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    CHAPTER 29. Predestination

    THAT the Bible teaches predestination, is true; that it teaches what modern theology defines the term to mean, we think is not true. As set forth in the Scriptures, it is a doctrine full of comfort and consolation; as taught in the creeds, it is full of spiritual paralysis and despair. In the Scriptures, it is the assurance of salvation so long as we maintain a certain relation to God; in theology, it is a relation determined for us independently of our own will, and a fixed destiny to a life which we cannot lose, or a death, which we cannot avert. Webster defines the word “predestination” in its theological acceptation to mean. “The purpose of God from eternity respecting all events; often the pre-assignment or allotment of men to everlasting happiness or misery.”SYNPT 304.1

    1. What may be said of the Bible view of predestination?
    2. What of the theological view?
    3. What is the contrast between these two views?
    4. What is Webster’s definition of the term?
    5. What is the tendency of the popular view?

    The tendency of this latter doctrine must be at once apparent. It leads the individual to throw off all responsibility, and intermit all efforts for himself. He says, If my destiny has been fixed from all eternity by an irreversible decree, I might as well resign myself to my fate, and let the current take me where it has been predetermined that it shall take me: if I am to be saved, I shall be saved, and no one can prevent it; if I am to be lost, I cannot avoid it.SYNPT 304.2

    It is impossible to arouse such a soul to repentance. The answer comes, If I am to repent, God will make me repent when the time comes; and I need not concern myself about it. Such an one cannot be induced to heed the divine injunction to flee from the wrath to come; for he says, If I am appointed to that wrath, flee as I will, I cannot avoid it; and if not, then for me there is no wrath to come.SYNPT 305.1

    We once heard of a Presbyterian minister, who, by some strange infatuation, conceived the idea that a certain one of his two sons was elected to be saved, and so taught him; but he considered that the other was fore-ordained to be lost, and taught him accordingly. Result: The elect son has entered the ministry; the reprobate is on the high road to that damnation which his father has held up before him as his inevitable portion. If that son is lost, what responsibility will rest upon that father! Give a man the natural inclinations of the heart to contend with, and then teach him that heaven is to him an impossibility, and it need not take long to divine what the result will be.SYNPT 305.2

    6. How does it hinder repentance?
    7. What instance is mentioned in illustration?
    8. How many times is the word “predestinate” found in the Scriptures?
    9. How many times is “fore-ordain” used?
    10. How many times the word “election?”

    Four times the word “predestinate” is used in the Scriptures, twice in Romans 8, and twice in Ephesians 1. Once we have the word “fore-ordain” 1 Peter 1:20. The word “ordain” is also used four times with a future signification. Six times we have the word “election,” and twenty times the word “elect.”SYNPT 305.3

    The meaning of the word “election” is a “choosing out, selecting;” and the elect are simply those who are “chosen out” by God, as the recipients of special privileges, because they are “choice” and “precious” in his sight. The question is whether this “choosing out” is an act absolutely arbitrary on the part of God with reference to individuals, or whether it pertains to a certain plane of life or to a people as a class, and reaches the individual only on conditions which he is himself to supply.SYNPT 306.1

    11. How many times the word “elect?”
    12. What is the meaning of the word “election?”
    13. Who are therefore “the elect?”
    14. What is the question to be here decided?
    15. What hath God “appointed?”
    16. When did he do this?
    17. On what ground was it ordained that Christ should be head and ruler of this world?
    18. How would it have been if man never had sinned?
    19. Since man has sinned, on what ground will Christ hold his position at last?
    20. What has God ordained respecting our relation to Christ?
    21. What are those called who conform to his image?
    22. How does this election control individuals?

    Let appeal be made to the leading texts upon this question. And as a direction to thought, let them be considered with reference to these propositions: 1. God “hath appointed” (Luke 22:29), or fore-ordained, Jesus Christ to the kingship of this world. This he did “before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20); that is, this fore-ordination was coeval with his purpose to create the world. It was not ordained on what ground he should finally hold this position. Had man never sinned, it would have been on the ground of Creatorship alone; but since man fell, and the original purpose could then be carried out only by his redemption, Christ will hold his position by virtue of being both Creator and Redeemer. 2. God has ordained that all who will conform to the image of his Son shall be saved. Such are the elect. But 3. He has not ordained that such and such individuals shall believe on Christ and be saved, whether they will or not; and such and such other individuals cannot believe on Christ, however willingly they would do so, and hence must be lost at last. On the question of accepting or rejecting Christ, our own free moral agency operates. On the plane of belief in Christ or connection with him, God’s fore-ordination or election operates. Reaching that plane, we are its subjects, and become the elect. Falling from it, we lose our title to life, and cease to be the elect. Hence we are exhorted to make our “calling and election sure.” 2 Peter 1:10. We may accept or reject Christ as we will. All else is beyond our control. Believing in him, we are elected and fore-ordained to be saved, as surely as God’s throne is to stand; rejecting him, we are as sure to be lost as sin is to be punished.SYNPT 306.2

    1. In Ephesians 1:4, 5 the “choosing” and “predestination” is “in him,” that is, in Christ. We are adopted as children to himself “by Jesus Christ.” But if we reject Christ, we frustrate all these good purposes and promises, so far as our own cases are concerned.SYNPT 307.1

    23. On what question does our free moral agency operate?
    24. On what plane does the law of God’s fore-ordination operate?
    25. What exhortation is given in 2 Peter 1:10?
    26. How much is subject to our control?
    27. Believing in him, what is sure to us?
    28. Rejecting him, what is our doom?
    29. Explain Ephesians 1:4, 5.
    30. To whom does Romans 8:29, 30 doubtless refer?
    31. How are we chosen from the beginning, as set forth in 2 Thessalonians 2:13?

    2. Romans 8:29, 30 doubtless refers to the company raised at the resurrection of Christ, among whom he was the “first-born” who were “justified,” that is, were accepted in anticipation of the general Judgment, and also “glorified” when he led them up with him on high (Ephesians 4:8, margin) to be his assistants in his mediatorial work. Revelation 5:8-10. If this application is correct, the testimony refers to a particular case, not to the destiny of men in general.SYNPT 307.2

    3. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 it is said that “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation;” but the apostle immediately limits the statement by adding, “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” But suppose the Thessalonians had rejected the Spirit, and refused to believe the truth, as they certainly were free to do, where, then, would have been their salvation?SYNPT 308.1

    4. Another expression, found in 2 Timothy 1:9, is supposed to prove election before the world was: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” As to the time, the Greek reads, prochronon aionion, “before the ages of time.” But in many instances means simply “a dispensation;” and the passage may refer to the time when the plan of salvation, with its different dispensations, was laid. That which was given us at this time was the “grace,” or favor, of God; but this was “in Christ Jesus.” Now if any man rejects Christ, what grace does he receive? - None.SYNPT 308.2

    32. Were the Thessalonians free to reject the conditions?
    33. What is the expression found in 2 Timothy 1:9?
    34. What may it mean?
    35. What is asserted of God’s foreknowledge in 1 Peter 1, 2?
    36. How is Acts 13:48 explained?

    5. 1 Peter 1:1, 2. The English version of this passage makes the strangers of Pontus, Galatia, etc., “elect according to the foreknowledge of God.” In the original, however, they are addressed simply as “the elect sojourners.” So the revised version reads: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect who are sojourners of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, according to the foreknowledge of God.” Now all that is asserted respecting God’s foreknowledge is this: Either Peter was an apostle according to the foreknowledge of God, or the elect whom he addresses (elect according to the principle stated above) were sojourners according to the foreknowledge of God. But in either case it has no bearing on the question of predestination, as here under discussion.SYNPT 308.3

    6. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” This expression is found in Acts 13:48; and it is asked if this does not prove that certain ones believed because they were fore-ordained to eternal life, and hence were elected to believe and be saved. The word rendered “ordained” is tasso, and it means “to appoint, set, arrange, dispose, or frame” for any object. In the light of this definition, all difficulty disappears. As many as were disposed, inclined, or had a desire, for eternal life, believed. It does not assert a decree that they should be saved, any more than if one of our ministers should report that he found many disposed to receive the truth, and they readily believed.SYNPT 309.1

    37. What is said to be from the foundation of the world in Revelation 13:8?
    38. What other passage is parallel with this?

    7. Revelation 13:8: “Written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” All this text asserts is that the Lamb was slain (in God’s purpose) from the foundation of the world; that is, from the time when the great dispensation of redemption was fixed upon and begun. Revelation 17:8 is unquestionably designed as a declaration exactly parallel with Revelation 13:8, though quite elliptical in its form of expression. Here we have, instead of “the book of life [of the Lamb slain] from the foundation of the world,” simply the words “book of life [] from the foundation of the world,” designed probably as a statement of the same great fact. There is propriety and force in the declaration that the Lamb was slain and the book of life was opened from the foundation of the world; but what possible reason can be conceived why the name of any person should be entered therein before such person has openly professed to become a follower of that Lamb whose book it is. If it be said that they were entered there because God has passed his decree in all these cases, and they were elected to be saved, we reply that such a conclusion cannot be entertained; for though a person may have once had his name in the book of life, unless he proves to be an overcomer, his name will be blotted from that book, and he will find his portion at last in the lake of fire. Revelation 3:5; 20:15.SYNPT 309.2

    8. An examination of a few expressions found in the 9th chapter of Romans will be all that is further required in this brief synopsis of the subject.SYNPT 310.1

    39. What is said about Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16?
    40. What does the expression mean?
    41. When did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Why did he harden it?

    (1.) Through Moses, the Lord said to Pharaoh, “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee.” Verse 17. The passage in Exodus 9:16 from which this is quoted, reads: “And in very deed, for this cause have I raised thee up,” etc. The margin reads, “Made thee stand.” This expression, applied to a king, simply means to bring to the throne, to establish in the kingdom; as, “There shall stand up yet three kings in Persia.” Daniel 11:2. The time was coming for the deliverance of God’s people from Egypt. At the same time there was a reprobate upon the throne, who would not heed the voice of Jehovah, but would exert all the power of his kingdom to prevent that deliverance which God had promised. God might have removed him, and brought to the throne a just and amiable prince, who would have recognized Israel’s right, and given them safe passage out of his kingdom. Then the world would have said, “Israel went out, not because God had promised, but because a weak and foolish king let them go.” So God said, Let the wicked Pharaoh keep the throne; let proud, rebellious, reprobate man, exerting all human power, stand up against my purposes; and then let the world see how easily my work will go forward over it all. This is all the “raising up” God did to Pharaoh; yet the skeptic will represent it that God gave Pharaoh life on purpose that he might destroy him, and compelled him, time and again, to falsify his word, and to take the defiant, wicked course that he did, and then punished him for it; which was not at all the case.SYNPT 310.2

    42. What proves this? Verse 22.
    43. What does God first offer men?
    44. If they refuse these, what follows?

    But did not God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Certainly; but when? - After he had endured his rebellious course to the limit of his longsuffering; for such, verse 22 declares, is God’s method of dealing with these reprobates. He first offers to all men light, and truth, and mercy. 2 Thessalonians 2:10. If they incorrigibly refuse these, there follows, not only as an inevitable consequence, but as a judicial infliction from him, darkness, and error, and wrath, Verse 11. He offers them first the position of agents to carry out harmoniously his will. When they refuse this, he makes them monuments of his power by triumphing in judgments over all their opposition. Romans 9:22. He first tries to make them vessels of honor. If they will not be molded into these, he does the next best thing he can with them, and makes them vessels of dishonor, as the potter has power to do. Verse 21. So it was with Pharaoh; for though the particulars of his previous contumacy are not given us, the rule by which God acts in such cases is plainly stated.SYNPT 311.1

    (2.) The “election” of Romans 9:11 is not a decree of damnation, but the choice of Jacob instead of Esau to receive special favors from God. God has a right to bestow his favors as he wills. No one has any claims upon him. The non-recipients are in nowise wronged, while the recipients are greatly favored.SYNPT 312.1

    (3.) “Esau have I hated.” Before either Jacob or Esau were born, it is recorded that God “loved” one and “hated” the other. Does not this prove eternal reprobation? - No; for the word “hated” does not here signify a positive exercise of ill-will or malevolence; but it has simply a relative meaning, signifying to “love less,” as in Luke 14:26. For his own good reasons, God loved Esau less than he loved Jacob, and so made Jacob the subject of special favor. But he in nowise jeopardized Esau’s eternal interests, nor did him any injustice.SYNPT 312.2

    45. What kind of election is brought to view in Romans 9:22?
    46. What does the word “hated” mean, in the expression, “Esau have I hated?”
    47. When does God “will” to harden?
    48. Upon whom does he “will” to have mercy?

    (4.) “Whom he will he hardeneth.” Even here we have no occasion to “reply against God;” for he has revealed to us what his “will” is in this matter. He wills to harden only those who reject his mercy; and he “will have mercy” upon all who will receive it.SYNPT 312.3

    9. But if God foreknows that I will be lost, must I not be lost despite all contingencies? - In this case you are to be lost, of course, but not because God foreknows it, nor by any personal decree of his. It would be the same if God did not foreknows it. To illustrate: A young man moves into the society of evil companions and the atmosphere of the saloon. He is perfectly free to resist if he will; but he yields to temptation, goes down, and is lost. You felt morally certain it would be so in the beginning. Suppose you had foreknown it absolutely; would your foreknowledge have compelled him to that course? - Not at all. Neither does God’s foreknowledge, in any case. Events transpire, not because God foreknows them; but he foreknows them because they are to transpire. In this we speak only of events connected with free moral agency. Such agents he leaves free to decide their own destiny.SYNPT 313.1

    Such as herein set forth we believe to be the Bible doctrine of election and predestination. We have called it a doctrine full of consolation. It assures the heart of every believer. It dispels doubt and misgiving. It shows how sure is the Christian’s hope. In Christ we are elected to be saved. In him we stand upon the decree of Jehovah, declared from the beginning, and as firm as the pillars of his own throne. The only contingency lies in our own course of action. Let us, therefore, labor to make our calling and election sure.SYNPT 313.2

    49. Does God’s foreknowledge that a man will sin compel him to sin?
    50. Does any event, connected with free moral agency, transpire because God foreknows it, or does he foreknow it because it is going to take place?[0314]

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