Over the past 6 months I’ve had people yell at me, call me dangerous, repeat a single verse over and over, and even twist scriptures, and later admit they know the text means something else. Why am I coming across this kind of behavior? Because I’m attempting to show them that the Bible teaches that God is free to do what he wants, and man is a creature completely at His mercy. In essence, I’m attacking their idea of “free will”.
Now, I must admit that I had the same feelings when God sent people into my life to show me the doctrines of grace. I actually once said, “If God chooses who He wants to save, I want nothing to do with Him.”. I thank God that all of my sin is covered, including my rejection of His character. Of course, He has since mercifully revealed how beautiful it really is, and now I can’t imagine a better way for God to redeem mankind.
So why? Why did I get so upset? Why is the idea of a God who chooses certain people over others so offensive, when the Bible we read every day is crammed full of situation where God does just that? How did I go 6 years, knowing this God, yet never truly understanding how the Bible clearly says He interacts with man?
I believe all born again Christians honestly want to know the truth about God. We want the fullest understanding of how He works, so we can worship Him best, and so we’ll be most fulfilled by Him. But I also see, and have experienced, that we are only willing to examine so much. We’ll look at areas of our understanding of God that we’re comfortable with, but no further.
Most people would have no problem asking questions about spiritual gifts, for example. They could honestly listen to other opinions and compare with scripture to find the most Biblical understanding. But, generally, we’re not willing to do that with more controversial issues.
The way it worked out in my mind, when I started questioning why I reacted to reformed theology the way I did, is – it’s like a house. It starts with the foundation. All the things we learn at first, right or wrong, make up the foundation. It’s the bedrock of our salvation in many ways. Pending it’s sound, doctrinally, it should be protected. Paul makes it clear in Galatians:
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” –Galatians 1:8
So we protect those foundational truths. Next we start getting serious about Church and study, and we build our theological house. From hearing and reading scripture, we build our rooms (individual doctrines). We might start with the ‘what is tithing’ room, on to the ‘end times’ room, a ‘how we should worship’ room, etc..
If, after a room is established, we see inconsistencies, we examine them. We say, ‘Wow, this room really doesn’t look the way scripture says it should , I’d better rearrange it.’. Sometimes it’s just a quick makeover, other times we need to completely remove the room from the house, but we’re willing to make the changes to stay faithful to God’s word.
But now, someone comes along and questions you on something. It isn’t one of the rooms. It’s something mingled into the foundation of the house. Someone comes along and says, ‘Man is unable to come to God, on his own.’, they add, ‘Jesus only died for those he intended to save.’. Our memories are immediately filled with super dramatic readings of “God SOOOOOO loved the world… WHOOOOOSOOOOEVER believes…”. This seems to be a threat to the entire house we’ve built.
We are not willing to examine down there for scriptural accuracy, because it’s too sacred. It shakes us to the core. We shutter at the thought of what might happen to the house if those things were even looked at. When someone brings us clear scripture that shows God’s choosing grace, we think, ‘that looks like predestination, but I know everyone chooses, because I’ve always heard it. I have to explain it away.’.
To all those who this is hitting home with – to all those who are angry that I would say such things, I’d like to throw down the gauntlet on the issue. Ask yourself this simple question: ‘if God wanted to show me that he elected a chosen people to salvation before the foundation of the earth, apart from anything good or bad they would do, or any decision they would make, would I be willing to believe it?’. Ask yourself, “If God were to show me that my concept of “free will” is not scripturally sound, would I be willing to let it be removed from my foundation and let that alter my house accordingly?”. I’m not asking you to agree, I’m asking you to ask yourself, “Could I believe it, if it were true?”.
If you’re willing to sacrifice anything to God, come back to scripture and let it speak in context. Allow yourself to be confronted with the innumerable texts that deal with election. Let the the scripture speak for itself. Set your traditions aside and let the Word of God break up your foundation, if necessary. Make absolutely certain that your house is built on Christ’s foundation.