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6 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 2:26PM #1
spudette
Posts: 959

I am starting this thread because I am not a Presbyterian, and I am interested in understanding other people's beliefs. This is only for people willing to share their beliefs in a spirit of Christian love and understanding. If anyone feels hostile when a non-Presbyterian asks a question, please refrain from posting here.


 My first question is this: How do you reconcile the belief that God created one group of humans for the specific purpose of saving them, and another group for the specific purpose of damnation, with the scripture I am quoting below?


2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
KJV

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 5:15PM #2
deVillenueve
Posts: 24

Spudette, a good post and I hope there are some good responses that will help both those who subscribe and those who do not subscribe to this belief understand each other better.


Just for definition purposes John Calvin defined "predestination" as follows:


"Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself, what He would have to become of every individual of mankind.  For they are not all created with a similar destiny but eternal life is foreordained for some and eternal death for others.   Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say he is predestined to life or to death."


In other words, every person who has ever lived, or will ever live had their fate decided before they were born or according to Westminster "before the beginnings of the earth".   There are many wonderful Christians who believe this with all their heart.  I sometimes wonder if they ever ever look at the rows of newborns in the hospital ward and try to decide which are "elect" and which of these infants are already damned to eternal death.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 9:49PM #3
greenponder
Posts: 1,395

Just a quick reply.


I think 2 Peter 3:9 has to be read in the context of other Bible passages. It is talking about how some scoffers were saying, "Where is the promise of his coming?"  Peter's reply to this is that God is patient and will allow the time necessary for everyone who will repent to have the time to do so. I don't think he is saying that God wishes everyone to repent but he is not powerful enough to make this happen or that eventually everyone will repent.


I am currently reading Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics and am in the midst of his discussion on God's decrees which in part deals with predestination. Hopefully I'll have more to share on this subject soon.


One question to consider in relation to election and reprobation is, Can someone who is dead in their sins and trespasses come back to life on the own power? Another is do you think the message of the Bible is that everyone, without exception, will be saved? A third question is, do you think God has the power to save everyone if He chose to do so? If you could respond to these questions it would help me to explain predestination.


When looking a newborns I don't try to decide which of them is elect or not, I pray that they will all come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2009 - 10:23PM #4
deVillenueve
Posts: 24

"When looking a newborns I don't try to decide which of them is elect or not, I pray that they will all come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour."


A wonderful thought but useless if God has already placed the infant in the category of the elect or the category of the damned before the child was born.   In the doctrine of predestination "coming to know Jesus Christ as Saviour" has no meaning and is not a possibility as the matter has already been decided and cannot be changed regardless of the desire of the individual. 


Rather than tip toe around all this let me just ask straight out.  Does anyone here believe that God ("for his pleasure")  decreed every human that ever lived or would ever live to eternal life with Him or eternal damnation seperated from Him before the beginnings of the earth?

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2009 - 4:20PM #5
deVillenueve
Posts: 24

Do I spell much??


seperated = separated


:)

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 19, 2009 - 2:28AM #6
spudette
Posts: 959

It's ok, DeVillenueve. I can understand most typos. I'm not that great a typist myself...Laughing


About our discussion: my understanding is that originally, God created the human race for eternal life, but as we know, Adam and Eve failed the simple test of obedience, and so sin entered our world. God, being omniscient, knew what would happen, but it still was not His plan for humans to die. However, humans could not be permitted to sin etermally, so the solution was for God to assign them a limited life span. Yet. God, in His amazing grace and mercy, had already prepared the way for humans beings to be saved from eternal death. That was to be through the ministry and sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus. All Man has to do is tobelieve on Jesus, and to accept Him for our personal Savior. It is apparent that not all people will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, and those who don't will be eternally lost. That is the second death. So my understanding is that the "elect" are those who accept God's terms and remain faithful to Him.


What I don't believe is that God would create some human beings specifically for eternal destruction, and some others specifically for salvation, regardless of a person's choice. I believe that God gave us freedom of choice, and that He respects our choice. Amazing as it may be, there are people who would not ever be happy in heaven, so the only mercilul thing God can do for them is to let them experience the second death, because He will not tolerate sin to survive in any part of the universe. But He does give each person plenty of time to repent and to learn to follow Jesus. I definitely don't believe that God would save any person who refuses to repent and to follow His Way, but I believe that He will save anyone who does repent.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 19, 2009 - 10:50AM #7
deVillenueve
Posts: 24


Thank you for this post.  This lays out in an easy to understand language what many, if not most, Christinas believe.  My mother used to recite this to me almost verbatim and referred to it as "God's Plan Of Salvation".   So thanks for rekindling those memories.


The difficulties of discussion arise, however, when one goes line by line and examines exactly what is being said.  It may all be true or it may be partially true and in either case, it would bring on questions which remain unanswered.


 


Jun 19, 2009 -- 2:28AM, spudette wrote:


 


 


It's ok, DeVillenueve. I can understand most typos. I'm not that great a typist myself...

About our discussion: my understanding is that originally, God created the human race for eternal life, but as we know, Adam and Eve failed the simple test of obedience, and so sin entered our world. God, being omniscient, knew what would happen, but it still was not His plan for humans to die. However, humans could not be permitted to sin etermally, so the solution was for God to assign them a limited life span. Yet. God, in His amazing grace and mercy, had already prepared the way for humans beings to be saved from eternal death. That was to be through the ministry and sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus. All Man has to do is tobelieve on Jesus, and to accept Him for our personal Savior. It is apparent that not all people will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, and those who don't will be eternally lost. That is the second death. So my understanding is that the "elect" are those who accept God's terms and remain faithful to Him.


What I don't believe is that God would create some human beings specifically for eternal destruction, and some others specifically for salvation, regardless of a person's choice. I believe that God gave us freedom of choice, and that He respects our choice. Amazing as it may be, there are people who would not ever be happy in heaven, so the only mercilul thing God can do for them is to let them experience the second death, because He will not tolerate sin to survive in any part of the universe. But He does give each person plenty of time to repent and to learn to follow Jesus. I definitely don't believe that God would save any person who refuses to repent and to follow His Way, but I believe that He will save anyone who does repent.




For each of us I believe the greatest issue in determining our spirituality and belief system is "What do we consider the attributes of God?"  Many Christians feel that one of God's major attributes is the determination to see that everyone gets what is coming to them!!  This opinion, of course, then shapes their belief system in dramatic ways.


When the Assembly Of Divines wrote the Westminster Confession in 1647 they felt that god "for the manifestation of His glory" and "according to his eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will"  had foreordained certain elect to glory and the rest of mankind "God was pleased" to ordain to dishonour and wrath for their sin.  It is important to consider that this predestination takes place not during the lifetime of an individual but has already been decided "before the beginnings of the earth".


The doctrine no doubt arose by someone's (Was Constantine the first?) interpretation of certain Biblical passages and was formulated into the doctrines expoused by many reformists including John Calvin most specifically.


Thankfully, millions of Christians (and I dare say the number is growing) now see God as totally different than the God depicted as mainly focused on meting out justice and punishing unbelievers.


Many are led to believe in a God of love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness whose greatest wish is that all His creation inherit His kingdom and spend eternity in His presence.   If his latter makeup is more representative of what God is really like then all kinds of questions come in to play which I hope we will be able to explore as we continue to exchange ideas.


 


 

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 19, 2009 - 11:47AM #8
deVillenueve
Posts: 24

Spudette, just taking one isolated sentence from your earlier post and examining it.


You said; "But He does give each person plenty of time to repent and to learn to follow Jesus."


Whereby that may certainly apply to you and I would it apply to all persons who have ever lived or or living today for that matter?


For example, over the centuries there were millions of people who have been born, lived their lives, and died without ever hearing of anything called "The Bible" or anyone known as Jesus.  Even in the time of Jesus all of North and South American as well as most of the rest of the world was populated with people who never knew of the God we believe in or that the one we know as Jesus Christ ever existed. 


I dare say that of all the people who have ever lived only a small fraction have ever been exposed to Christianity in any form or have had any idea of the "Plan Of Salvation" you so eloquently laid out.


In fact, even today in places like Borneo and the upper reaches of the Amazon river there are small tribes who have no contact with civilization whatsoever and no efforts are made to "civilize" these natives as any contact with the outside world would bring in disease for which these tribes have no immunity.   Thus they will live their lives, albeit most of them short, and never know of Christianity, Islam or any of the other major religions of the world.


Questions like this is why all of us, if we admit it, are still seekers of truth and always will be. 

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 19, 2009 - 3:46PM #9
spudette
Posts: 959

De Villenueve, I agree that it would be wonderful if all human beings that ever lived, are now living and will ever be born, could be saved. However, from my reading of the Word, I understand that this will not be the case. Yes, it is true that there are many people who have never heard a single word about the True and Living God, but still, the Bible tells us that some instinctively obey God's law, and therefore will be saved because His Law is in their hearts. There is also a passage somewhere (I don't remember where, but I'm sure I can find it) that says something to the effect that, even if nobody speaks the Good News to other people, the very stones will speak. So, the way I look at it, there is one thing that each one of us needs to look at:


Matt 28:19
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
KJV


This brings another question I want to ask you: do Presbyterians believe in the priesthood, or ministry, if you prefer this term, of all believers? You see, I do. And this belief makes me examine myself very carefully. I believe that each one of us is responsible for telling someone else the Good News of salvation through Jesus. The Bible tells us that, although we are not saved by our works, yet we are expected to do good works, and we will be judged by our works.


James 2:18-20
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
KJV


Remember, my friend, I am interested both in what the Presbyterian church teaches, and in your own thoughts, yours and anyone else's who might be willing to take part in this discussion. My understanding of the Word is that God wants His children to think for themselves, not just to accept what someone else teaches. Paul praised the Bereans for doing just that. We all need to check what we hear by the Bible.


Blessings.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 19, 2009 - 3:57PM #10
spudette
Posts: 959

Greenponder, I didn't mean to ignore your posting. I agree with you that God isn't saying that He is not powerful enough to save anyone. However, I believe that He wants us to follow Him out of love, not because we are being compelled to do so. That is why not everyone will be saved.


I also agree that we should never use any portion of the Word out of context. I am very careful never to do that. I also consider the whole picture that the Bible gives me. Nowhere does God give me the impression that He wants to force anyone's will, but He does give me the impression that, if we are willing to accept Him, He does want all of us to have eternal life. That will be the choice that every single human being must make: eternal life with God, or no life at all beyond this one.

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