Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Pastoral Understanding of Predestination

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. (Rom. 8:28, 29)

Perhaps one of the hardest doctrines of the Church to comprehend is predestination. The Anglican faith affirms predestination in Article XVII of the Articles of Religion:

Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honor. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

You will note the language of the article reflects Romans 8:28 & 29. Now why is predestination important to understand or for that matter a doctrine that should be taught as part of Christian faith? When we understand predestination, we can better understand God’s sovereignty and the fact He shows no partiality when it comes to whom He saves as our election is before the beginning of time. (Acts 10:34). When this us understood, we better understand why we cannot work our way into heaven.

What is also understood is why bad things happen to ‘good’ people*. What we perceive as bad may be to our benefit for God’s greater glory. That job loss, the ill will of others, broken relationships, all of that is “working together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”  Remember we come into this world as sinners. Once we hear the word of grace, God begins a new work in our hearts so that we may conform to the image of His Son, our brother. And our circumstances are a part of His handiwork!

Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven. -Charles Spurgeon

*Remember, no one is good except God alone. (Lk. 18:18)