Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Theological Foundations, Part 2 -- Comments on The Remonstrance

Article 1

That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

The Remonstrants made clear in Article 1 that they did indeed believe God had "predestined" something. It was not, however, particular persons, but it was ANY and ALL who would come by the only means through which they could experience salvation -- Faith in Jesus Christ. This first article then could be rightly identified as the Eternal or Predestined Plan.

Whom did God choose? "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:4). God does not choose us individually, but He chooses to save ALL who come to Him in Christ, "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (I Peter 1:20); as Jesus said, "for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24).

By what means is one 'chosen?' The operative means is faith. It is by faith that we are joined to Christ and enter into His grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). It's worth noting in passing that God did not plan to save His people in Christ so that they could warm pews for time and eternity. He "before ordained" that we "should walk in...good works." These works DID NOT save, and they do not KEEP anyone saved -- but they are the product of a true salvation, and a healthy, growing relationship with Jesus.

I won't be exhaustive in my commentary on this article -- I'm just skimming the surface. In summary, God "predestines" that all who receive Christ through faith, whom God had chosen and loved before the foundation of the world, would be saved. This of course begs the question, " if God does not predestine indiviudally, then does that compromise His sovereignty?" Reformation Arminians generally believe in what Dr. Robert Picirilli has called "middle knowledge." I will leave the heavy theological examination for another time, but suffice it to say that God foreknows without decreeing all that is to come. Or, let me explain "foreknowledge" with a question...

Which God is greater, the One who MUST decree all things, control all events, and determine all destinies to maintain His sovereignty, or the God who allows freedom within His creation, knows all the choices that will ever be made, along with each and every potentiality and actuality, and yet so superintends Himself in the universe that nothing, not even the rebellion and defiance of His own creatures, violates His sovereignty or thwarts His eternal will and purpose?

God has "predestined" that ALL who call upon the name of the Lord through faith are In Christ and are thus saved. This is God's eternal and unchangable purpose, His plan. God foreknows who will and who will not belief, who will and who will not persevere in faith -- but He does not, in His grace, decree from eternity who individually -- in particular -- will be saved or be damned (John 3:16-18). Those who are "In Christ" by faith are "His Elect."


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