I posted the following response over at Jesus Christology in the comments section of a post discussing sovereign grace vs. free will as they relate to Biblical soteriology.
A commenter going by the name of LorMarie asked:
My last question was a simple case of wit and sarcasm as I already know the answer to it. I’ve read Romans 9 and there is nothing there to indicate that God predestined some people for hell and others for heaven. Just look verses 30-33. That appears to be the conclusion of the theme of the chapter (again, saying nothing about some being destined for hell and others for heaven). People in this thread are claiming that there is evidence for free will and predestination. If so, that is a problem because the concepts or at odds with each other. Or is it our perception that creates the problem?
LorMarie Says: November 23, 2007 at 8:48 am
To which I responded:
The way I understand the scriptures every unregenerate (non-Christian) human being in the world is on a one way trajectory to hell because they are judged guilty in sin and trespass against God’s perfect law. This is basic, orthodox, Christian teaching. Furthermore the scriptures teach that this judgment is both fair and just since God is our Infinite Creator and Judge and because He is perfect in every sense of the word He cannot be “unfair” in any way. We are separated from our Heavenly Father by our earthly father Adam’s sin. This condition, our fallen sinful nature, is as natural and inescapable for human beings as breathing air.
From where I stand I don’t see the problem you’re referring to between free will and predestination. The Bible clearly teaches that God sovereignly chooses some people to be regenerated from death unto life by being miraculously “born-again” of the Spirit. This translation from spiritual death unto spiritual life isn’t something that sinful man is capable of doing or even participating in. Nor is it something that God needs sinful man’s cooperation in doing since the scriptures teach that He will not share His glory with another and that salvation is the gift of God – by God’s grace alone – lest any man should boast.
Lazareth had no choice about coming forth when Jesus called him, just as the unredeemed, dead in their trespass and sins have no choice but to come forth from spiritual death unto spiritual life when the Holy Spirit calls. Dead men can’t do anything for themselves. People aren’t spiritually sickened, or very weak, they’re spiritually D-E-A-D. This is what the Bible teaches again and again.
Sinful men aren’t drifting in the middle of the ocean of sin drowning, gasping with their last breath for salvation when Christ miraculously appears on a boat, throwing them a life preserver so that all they need to do is grasp the preserver with their fingers as the rest of their body sinks beneath the waves as Christ pulls them to the safety of salvation (the boat). Nor are sinful men dying of some deadly disease (sin) for which there is no known cure, when suddenly Christ the Great Physician appears and pours the cure (salvation) into their mouth so that all they need to do is swallow His medicine (the good news) to be cured and made whole.
No, sinful men are stone cold dead at the bottom of the ocean of sin and Christ dives in, swims to the bottom and collects their lifeless corpse breathing life into them, miraculously and gloriously translating them from death unto life.
Again sinful men are DOA on the hospital bed struck down by their incurable disease when Christ the Great Physician walks into the room and commands them live, and they rise from the dead rejoicing and praising Him!
This is the miracle working power of our God! All the glory goes to Him, there’s none for us. Those who are born again didn’t simply choose better than other people, nor are they somehow just smarter or holier. No, God doesn’t foresee some merit that was in, or would be in their lives, instead He sovereignly chooses those who will be saved for His own purposes and for His own glory alone and not for anything He sees in men since He is no respecter of persons.
Yet in the mystery of God we find that He is both able to miraculously regenerate those who are called by His Name (predestination) and sovereignly cause them to come to Him of their own free will. The Bible teaches that no one can come unto God except he is bidden by God:
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
And we know that it is impossible for Christ to have died in vain for the millions – billions? – of unredeemed who are going to be lost and burn in hell forever since the Bible teaches that His atonement was fully effectual for those who would be saved. You see, I believe that Christ died for those who will go to heaven and that He was and is a fully victorious conqueror for His people, His specific people, i.e. His bride. His bride are those within the true Christian church, the church invisible which is comprised of all those who have been truly born-again. Because I believe the Bible 100% I believe that Christ’s atonement was 100% effectual meaning that if Jesus died for a person, that person’s sins must certainly be forgiven because He paid that sin debt personally with His blood. So clearly Christ’s atonement was limited to those for whom He had in mind when He shed His blood on Calvary. If He died for everyone, then everyone must be saved and we’re left with the heresy of Universalism which negates all teaching of hell and denies the revelation of scripture. Therefore we can know with certainty that Universalism isn’t the case, so what’s left?
The only other option left is to believe that Christ died for everyone in general and no one in particular meaning that his death was less than 100% successful and effective. This also irreducibly leads to the belief that Christ’s suffering and death fails to accomplish the forgiveness of most of those “people in general” for whom He supposedly died. In other words it means that Christ paid the sin debt for people who are going to end up in hell. To me that’s deeply insulting to God’s character because it would mean that He is being totally and completely unfair to all those people for whom Christ died, and who’s sins must therefore be remitted, but for some perverse reason aren’t. The only explanation now remaining along this line of reasoning is that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t complete but needs the agency of man to somehow “finish” the finished work of the cross by “making a decision” for Him which results in salvation. Sadly this reasoning adds human works into the equation of salvation by grace alone and is wholly unbiblical.
As I said, the Reformed view has no problem with free will since we are God’s creatures and He can do as He pleases with us, but the other viewpoint has a problem with election/predestination because they are convinced of man’s agency in the process of salvation and thus will often quickly, and incorrectly, assume that God is somehow being unfair by choosing certain people to join Him in heaven while not choosing others. God is not unfair, people are unfair. God is true and we are liars. God is just and we are unjust. He is worthy and we are unworthy. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
In closing God doesn’t need to “choose who will to go to hell”. As previously mentioned everyone is already judged guilty and will go to hell apart from the merciful intervention of a loving and perfect God. In fact according to the Bible everyone deserves hell and no one deserves heaven! So then the question ought to be: “If everyone
deserves hell, then why would anyone get to go to heaven?” And the unspeakably wonderful answer is that it’s because of God’s mercy and unmerited grace alone toward those who will become His heavenly bride! Is it okay for Christ to choose His own bride? Of course it is!
I hope this helps.
Coram Deo Says: November 23, 2007 at 10:39 am