Further on in that page is this statement:
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Predestination with a Purpose
Imagine for a moment a linear line, like this one.
At the beginning of this line is Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” At the end of this line is Revelations 22 where the angel, after revealing what the new heaven and new earth is going to look like, is showing John what is seemingly described as Eden being restored, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Considering the linear line above, we can make the conclusion that this is the timeline as we know it. Now, try to imagine God outside of this linear line. Picture the timeline and then picture a circle around it, kind of like this.
If you can imagine it, just consider this circle outside of how we would normally view time and space. The Scriptures give us a glimpse of God as being infinite. But what does that mean? By looking at a few passages, we can see how this statement is supported:
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!
Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
Many scholars and theologians have concluded that God is infinite and transcendent. This is an excerpt taken from J.I. Packer found at gotquestions.org.
Question: "What does it mean that God is infinite?"
Answer: The infinite nature of God simply means that God exists outside of and is not limited by time or space. Infinite simply means “without limits.” When we refer to God as "infinite," we generally refer to Him with terms like omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence.
Further on in that page is this statement:
Because God is infinite, He is also said to be transcendent, which simply means that God is exceedingly far above creation and is both greater than creation and independent of it. What this means is that God is so infinitely above and beyond us and our ability to fully comprehend that, had He not revealed Himself, we would not know or understand what He is like.
As mind-blowing as these statements are, it does give us a glimpse at how great our God is. This really does tie into what is said in 1 Kings, that even the heaven and highest heaven cannot contain Him.
All of this is brought up to bring about this point. Again, consider the timeline and also the conclusion that God is outside the framework of the linear line that we consider time and space. Can it be concluded that God is able to view all of history, from beginning to end, in one instant? I think so. Look at the following passage:
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
There have been a lot of commentaries on predestination throughout the years. Many are excellent descriptions in helping us to understand and explain this passage. Some are not. Just this week, however, I came across another blogger whose writings I greatly admire. She certainly has a gift in this area. On this particular subject, Alisa provides this perspective:
I imagine that when God created life, His anointing went out like a Charged Body and extended into our world, the Electric Field, stopping at anyone who would receive it. He sent out a call for His children choose to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. Automatically when God sent out this call, He could see the end result of those who accepted the call because He is not limited to time. Those people were the Charges, allowing themselves to be filled with the electricity of the Holy Spirit.
That is such an excellent analogy. For more regarding Alisa, click on this link to her post on Electricity and Predestination.
Think about this concept for a moment though. J.I. Packer stated that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. When viewing the timeline from outside, God can see our beginning and our end. In fact, Scripture supports this idea as well:
13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Proverbs 8:22-31 (regarding wisdom’s call)
22 “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; 23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. 24 When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; 25 before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, 26 before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth. 27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. 30 Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, 31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in humankind.
Psalm 139:13-18 (David’s psalm of praise to God)
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.
If God can see our beginning and end, can not God then see this linear timeline at any point in time and space? Would it be so impossible for God to then know the decisions that we’ll make before we make them? Would God then know how our choices will turn out? So given this information, is it so impossible to imagine this concept of predestination? This might be simplifying it too much. In fact, I would argue that it is. But for certain people who might be struggling with this idea of predestination and having a difficult time understanding how or why God would create human beings with free will that for many will ultimately reject Jesus Christ, this post may help in some small way to understand it. Ultimately, though, I believe our God is so great and beyond our understanding, that trying to explain away predestination with any simple depiction would be futile.
So let’s let Scripture speak for itself. When God says that He predestined “those” to be conformed to the image of His Son, we should take that at face value. Scripture also says in Romans 9:22, “What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?” Those are difficult passages to come to terms with. The fact remains is that there are those that God prepared for honor and others for dishonor. The entire passage in Romans 9 makes this clear:
19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
Predestination will always be a difficult concept for our human minds to grasp. Just as God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts greater than our thoughts, so is predestination far beyond what we can comprehend and wrap up in some nice, little package.
The amazing thing, though, in all of this discussion about predestination is what God has in store for those that He has prepared for honor. In the passage Romans 8:29-30, Paul says that for those God foreknew to be conformed to the image of His Son, there are two things happening. One, Jesus is being identified as the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Jesus receives glory by bringing us into His family and He did that by being the first! Think about the fact that we’re His brothers and sisters, if of course you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Isn’t it amazing to be given this honor when at one time we were at enmity with God and deserving of His wrath?
Secondly, God predestined us to be called, justified, and glorified. I don’t know about you, but to me that is humbling. I know that from our human condition, our sin nature, we are most unworthy of this honor. But God is calling us, justifying us, and then ultimately glorifying us. There is a future glory in store for us! Amazing, isn’t it?!?! That’s what the passage says though.
But lest we think that we did something to deserve this, let’s remember that this is not about us. This is about Jesus! Philippians 1:9-11 says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
So let’s remember, every day let’s live holy lives, pure and blameless, so that when Jesus returns, He will receive glory to the glory and praise of God the Father! Hallelujah! Amen!