A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 14


In this lesson, we continue discussing the theological concept of providence. We explore three different theological views on providence: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Open Theism. We also examine problematic issues in providence, such as theodicy and suffering, as well as the dilemma of determinism and the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Finally, we discuss the role of prayer in providence and how it can be understood as either intercession or cooperation.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 14
Watching Now

I. Lesson Overview

A. Introduction to the Question of Election

B. Key Passage: Ephesians 1

C. Three Main Views on Election

1. Calvinist View

2. Wesleyan-Arminian View

3. The "Calminian" View

D. Romans 9 and the Objects of Wrath

E. The Corporate View of Election

II. Calvinist View of Election

A. God's Sovereign Choice

B. Predestination of Certain Individuals

C. Irrespective of Human Merit or Action

III. Wesleyan-Arminian View of Election

A. God's Knowledge of Human Response

B. God's Choice Based on Foreknown Human Faith

C. God Does Not Force Anyone to Accept Salvation

IV. The "Calminian" View of Election

A. God Works Differently with Different People

B. Combination of God's Sovereign Choice and Human Response

C. God's Purpose for the Church

V. Romans 9: Objects of Wrath

A. John Piper's Justification of God

B. Alternate Interpretation: Historical Perspective on Israel's Sinfulness

C. Jacob I Love, Esau I Hate as an Illustration of God's Patience

VI. Conclusion

A. Diversity of Views on Election

B. Theological Debates and Discussions

C. Emphasis on Understanding Ephesians 1's Purpose

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Lesson Transcript

One of those questions that just will not go away is the whole question we call election. It's the fundamental question behind it is, it's out of Ephesians 1, "Before the foundation of the world, God chose us in Christ." And so the question is what did God do when it says He chose us? And there are various answers to this and the related question, soteriology is what is our role in coming into salvation in Jesus Christ?

And they're right on top of each other and we're going to do it under the concept of God and look particularly at Ephesians 1. We'll come back to it briefly when we talk about soteriology later on, but it's this question and there are three basic answers. I mean, they're more than this, but the three that are really key are in the notes. And if you don't have the notes, you might want to download them and look at it. So I've got summaries in here.

So the idea, when you talk about election, what we're talking about is God choosing people for salvation. What is the choice that gets us into Christ and what's the biblical teaching on that? So one answer is the Calvinist answer and looking particularly at Ephesians 1 as a foundation. "Before the foundation of the world, God chose certain individuals to be in Christ."

I'm talking about the Bible. Let's not do it. Go look at the Bible. Ephesians 1. It's just one of those foundational passage, Ephesians 1:3, "Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ," and here's the foundational verse, "for He chose us in Him before the creation of world to be holy and blameless in His sight."

And it goes on. "In love he predestined us for adoption of sonship through Jesus Christ to the praise of His glorious grace," and all that. That whole thing is one sentence in [inaudible]. The first half of the chapter is one ridiculously long sentence. My ninth grade grammar teacher who lives in my head, Mrs. Johnson would just start screaming at what Paul did. Fortunately he's wrote it in the Bible and she can't scream effectively.

But when you're talking about He chose us in Him. So this Calvinistic understanding God chose us on the basis of His sovereign will. So before the foundation, God chose certain individuals to be in Christ to recipients of eternal life, solely on the base of His gracious purpose, apart from any human merit or action. That's the Calvinistic view. So let me say this again. Before the foundational world, before creation, God out of His sovereignty, chose certain individuals, all of whom are depraved from this view.

So if you said, "Okay, what do you want to do?" You would all say, "I want to rule my own life." Would you want it to be God and Lord of your life? Do you want forgiveness and salvation? No, I want to run my own life. So God takes that group of sinners and says, "Hm. okay, to display the power of my grace, not you. You and you. Okay. The rest of you do whatever you want." And what are you going to do? Would you like to be saved and have Jesus be Lord of your life? And you all say...


No. How come? I want to run my own life. So if we give you freedom, you do what you want and you say, "Oh, I earned my life," which means you end up apart from God. Now for those God said, you and you, He chose you and he'll do whatever's necessary to get you to say yes and so it's certain that you will. That's that sovereignty thing we talked about in the last lesson. So this is the basic Calvinistic view. "Before the foundation of the world, God chose certain individuals to be in Christ and there'll be recipients of eternal life."

And here's the key thing, solely on the base of His purpose, there's nothing in you, good or bad that says, "Okay, I like you," because you're all depraved and filthy and He doesn't like any of you, your objects of His wrath, Ephesians two is going on to say. Basically Calvinist view. I'll summarize and tell you why here in a second view.

A second view, probably even more popular but Calvinist write the books, so you write books, you'll get the Calvinist sensor most of the time unless you go to Ken Collins Wesleyan theology on BT and then you get the Wesleyan-Armenian view and the Wesleyan-Armenian view. Again, Ephesians 1, "Before the foundational world, God chose certain individuals," that's the same, "who He knew would be in Christ." See Collins' view, He chose certain individuals to be in Christ. In the Wesleyan-Armenian view, He chose certain individuals that He knew would be in Christ, that is to be on the basis of for known human faith.

So again, to be a little bit sarcastic, instead a whole group of depraved sinner and say, "No," like two-year-olds, He looks down the corridors of time and He says, "Look at the marvels of Jesus Christ. You could have forgiveness. Would you like to have forgiveness?" And somebody say, "Ah, yeah, I don't really like myself too much." That's what he's saying. So He looked down the corridor, "Ah, I see that hand. Anymore? Ah, I see that hand!"

Again, that's a bit sarcastic but that's the idea is God knows with certainty who will say yes or no before He creates anyone. That's the Wesleyan-Armenian view? So He knows who will say yes and then He chooses to give those people who will opt in every spiritual blessing, adoption of sonship, holy and blameless, all that sort of thing. Confused yet?

The question is who makes that decisive choice? Calvinist view, God makes it. There's nothing in you, good or bad. What's your minion? You make it. And God never forces anybody to say yes to His salvation. And then in the Calvinist view, those whom He elected, He does whatever's necessary to make sure they say yes. Those who in the Wesleyan-Armenian view, He never forces anyone to say yes, but He'll work with them and provide lots of help.

So Calvinist view, why would anybody go with that view? Well look at the Bible. Okay, look at Acts 9. You probably know the story. Acts 9, Saul good guy or bad guy?


Mm-hmm. Why would you say bad?

He kills Christians.

He's killing Christians. Now from his, he's a good view because he's trying to get rid of these corruptors of the faith. He's following the way of Phineas, the grandson of the high priest in Numbers 25. So he's headed out there doing it and he's in nearest Damascus on a journey. What happens? He sees this vision, he's slammed the ground, he's overwhelmed by the power of Jesus Christ as it turns out, He ends up blind, he ends up saved. So that's the picture.

I'm not going to read you the whole thing, but if you go down to verse 15, when Paul is talking to Ananias, who's going to go baptize him and heal him and get things worked out, God says to Ananias, "Go," and then key phrase, "This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and the people of Israel. I'll show he suffered for my name. So God says, "I have chosen him."

And if you look in Galatians 1, Galatians 1:15 of Paul giving his own testimony, "I was advancing Judaism beyond many of my own age, of my people, extreme results for the truth of my father's. But when God who set me apart from my mother's womb and call me by his grace was please to reveal his son." That sure sounds Calvinistic to me. God looked at a bad guy and says, "I want you. I don't care what you want, you're coming along." And my phrase is, God bushwhacked him on the road to Damascus. Sure sounds Calvinistic, both by God's statement and Paul's testimony.

Look at Acts 13:48. Acts 13:48. Paul has been preaching back in verse 46, he's been preaching to the Jews and they reject it. And he said, "We had to speak the word of God you first, since you rejected it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life we'll turn to the Gentiles." 48, "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord," and here's a key phrase, "all who were appointed to eternal life believed."

So why do they get eternal life? Because they believed. But why do they believe? Because they were appointed. So the appointing comes first, then the belief, then they get eternal life. Calvinistic. Calvinistic. How about the people go to hell back in verse 46, they consider themselves, they reject as not God's saying go to hell. It's their saying, we don't want to be saved. They reject eternal life. And that's the Calvinistic view.

If I let you say yourself, you say no, but God says among some of you, "Okay you, you, up. You're appointed to eternal life." So that's the Calvinist view, okay. Now if you're on a certain tribe, you say amen and nothing else needs looked at. Well, there's another tribe. Actually there's two more tribes. The other tribe is the Armenian tribe. The Armenian tribe says, could we look at just maybe something else here? What else can you look at? I mean we looked at everything. Well, could we look at 1 Timothy?

Okay, Paul wrote that, I guess it's okay. 1 Timothy 2, 1 Timothy 2. "Here to make prayer and petition for all people. And verse three says this, "It is good and pleases God our savior, who wants how many people to be saved? All people. This is a statement of God's intention. And it says He wants all people to be saved. It doesn't say all kinds of people, it says all people. And back up in verse one, He says, make petition for all people. And that includes Nero, who's the present emperor probably who's a seriously bad guy headed for help. He wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge. And then on verse six, "gave Himself as a ransom again for all people." Could He be more universal?

1 Timothy 2. Similar passage in 2 Peter 3 where He says "He doesn't want any to perish but all to come to repentance." And we've got those kinds of passages there, these universal passages. And then of course you've got this little thing called John 3:16. What's the condition of eternal life in John 3:16? I don't think you have to turn there. "For God so loved the world that," what? "He gave His..."

Only son.

"So that..."

Whoever beliefs in me.

No. Whoever appointed for belief. Isn't that what it says?


No. It specifically says whoever would believe. What's the condition? Belief. Now, Calvinists say, "Well, of course," but the reason they believe is because they're appointed. Well, but see, that's not what John 3:16 says. Acts 13:48 says that. And the question is how do you put those together? So if I look back to Ephesians 1 again, and we're going to land this plane in the truth in a minute, which is neither of these views, "Praise be the father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every blessing in Christ, for He chose us in Him," and that key phrase, "He chose us in Him," the Calvinist says He chose us to be in Him. The Wesleyan-Armenian says He chose those who would be in Him because of [inaudible] faith. And so if you're chosen your holy and blameless.

Now a related question, this is more soteriology than election. What is holy and blameless? And what happens is both the Wesleyan-Arminian and the Calvinists agree holy and blameless means given the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. So what he's going to do is he can give you the righteousness of Jesus. So when God looks at you, He sees the righteousness of Christ, not your sinful state. And so holy and blameless means I am righteous in Christ.

Not me. I'm still sinful, but I'm given the alien righteous of Jesus Christ at conversion is called justification, imputed righteousness. So He chose us to be in Him or chose us who would be in Him to be wholly and blameless and they see that's all at conversion. Okay, so that's two views.

The third view, and this is the one that's not usually done, but a lot of people believe it, they just don't know it. And this is my wonderful Calminian view because remember my base theological method is what view accounts for the most biblical difficulties with the fewest, or both biblical passages with the fewest difficulties?

So I look at Paul on the road to Damascus and gosh, it sure sounds like he got bushwhacked. He was not looking for, well, he was looking for Jesus to kill him. Actually Jesus was already dead as far as he knew. He's looking for Christians to kill them. And Jesus appears to him and just blows up his concepts and he realized that man He thought was an evil one is actually the messiah.

So God bushwhacks him. And Acts 13:48 does say some people are appointed. The Wesleyan-Arminian says, well that could be a middle voice, not a passive voice. So it could be they appoint themselves to eternal life. You don't appoint yourself to eternal life. Come on. No, that's clearly a [inaudible] parsible by any reasonable understanding. So I look at some that say some are appointed and some are bushwhacked on the road to Damascus, that's Calvinist. But then I look at God saying, "I want all to come to salvation." I look at the court and story of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, and it sure sound like when He realizes what Isaiah 53 is saying, He says, "I opt in."

So my take on this, and now we're back to the notes here again, "Before the foundation of the world, God chose to give those who are in Christ." See, I think it's a present statement. Us in Christ is a group of people and is saying those who are in Christ right now. It says before the foundation of the world. Yeah, I'll tell you what that means in a minute. God chose to give us in Christ is just a present tense statement. Us in Christ is a group of people. He's going to give us every spiritual blessing.

Now we're all in Christ now. Do we have every spiritual blessing as a present experience? Do we currently have every spiritual blessing in our experience? The answer is no. And it goes on in this passage talk about we have the Holy Spirit as a down payment on our inheritance. I think that's a work in progress. So my take is He selected some individuals to be in Christ by His own sovereign purpose and for knew that others are responders calling in Christ.

But here's my thing, I don't think Ephesians 1 says anything about how you get to be in Christ. It says everything about what happens if you are in Christ. I think Paul's point here is not to say how you get to in to Christ. His point is what do you do now that you are in Christ and God's sovereign purpose is that you'll have every spiritual blessing, but it's a work in progress.

And when I see holy and blameless. I remember our last lesson we talked about holy or a couple back. Holy means dedicated to and we're dedicated to, but blameless, that means without blame to your account. That's sanctification stuff. Again, that's a work in progress for us in Christ. Adoption to sonship. Well if you look at Romans 8, and I'll leave this for your homework. In Romans 8 about verse 14, it says, "We have the spirit and we have adoption to sonship therefore we crown Abba Father." That's present tense. We have it already.

But if you read down about verse 23, it says, "We await eagerly for our adoption to sonship, specifically redemption of our bodies." Adoption of sonship is a work in progress in those who are in Christ. So us in Christ, his purpose is, and this is where I'll unpack this further in a future lesson, I think we'll unpack this a bit.

I think God creates us to be blessable image bearing covenant partners with Him to extend His goodness everywhere. And we'll unpack this further and that Genesis 1:28 mission that He gives to human beings, "Be fruitful, multiply, rule the rest of creation. Do good, create communities of blessing everywhere," is a foundational thing. That is God's eternal purpose for humans.

And He says before the creation of the world, he's talking about that purpose to have a group of people who is blessed of all image bearing covenant partners. And I think what he's saying in Ephesians 1, and I'm using Tony Evans language here, the magnificent man of God down in Dallas, a veteran pastor, just good guy. He says what God is doing is he's trying to create a beautiful bride for His precious son.

In Ephesians 1 is introducing His purpose, His before creation purpose for humanity is to have a beautiful bride. Now what's the problem? We ain't beautiful. We haven't got our nails done yet, much less got a dress on but we're dedicated to the groom and the groom is Jesus. So his thing is he wants us to be a beautiful bride, this is in your handout, a beautiful bride for His precious son partnering together fulfill the pre-creation plan to crush the serpent. And that's a major theme in Ephesians. The whole second half of the book is how we get to be blameless.

And the whole book is talking about this thing that we're here in this war with the serpent, the evil one, the devil. And I think Ephesians 1's introducing that. It didn't say anything about how we get to be in Christ. It's telling us the purpose of God for those who are in Christ. And it's that we have every spiritual blessing, we'd be holy and blameless. We have adoption of sons, all that sort of thing, a beautiful bride for His precious son.

So in my Calminian view, it seems to me that God works in different ways with different people. It's kind of all over the Bible as I read it. "Well, where is it in the Bible?" Well, Acts chapter 8, Ethiopian eunuch, all you got to do is have Philip explain a bit of Bible to Him and he's opt in. Let's get baptized. Acts 9, God bushwhacks Paul on the road to Damascus, chapter 10, Cornelius is moving toward God and God sends an angel to give Him a major revelation and so on.

You got Lydia. God opens her heart to here. It doesn't say He bushwhacker. I mean go on and on. As you look at the stories, God works in different ways with different people. So sometimes I think God's a Calvinist, sometimes God's a Wesleyan-Arminian and you select or deselect yourself. And I think that, and I don't have to take any passage and beat them into shape. I can say Acts 13:48, God does appoint some people to eternal life, but others select or deselect themselves based on their own belief. So that's how I put the dots together.

And the key is how you understand Ephesians 1 it's ironic to me how many people read Ephesians 1 and read it as a statement of God choosing certain individuals when what it says He's talking about a group of people. It's us in Christ in verse three, it's us in Him in verse four.

And He chose this group to be holy and blameless. It doesn't say, it's not talking about choosing individuals to be in the group. Now sometimes He does that and He's certainly talking about individual people, but it's talking about His purpose for the church as a whole to be a beautiful bride for His precious son so He can be blessed of all image bearing covenant partners to crush the serpent. Of course that goes clear back to beginnings of Genesis and I think before the beginning of Genesis, but I'll have to talk about that a little bit later.

So that's where I come out in this election thing. I think God works in different ways with different people. Sometimes it's His choice. Many times it's our choice. And I think before the creation of the world plan is to have a blessable image bearing covenant partners who will partner with Him to overcome the serpent by doing good.

And I think that's the original plan from Genesis 1 that's repeated in Matthew 28, "Make disciples of all nations, teach him to do everything I've commanded." Same command. And Paul is reflecting on that here in Ephesians 1. He wants us in Christ to be a beautiful bride for His precious son and that is His eternal purpose for those who are in Christ.

So that's where I come out on this. Again, really good and godly people disagree with me and I'm still friends with a lot of them and we get sometimes quite passionate about this and I just laugh and say, "I disagree with you. Can we talk about that with a Bible open?" "No, I'll tell you where we're at." "No, no, calm down. It'll be okay. I'm not going to bushwhack you." But I mean seriously to have these conversations to recognize different people come with different answers. So there you go. Questions.

I've heard that some people's view of election is corporate.


And I don't know what that means.

The people talked about having corporate view of election is usually Calvinists talking about Armenians and it says that God selects you. He's talking about selecting a group and He doesn't know who's in the group. So now of course Armenians are not going to say that they'd be open theists, but it's a Calvinist charge against Armenians, which is to say you don't believe in election.

But if you look at it really everybody believes in individuals getting saved by God's work and everybody believes they come into the group, we call the church. Everybody's individual and everybody is corporate. You balance things differently. But that's Calvinists trying to insult Wesleyans and Wesleyans are usually too, can I say it? Too stupid to know what's happening and they react defensively and prove the Calvinist right, which is really unfortunate. So I think Wesleyans should study more theology, so we do Ken Collins Wesleyan theology or go get a good Calvinist theology. Good one. There are quite a few of them. Yeah, good question.

Romans 9 talks about objects of wrath.


In your view, I'm assuming that's not everyone, it's only some people. Is that correct or does that designation apply to everyone who doesn't choose Jesus?

No, I'll talk about Romans 9 probably, see how time goes. The two basic views, Romans 9, one is the John Piper justification of God. His big book and such is it's a story of individual salvation, individual election. So the point there is that [inaudible] you saw hated, God has a every right to hate everybody. He, by His grace loves some, His sovereign choice of Pharaoh and all that. So you come down to that passage potter in the clay.

So God is a potter, we're the lifeless clay, God shapes us any way He chooses. And then 1:22, if he, God chose to sow His wrath and power on vessels prepared for destruction. That's one side. So God has objects of wrath is this crowd. But verse 23, He has objects of mercy whom He pray advance for glory. So that's the saved side, that's the elect side.

This is the wrath side. And that's two different groups of people. And that's the John misunderstanding. It's very common. I see the Romans 9 to be a history of Israel like a Stephen's speech in Acts 7. And he's showing the whole chapter is about the history of Israel. And what he's saying is you guys have been sinful forever and God continues to be faithful to you even in your sin. And he's going through the history to show that.

So you guys are just as bad as Edomites that God, Israel I love, Jacob I hated is not from Genesis, it's from Malachi. And in Malachi the Edomites are really bad guys and God says, "I'm going to whack you guys, I'm going to kill you. I'm going to crush you." And He does. The point of it is is that Israelites are just as bad. Why doesn't He whack them? Because His covenant promised to have them be lined through Messiah.

So Jacob I love, Desai I hated is a statement of God should hate Israel, but He doesn't. And it goes on. So at verse 22, God chosen to show His wrath and make His power known. The key verb is bore with great patience That's talking about Israel. They're out worshiping their ball in Ashra with all the sex rituals and power stuff sacrificing their kids to Moloch. And you see over and over again, God, "Ah! I'm going to kill you guys," but instead of killing him, He bores with great patience because that's the covenant line.

And then 23 says, "Why? What if He did this in order to make His riches known, those He prepared in advance." So it's not double predestination, it's God having every right to be angry and destroy Israel doesn't do it, which is a theme all through the Old Testament. That's where I come out of all of this.

All right. One last question, could you put your pastoral head on for a second and two different situations. I remember talking to happened to be a young girl who came home from youth group once terrified that she wasn't elect and she had no choice but going to hell.


The other side of the coin is more the Wesleyan side, that if it's not a real choice, then I didn't really make the choice. So I didn't really choose Christ. How would you deal with those two people?

Oh, the first is I would have her open her Bible and read a couple passages for herself, promise of God. I'd have her read John 3:16 or pick anything like that. And I would say, "This is a promise of God. John 6:37, "Him who comes to me I will know wise cast out," and just this is what it said. Who's telling you that you can't come? And I might depend on where she went in scripture, he or she. That passage is never in scripture. There's nothing, in fact the opposite. That's why the John 6:37 is so powerful, "The one who comes to me I will in no way cast out." If I've committed the unforgivable sin. I can't be forgiven.

Take them to 1 Timothy 1. Paul's done it all and yet he gets forgiven. And there are different things I do. But that's a pastoral hat is to say, who told you that you can't be saved? Because that's not God. That's another voice and then teach her to reject that voice, that's the voice of hell. What is directly demonic or world type stuff or flesh stuff, that's a voice to be rejected in Jesus' name on the authority of Jesus Himself and that's where I would go.

I think in her case it was a poorly taught youth group message.

Well yeah, you get the double predestination Calvinists are the ones and the fatalist crowd in particular, which no good Calvinist is a fatalist. Our choice matters. It's critically important in Calvinism for true Calvinists to say that we are responsible for our choices. Well logically, if God controls everything, we can't have responsibility. Well actually that's not what scripture says. That is a two side of things from a Calvinist perspective.

I am not a Calvinist, or at least not all the time, so I don't have the same problem. But a good Calvinist saying, our choices do matter in God's thing. And so how can He make sure we make the right choice and we're still responsible? That's the mystery in Calvinism. But yeah, a lot of Calvinist end up as Fatalists and a lot of Armenians end up with God wring His hands, hoping somebody somewhere will stay faithful because he's so afraid of everything. What was your other one?

If God makes the choice, I don't make the choice and therefore the choice isn't real, ergo-

Yeah, that's the fatalist.

... I don't believe in election. My choice has to be my choice.

Yeah, that's the fatalism which is monergism. There's only one will that counts. And scripture is very clear that there's a complex causation, not a simple one will causation. How those two relate to each other is difficult. But the monergism, which a lot of Calvinists insist is the monergistic Calvinist, there's only one working that really counts. It's very clear in scripture. There's a complex causation and God has final voice like who goes to heaven, who goes to hell.

But there's complex causation along the way and trying to simplify it, again, this is a lot of bad sermons and logic is what and even to what you do God's going to do what He wants to do and there it is. That's fatalism, that's not Calvinism. That's not biblical. And you just simply go to a lot of passages that decide to stay whom you will serve and that says that choice matters.

Well, it can't matter. Now, where's that in the Bible? Again, the Bible has to have authority, not my, well, if I were God, I would do it this way. That's kind of a bad way to go, but a lot of people do it. But that question, who told you this? And that's a crucially important question. "Who told you that?" "Well, my youth pastor." "Could He possibly be wrong?" What did He appeal to in scripture? We want to go back to what did God say and help him see that.


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