Monthly Archives: October 2014
BIBLE ANSWERS: How Can the Bible Be Called a Personal Love Letter Written to Me?
(Ver 1.1) Today’s Bible lesson contains a response from the Spirit of God to answer a very important question asked by a loyal Agapegeek reader. My reader asked me why I could call the Bible a personal love letter written from God to you and me. I have mentioned this concept more than once in other Bible lessons. I have suggested to peoplet that they read the Bible like it was”a personal love letter from God written to them”. I firmly believe that if each of us would just change or adjust our perspective of the Bible slightly to see it differently from where we may have seen it before that it would be of great benefit for us to help us learn the truth. What if we read the Bible as if it was a private love correspondence written from a very dear boyfriend or girlfriend? How would this attitude change your expectations of the words on the page? Would you consider the word’s of the Bible more meaningful or to be significantly changed by God’s great love for you? I really do believe that you would.
I grew up in the age before email and text messaging. In that age to reach someone of any distance you had to write a letter to them. Yes, I know the telephone was there and that could be used to convey a lot of the same or even better information with feelings by hearing their voice directly. But long distance calling was expensive so the best way to normally talk to someone in any length was to write a letter to your love. While God could certainly boom out His message directly from heaven for everyone to hear, He too has chosen to reach out to us using a written form of messaging. This raises two questions immediately in my mind and these were 1). for what purpose was the Holy Bible written and 2). what were God’s thoughts for us when it was written? The intent of the Bible could have been anywhere from an attitude of anger, rage and hate on one side of the pendulum to being from a calm, peaceful and loving attitude towards us on the other side. Which one was it?
Many people read the Bible as if it was written only by a powerful angry God of judgment and punishment for all of their sins and the evils that they have done in this world. But I am not one of those and I believe the Bible came from a God with a personal caring attention and a specific communication style of love directed at at all of those that would take the time to read what He said! I believe that we should each receive the Bible like it was an important special delivery love letter written from the most distant place called heaven from the most special person in our lives and see it as Him speaking directly sweet, kind and loving words written to us. Look at the Bible as God making well intended promises about what He will do for us and to us when He comes for us because of His great love for us.
My reader said that God’s Spirit on the inside of him witnessed with his spirit that this type of Godly loving attitude of message content was a correct perspective to receiving the Bible. He also felt that it was a true saying that I wrote about in my Bible lessons when I said we should read it like a love letter from God. But, yet he still needed scriptural evidence and proof for the defense of this statement to confirm his belief. In other words how could he defend this stated belief if someone asked him why he believed His Bible was a supernatural personal love letter written to him from God? What an excellent question and what an admirable quality of Christian character to possess. For someone to be so open minded and in tune with the Spirit of God but at the same time wanting to verify whatever is taught with the backing of the Bible caused him to be like one of the noble Berean types of Christians found in Acts 17:11. I hope and pray that you are the same way. Therefore let’s obtain foundation evidence from the Bible for a belief that God wrote the Bible as a personal love letter.
WHY WE NEED TO KNOW THE ANSWER
Let’s open this Bible study with a directly related discussion to why we need to be able to answer when someone asks us a question about the Bible concerning why we believe the way we do about what is written in it. What I want you to learn in this initial section is why it is important to learn, know and remember the sound Bible truths in order to respond to the questions of people desiring to understand the foundation basis of our beliefs and faith in Jesus Christ. We will begin reading form the book of Colossians:
Col 4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
Col 4:4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Col 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
This is such an excellent set of verses. Paul writes to the church of Colossae. This information should immediately raise the question in your mind “why am I reading a letter written nearly 2000 years ago to someone else originally like it was applicable to me? This is what many intellectual deceived people will conclude. I have also heard religious people that graduate from unnamed seminaries use this argument to explain away verses that did not conform to their traditions. However that is a lie from Satan. This letter was written to the Church of Jesus Christ and that is me because I’m in the same body of Christ and they were. There is no new body of Christ today from back them. I hope that you understand that.
Paul writes both a request for prayer as well as to give them instructions on our important subject question do we need to defend our faith to non-believers? Paul asks for them to pray that God would open a door for him to be able to preach the mystery of Christ to the lost. Paul expounds clearly and plainly that God’s word contains divine mysteries that are not easily understood by carnal minded unsaved people. Therefore Paul then asks them to pray that God would show him what to speak so that he could walk in divine wisdom toward them that were unsaved. This is an excellent prayer for me if you would have the time to do that. I know if you are witnessing to people it would be a good prayer for you also. Let’s continue to go through some more of the information found in these verses written to us in the church.
Paul is talking about speaking the right words for the specific situations for those coming opportunities that God was going to present to him through the open doors being prayed for. Can you understand what Paul needed and why it is even necessary to ask God for this to help others get saved? Think with me for a moment. Every man is different. Each individual being different will respond to only certain personal words. One answer to one man will be rejected by another. This is why we need God to help us because only He knows the right words to speak for every person we encounter.
What if someone that is unsaved comes to you and asks you why do you believe in Jesus? Do you have an answer? Wow, I think many do not. Now let me ask you something related to what Paul prayed. Do you have the answer that they will receive? Someone coming to you and asking why you believe in Jesus is really no different than if someone comes to you and asks you why are you reading the Bible? I believe that one possible good answer to that question would be “I read the Bible because this is God’s love letter that He wrote to me personally”. However this answer may just bring up another direct question about why you said that? Will you be able to answer that question also? What kind of proof or evidence do you have to present to anyone in the court of human personal interaction to defend your statement? I hope and pray that is the reason that you are reading this Bible lesson to find out.
Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Look at verse 6 again because this is the main point that I wanted you to see in this introduction. God says through Paul for our speech (words spoken to the unsaved world) to always be done with God’s Grace (full of grace, spoken in grace, led by grace and even done with and for grace). Then God says to let your words be seasoned with salt. Wow now we are getting into more difficult symbolism. We could spend days talking about the subject of salt but that is not my main subject today. Therefore let’s move to the last statement in verse 6.
In the last statement in verse 6 God says if we let our words be as the seasoning and preserving salt filled with grace this will cause us to be able to answer any man’s question the way that we should. What God is saying is you better expect questions concerning your faith and beliefs to come from unsaved people and then you also better expect to give them answers to those questions right away. Are you ready to do that?
1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Today the question asked to me was “Why I believe the Bible is written to me personally as a divine love letter from the Almighty God”. Let’s get into the subject of why the Bible can be considered a divine love letter written to you and I from the most intelligent and all powerful being that you can imagine named God.
WHY SHOULD WE CALL THE BIBLE A LOVE LETTER?
I’ll begin this section of the subject study by using a very basic important fact presented to us in the Bible about how God identifies to us His character as being love. This basic foundational fact should be one of the truths that every Christian learns directly after being saved. Knowing God’s true character and nature will help us to know how to understand the entire rest of Bible. We should always balance God’s revealed character of love with His stated works and actions. I will say that this is a complex question to answer and sometimes Bible answers to basic questions are not as easy as reading only one verse but I will still try to answer the question as best as I can in this presentation of message delivery. Let’s start with seeing this very important basic Bible truth of God’s character found directly in the first epistle of John:
1Jn 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
1Jn 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Notice the declaration of divine character being presented to the church in these two verses that “God is LOVE”! The Greek word translated as “God” in these verses is G2316 and this Greek word can be transliterated as “THEOS”. THEOS is one of the dominate N.T. names of God and is found in 1172 verses. THEOS is LOVE is one of the most vital statements of God’s makeup, character, personality and nature found in the entire Bible. Love is stated to define who and what God is and this declaration must be the revealed source for His other great qualities such as His morals, His compassion, His mercy and His grace. God wraps all of His other Bible described attributes in the one word named Love. This word translated as “love” is the Greek word “AGAPE” (G26) and we all need to learn this word. According to John 3:16 AGAPE means to give grace, mercy and compassion to someone when it is not desired, deserved, earned or even appreciated. I am not going to explain that statement further so if you can’t read John 3:16 and see that this is a true statement you need to spend a great deal of time studying on this verse before you continue in this lesson.
God’s (THEOS) divine love (AGAPE) is nowhere close to a normal human type of expressed love. The God kind of love is unconditional. God loves us because this is His character and nature and not because of anything that we can do for Him or to Him to earn it. I would like to make a point that God does not have love because these verses say very clearly that God is love. There is a huge difference between being something and having something. For example if I had gold that is completely different than saying that I am gold. Humans fall in love and fall out of love and this is not an example of God’s love (AGAPE). God is never going to stop loving you because you did something wrong, made a mistake or even told Him that you did not love Him. Wow, that is difficult to even comprehend.
What we observe from these two statements in 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 is that there is a definite mathematical law that what one (GOD THEOS) is the other (LOVE AGAPE) is. Each are declared to be the equivalent representative of the other only using a different description, name, title or label. Wow, that was a very powerful statement of truth. What I am saying is when you see “AGAPE” you should see “THEOS” and when you see “THEOS” you should see “AGAPE”. There is no difference between the two by God’s definition. Remember that this is God’s definition and not mine. God teaches us that they both are stated to be mathematically equivalent. This truth is like saying “GOD/THEOS” = “LOVE/AGAPE” in mathematical notation terms. Let’s check out another verse that claims God is love:
2Co 13:11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Here we have further confirmation that God is love. I like to give more than one verse to prove the statements that I make because God declares in the mouth or two or three witnesses from the Bible let every word be established. Here is God writing through Paul to say “the God of LOVE”. It would be perfectly fine to say “the God (THEOS) who is love (AGAPE) and peace will be with you”. Wow, I just love the Bible. This is simply teaching us because we have God on the inside of us we have LOVE present. We cannot or at least should not deny that God (THEOS) is stated to be love (AGAPE).
Ok we have just learned and now should know that God and love are stated to be equivalent and so whatever God does should be concluded to be based upon HIS dominant descriptive quality of Him being LOVE. Do you understand this logic so far? Therefore, based upon 1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16 and 2 Corinthians 13:8 we have a new mathematical rule to use that states wherever GOD (THEOS) is found LOVE (AGAPE) can be found also by the mathematical law of algebraic substitution. Using these mathematical commutative laws it is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to say GOD (THEOS) = LOVE (AGAPE) and therefore LOVE (AGAPE) = GOD (THEOS) and we can use either titled name form to describe Him or point others to Him. Do you understand this very basic mathematical truth reality? If you do then please read this verse next carefully with this in new information in the forefront of your mind:
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Now change the single most important focused subject word “God” (THEOS) found in this verse to the equivalent of “Love” (AGAPE) using the mathematical laws of substitutionary equivalency and reread the sentence:
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of LOVE (AGAPE), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Now we should be able to begin to easily understand why I could say that God’s Holy Word was a personal Love Letter written to you and me. Based upon this knowledge, one of the primary reasons for the purpose of the Bible being given to us is because of GOD/LOVE. Then God explains in this verse because of His love His Word is beneficial to teach us (doctrine). This literally means God’s Word instructs us like children helping us to grow up. The next benefit for God’s word is “reproof” and this is a Greek word that means to give us “proof” or “evidence”. Uh oh that is exactly what we all need to answer any question. We are finding the proof that the Bible is God’s love letter simply by studying and learning what He says. This is us again coming to God’s Word like 2 year old children asking their loving parent why, why and why. Next the Bible is then stated to benefit us by “correcting” us. This simply means a confirming repetition of the previous statements that God is turning us away from the ways that are not good for us using His loving Word. This is exactly the role of a loving parent given to their child in a caring and loving relationship. The final statement is a Greek word translated as “instruction” which declares the same loving purpose for the Word of God meaning “tutorage”. God is simply saying My Word will train you in the way you should be going as a wise loving parent will do for any of their children with great love.
What we have just observed is a Loving Heavenly Father that gives us His word in Love and for AGAPE instruction, training and evidence. This should be changing your perspective of the Bible dramatically by now if you are His child and want to grow spiritually.
HOW CAN ALL OF THE WORD OF GOD BE PERSONAL TO ME?
We have just gone through a simple quick introduction to the subject of why the Bible is a written love letter from God. But we still need to connect why the entire Bible should be considered personally written to you and I? In other words if the Old Testament was originally written to the natural nation of Israel, how do any of these previous Old Testament words apply to us today in the New Testament church? I will answer that question by saying Old Testament verses do relate and apply to us if we know how to use them. But let’s begin by taking a specific O.T. example to consider. We will go back to a verse that is often used by modern church preachers. This verse is found in the book of Jeremiah. Yet it this old verse is often quoted to be for us now in the church.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
First consider the verse using the knowledge gained from the second section in the lesson on the subject of GOD = LOVE. Is this verse in Jeremiah 29:11 a love based statement? I believe it is very clear that it is AGAPE based. The LORD is speaking in this statement and He declares that He has good plans for the intended reader of this text. It further says that God has good thoughts of peace towards these people also. Sounds like a loving father to me, how about you? If you read the context you will see in verse 1 of this chapter that these words were written to the remnant of Israel that was taken captive into Babylon. This is clearly not me or you, is it? So how does this type of verse apply to us in the church? That is the great question. Do verses like Jeremiah 29:11 have anything to do with you and I today?
Do you remember that we just learned from 2 Timothy 3:16 that “ALL SCRIPTURE” was given by inspiration of God for our instruction and this statement was written directly to the church and I am certainly in the church. This verse in 2 Timothy immediately teaches us that even the Old Testament contains inspired words that are at the least important and beneficial for us to learn from. Do you understand this so far? Do you agree with this concept so far?
When the church was first established based upon the description given to us in the book of Acts, the disciples preached the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of that day using only the Old Testament writings. Therefore the O.T. verses were the only divinely inspired Words of God that could be used to verify doctrinal information that they possessed or were presented. The Old Testament was the only proof and evidence that was present to confirm everything that was being taught by the disciples. If you read Acts 17:11 as I previously mentioned it declared the more noble Berean Christians searched these O.T. scriptures daily to verify what was being taught by Peter, James, John, Paul and etc. This should help us to begin to understand the significance of why even the Old Testament is so important to learn and correctly understand for us in the modern church. It is vital to remember that the Old Testament verses were given by the same inspiration of AGAPE that the New Testament verses were given by. There is absolutely only one Bible written by only one author and He is the God called LOVE and this fact will sustain us to arrive at the truth if we continue to study and learn.
Christians today often still struggle to understand how a verse written to the Old Testament natural nation of Israel could be applicable to them. Therefore, let’s examine some verses in the New Testament that help us to understand why they do apply to us. We will begin by reading a verse found in 2 Corinthians:
2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
Here is where life could begin to get complicated for many Bible readers. This is a verse of Holy Scripture that teaches all of us in the church that “EVERY” promise made by God applies to us even if they were made by God during the Old Covenant. That statement is also a complicated concept that passes over the head of Christians. They tend to over analyze and see many O.T. promise verses as being only made to the people of natural Israel but that is not what this verse said. Every is an all-inclusive statement omitting none of them. That means if God made a promise it is ours by the definition of 2 Corinthians 1:20. However there is a qualification given in order to be included in this statement. Did you see it in the verse? We must pay attention to every detail or we will fall into error easily.
The qualification for God’s promises to be made manifest was given to only those that were “IN HIM”. I’ll say it again “All the promises of God are given to those that are in Him”. All the promises of God are Amen (so be it) to ONLY those that are “in Him”. What does that mean? This simply teaches us a principle that is not widely taught in the church but I will try to explain this without going into great detail in this lesson. I’ll begin by asking you “Are you in Him?” The “Him” is of course referring to Christ Jesus! You are either “In Him” if you are saved or you are “separated and apart from Him” if not saved. That is the basic simple truth.
So why is it important for us to be in Jesus Christ? Wow that is an amazing question to find the answer if you really think about it? Who was Jesus Christ? We should already know that Jesus was the Son of God the second person of the Godhead and trinity. But, we should also know that He was the Son of Man (Adam) and a descendant of Abraham. The genealogy of Jesus given by divine inspiration in Luke 3 proves to us the natural family lineage of Jesus as direct descendant of the natural nation of Israel. This makes Jesus our qualifying partner. Jesus was and is the reason we can possess the Old Testament promises of God written to natural Israel. There are over 100 verses in the New Testament that informs us that we are in Christ Jesus. Because we are said to be in Jesus Christ, we have what He has. What Jesus possesses we possess. It is very simple and yet so very profound. Let’s explore some additional New Testament verses to help confirm what is being taught:
Gal 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Here is another potentially confusing verse. They which “be” of faith is speaking of “you and I” if you are saved by God’s grace through your faith (Eph 2:8). Are you of faith? I know I am of the faith! Then it says if you are of faith then you are blessed along with and the same as faithful Abraham. Why would this be a true statement? Many of us in the church are probably not a natural descendant of Abraham. So how can we have the same blessings as Abraham? Let’s continue down to another verse in Galatians to learn more:
Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Oh, this verse is beginning to speak more directly of me because I’m definitely a Gentile man. Notice that the blessings of Abraham will come upon the Gentiles through the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we have two keys to the puzzle. There was the mention of faith in verse 9 and mention of Gentiles being blessed through Christ Jesus in verse 14. What we are doing is gathering puzzle pieces to learn how the spiritual things of God were accomplished and how they apply to us by faith. But there is much more to learn and we are missing the main puzzle piece still. Let’s continue to read down into verse 16:
Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Notice what this verse says because this is a very essential New Testament truth ignored by many. God through the Apostle Paul writes to us that all of the promises made to Abraham were made to him and to his seed. But here is where the clarification comes from God that it was not all of the people that were born from Abraham but rather only one seed being Jesus Christ. Do you understand this? God promised the blessing to only Abraham and to only Jesus the seed of Abraham. That is an amazing statement of truth being given by revelation to Paul. Seed is a word that can be singular or plural without any modification. It is only by the choice of the speaker which one it is. Since God is the speaker we need to conform to which one He said it was and not what we thought or learned from a man. Do you understand that principle?
Why did I just go through all of these verses in Galatians to teach you these basic Bible facts? It is simply because since we are “IN CHRIST” we have everything that He has been given by God. Every blessing that was promised to Christ belongs to me and to you also if you are in Christ. I’ll say it one more time “What was given to Jesus has been given to us by our faith in Him”. I will only go over one other puzzle piece in this chapter for the conclusion of this part of the section:
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
If you are Christ’s then God declares that you are Abraham’s seed and an heir according to the promise given to Abraham and his seed. Wow again an awesome statement. This is just further confirmation that whatever God promised to Abraham in the Old Testament was given to Christ and because we are “IN CHRIST” we have also become the seed of Abraham. Are you receiving this message from God? The primary reason I am going through these verses is to teach you why statements made to the natural seed can and will still apply to us in the church today. Most of the church today are not natural seeds of Abraham but because Jesus was a natural seed that the promise was made to then we have obtained the blessing also. This is one of the primary reasons why most of the blessing verses written to natural Israel can and will apply to us today in the church.
Do you remember how we got here? I began teaching this section declaring the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:20 that teach us that “all of the promises of God are in Him Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus”. What we have accomplished is the placing together of many pieces to present a greater and more complete pictured truth. Each individual picture piece represents a truth that when joined together correctly present a view into something that is truly much more significant for us to know. I’ll end this section of the lesson with only one other verse concerning the promises of God:
Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
This verse is again speaking of Jesus. The works of God through Christ Jesus are so much greater than most of us really know or understand. What God has done through Jesus and given to us because of His death, burial and resurrection is far beyond the human imagination. All of God’s promises of blessings given to natural Israel have been given to us plus a whole lot more. The promises of God in the New Covenant must be greater than all of those given in the Old Covenant or no one could call them better. This is just another reason why it is legal for us in the church to go back into the Old Testament and use any of those words of blessing from God in our lives. Whatever we can find spoken and written down by God through one of His prophets will be the minimum that we should possess. In other words we can claim by our faith in Jesus because we are IN HIM and we now have better promises that trump those of the Old Testament.
I hope and pray that you enjoyed this very basic but very essential Bible lesson answering the question “How can the entire Bible be considered a personal love letter from God written to me?” This lesson should provide us a firm foundation for why the verses of blessing that were written to the natural nation of Israel can be applied and taken as a promise from God to us today in the church. I began this lesson teaching the basic character trait that GOD/THEOS = LOVE/AGAPE. I then took this truth and applied it to the Bible being given and inspired by GOD/THEOS who is LOVE/AGAPE. We substituted AGAPE for THEOS in the verse of 2 Timothy and this taught us that the Bible was LOVE inspired written down by men of God for us to learn from. We went through the fact that there are over 100+ verses in the Bible that tell us those that are saved are “IN CHRIST”. These verses benefit us because we were given the promises of God made to Abraham by our faith the same as Jesus because we are “IN HIM”.
If you have any questions or comments about anything that was written down here I would be very glad to read them and to respond to them as time and the Lord permits. Please share this website with you friends and family to help the Word of God’s truth be spread to everyone for free on this planet. The more God can reach and help people the faster that Jesus can come back and take us out of this world. I’m personally looking forward to Jesus coming very soon. Redeem the time because the time is short. Stand firm in the faith of Jesus Christ and tell everyone you can about His saving grace. Thank you and may God continue to richly bless you to grow spiritually.
Predestination Revisited! – Part 4 — God’s Invitation to the Wedding
(Ver 1.1) Today I am teaching another lesson on the highly controversial subject of “predestination” or “election” as it is also referred to many times. This is Part 4 of what should be a basic Bible study series concerning a very difficult and easily misunderstood Bible subject that is taken to extremes to place deception into the minds and lives of Christians. Satan does this to remove human “freewill” as being a factor for salvation. It further removes human responsibility to getting saved or staying saved. The extreme predestination philosophy allows an anything goes belief for acceptable human behavior without consequences of guilt or punishment. It removes the need for repentance, believing, learning, growing up spiritually and many other factors for a successful Christian life. If you have not read this series form the beginning I would strongly recommend that you go back and start with “Part 1” and then proceed forward to today’s Bible lesson. In doing this you will get a more complete understanding of the entire subject.
In today’s lesson I will begin addressing more specifically two sets of Bible verses that are commonly used by extreme teachers to preach their erroneous doctrine of extreme “predestination”. I received a question from a friend and this will be an answer for everyone to read and benefit from. I was asked about Ephesians 1:3-11 and Romans 8:28-30 and I have to admit that reading these verses in isolation certainly gives us all the appearance of a valid “predestination” theology on the surface. But was this what God did? Did God predestine some to heaven and some to hell without any human participation or determination upon where they wanted to go?
It might surprise you that I agree with a part of the “predestination” theology. The word “predestinate” is certainly a part of the Bible and this means we need to learn about it. Bible “Predestination” simply means a divine plan was put into place by the sovereign mind and will of God and God putting His plan into action has predetermined the outcome result. That is “predestination” in a very limited definition form. Predestination simply means a predetermined outcome was planned by God by placing severe limits upon the possible outcomes. That is what the word means and that is what God is bound to do but taking that definition and teaching what people do today is totally absurd.
I completely agree that God had a plan in place for human salvation long before He did anything to create our world. This plan involved Jesus who was the Almighty God in the flesh coming to the earth as the sacrificial lamb (Rev 13:8). Therefore God predetermined before man even existed that He would come down to the earth in the form of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3) to die for the payment of our sins removing our penalty for them while we were all yet sinners (Romans 5:8). This is the part of the doctrine of “Predestination” that I believe in with my whole heart and I hope and pray that you do also.
I also totally agree that God has omniscient foreknowledge of every event within human history and uses these events to put His plan into effect. However, the problem that arises very quickly is when people take these basic truths and stretch them into realms of beliefs that are not stated in the Bible. For example many people teach that God has predestined some to go to heaven and some to go to hell by His sovereign will and choice. That part of the doctrine of predestination represents a line in the sand that I refuse to cross because it violates God’s written word and makes Him to be a liar and my God is not a liar. I have already taught in three lessons about many things concerning why extreme predestination does not balance or conform to God’s entire precious Holy Word and we will be going into even more verses today because this is absolutely so important and vital for every Christian to understand.
AN INTRODUCTION AGAIN TO SALVATION
I realize that these verses that were given to me from Ephesians and Romans appear to confirm predestination as a legitimate theological doctrine. I’m very sure that these are two of the primary references being used by pastors to teach on the subject of “predestination”. But the extreme teaching and interpretation of these verses is by far not even close to being a correct or accurate representation of who God is or what God says. These extreme teachings are certainly not balanced properly with the rest of the Bible. For example let’s begin talking briefly about how we were saved according to scriptures:
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Here we have some of the most important basics of Christianity and salvation. God declares that we have been saved by God’s Grace but only in conjunction through our faith and we have been also made the children of God by our Faith in Christ Jesus also given only by God’s Grace. Therefore it is only because of our faith and belief in Jesus that has accomplished salvation by God’s Grace. If we have NO faith in Christ and choose NOT to believe in Him then we are not saved nor are we called His children. Knowing this truth is the foundation for the rest of Christianity which causes spiritual growth to continue helping us to see our role, relationship and purpose for being saved in Christ. Therefore I’m going to say something that may blow your mind but according to God’s Word it is the freewill choice of man to believe that determines whether or not we are selected (saved) and not God selecting us that determined our salvation. I’ll probably get a lot of negative comments and may even lose some readers because of that statement but so what I’m not going to change God’s word to fit your theology. It is really so very simple yet this scriptural truth of human faith being the determining factor for our salvation is ignored completely by many extreme “predestination” only preachers. Let’s look at a new verse briefly to learn an additional confirmation of who should be considered the chosen and how they became this:
2Th 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
We should be able to clearly see at first glance that God has chosen us from the beginning. This is a basic predestination verse that teachers like to grab hold of to easily misunderstand the subject. However, this verse is another example of divine and human partnership working together to achieve our salvation. You see there are two direct things mentioned that God does in this verse and these are 1). God has chosen us to (for) salvation and God has done this 2). Through a process called sanctification. Then there are two direct things that we as Christians are said to do and these are 1). Give thanks to God for what He has done and 2). Believe the truth. The key word I want to focus upon is the Greek word G4102 translated as “belief” in this verse. This Greek word literally means to be persuaded of something. It can be translated as “believe” or “belief” or even “faith”. This is a word for humans not God. This Greek word represents what we do. It is a verb action of human response after hearing the Gospel (good news) of what God has done through Jesus Christ. We are required to have faith in order to please God according to Hebrew 11:6. Thus we are given one of the primary reasons for being chosen or selected by God is because of our faith. In other words if you don’t believe or have any faith you will not be selected. Do you understand this? People want to say it was only God’s sovereign choice and His right to choose some and reject others that caused us to be saved or lost but that is foolish thinking based upon poor human reasoning with no scriptural backing for that belief. No, the truth is that we determine whether we will be selected by our faith in Jesus Christ. It is so easy when you finally see it.
I was asked specifically about Romans 8:28-30 and Ephesians 1:3-11. I’ll talk about Romans 8 first in this lesson but everything that is written could apply to Ephesians 1 also. There are at least three mistakes that Bible teachers take upon themselves with their wrong interpretations of these scriptures that cause error to go forth to be taught. First they ignore the context of the verses and that is taking phrases out of their setting to say what they think they want them to say instead of what they actually say. Second there is a common problem of seeing verses from the wrong scriptural point of view to make the verses again say what they want instead of what God actually said being balanced with all other verses on the subject of human FREEWILL. You see context is also much more than just the verses in the surrounding chapter. Context must also include the whole Bible and every scripture that is related to the subject directly or indirectly. God is one author of one book and people taking one statement without the rest will lead us to error. Third there is the problem that occurs when an assumption is drawn based upon no direct facts being given. We must not make assumptions if God does not give us two or three witnesses to our belief.
Let’s go over a quick overview of good interpretation and understanding principles. We need to first learn to read and study the context of the verse within the chapter, the book, and the entire Bible in order to understand any single statement better and more clearly. Next then we need to read the Bible using the correct perspective. Many times we should consider what is written from God’s viewpoint since He is the admitted author of the text. God’s viewpoint is normally from a very spiritual perspective because He is a Spirit. God’s spiritual viewpoint is superior and normally conflicts with the human natural viewpoint (Romans 8:7). We learn this principle from several Bible selections including Romans 8 that we are currently studying but consider another reference found in 1 Samuel 16:7 when God spoke to the prophet and told him not to look on the outward appearance of the man (flesh) because God looks upon his heart (spirit). Wow, that is an awesome bit of knowledge to learn from and apply in our lives and study today.
Now consider the fact that there are other possible verses in the Bible that are directly related to the subject of “predestination”. These verses must also be considered contextual information that should be weighed together. Wouldn’t any or all of these other verses possibly have an impact in determining how we need to believe in the whole subject of predestination? I believe they do. Finally after reading and studying the whole subject we should be able to gather together all the known facts and use these to drive our belief process after we have felt confident that we understand the verses adequately enough to do so. Finally, as part of the drawing conclusions process we must never conclude anything unless we have 2 to 3 factual Bible witnesses of the conclusion from the Bible and I’m going to talk about this next.
For example NOWHERE in the Bible does it say that God predestined men to go to hell and that is a very wrong assumption and belief that many people have created in their minds and have bought into it like it was the truth because they think they were “selected” to go to heaven and therefore nothing they ever did effected them to get saved or nothing they will ever do can or will ever change their status of salvation. What a lie of the devil. If that was actually true then a lot of the N.T. is not necessary. In fact we can take that further and say the Bible as a whole is unnecessary for salvation. No one would need to preach the gospel, no one would need to believe the Gospel, and no one would need to go to church, no one needs to read the Bible and no one would even need to pray because God’s will would always be done regardless of what we do or say or pray. Also there would be no need for there to be any BIBLE commandments from God or instructions or warnings in the Bible for us to not be deceived or to depart from the Lord (Heb 3:12, 1 Tim 4:16, Gal 5:15, 1 Cor 10:12, 1 Cor 15:33, Gal 6:7, Luk 21:8, …. and others).
Let’s talk about the context first of Romans 8. The verses directly prior to these verses asked about speak of praying in tongues also called praying in the Spirit. I know it does not say it directly but that is how God wrote it in order to give man a choice to believe or not believe in speaking and praying in tongues. So let’s read the preceding two verses for direct contextual understanding:
Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Rom 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Ok “intercession is mentioned twice and “prayer” is directly mentioned in verse 26. The key to knowing this is not just any kind of prayer is the fact that God is helping us to pray it. Therefore this is a supernatural prayer language because man can only pray a natural type of prayer language without God’s help. Do you understand this? God gives us the ability to pray supernaturally by helping us with the words to speak that cannot be normally uttered with natural human reasoning as He has stated in verse 26. In the Greek language this word means these words cannot be understood r spoken with the normal human articulate speech process. When we pray in the Spirit, God gives us the words and these are usually words not understood by people but rather they are heard by God and known by God for our benefit and this is why God says in verse 28 that He will cause all things to work together for our good. God does this primarily so that Satan does not know what is being prayed and can make an effort to stop it from coming to pass.
The reason I talked about praying in tongues is because the next verses following these statements are now conditional upon people praying in the Spirit in order to be qualified for what is said to happen next. Uh oh that changes everything or at least it should. We could talk a lot about other things written about in chapter 8. For example there is a whole discourse concerning the flesh verses the spirit. Those walking the flesh are not qualifying for the rest of the chapter either. But I know I was asked about the verses concerning “predestination” and that is where I will go next. Let’s jump down to verse 30 to see where the controversy really begins:
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
This verse begins with “Whom He did predestinate”. Ok, this is pretty compelling if you only read it in isolation that God selected some and therefore must have rejected others by assumed indirection even though it does not say that directly. It is clear that God did select those that this verse was written to in the church but again nowhere does it say that God rejected those that were not in the church. I MEAN NO WHERE! Also there is a Greek word found here that needs our further attention. This Greek word is G2564 and it was translated as “called” twice in this verse. This Greek word means to “bid” or to “call” someone. What exactly does that mean?
Let’s say we go outside our house on the back porch and don’t see our dog. We could “call” the dog and see if he will come to us by yelling his name. The “call” would be an invitation to come and that is exactly what this verse is saying to us. God has invited us to come. What would make the dog not interested in coming to us when we called? It could be the fact that they are occupied with something they value more like a big bone that they are chewing on. Whatever the reason for not coming the dog has the choice of freewill to come or not to come and this is what we must realize is joined within the context of the subject of God “predestining” us. This is where we need to look afresh at this verse from the God spiritual perspective and weigh the context of the rest of the Bible also. I’ll do this with an introduction to a new way to think about predestination.
Why couldn’t God call and invite everyone through a plan of salvation called “to predestine” and offer to them all an invitation to come and be at His big wedding party in heaven? Then why couldn’t God send out all of the invitations to everyone to come to be a part of this party by an act of their choice to attend? But then what if only those people that actually showed up (chose by an act of their freewill) to come to the wedding party would be called those that were “selected”? In other words what if God has predestined everyone to show up for a huge big wedding party but yet not many valued or regarded the invitation as important and therefore did not come and what if this was the reason that caused them to not be selected? Could this possibly be the truth? Wow, I really think it is according to the Words of Jesus in the Bible. Let’s go read some words written in red ink within the distant context of Romans 8 that must be balanced with Romans 8. You should be able to read these verses and see my “what if” story in a parable form given by the Lord Jesus that helps us to learn what I was just trying to teach:
Mat 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
Mat 22:2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
Mat 22:3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
I’ll stop here and make some quick important points. The King in this parable is a representation of God. The Son in this parable is a symbolic representation of the Jesus Christ. The marriage in this parable is a symbolic representation for the New Covenant. His servants in this parable were His prophets and they called to the wedding the children of natural Israel but they would not come to the wedding by an act of their own stupid choice. The Greek word translated as “call” in verse 3 of Matthew 22 is the exact same Greek word found in Romans 8:30 making a direct divine connection to the same subject being spoken of by God. Does this not have anything to do directly with selection or God’s predestination process? Didn’t God call them all to come? Didn’t God desire them to come? Wasn’t it the will of God for them to come? I mean come on and think. God selected them and invited them to come but THEY WOULD NOT. Get it? This is really not rocket science and it is right there in front of our faces. Are we going to believe God or are we going to believe the traditional errors of man?
Mat 22:4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
Mat 22:5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
Mat 22:6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
Mat 22:7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
These verses were written about the natural nation of Israel. The natural nation of Israel was overrun and laid low over and over because of God’s displeasure for their ignorant choices and killing His servants. It is more than clear that this was not the plan of God for their lives. It was more than clear that God sent His servants to invite them to the wedding feast. It is more than clear that it was their own actions that caused them not to come in and be a part of the process. This is called man’s “freewill” and this must be taken into account when teaching anything about “predestination”. Now continue to read the rest of the parable because this is how we were selected:
Mat 22:8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
Mat 22:9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
Mat 22:10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
So God goes forth into the rest of the Gentile world with more prophets and teachers inviting them all to come to the wedding and guess what I came by own freewill choice to believe and now because of my choices I have been selected. Also because I am now selected I now go into the world and preach the Gospel to others so they can also be selected by an act of their own freewill choice and faith in Jesus Christ. Wow this is how God designed it to work. We either believe and are saved or we don’t believe and we are damned by our own freewill choices (Mk 16:16).
Mat 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
Mat 22:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
In this parable there are only two types of people mentioned that are rejected from being at the wedding and these were the one man without a wedding garment and those that chose not to even attend. However, this one man without a wedding garment also represents the man’s own foolish choice to try to come to the wedding without being properly clothed. This verse was symbolically talking about people who call themselves Christians but have not “PUT ON CHRIST” (Gal 3:27). This parable is all symbolism but this story gives us natural realities that apply directly to predestination and election.
I hope that everyone can read this over carefully and see the truths beings presented. This is exactly what I have been attempting to teach about salvation, election and predestination. Everyone is invited but only those that choose to show up to the wedding properly attired get to stay in the party to be called the select or elect ones and all others are left outside trying to get in. Remember the parable of the 10 virgins? This is the exact same reality. All 10 were invited but only 5 were prepared and entered in and the others were left out because of their lack of preparedness. Wow, this teaches us plainly that human FREEWILLL choices have a great determination to who is “selected”. We can choose to not attend the wedding or we can even choose not to dress for the wedding and both of these will cause us to NOT be selected. I don’t know how to teach it more clearly.
Let’s look at another verse to help us with the Bible basics of selection or predestination. I will give you a verse found in the Book of Hebrews that has nothing to do on the surface with this subject of predestination yet it has everything to do with it by indirect subject content and contextual association. God is speaking to Christians in this verse so read the words like they were written to you personally:
Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Here is an additional confirmation that God had a divine plan from the foundation of the world. But, back up and see who it is that has been determined to enter in. Believing is stated to be the determining factor for entering into God’s rest. Those that have not believed do not enter in and those that believe do enter in. The entrance door is God’s Word and believing in God’s word gives us entrance.
I am trying to teach a difficult subject called election or predestination but not the way it is normally taught by many confused people. Becoming God’s elect is based upon a partnership between God’s divine grace and human faith. God is not a respecter of persons as we should know by now but God is most definitely a respecter of faith. The basis of what is taught by many predestination teachers would make God a respecter of persons by selecting some and rejecting others. This would make the Bible a lie and that is a conflicting problem with their philosophy. The only way to balance and resolve the conflict correctly is to understand that any good gift given to men by God is received by their faith. Any good thing ever given to men, done to men or done for men is only received or we could say entered into by individual freewill human faith. This is the way that God designed it to work.
Hebrews 4:3 is just further evidence that proves faith is a necessary part of the plan of God established from the foundation of the world. Read it again and again until you get it and accept it into your heart. Write a big sign and put it up on your wall and it should say “We who believe do enter in….”. What God is plainly saying is that everyone is invited to believe but only those that choose to do it are selected. God has predestined everyone to salvation but only those that have chosen to dress and come into the wedding will be selected and those that do not believe, or have not prepared themselves or have other more important things to do will be shut out when the door closes. That is the truth of God, believe it or not.
Thank you again for reading and studying the Bible with me. I appreciate your time and diligence to read and verify what is written in these lessons. Do not ever buy into a teacher’s words without your own personal verification. Allow the Spirit of God to minister and lead you into all truth. Be blessed and be a blessing to all that you meet every day. I’ll try to do another lesson on Ephesians 1 soon. I hope these word help you to better understand the Bible and your role in being selected.