In the previous post, we treaded on the dreaded water of the doctrine of Predestination. In a few words, it is basically the biblical understanding that God has chosen some before the foundation of the world, and He will save His elects through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Those who have believed and will believe in Jesus do so because God has firstly chosen them, given the Holy Spirit to awaken their spirit, and opened their eyes to the severity of sin and the beauty of the Gospel that they willingly and gladly believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Without God’s initiative, we have neither the desire nor the capability to choose God. Did I say ‘a few words’? Oops.
Anyway, embracing this doctrine is not easy to many, especially if we don’t understand this biblically. Many questions beg for answers. Many objections demand responses. Therefore, beginning with this post, we shall look at a few misconceptions that people have with regards to this doctrine.
First Misconception: Predestination produces Christians who take salvation for granted.
“If I am chosen before the foundation of the world, then God will save me regardless of what I do, right?”
“If God has decided to save me anyway, then I can do whatever I want and still be saved, can’t I?”
“Because I am chosen regardless, then it does not matter whether I believe or not. So, who cares?”
One of the misconceptions is that Christians will take their salvation for granted if they believe that God has chosen them, and not the other way around. I think this misconception is a result of of many other misconceptions. (Wow, that’s like Inception, a dream within a dream … enough, Sandy!.. ok!).
Firstly, we might have misunderstood the concept of ‘choosing.’ I cannot think of a scenario when someone becomes ungrateful when someone is chosen (even unconditionally). If there is a beautiful girl in your high school choosing you to go with her to the prom, would you take that for granted? No way. You would prepare yourself, you would behave yourself, and you would make the prom the best evening for you and for her. Why? Because out of many other boys, she chose you. I know … crazy, right?
If your dean were appointing twenty students to represent the university to serve the Queen during her visit, and you were selected as one of them, would you take that for granted?
If your favourite soccer team were coming to town, out of millions of people, they chose you among the people who get to sit at the VIP box during their friendly match, would you take that for granted?
If Ryan Gosling were to visit your town, and you were chosen among the people who get to dine with him and have a picture with him, would you, ladies, take that for granted?
The answers to the above would be No, No way, and for crying-out-loud, No.
When I asked one of my colleagues the last question hypothetically, her response was: “OMG! ;p And I’ll tell EVERYONE I know about it, because, well, HELLO!!! I get to take photos for Ryan Gosling!!!” How’s that for being grateful? Of course, you would be very grateful. You would have sleepless nights just thinking of it. A good kind of sleepless nights. Some of you would even say, “Pick me, and I’d do whatever you need me to.” “I am at your service.” etc.
The only time that you will take it for granted is if that beautiful girl had to pick one guy if she wanted to go to the prom and she did not have any other choice but you, OR she had to draw lot, and your name is written on the paper. Then, only then, perhaps you would take it for granted. However, that could not even be called a choice, because she had no choice. Even then, some of you would still be very grateful to be picked at all. I know I would be. The fact that Maria, my wife, chose to go out with me despite the many richer, more handsome, and more clever boys chasing her then, left me very grateful.
The only time that I will take it for granted is if I don’t care about the person choosing or I am blinded to the magnitude of the occasion, which begs the question: To what extent we understand the person and characters of God? And to what extent we understand the magnitude of salvation?
Therefore, the second reason for the misconception above is that we have a low view of God. Predestination will result in us being arrogant or ungrateful only and only if we think God is lower than us and/or we think we deserve being chosen. In examples above, you are indifferent only if you don’t care about the Queen, you are not into soccer, or if the mention of ‘Ryan Gosling’ does nothing to you. Or if you think you are better than them. In a school team sport, for example, the PE teacher usually picks two people to be the captains, one for each team. Each captain then takes turn to pick each individual to be on his/her team. When you are picked, you only become aloof or indifferent when you think your captain is a worse player than you are and/or that particular game has no significance (because it is merely a simple short game during a PE class).
Let’s turn the things around. The captain of a dream team, choosing a few players to be in his line-up against another team in a major basketball championship, and you are picked. How would you feel? Pompous? Smug? Haughty? I don’t think so. Being grateful and giving it your best? Definitely.
You see. If you understand that in predestination, it is the great almighty loving merciful beautiful God is the One choosing, and He has the right to choose so many other people beside you, you cannot be ungrateful, let alone be arrogant. Furthermore, if you understand that in predestination, you are chosen to be free from condemnation which you well-deserve and you are reconciled to the Father through the sacrifice of His Son, you cannot be thankful to Him enough, let alone be snobbish. Recover the beauty of God and His salvation in your mind, you will be amazed, and you will be thankful that He chose you.
Thirdly, we might also have misunderstood the full implication of God’s election. When God chooses to save us, He does not just randomly pick people and bring them to heaven just as they are. No way. If that is the case, then there is no need for Jesus to come down and die on the cross whatsoever. When God chooses us from the foundation of the world, however, God also plans to give His Spirit to us, to convict us of our sins, to make us understand the severity and ugliness of our rebellion to God, to open our ears to the wonderful message of the gospel, to open our eyes to the beauty of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and to soften our hearts to receive and appreciate the amazing grace. That’s not it, though. When God saves us, He also renews our mind daily, He also cleanses our sins, He made us a new creation, and He sanctifies us continually so we become more and more like His Son in godliness.
When God saves you, He purifies your heart, mind, and soul, so that you can really see Him for who He really is and you can really understand the magnitude of Jesus’ work on the cross for your sins. Hence, you cannot help but be mesmerised, amazed, and as a result, forever grateful for His election. Words alone cannot fully describe the magnitude of God’s election (and thereby, salvation).
So, in summary, if you had ever thought that Predestination will produce ungrateful Christians, you’d either have misunderstood the concept of ‘choosing’, had a low view of God and His salvation, and/or misunderstood the full implication of God’s sovereign election. Therefore, the above misconception is very unwarranted given the biblical understanding of salvation.
Take some time to read Ephesians 1:3-14 below.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even 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 for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
How can you be ungrateful after reading and understanding that? I thank God that He even bothered to choose me to save me. Who am I? What an amazing grace!
Of course, there are more questions pertaining the doctrine of predestination. If people who became Christians have been chosen from before the foundation of the world, why would we even bother evangelise? If God has chosen them, they are going to be saved anyway regardless whether or not we proclaim the gospel to them, right? Because of space, I shall reserve this to the next post.