I have always believed that most issues come down to a core root or issue. When you really start to cut things away and tear through the history, the baggage, the wording, the hurts and the fights, there is a point, a tip if you will that set the whole thing off. As I was traveling this week too and from World Changers, I questioned, what is that point in the current debate? There is so much overlap, and then some much fighting over what seems to be rhetoric, what is the splinter?
Now, I have some presuppositions of my own, and most of you know them. I have written about my concept of Woven Theology quite a bit. Some of you like it, some of you don’t, so you will have to forgive me of starting where I am theologically. As I look through my particular lens, here is what I see. We all know that God calls and God saves, that seems to be universally agreed on. I think the majority hold to the concept of Eternal Security. Where the splinter lies is in the initial Salvation experience, who’s idea was it, who initiated it, who made the “choice”, what is us or God. I think if we peel back that layer, we get to the real root of the issue. This is what caused the disagreement and where most of the conflict arises.
What exists in a person that causes some to become redeemed and some to stay unregenerate. What is that element, that key, that piece that causes some to be sheep and some to be goats. Is it choice, or is it God’s will? Does God choose who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell, or do we have that ability to choose who goes where? What is the difference. Everything hangs on that question.
Some say that God predestines some for Heaven and some for Hell, we often hear this called Double Predestination and we see it talked about in Romans 9:22 & 23. There are some who say God chooses and elects and that is that. Others look at Romans 10:13, saying how can that be true, if whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, how can we limit Salvation to just a few.
It seems that what we have here is a Biblical contradiction, and so both camps begin to explain away the text and what is said. Now don’t get me wrong, I am HUGE on context and it makes me crazy when we just take scripture out of context to use for our own purpose, but I don’t think that is what is happening in this debate. I submit for your consideration a third perspective.
If we can’t answer the question completely with “God Elected” and we can’t be settled with “Man chose” then there must be a third alternative. There must be something that we are not seeing. I have written over and over that I think much of the issue is the way that we view and perceive time. We put God in our time line and in our time perspective, and that begins to complicate things. Many theologians and teachers have seen that God has created time, and therefore is not subject to it. For God to be omnipresent, He is not and cannot be limited by time or space. Once we negate the limit of time, the concept of election and predestination can take new meanings. We can see how prayer can work and how the prayers for the lost can bear fruit. As John Piper says in a sermon about prayer “prayer causes things to happen that would not happened if you didn’t pray“. How can that work in salvation except that God can hear the prayers of His people spoken today at the foundations of the world. What a staggering thought.
Other issue that I think we must examine in the difference between those who are/will be saved and those who are not/will not be is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. In the context, Jesus is freeing a man from a demon, and He is accused of being of the devil. He says that if someone says His work is from the Devil, they will be forgiven. To accuse the freeing work of the Holy Spirit to be through a force other than the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. How does this work together in the work of salvation? I think this is paramount, we have responsibility when conviction comes.
So, here is my challenge that I am constantly working on, mulling over. How do we see man’s responsibility that is covered in scripture, the fact that we are in relationship with God and through this relationship, Salvation happens, YET, God is completely sovereign. We cannot take God’s plan and His ultimate will that we see in Romans 8 and 9, but we cannot lose the response and relationship we see in John 3 and in Romans 10. We then look at this concept of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, how does that happen? At what point does the relationship vs God’s choice interact and where does prayer come into the picture? I know what I think, and many of you have seen it. What are your thoughts? Reason with me.