of all of my college cheerleader ministries, let me thank you for your donation. You can explore our free app to find additional teaching from Dr. Sproles will discover articles, blog posts in audio and video clips is an app to provide you with hours of biblical instruction. So we do hope you'll download it to your phone or tablet to search for ligand here in your app store. Next Sunday we will bring you another message from the classic collection Dr. Strobel address one of the dangerous trends in the church worldwide. It's a message titled a wolf in sheep's clothing and we will discover what that wolf is so we hope you'll join us right here next week for Renewing Your Mind


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