Sunday, September 21, 2014

Once Saved Always Saved Part III B - Predestined

For some the previous argument isn't convincing. "Yes," they say, "I can do nothing to save myself, and true, God is faithful and doesn't change His mind, but it's not like he predestined us to eternal life or anything."

My friend you have not taken the idea of the timeless immutability of God seriously enough. When He purposed to call you out of darkness and into His marvelous light you were not yet born. An for a true Christian to be lost God would have to have been flat wrong when He predestined you. Because predestined you He did, and if that means anything it means once you're saved, you're saved.

The Argument

God has made an immutable decree to save us before the foundation of the world, predestining us to eternal life.
All those whom God predestines will be saved.
Once the predestined reach the moment of faith, they can never lose it.

Acts 13:48

"And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed."
When I didn't believe in Once Saved Always Saved I had an answer for almost every verse but this one. It defied me, requiring me to do incredible gymnastics to avoid coming to terms with it. According to my theology men believed, then as a result God appointed them to eternal life. 
But no matter how I protested I found my belief structure to be exactly backwards from what the Scriptures say here. It is clear: God appoints men to believe, therefore they believe. It is because in eternity past God predestined you personally to be conformed to the image of His son by faith that you at some point in time became a believer. Full stop. Therefore your salvation was planned a long time ago by a loving God, outside your ability to meddle and ruin. If you are a believer, it's because of God's sovereign plan.

Revelation 13:8

"And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain."
In Revelation 13 the first beast comes out of the sea to conquer the world, and enslave those who reject Him in unrighteousness, wooing everyone to bow down to him in idolatry. Everyone that is, except the elect--those whom God chose personally, before the universe was created, to inherit eternal life. It's these who are secure in their salvation, overcoming every trap Satan laid down against them, because before time began God wrote the names of those who would live in His book.

2 Timothy 1:9

"[God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began."
I used to think God foresaw a Christians faith, then turned around and predestined them on that basis. I repent of this too. The problem with that is that's the opposite of predestination. Faith doesn't generate predestination, it exposes it, and this passage is proof.
The verse opens with the an affirmation of the effectual call, and goes on to deny the reason for it lies in us. Why did He call? Because of our good works? Because of foreseen faith? Because of our future good works? No. Because He has a purpose and a plan. Because He's gracious and loving. How do we know this? Because He predestined all of this before the ages began.

Romans 8:29-30 

"Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
Foreknow here means something akin to 'foreloved.' He saw what He wanted us to be, and predestined us to be molded after the shape and fashion of Christ Jesus accordingly. That is to say, He didn't predestine us for salvation because of what we would go on to do, but so that Christ could have all the glory. God was determined to bring Christ glory and nothing was going to stop Him.
And once you have this doctrine pointed that way, (that is, the right way up) you can understand verse 30. All of those whom He predestined He called with that effectual, life giving call. And all who were called in this way He justified, declaring them to be absolved of their sins and blameless. And all those whom He pronounced blamelessness on He brought safely into heaven.
If these two verses don't mean exactly that then they mean nothing at all and ought to be cut from the text. They either teach that your salvation is secure in Christ or God's book ought to be thrown out.

Ephesians 1:4-5, 11

"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...  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."
Before I believed in Once Saved Always Saved I argued that the object of predestination in passages like this means "the church." God predestined the idea of Christianity, but didn't predestine individual, specific people. Today I shake my head in sorrow that I could be so committed to the idea that God could call out an assembly of people without calling out the people themselves. That you could have an individual church without being made up of individuals within in the church. Further, if predestination meant that God was calling the church in general, but nobody in specific, then this passages, and passages like it lose all their potency.
I'll refrain from defending it by explaining or expounding it. Just read it. Read it again. Read it four times. Read it until you see the glittering riches contained here for you Christian. You are blameless, adopted, predestined. You have an inheritance, and He's working out everything according to His perfect will. You cannot be harmed, or stopped, or shunted aside. Your future is the love of God, written in indestructible ink into the lambs book of life before the foundation of the world. Hallelujah, what a savior.

The Immutability of the Decree of Election

The elect of God are predestined by Him. The elect are chosen by Him for conformity to the image of His Son. The elect are called and kept by God. Once the elect are saved, at the moment they have true faith, they pass forever out of wrath and condemnation and into eternal life.
Once Saved Always Saved is true because, well, predestination.

Next: Part IV - The Efficacy of the Merit and Intercession of Jesus Christ

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