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Predestination

Query for the Month

of

June 2013

Next up-date: July 1st 2013 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!
 

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

(when you get to the site just click "cancel" and it will let you in.  Then click "order" to obtain a copy. )

In the meantime, try this site.    And here's one where you can read it online.

 

Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.

In this reply the old-fashioned words of the KJV have been modernised, and in some instances, the man-made punctuation has been altered for greater understanding.  Some of the comments are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.  All the ideas expressed in this article, right or wrong, are my own.   


Query:  June 2013  

Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved.   

Is the die cast, or can we do something to change this apparent decision?

Answer:  

This is a scripture which seems to indicate that God has already chosen the life steps for some of us and that we cannot alter these experiences, for the word of the LORD “cannot be broken”.  John 10:35.  The thought that those “whom He did fore-know, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), is akin to the idea that certain persons once saved are always saved, but this is not what God would have us see in His word; for He has given us the choice.

It is not ONE choice, but a series of them, stretching over a whole lifetime, for Christianity is an habitual state.  A choice to be saved, and a choice to be lost!!

Joshua rightly said to the men of his time, “If it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve . . .  Joshua 24:15.

When this question came up among the Hebrew exiles in Babylon, God answered them and said, “When I shall say to the righteous that he shall surely live, if he trust to his own righteousness [his past good actions performed in Christ’s righteousness], and commit [a new] iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he has committed [and not repented of], he shall die [the second death] for it”.  Ezekiel 33:13. 

Then He went on to explain the opposite as well.  “Again, when I say to the wicked, You shall surely die; if he turn [repent] from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right [in My power and My righteousness] . . . he shall surely live, he shall not die [the second death]”.  Verse 14. 

Yet His people claimed that He was not fair!  Verse 20.  But in those verses, the LORD is saying, “I am fair – I give people what they really want – it is Satan and sin which complicates life”.

However, because God knows “the end from the beginning”, and says, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”, there is a feeling among men that we cannot change our destiny, but if this were so, why should God waste time and energy trying to get us to transform our ways?  Isaiah 46:9-10.

Why did the Son of God have to “die” to give us the way of change?

Just to prove His own goodness and mercy before others? 

God forbid.  He does not have to do anything to prove that – it will be recognised and proclaimed by all mankind, saints and sinners alike at the end of time, and they will give the true reason!  “Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him [Christ], and given Him a name which is above every name [shown Him to have a character above all others]: that at the name [goodness] of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of things [individuals] in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD [the Son of God], to the glory of God the Father”.  Philippians 2:9-11.

Then it is that the wicked will see what they have forfeited by their life of rebellion. 

The “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” was despised when offered to them; but how desirable it now appears.  2 Corinthians 4:17.  “All this,” cries the lost soul, “I might have had; but I chose to put these things far from me.  Oh, strange infatuation! I have exchanged peace, happiness, and honour for wretchedness, infamy, and despair.”  All will see that their exclusion from heaven is just.  By their lives they have declared: “We will not have this Man (Jesus) to reign over us” and for God to bring them into His kingdom would be against their will.  Luke 19:14. 

And yet God says that He has chosen some in Christ” “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), and in particular, some like Jeremiah whom He chose while still in the womb!  “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the belly I knew you [for He knows the attributes of each seed]; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified [chose] you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations’.”  Jeremiah 1:4-5.

He separated him and sent him forth as a prophet, and Jeremiah fulfilled His word. 

But another He chose in the same manner did not!

Samson was also sanctified from the womb by the word of God which said of him that “the child shall be a Nazarite [dedicated] to God from the womb to the day of his death”.  Judges 13:7.  Certainly there were times when he obeyed God, but the sad record of his life leaves much to be desired, for he was not always obedient as God had said he should be.  “And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him AT TIMES in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol”.  Judges 13:25. 

To help us understand what was happening let us look at an experience in the life of David.  He too was God’s man, and when he heard that his old enemies the Philistines were fighting against the people of the town of Keilah, he wanted to help them and be their saviour.  He asked God’s permission, and when given specific orders to do so told the glad news to his men.  But they were afraid, so he asked yet again of the LORD, who then also told him that they would win the fight with His help. 

“Then they told David, saying, ‘Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors [the harvest]’.  Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go and smite these Philistines?’ And the LORD said to David, ‘Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah’.  And David's men said to him, ‘Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?’ Then David inquired of the LORD yet again.  And the LORD answered him and said, ‘Arise, go down to Keilah: for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand’.  So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter.  So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah”.  1 Samuel 23:1-5.

How did he hear all this?  God was able to communicate directly with him, because the only surviving priest from the slaughter at Nob, Abiathar, (1 Samuel 22:13-23), had come to David with the ephod of Godly authority [a small waistcoat which was part of the high priest’s uniform].  Exodus 28:6-30.  On that ephod was a breastplate with the two large gemstones, the Urim and the Thummin (plus others).  Under the right conditions they would light up to indicate “yes” or “no”. 

This is how it worked:

“And he [Joshua, a righteous man] shall stand before Eleazar the [high] priest [at that time], who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at His word shall they go out, and at His word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation”.  Numbers 27:21.

But “When Saul [a rebel] inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets”, for he would not have listened.  1 Samuel 28:6.  This is explained in a parable.  Luke 16:30-31. 

So when it became known to David that king Saul thought he had him trapped in the city of Keilah and planned to annihilate his army there, he therefore enquired again of the LORD through Abiathar and received the sad news that not only would Saul come for him, but that the very people he had rescued would be the ones to betray him! 

Thus it is written: “And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah.  And Saul said, ‘God has delivered him into my hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that has gates and bars’.  And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.  And David knew that Saul secretly practiced mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, ‘Bring hither the ephod’.  Then said David, ‘O LORD God of Israel, your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand?  Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard?  O LORD God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant’.  And the LORD said, ‘He will come down’.   Then said David, ‘Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?’ And the LORD said, ‘They will deliver you up’.”  1 Samuel 23:9-12.

The inhabitants of the city did not for a moment think themselves capable of such an act of ingratitude and treachery, but Saul’s threat to besiege them, and their loyalty to him as their king, was too much.  (At that time, in the eyes of many, David was considered a fugitive from the law.)  David now knew, however, from the light that God had given him, that they could not be trusted, that in the hour of need they would fail, for like Peter so many centuries later, they would find that when the pressure came on, their hearts would give way.  Mark 14:29-31.    

Yet this did not happen!! 

For the very simple reason that David did not stay in Keilah! 

He so believed the word of God that he acted on it – and then it did not come true.  It was so far from being fulfilled that Saul did not even leave his encampment.  “And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth”.  1 Samuel 23:13. 

David exercised his right of choice, as did the Ninevites of Assyria when Jonah came to warn them of impending destruction because of their worship of Ishtar, Baal’s consort. 

“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown’.  So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the great of them even to the least of them.  For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes [showing his repentance].  And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.  Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?’  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would [have to] do to them; and He did it not”, for He was able to stay with them.  Jonah 3:4-10.

However, if David had stayed in Keilah then the events would have occurred as predicted, and in like manner, when the people of Nineveh reverted to their old ways a generation or two later, they were eventually overthrown.  But not for many years was Nineveh to fall a prey to the new power of Babylon because of forgetfulness of the true God and through boastful pride.   

What we need to understand is that God sees more than one path at every decision point, and sees clearly to the end of each. 

Jesus tells us, “Enter you in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: because strait [difficult] is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and few there be that find it”, because this is a continuing process.  Matthew 7:13-14.  Whichever path we take, God knows the end of it, but the choice is ours – it is the END of the choice that is predestinated (certain)!

While David was walking in the pathway of righteousness he sang the praises of God by saying that “You have possessed my reins [You guide me]: You have covered me in [from] my mother’s womb”.  But when he stepped out from grace by choosing the wrong way, he then exclaimed “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity [I was born with a sinful nature]; and in sin [an earthly state] did my mother conceive me”, but you saved me from that.  Since then I have chosen to sin, but now I am sorry for my action, so please restore me to the position I had with You before that”.  See Psalm 139:13; Psalm 51:5; 12. 

In choosing to sin he was not a “sinner” (an unrighteous man), but neither was he a “saint” (a sanctified one); but he stood in a place where he needed to repent to be able to continue his walk with the LORD.

The first thought, and the most bitter one, after we awake to the realisation of our choice in taking a wrong path, is often to behave like Job who opened his mouth “and cursed his day [birth]”.  Job 3:1.  If this is not checked it will eventually lead on to thoughts of suicide, or at the very least, to give up religion.  But when God is known and loved as in David’s and Job’s cases, then it leads to the healthy action of repentance because the sense of death, the utter separation from God that this means, is known and felt.  To live in this separation has no attraction for the heart that loves Jesus, but leads it to a feeling of horror, for when Jesus asked all His disciples, “Will you also go away?” Peter replied instantly, “LORD, to whom shall we go?”  John 6:66-71.  He could not bear the thought.

But there is a terrible danger in choosing the wrong way, even for a short time, for when we refuse to walk in the light as God gives it, we BRING UPON OURSELVES THE TERRIBLE CRISIS OF BEING LEFT TO FOLLOW OUR OWN WAYS, TO DO AFTER OUR OWN JUDGMENT. While we are doing this, our conscience becomes less and less impressible.  The voice of God seems to become more and more distant, and we are left to our own infatuation. Then, in stubbornness we may resist every appeal, despise all counsel and advice, and turn from every provision made for our salvation.  The Spirit of God can no longer exert a restraining power over us, and the sentence will have to be passed, “He is joined to idols; let him alone”.  (See Hosea 4:17.)

This is the process through which everyone must pass who rejects the working of the Holy Spirit.  This leads to the “unforgiveable sin”!  Matthew 12:31.

No one need look upon the sin against the Holy Ghost as something mysterious and indefinable.  The sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of persistent refusal to respond to the invitation to repent.  If you refuse to believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour you will love the atmosphere that surrounded the first great apostate. You will choose this atmosphere rather than the atmosphere that surrounds the Father and the Son, and God must allow you to have your choice.  There are only two choices – yes and no; now or later; here or there; go or stay etc. 

This process is plainly seen in David’s experience with Bathsheba.  He was walking on the roof of his house (2 Samuel 11:2), probably praising the God whom he loved, when he looked down and saw Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop.  He felt the rise of a temptation, a thought which TENDED to evil.  At first this was a natural response of human nature, for she was naked, but as he allowed it to remain and develop it became a sinful desire.  The Spirit of God did not fail to convince him of this, for he heard and knew the warning Voice, but the choice was his and he yielded in a measure to the sensuousness of it and the temptation began to prevail over him.  But right there with the temptation was another pathway, for it is written, “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are [personally] able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it”.  1 Corinthians 10:13. 

But, of course, only if you want to!    

David’s spiritual nature, the gift of God, was contaminated: he still saw God, but with dimmer eyesight: he still loved God, but not in the same degree: he was losing his first love.  God tried again and the voice of the Spirit, though fainter, said, “Sin lies at the door”, please don’t do it!  Genesis 4:7.  But David WOULD not hear.  He looked again, not to God but at the object of his lust until his humanity overcame the voice of God, and he rushed on with a loud roaring in his ears, doing a normal thing in the wrong way! (1 Peter 5:8.)  This then completely blotted out the loving calls of his Saviour. 

“And David sent messengers and took her . . .” 2 Samuel 11:4.  Bathsheba, of course, went through the same process, whether before or after David is not clear.  But she responded to his call.

The following are the steps which precede open sin in the Christian who is leading a “good” life because of the “good seed” which is in him or her, for he/she is “keeping himself” by the power of God and “sins not”.  1 John 3:9; 5:18.

1.  A temptation comes before him or her, whether from the world, the flesh, or the devil – it matters not.

2.  The Spirit of God warns him of the danger of toying with it and bids him seek the LORD in prayer.

3.  He gives way to it, just a little, and the temptation immediately grows much more pleasing to him.

4.  The Holy Spirit is grieved, his faith weakens, and his love for Jesus Christ begins to fade.

5.  The Spirit reproves him much more sharply, time after time, but he continues to reject the warnings.   

6.  Eventually he turns altogether from the voice of conscience, and listens only to the voice of the tempter.

7.  Evil (wrong) desire begins and spreads in his mind, till love and faith vanish away (in that area).

8.  He now commits the outward sin if he has the opportunity.

All this can happen in a very short space of time.

This is the manner of temptation and fall in regard to one sin, but even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire, persistently cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel. Every sinful indulgence strengthens the soul's aversion to God. The man who manifests an infidel hardihood, or a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the harvest of that which he has himself sown.  In all the Bible there is not a more fearful warning against trifling with evil than the words of the wise man that the sinner ‘shall be holden [held fast] with the cords of his sins’.” Proverbs 5:22. 

But it does not have to be so!  When we feel that we have sinned and cannot pray, it is then the time to pray.  Ashamed we may be and deeply humbled, but we must talk to God and believe. 

This is what David did.  He had not given up his love of Christ entirely; he had committed spiritual as well as physical adultery, but he still really loved his Saviour and when confronted at last with the enormity of his choice (for the Spirit of God continues to try and warn right up till death separates us from God permanently), he came back.  During all this experience he remained a child of God, but a bad child, as had Samson, yet both will be in the first resurrection in the end.  See Hebrews 11:32.

What we need to realise is that through the love and power of God we can choose the right path again at any time and be re-instated into His house like the prodigal son, for he never ceased to be the son of his father.  “And he arose, and came to his Father.  But when he was yet a great way off, his Father saw him [for He was looking for him], and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said to Him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in Your sight, and am no more worthy to be called Your son’.  But the Father said to His servants, ‘Bring forth the best robe [the permanent one], and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this My son was dead [in sin], and is alive again; he was lost, and is found’.  And they began to be merry”.   Luke 15:20-24.

But if we refuse every time to come back then there must come a day when the LORD will have to say (but not through any choice of His), “He is joined to his idols: let him alone”.  Hosea 4:17.  But this is NOT a fast process.

Conclusion:

Predestinated?  Yes!  For “he that is unjust, let him be unjust still . . .  and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still”.  Revelation 22:11.  God may warn you of impending disaster if you have sinned, but the choice of either of two ways is still yours; you can change the word of God as David did.  Then, if we have chosen to follow the LORD, He has guaranteed that He will never let us go, and we will be “holy and without blemish” in His sight!

 


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated,

but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

 

Next query. To be discussed from July 1st 2013,

Next query:

Hosea 1:

1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. 2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea.  And the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to you a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land has committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD”.

3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.  

There are many who believe that these words tells us of a LORD who gave us the Ten Commandments deliberately sending a man to seek out a prostitute and marry her just so that He could have an example of how He was feeling!! 

Let’s have a good look at the story and see if this is true. 

 

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