On Predestination and Discernment

The Question: About this pre-destination thing. I did not know Christians believed in this. I thought it was a Hindu thing or something like that. What scares me about predestination is that, if it is true, seeking the Lord is just a waste of time for some. If we aren't pre-destined for salvation and grace, then our beliefs and acceptance of Christ as our savior is fruitless. This, if it is true, means that we are not to seek the Lord; he has to have already chosen us. No matter what we do in life, if he has chosen us we are saved. I hope I am making sense here.

The Response: What you wrote above is very close to a fatalistic heresy known as Hypercalvinism. I wish you would look at predestination in a different way. All are born spiritually dead in sin as a consequence of Adam's fall. Ask yourself if a person who is dead can do anything for himself. All the dead can do is remain dead. We share the Gospel because, as we are told in Romans 10:17:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

In other words, the Gospel message is the "switch" that turns on our faith. When those whom God elected in eternity past hear the Gospel, something happens to them and the Holy Spirit, in His own time quickens them; makes them spiritually alive. Faith comes after regeneration. After the quickening, salvation may come like a bolt of lightning. In Reformed theology, this is called monogerism, which my Webster's defines in these terms

the theological doctrine that regeneration is exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit--"monergism." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (10 Apr. 2006).

This is how it works:

Monergistic regeneration is a redemptive blessing purchased by Christ for those the Father has given Him (1 Pet 1:3, John 6:37, 39). This grace works independently of any human cooperation and conveys that power into the fallen soul whereby the person who is to be saved is effectually enabled to respond to the gospel call (Acts 2:39, 1 Cor 1:2, 9, 24, Rom 8:30 John 1:13, Acts 13:48). It is that supernatural power of God alone whereby we are granted the spiritual ability and desire to comply with the conditions of the covenant of grace; that is, to apprehend the Redeemer by a living faith, to come up to the terms of salvation, to repent of idols and to love God and the Mediator supremely. The Holy Spirit, in quickening the fallen soul, mercifully illumines the mind and renews the heart, giving God's elect the capacity and inclination to exercise faith in Jesus Christ (John 6:44, 1 John 5:1). This instantaneous and intensely personal work of God is the means by which the Spirit brings us into living union with Him.-- John Hendryx, The Work of the Trinity in Monergism © 2005, John Hendryks

The idea that God is not free to save anyone without that individual's cooperation is a heretical concept known as synergism, which my dictionary defines as

an ancient theological doctrine holding that in regeneration there is cooperation of divine grace and human activity. This form of synergism is technically known as semi-Pelagianism, but it is much older than the semi-Pelagians, being essentially the view of the Church, both east and west, ever since Irenaeus -- A.C.McGiffert ["synergism." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (10 Apr. 2006).]

Scriptures are clear. We are saved because Christ paid the sin debt we each owed to God. We are washed in His Blood and made clean enough to boldly approach the Throne of Grace. Do you reckon there is anything you could do that would be the equal of the sacrifice represented by the Son of God Himself having given up His life for you? Are you Christ's equal? Have you been washed in your own blood and made spiritually pure? Is there anything that you can do or say that will be reckoned as adequate compensation to cover the cost of Christ's suffering and death?

Think about it. You are making difficult what Christ Himself told us is easy:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light--Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus told us His burden is light, yet you appear to be trying to make it unbearably heavy, based at least in part on what you read in an e-book:

I am now reading a book I downloaded from the Internet called "The Bride of Christ" by Eddie Chumney.

I had never heard of the author you mentioned, so I went looking for his online book. What I learned was that I would not recommend Eddie Chumney to anyone looking for sound information concerning points of Christian theology. Early in my research, I began to suspect that he was an adherent of Messianic Judaism, a cult that is neither Jewish nor Christian. It wasn't long before I disabused myself of that idea. In actuality, it appears that Chumney invented a new religion, as one Jewish writer commented:

Imagine the outrage if a practicing Jew were to don a Roman collar, assume the title “priest,” and open his own “Catholic church,” interpreting its holidays and symbols however he liked, says Rabbi Tovia Singer, talk-show host, and founder and national director of Outreach Judaism.

But that is exactly what “Hebraic Roots” adherents (also known as “Israelites” or “Ephraimites,” among other names) do. These groups are led by self-taught individuals who use the title “rabbi” and/or “congregational leader,” as well as “synagogue” (complete with Hebrew names like Beth HaKavod) for their churches.

These gentiles in Jewish clothing actually claim to be the “true Israelites” -- direct, biological descendants of the lost tribe of Ephraim. Of course there are no DNA or blood tests to confirm this unsubstantiated claim.--Stephanie Garber, Ephraimites or Ephra I am nots? , Cleveland Jewish News/October 17, 2005

So much for his religion, now let's look at who Eddie Chumney is:

Eddie Chumney, who was a computer specialist before going full-time into “the ministry” almost a decade ago, heads a “synagogue” in Stark County [Ohio] . . . Chumney also founded “Hebraic Roots International,” which claims a database network of subscribers in all 50 states and in 55 foreign countries. He travels extensively, both nationally and internationally, at the invitation of gentile groups who want to hear about their “lost (but now found!) heritage.”

Raised Protestant, Chumney says he was “awakened” to what the New Testament “really” teaches after studying Jewish texts and taking Torah classes from a Reform rabbi . . .Chumney accuses Jews of “blindness” for not acknowledging their “Northern Kingdom” relatives. He threatens that peace will only come to Israel when they do so. He also says that Christians are “drunkards like Ephraim,” who have been lied to over the millennia -- mostly because of the Catholic Church -- as to what Jesus really taught.--Ibid.

It is not unusual for religious leaders to have earned their living at secular jobs before beginning their religious labors. I can think of several characters that regularly appear on 'religious' TV who once were used car salesmen. Hmmm. I wonder if the experience of selling cars might be considered by some to be the equivalent of spending time in seminary or Bible college. In Chumney's case, I can but wonder whether the time he spent at the computer may have helped form his particular theology.

The gospel according to Chumney is that Jesus came to “unite the two kingdoms” (i.e., Jews and “Israelites”) and teach the “Israelites” (gentile Christians) to observe Jewish law. Of course, this is contrary to halachah (Jewish law), which actually says gentiles are forbidden to observe Shabbat, a doctrine which Chumney asserts is false and put forth by “the rabbis.” It's a title he occasionally uses himself.

While Chumney alludes to both Jewish texts and the New Testament scriptures, mixing doctrines and beliefs from both, he chafes at the accusation that he has made up his own religion. He simply wants “the house of Judah” to recognize “the house of Joseph” (his house) and for the latter to recognize Jesus's “true” mission “foreshadowed in the Torah when those who received the law at Mt. Sinai were the only ones who escaped Egypt because they had put the blood on their doorposts.” -- Ibid.

Now that we have an idea who Eddie Chumney is, let us now examine how some points of his theology compare with evangelical Christian understanding. In the first chapter of his “Brides” book, Chumney wrote:

Spiritually speaking, this is what it means to be 'born again' or born anew or born from above. Spiritually, whenever an unbeliever decides to repent of his sins and ask God to forgive him of his sins by asking Jesus Christ into his heart and life and making Him his Lord and Savior, he becomes 'born again' or born anew or born from above--Eddie Chumney, Who Is The Bride Of Christ?, © 1997

I believe it important that one clear his head of the idea that anyone can “accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.” This wording implies that it is man who controls his own salvation and man who controls his Savior. The corollary to man's accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, is that Christ cannot be that Lord and Savior unless man first “accepts” it. Is this speaking of an omnipotent and sovereign God, or an omnipotent and sovereign man?

This concept bespeaks the heresy known as Semi-Pelagianism, which is the ground of Roman Catholic theology, though a church council and two popes condemned it. Here is what the Encyclopedia Britannica has to say about semi-Pelagianism:

In 17th-century theological terminology, the doctrine of an anti-Augustinian movement that flourished from about 429 to about 529 in southern France. . . .Unlike the Pelagians, who denied original sin and believed in perfect human free will, the semi-Pelagians believed in the universality of original sin as a corruptive force in man. They also believed that without God's grace this corruptive force could not be overcome, and they therefore admitted the necessity of grace for Christian life and action. They also insisted on the necessity of Baptism, even for infants. But contrary to Augustine, they taught that the innate corruption of man was not so great that the initiative toward Christian commitment was beyond the powers of man's native will.. . . The strong point for all semi-Pelagians was the justice of God: God would not be just if man were not natively empowered to make at least the first step toward salvation. If salvation depended initially and unilaterally only on God's free election of the saved, those not chosen could complain that they were doomed by the mere fact of being born.

The result of semi-Pelagianism, however, was the denial of the necessity of God's unmerited, supernatural, gracious empowering of man's will for saving action.— “semi-Pelagianism" Encyclopædia Britannica  from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. [Accessed April 10, 2006].[Emphasis not in original]

Did you notice? Those who hold to Semi-Pelagianism actually judge God, Whom they say would not be just if man were initiate his own salvation. This denies the sovereignty and omnipotence of God.

In the section under "God created Man so that he could have a Bride", and the next one "Why did God desire to create man to have a Bride?” I have questions scrawled all over the page.

This does not agree with the Scriptures, which tell us that God created man for His own glory. Man was not created to be a building block in the True Church, which is the Bride of Christ If that were so, then it would suggest that Christ would be incomplete and that God needed to create man in order that His only begotten Son were fulfilled. (Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 15:5-9; 1Cor 6:20, 10:31; 2Cor 1:18-20, 4:15)

When referring to the True Church as the Bride of Christ, Jesus is speaking figuratively, using an idiom that His Jewish audience would quickly comprehend. I urge you to get a book that will help you learn to properly interpret Scriptures. I like Gordon Fee's How to Read the Bible for all It's Worth. This is an easy-to-read book that explains how to read the different literary forms used in the Scriptures, and how to do exegesis. There is particular emphasis on hermeneutics to be applied with each literary form and device.

One of the great problems with covenantal theology is that it considers the True Church to be Israel fulfilled, as also does the Roman Catholic Church. This is not the case, as a detailed study of the Scriptures, and in particular Revelation, reveals. Though Israel was frequently in rebellion against God, as it is now, and rejected Messiah, God does not break His promises and will one day fulfill all He made to His chosen people. However, that will come after He has claimed the True Church and lifted us to meet Christ in the clouds

The most complete, and biblical, exposition of the End Times that I am aware of is Dwight Pentecost's Things to Come.

I feel bad for even thinking the questions, that they prove my doubts and such. But I am going to come clean and tell you what I have been wondering. I have been praying, but then I come back to the thought that prayer isn't going to help me if I am not pre-destined.

I have addressed this above.

Here are my thoughts: Why did God create man for this purpose (read "God created Man so that he could have a Bride") when he knew before hand that man would fail and those who did not have His mercy would suffer and eternity in hell?

I do not believe that God created man to fall, or to be a bride. It appears to me that God created man for His own glorification, but that may well have not been His only motivation. Anyone who claims to know all the reasons that God does what He does is an arrogant liar. All we can know is what He revealed to us in the Scriptures. Anything else is pure conjecture.

If some were predestined to fail why would God create man or at least those that would fail, just to suffer this eternity in hell? Note: These are thoughts that are running through my head due to the pre-destination theory...not necessarily what the author is trying to convey.

These thoughts may be running through your head because of you misunderstand predestination. Predestination is not a theory; it is clearly stated in the Scriptures:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 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:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
--Ephesians 1:3-14

The passage above is the Word of God. If you insist that predestination is a theory, you are, in effect, casting doubt on the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Think about it.

Under the next section, "Why did God desire to create man to have a Bride?" my questions are this: "Therefore, God not only needed to judge Lucifer and the angels for rebelling against Him but God also needed to prove to the angelic hosts that He was righteous and just in His judgment and punishment toward Lucifer and the angels who rebelled with him against God." expected to succeed?

I don't know what you are looking for here, but please ask yourself why God “needed to prove” anything to the angelic hosts? Again, the image this wording conjures up is that of a God Who is anything but omnipotent. It seems to me to be an effort to humanize God and to equip Him with the frailties and doubts of His creation. I have to tell you, Little Sister, that reading this guy's stuff made me uneasy.

How could God throw these evil beings to earth, knowing that they would adversely influence mankind in their desire to win over him? Isn't God using man as some kind of pawn to prove to the remaining angels that he was right?

To ask these questions, you must first hold the presupposition that what this Chumney guy wrote is true and the Bible is not. Do you not see where that places you? You are accepting the theology of a man you do not know in opposition to the clear meaning of the teachings in God's written revelation, the Bible. I am really trying to understand why you are so quick to absorb what this man teaches, yet so resistant to what the Scriptures teach. Do you not see that you are judging God by a standard created by a man?

As to God's motives for doing what He did, I am sorry that I cannot answer that. God did not take me into His confidence when He was busy with Creation and the war in the heavenlies. I just have to take what He tells me in the Bible as being true. I know that God does not lie. I do not know whether Chumney lies or not, but I do know that his theology is bad.

And why does God need to fill a "worship void"? I have heard this before but blew it off. Now I want to know why he needs this worship?

I do not believe that our Lord needs to explain His reasons for what He does. You might wish to refresh your recollections of a passage in Paul's letter to the church at Rome:

Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,-- Romans 9:18-23

She continued to press her case:

Doesn't the Bible say, "all who call on the name of the Lord and believe" will be saved? If so where does pre-destination come in? How could God choose people to suffer eternity in hell (forever and ever in anguish) even though they sought him and believed?

Yes, the Bible does say that.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.-- Acts 2:21

This is not saying that merely calling out the name “Jesus!” at a time of personal crisis or exasperation will guarantee one a pass through the pearly gates. If that were so, then the great blasphemers of our age and all ages would be saints. As I have mentioned before, single verses out of context are not proofs of anything. One must read a passage in the context of the whole Bible. Scriptures interpret Scripture. This verse should be read in the light of Romans 10:8-13:

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved
-- Romans 10:8-13.

Look at verse 9. It is not saying that one must only call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. He must confess …the Lord Jesus. This is not merely an intellectual assent that He is God and Lord of the Universe, for Satan believes that (James 2:19). Believing in the heart speaks of a deep, personal conviction, without any reservation, that Jesus is the believer's own Master or Sovereign. Such faith is not the product of man's choosing. It is a gift from God and results in repentance from sin, trusting in Jesus for one's salvation, and submitting to Him as Lord. This is the volitional element of faith.

Look at verse 10. Confession is not saying “I am a sinner.” It is being in agreement with the Father (in this case) that Jesus is Savior and Lord.

Look at verse 11: This is quoted from Isaiah 28:16 and 49:23. These words not only demonstrate that salvation by grace through faith alone has always been God's salvation plan, but that none – not even Gentiles – were to be excluded. (Romans 1:16; 3:21-22; 2 Peter 3:9). I find no place in Scripture where it is claimed that ONLY the elect might be saved.

Look at verse 13. Paul here quotes Joel 2:32 to emphasize that salvation is available for people of all nations and races. Again, the reference to calling upon His name is not referring to some desperate cry to just any old deity but to the one true God as He has revealed Himself – a revelation that now includes recognition of Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9) and also of the One Who raised Jesus from the dead.

I hope that He forgives me for these questions and thoughts. I really am fighting spiritual warfare here. I think it is Satan that is working on me. But, if we are pre-destined, then what am I to do? Will prayer even help me? I hope I have made sense here. Remember, I am new and all these thoughts clouding my head may sound garbled.

Yes indeed, you do appear to be fighting a spiritual war, and not against Satan but against God Himself. You are challenging His revelation and accepting the words of men even though they are in conflict with the teachings of the Scriptures. You are judging God by the standards a man has set. You need to get rid of this idea that God predestinated some to damnation. He did not. To believe that He did is heresy. As the Romans 10 passage clearly shows, He wants all to be saved, just as we might want all our kids to be brain surgeons. Just as all our kids are unlikely to be brain surgeons, so is it unlikely that all will be saved. Why? Because those who are spiritually dead as a consequence of Adam's sin can do nothing to bring about their own salvation. So, God in His infinite mercy, elected some to be saved – using criteria He has not revealed to us. In Jesus Christ, He provided the means for all to be saved. In election, He assured that at least some would be saved. In other words, He predestined none to be condemned by a volitional act, though He did will that some would be saved.

Home | Questions & Answers | Catholic Stuff | My Delphi Forum
(C) 1991-2011 Ron Loeffler