by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 11 April 1, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(392)Thesis:Predestination is a "T"heological reality that translates into a sense of inescapable purpose.
Introduction:In our last study we looked into the issue of the biblical parameters around the use of the word group involving "predestination". We attempted to make the point that the biblical concept is that of established "boundaries" within which are certain "freedoms". We used the analogy of cows kept in a pasture by boundary fences which were free to select what, or if, they would eat. Cows even have the freedom within their established boundaries to decide if they will lie down and rest, chew their cuds, or frolic in the terms of Malachi 4:2. The point is this: biblical determinism is neither fatalistic nor indeterminate.
From there we deliberately looked into multiple texts of the Bible to see what things are "determined" and which things fall into the area of "tolerances".
This evening we are going to return to the actual issue at hand in Romans 8:29: God's predestination of those He foreknew to be conformed to the image of His Son. What was Paul attempting to address when he directed our "predestinarian" thinking toward this particular purpose? What is "at stake" in this purpose of God?
I. The BottomLine in Predestinarian Thought.
A. At the very roots of all thinking regarding "predestination" is the sense of inescapability.
1. This sense of inescapability both comforts and terrorizes.
a. It is comforting beyond measure to have a hope for a good that is rooted in inevitability.
b. It is fearful beyond description to have a terror that is rooted in inevitability.
2. This sense of inescapability is, therefore, at the root of a vast sector of what we call "Life" and, as a root, is the reason for an enormous amount of the conflict over doctrine that exists in the visible Church (we often fight with great determination over what is to be seen as "inevitable" -- being, apparently, unaware that fighting is only effective in regard to the things that are not inevitable).
B. At the roots of the issue of inescapability (predeterminism) is a fundamental principle: God is going to establish His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy no matter what, or who, seeks to subvert it.
1. According to Jesus, and reason, no final conflict over ultimate intentionality can be permitted in any kingdom without the seeds of the destruction of that kingdom being sown (Mark 3:24).
a. Jesus made this statement when He was accused of being demonized by those who wished to counter His ability to establish His doctrine as Truth because they wished to maintain their doctrine as Truth.
b. His argument was designed to make the charge appear as foolish as it was.
1) Luke 11:19 reveals how foolish it was for the charge to be made because it was the kind of charge that made it impossible to know whose "Truth" was true.
2) How much sense does it make to attempt to undercut another's "Truth" by a method that undercuts your own?
2. Predestination is simply God's declaration that all evil has an eventual end once the benefits of that evil have been received.
II. The Primary Focus of Paul's Predestinarian Thought in Romans 8.
A. It swirls around "purpose".
1. Those who "love" God are the "according to purpose called".
2. The "purpose" is stated: to establish the Son as "firstborn" among many brethren.
a. The issue of "firstborn" is a "derived" issue.
1) According to the culture of the Jews, the first child of a woman's womb was given a place of prominence and privilege that was not given to any children born later.
2) Thus, "firstborn" came to mean "the person of highest prominence and privilege" regardless of birth order (there are people of highest prominence and privilege in cultures who do not relegate those issues to who is born first).
a) This lay at the roots of the conflict between the older brother and the prodigal son.
b) This lay at the roots of the enmity against Joseph because his father ignored the "rules".
c) This also created a huge part of the enmity between Esau and Jacob.
b. That Jesus is to be the "firstborn" is such a fundamental aspect of the divine purpose that God "predestined" it so that it could not be subverted.
B. It swirls around "method".
1. Predestination is, fundamentally, a "method" for making sure a thing is going to be.
2. But, "conforming" all of the "many brethren" to the "image" of the Son is also God's way of bringing the purpose to pass.
a. It is impossible in a rational universe to decry in another what one is in himself. [Note Paul's argument in Romans 2 regarding the irrationality of criticizing in others what one does himself.]
b. To make all of the brethren to partake of the essential character of the Son is to make any diminishing of His prominence and privilege impossible.
C. It swirls around "T"heology.
1. One reality of the essential nature of God is this: no one who lovingly wills to suffer for God's Truth's sake will go unrecompensed by God, and the alternative is also true (no one will escape the loss of recompense who is unwilling to lovingly suffer).
a. This de-fangs the "predestined for Hell" concept in the hands of the opponents because Moses, Jesus, and Paul all made the willingness to suffer Hell for others the definition of Love.
b. Anyone who complains about people having to go to Hell because they do not love do not understand this basic reality of "T"heology.
c. Jesus took the "theory" out of the mix because He embraced the predestination of His Father even though it meant Hell for Him.
d. Anyone who wishes to criticize must first demonstrate the magnitude of such love; otherwise he is just another hypocrite who deserves to go to Hell for his own loveless sins.
2. Because God is of such a nature that He cannot tolerate the sacrifices of love going unrequited and that He will not tolerate the injustice of loveless evil, we have hope who have come to "love God".