Paul's Passing Thoughts

Romans Series Interlude: Predestination, a Potter’s House Journey; Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 14, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

I am very concerned with knowing the right wisdom that determines how we function as Christians. Another major concern of mine is evangelism. Evangelism has always been a struggle among Protestants, and it would seem that when it does happen the incentive is misguided.

I believe one of the major problems among Christians in our day is lazy thinking. When it gets right down to it, the human condition is predicated on good ideas versus bad ideas. Ideas are extremely important. Faith, by no means, is a license for simplicity. Angels, who need not faith, or trust, or hope, have not been given all of the answers on a silver platter. Yet, being holy, they “desire” to investigate the gospel (1Peter 1:12).

What we think, how we think, and what we believe forms our logic, and our logic will determine what we do. What we do is very important to me. What we do is very important to God. Here is a problem: when we hear someone talk about their “Christian worldview,” we assume this is a generic term that means the same to everyone and I find that assumption chilling. What we believe about predestination is very important. Be sure of this: the premise of every third world country and its misery following is a certain belief about predestination.

Predestination, or election, is in the Bible, I grant that. But I also think we should be sure of what we speak of when we use those terms. I know the prevailing views of our day, and I also know that accepting those views as our own without investigation is a big mistake. That is the journey we are on, and I have chosen 2Peter 3:1-18 as our foundation.

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.

I use the English Standard Bible (ESV). It is a Neo-Calvinist translation heavily slanted towards authentic Reformed doctrine. Throughout the Bible, we find that the redeemed part of the believer is their mind (http://wp.me/pmd7S-FH). The KJV states that our Christian minds are “pure.” The ESV tempers that with the weaker idea of “sincere.” The following is the actual word:

g1506. εἰλικρινής eilikrinēs; from εἵλη heilē (the sun’s ray) and 2919; judged by sunlight, i. e. tested as genuine (figuratively):— pure, sincere. AV (2)- sincere 1, pure 1; pure, sincere, unsullied found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun’s light.

What we have here is a sanctification principle stated by Peter. The apostles had taught so much to the believers of that day they forgot much of it, and this exposed them to the possibility of being led astray by false teachers. Note false teachers of that day often led believers astray by misrepresenting Bible prophecy:

4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Let me also note what the standard of truth was for them in that day:

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

The Scriptures are the standard of truth taught by teachers and confirmed by the saints:

Acts 17:10 – The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

The more I study the Bible, the more I am convinced that the primary strategy of the kingdom of darkness is to lead us away from transforming our mind and lives with the truth of God’s word (Eph 4:20-24). What better way than to teach every verse in the Bible is about justification, and that God has preordained everything? What better way than to teach Christians can only experience the works of Christ without direct participation in obedience? What better way than to teach that our choices have no cause and effect? What better way than to teach we will only be judged on how well we let Jesus do everything for us?

If we had no choices, God wouldn’t motivate us with incentives, and one of those incentives is the imminent return of Christ like a thief in the night. At a time when we think not, Christ will return and a sudden, horrific seven-year judgment will unfold on the earth. This is where we must be careful about biblical words like “salvation.” This word does not always mean eternal salvation for the Christian. Christ, speaking to the assembly at Philadelphia said the following:

Revelation 3:10 – Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

Christians in this age have already been saved for eternity, will be saved from coming judgment, will be saved from this weak, sinful and mortal body (Rom 7:24,25), and Christians during the tribulation will be saved alive if they follow the Lord’s instructions (Matt 10:22,23). When we use biblical words, we must be careful to mean what the Bible means. Interpreting salvation as always meaning eternal salvation proffers the idea that salvation is a process that requires our perseverance in order to finish it. That’s a bad idea.

I want to use 2Peter 3:1-18 for our foundation because we learn from it that God prolongs His coming so that more people will be saved. It is not His intention to predetermine people to eternal judgment:

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

As I explained in a post last week (http://wp.me/pmd7S-32O), the ESV uses the pronoun “you” instead of “us-ward” (KJV [hemas]) which means “us” or “we.” The ESV actually uses a word that is second person singular, and only draws a possible plural meaning from the context. It’s obvious that the ESV translators wanted to confine the object of God’s patience to the elect only, or if you will, believers. The KJV rendering could go either way in regard to the idea of mankind in general or just Christians. But as we will see, “us-ward” refers to mankind in general.

Because of the way the sentence is constructed, the “any” or the “all” is determined by “us-ward” or “you.” The idea that God prolongs judgment because He does not intend (g1014. βούλομαι boulomai: stronger than g2309. θέλω thelō which denotes preference) that any perish does violence to the idea of predetermination. If you put this together with 1Timothy 2:1-4 which uses thelo, we can conclude that God prefers that all come to a knowledge of the truth while not condemning anybody with intentionality. He prolongs judgment so that as many people as possible will be saved. However, God will not strive with man forever (Gen 6:3). Indeed, now is the time to be reconciled to God for the time is short (2Cor 6:2).

Who are the “us-ward”?

The predetermination crowd say the text means that God is only patient for the sake of those he has elected beforehand; once the fullness of His elect believe, the judgment will then come because He is not willing that any of the elect parish. If they are to exclude mankind from God’s intent to predetermine condemnation, they must restrict “us-ward” to the elect only:

God is patient to ______→ determines the “any” and “all” that are the object of God’s patience and unwillingness to condemn.

CLICK TO ENLARGE 

2peter 3.9 2

The only problem is, the preposition “to” is irrefutable in the text. It is the Greek preposition eis and is a primary preposition.

greek-graphic-prepositions_small

To say that God is patient to mankind for the sake of the elect or because of the elect would require a modification of the sentence structure in regard to adding another prepositional phrase.

Prep 2

The actual sentence:

Prep 1

Also, Peter could have stated definitively that the elect alone are in view:

The elect (2)

Therefore, supposedly, the elect are the sole object of God’s patience. However, this makes the elect subjects that need God’s patience in order to dissuade judgment. This makes the elect worthy of God’s judgment; therefore, he must be patient towards them in successive generations for the sake of the elect themselves. This is unavoidable unless you add another prepositional phrase to the text: God is patient towards the judgment-deserving elect for the sake of the elect.

This fits perfectly with Reformed soteriology, Calvinism if you will. The elect are still under the condemnation of the law, and mankind in general, or the non-elect, are not the beneficiaries of God’s patience in the least. God is only patient with the elect, because they are worthy of judgment, for the sake of the elect until they all believe.

So, you are going to interpret this Scripture according to your view of justification/salvation. Making “us-ward” the elect only fits with the idea that Christians are looking for a final salvation:

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation,

Again, this fits because part and parcel with a predestined view of salvation and Calvinism is the idea that Christians, or the elect, still need God’s patience unto salvation. The “salvation” in verse 14 doesn’t pertain to the whosoever will of mankind, it pertains to the elect only. The elect still need God’s patience unto salvation. Why does God need to be patient? Because of sin, What kind of sin? The kind that deserves the judgment to come.

Certainly, God is patient with us, but it is a fatherly patience. If you don’t believe that Christians still need a patience that dissuades the final judgment until the other elect believe, “us-ward” must mean mankind in general. This presents the idea that Christians “hasten” the day of Christ’s coming (they anxiously await for it) while understanding that the Lord’s patience means salvation. Salvation for whom? Well, Christians already have salvation.

The former idea asserts that Christians need God’s patience because they deserve judgment, and God is patient with them because He is not willing that any of the other elect perish.

Unless you interpret this text with a proper view of salvation, “us-ward” is ambiguous. However, assessing the text with a proper view of salvation makes “us-ward” mankind because Christians are not the cause of the coming judgment—God doesn’t need to be patient with Christians in that way.

Once again, we see that eschatology is far from being a “secondary” issue. False teachers have always used eschatology to throw Christians off track (here and 2Thess 2:1-12). We live in an age when the return of Christ is imminent, and we are to be found faithful upon His arrival. This is a time of urgency seen in this text. While we hasten the day of the Lord, we understand that His patience means salvation for many. We are to work while it is still daylight:

Romans 13:11 – Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Ephesians 5:15 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Where is our urgency? It’s missing because we don’t have a dog in the fight, everything is predetermined—there is no cause and effect. Que, sera, sera, what will be will be. Who the “us-ward” are in this passage determines how we will function as Christians. I find the Reformed talking point that evangelism is exciting because it makes us a part of God’s predetermination wanting. You can add to that John MacArthur’s “because God said so” assertion, and God is glorified by people rejecting Him because of the “savor of death.”

Again, the Reformers didn’t even have salvation right, we must be Bereans and see for ourselves what is true about this issue. But in the final analysis, a view of God’s predestination must be tempered with the knowledge  that God desires for all men to be saved and does not select people for damnation with intent. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze 18:32, 33:11). God does not seek glory in condemning people to eternal judgment:

 http://www.jimmcguiggan.com/reflections3.asp?status=Calvinism%2C+worst+face+of&id=913

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19 Responses

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  1. Alex Guggenheim said, on April 15, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    Argo said, on April 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Paul,

    I am not arguing that nouns and pronouns cause the animals to exist. I am saying that ALL concepts, including language and words, even existence, do not exist until man is consciously aware of SELF first. Which makes SELF the standard of truth. Because in order for anything to be qualified as “existing” it needs to be observed by a consciousness agent able make the distinction between itself and what it is NOT.
    ________________

    Argo,

    Why is “man” the standard of truth here? You state that “concepts, including language, even existence, do not exist until man is aware of self, first…because in order for anything to be qualified as existing it needs to be observed by a conscious agent able to make the distinction between itself and what it is not” which begs the question, what about God?

    Was God not the conscious agent before man and present in creation and able to make such distinctions regarding what exists and does not? I understand, with regard to the human person, truth becomes real when they are self-aware and able to make necessary distinctions but preceding human comprehension there is a greater and preceding declaration by God who is qualified to determine what exists and what does not. Thus, self is subordinate to God’s declaration, whether man is aware of a single truth or not.

    Ex: A tree falls in the forest and no human sees or hears this. It is still real and still exists as reality and truth even if the only being who observes it is God. What they can discover is what God already knows, hence, it already exists. Yes, when a human comes upon it, it then becomes observable and personal truth but to say it requires a conscious agent to observe it and to leave God out of the equation (as well as his elect angels who may be in the vicinity) and waiting until a human being realizes this before it is a real concept and something that exists, seems to me to be a fundamental element left out.

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on April 16, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Woe, missed this comment in the batch–sorry for the delay Alex.

      Like

  2. johnimmel said, on April 16, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Alex gugenheim said:
    Ex: A tree falls in the forest and no human sees or hears this. It is still real and still exists as reality and truth even if the only being who observes it is God. What they can discover is what God already knows, hence, it already exists. Yes, when a human comes upon it, it then becomes observable and personal truth but to say it requires a conscious agent to observe it and to leave God out of the equation (as well as his elect angels who may be in the vicinity) and waiting until a human being realizes this before it is a real concept and something that exists, seems to me to be a fundamental element left out.

    It is amazing to me how these arguments persist even though most people don’t recognize the roots.

    This metaphysical summation is Bishop Berkeley … a British empiricist who ultimately sought to destroy the material world, because the (belief in) a material world, was an evil that ultimately destroyed the existence of God.

    it is fascinating to me the enduring power of a formal philosophical statement.

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  3. paulspassingthoughts said, on April 16, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Luther:

    The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness.

    Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.

    Since the law of God, which is holy and unstained, true, just, etc., is given man by God as an aid beyond his natural powers to enlighten him and move him to do the good, and nevertheless the opposite takes place, namely, that he becomes more wicked, how can he, left to his own power and without such aid, be induced to do good? If a person does not do good with help from without, he will do even less by his own strength. Therefore the Apostle, in Rom. 3:10-12, calls all persons corrupt and impotent who neither understand nor seek God, for all, he says, have gone astray.

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  4. Alex Guggenheim said, on April 16, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    Argo

    I understand the infinitesimal state postulate you propose and do not argue self-consciousness is essential for something to be real or not but both, but are still only with respect to humanity which is subordinate to the claims of God who uses the infinite as he chooses which includes the present material world in which he was self-aware and able to make distinctions between himself and the material world and concepts he formulated, long before mankind received them from God.

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  5. alexguggenheim said, on April 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Argo

    I would point to Adam’s creation in which Adam had to be given, and indeed was given, by God, capacity for understanding God which included divinely created consciously known concepts and frames of reference along with ones learned from his commune with God. It does not mean Adam could not further classify reality based upon what God had transferred as reality seeing he was given a rational mind for just that purpose such as formulating some kind of taxonomy but it stands to essential reason that many things had to be revealed to him, after his initial creation, by God, either by God directly or or by way of divine programming at creation which brings us back to the ultimate qualified as to what is real or not. Now, I won’t be dogmatic that my construct is invincible but it is reasonable.

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  6. Anonymous said, on April 17, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    Argo

    I believe you will find I did not assert God to be the sole responsible party for any and all concepts. As I pointed out, Adam was given the task to conceptualize a type of taxonomy through the naming of animals which came from Adam, not God. However, there were many truths given to Adam by God which were true and existing before Adam ever realized them and were so because God understod them which did not require a human to understand in order to be true.

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  7. alexguggenheim said, on April 17, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    Anonymous is me, Alex.

    Like

  8. Alex Guggenheim said, on April 18, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Argo,

    Earlier you stated:

    “And therefore it is indeed man’s conscious self which is the standard of truth. Truth,and the bible itself, are irrelevant without man’s life.”

    Now your formula is:

    “Which brings is back to our original disput: that the conscious SELF of man is the source (and requirement) of how and why man can apprehend TRUTH.”

    These are not synonymous.

    One says the standard of truth is man’s conscious self and the other says that self of man is the source of how and why man comprehend truth.

    One makes man’s self the ultimate source truth and the other makes man’s self the how and why he comprehends truth.

    I agree with the second for the most part but the first, I disagree with fundamentally.

    Like


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