Is Our Eternity Decided For Us?

Since we've been talking about the End Times and heaven and hell, the next logical question might be ... "But do we even have a choice about our eternal 'destinies'?  Do we have the free-will to choose Jesus and heaven, or does God predestine us to heaven or hell?"

Maybe this question won't cross the minds of many of you.  But it's one I have studied and thought about a lot ... mostly because we have a pastor who hammers the idea of predestination, acting like anyone who disagrees with him is disagreeing with the Bible and dishonoring God.  Like his view is the only way to read the Bible!

He even goes so far as to say things like God wanted people in hell - for His glory.  That He planned Adam and Eve's Fall - for His purposes.  That if we sin, it's because God caused it.  And that everything that happens in our lives is caused by God - even childhood abuse - for His glory and our good, and so we just have to trust Him.  

[Oh, my goodness, I can feel my blood starting to boil already!  That was the sermon when I decided that I am done with that church.  I might have to be there in body to drop my kids off at their kids' classes, but I don't attend the services anymore.  I sit out in the hall reading a good, godly book or watching a Tony Evans' sermon online while waiting for my kids' Sunday School classes to end.  It's sad.  It's not the way church is supposed to be.  But he slips this view into everything, and my husband and I always end up angry for days.  So this is the way it has to be for now, until we can figure out what else to do.  We visited another nearby church, but it was so uncomfortable (for other reasons) that we decided to just stay put for now and continue like we are until we have other ideas.]

One good thing, though, is that my frustration with his dogmatic stance has caused me to research this issue as deeply and thoroughly as I could, to find out what I think the Bible really says about it.  

And in doing so, I have come to the opposite conclusion: 

Yes, God has done all the work of providing a way to heaven ... but we have to accept it.  He doesn't "force" us to believe or not believe.  He calls us to believe, but He leaves it up to us.  He made the way, but we have to choose to follow Him.
This is what makes the most sense when you look at the Bible as a whole, at God's character, at the meaning of Jesus's death, at the call to evangelize, at justice and mercy and grace, etc.

Anyway, I can't share this info at my church because almost no one else seems to care that this new pastor is so dogmatic about a very debatable issue.  Most seem to like it, shouting out "Amen" and "Hallelujah" as he preaches his version of God's "sovereignty."  And so I have written my views out on my blogs.  And these next however-many posts will be reposts of what I wrote on those other blogs - some will be unaltered and some will be shortened or updated.

[For the whole, original posts, click on the "predestination" label at (shortened versions) or (longer versions).  They are a bit longer and messier than what I intend to write here, but it's all there - all that I will include in the upcoming posts.]

So why am I reposting stuff I've already posted twice - once on each of those other blogs?

Because this pastor constantly talks about it (and now his adult son gets up there and does it, too, preaching about how "Jesus only died for the elect, not for everyone."  Really!?!?  'Cuz my Bible says "And he died for all..." in 2 Corinthians 5:15.)... and it constantly frustrates me ... and I have no one to talk to about it, except for my husband and one friend (who've already heard me talk about it enough) ... and I need to vent.  Again!  (If I hold it in, I will burst.)

And I need to read it again.  For me.  To remind myself of what I believe the Bible really teaches.  

And I hope to make it a little less messy and a little more easy-to-read every time I repost them.

So ... if you are not interested in this topic, then just skip the next bunch of weeks (up to mid-October), at least the ones with the "predestination" label.  

But I don't know how anyone could not be interested in this topic.  It affects so many parts of our faith: our view of God's love, of Jesus's sacrifice, of grace, of mercy, of forgiveness, of evangelizing, of sin, etc.

It affects our overall view of God - of what kind of God He is.  

Is He the kind that would create billions of people for hell, giving them no chance to go to heaven, just so He could have a few in heaven with Him?  Or is He the kind who would offer forgiveness to all?  

Is His love for everyone or just for a few?  

And if He does cause people to go to hell, then how can we trust the Bible when it says that Jesus died for all and that God promises eternal life for anyone who would believe and that God wants no one to perish?  

How just could He be if He causes people to reject Him and then punishes them for it?  

Why would He keep calling us (in the Bible) to "repent and believe" if we actually have no choice about believing?   

This is why this issue matters so much to me.  Because I need to know what kind of God I believe in and serve.  I need to know what Jesus's death really meant and what salvation really is.  What love is.  What grace is.  Who we are.  What we are responsible for and what God is.  What the Bible really teaches.  I need to know that the Bible is consistent and reliable and understandable.  Etc.

Others might want to quietly sweep this issue under the rug because it's confusing and difficult and debatable.  But I want to get to the bottom of it, to really understand what the Bible says about it.  This is a huge issue for me, which is why I keep repeating it.  

So stay tuned for why I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus died for all and that salvation is available for all ... but that we have the responsibility to respond to the Gospel and to Jesus's offer of eternal life.   

If we end up in hell, it won't be God's fault.  It will be ours - for rejecting His offer of forgiveness and salvation.

Next post in this series: "Predestination vs. Free Will" Overview

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