About 2-3 years ago, a friend of mine and I got into a somewhat heated discussion when he brought up something that I had never in my life heard of, and I must admit, it was a difficult thing to swallow. I can’t remember how the conversation started, but one of the first things I remember him asking me was somewhere along the lines of, “Why do you believe God loves everybody?” And of course, I threw out John 3:16 amongst a few other scriptures. Then he pointed out to me Romans 9:13, where it recounts that God loved Jacob but hated Esau. At the time, I don’t think I had ever seen that scripture before. I really had no response to it. After more talking, he then laid the big one on me–Some people are chosen/elected by God to receive salvation, and others are not. I just really could NOT accept that at that time. It was total and utter nonsense to me. I didn’t have much meaningful or strong knowledge of the Bible, so I didn’t have much ground to stand on or use in support of my stance. The only Bible knowledge I had was what I had heard my pastor quote over and over again and the particular scriptures and biblical accounts that were drummed into our heads at church. Needless to say, I was filled with so many emotions, mainly of disbelief and disgust that someone could even think that about God. Everybody deserves a chance, and everybody can be saved if they choose to be, right?
Well, a few years, a knowledge of the TRUE Christ, coming to TRUE salvation, a lot of prayers, and some studying later…I sing a different tune. Not only is the doctrine of God’s election made clear throughout the Bible, but I almost feel silly that I never noticed it before. Last year, I read through the entire New Testament in a couple of weeks, and still didn’t see it! Going back now, I know clearly that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to actually read the Bible for what it says instead of reading what I’ve been taught or my own thoughts into the text. In retrospect, it almost seems like an impossibility for me to have missed it…almost like my mind subconsciously ignored it, didn’t notice it, or thought, “Well, it can’t mean that, so it must mean something else.”
This topic has been on my mind SOOO much these past few months, and I haven’t been able to really talk about it deeply with anyone because nobody I know believes it or wants to believe it. So I mostly stick to the Bible to learn about it, and check a lot of online sources to see what others say about it and the scriptures they use to support this topic, and I search those and compare them with the scriptures that I’ve studied in my own time. It’s all still a work in progress, but I have to say that I in NO way look at salvation like I used to. I’m never one to shut out knowledge when it comes to God’s Word. I’m always open to correction and will happily accept the new knowledge as long as it’s backed up by Scripture and the Word of God in it’s entire context. No more do I allow myself to buy into to cherry-picked verses that string together a doctrine that can’t be backed up by God’s Word in it’s entire context.
With that being said, I wanted to start to get into, little by little, some of the things that I’ve learned. I started today particularly because I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a while, but I was hesitant to do so because of how touchy this topic is. However, I read an article today on another blog, and I went back and looked the scriptures that were mentioned, which I had highlighted and made notes on, and when I did, 3 verses of scripture explode in my face! I can’t stay silent on this topic anymore. I wanted to wait until I had seen substantial scriptural support for the elect/non-elect. I’ve seen so much now and I’m no longer afraid to discuss the topic. Plus, this is my blog and if no one will listen to me face-to-face, at least I’ll be able to vent it somewhere! Lol. I’ll be covering two groups of scripture in this particular post because these were the most eye-opening to me, initially.
Some weeks ago, I was in John 10. Jesus was speaking about His sheep, and how His sheep know His voice and follow Him. In verses 14-15, Jesus says:
“I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
A few more verses down, we see that the Jews were still divided, some were doubtful of Christ’s claims. Verses 24-29:
“Then came the Jews round about Him, and said to Him, How long do You make us to doubt? If you be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and you believed not: the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But you believe not, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.“
It took me a while before I caught it. Jesus said, in verses 14-15 that He knows His sheep and they know Him, and He lays His life down for the sheep. Then in verses 26-27, He tells those people that they are not of His sheep. This would explain why they don’t know Him, and it also appears to imply that He’s not laying His life down for them. He lays His life down for the sheep, He clearly tells them they aren’t His sheep, so He’s not laying down His life for them. Also, to point something out, Jesus said, in verse 26, “But you believe not, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.” Notice, He didn’t say, “But you believe not, therefore you are not of my sheep.” The fact that they weren’t of His sheep was not the result of their unbelief…their unbelief was the result of them not being of His sheep. Big difference.
Now on to John chapter 6. This particular group of scriptures has to do with election and sure salvation (impossibility of losing salvation). I’ll be dealing with John 6:37-45. Just ahead of these verses, Jesus is talking to the people. They basically wanted Him to give proof of who He claims to be so that they will believe Him. He mentions the bread of God from heaven which gives life to the world, and they told Him to give them that bread. Jesus replies in verses 35-40:
“And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to Me shall never hunger; and he that believes on Me shall never thirst. But I said to you, That you also have seen Me, and believe not. All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. and this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.“
Jesus said all that the Father gives Him will come to Him, verse 37, and right before, in verse 36, He tells those people that they have seen Him and believe not. However, all the people that the Father has given Him SHALL come to Him. So it appears that these people were not given to Christ by God. Also, Jesus said, in verse 38, that He came down from heaven to do the will of the Father. I’m sure all sincere Christians would agree that Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life in total, complete, and perfect obedience to God, right? So, if a person who is truly saved can lose their salvation, then that makes Jesus disobedient and a liar. Disobedient because, in verses 39 and 40, Jesus tells us that the will of God is that of all which God has given Him that He should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day, God’s will is that everyone that believes on Him will have everlasting life, and He’ll raise him up at the last day..so if the will of God is for Jesus to lose none of the people God gave Him, then He’s disobedient and has failed if any of God’s chosen people don’t receive salvation.. and that would make Jesus a liar, because He said He came to do the will of the Father, but if He lost one, then He lied about doing God’s will. Clearly Jesus was perfectly obedient, therefore no one that God has given to Christ to be saved will be lost.
I might as well touch on verse 44 and 45 while I’m right there. Jesus said:
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to Me.“
Jesus said that no man can (ability, power, capability) come to Him, except (unless) the Father draw (‘helko’-drag) him, and He’ll raise them up at the last day. So, those who Christ will raise up at the last day are those who God gives to Him, who will come to him (verse 37), who won’t be lost(verse 39), who will believe on Him and receive eternal life from Him(verse 40), and they can’t come to Him unless the Father draws them (verse 44). Jesus said in verse 45 that those who God draws will be taught of God, and every man that has heard and learned of (from or by) the Father comes to Him..EVERY man that God has drawn will come to Christ and be raised up by Christ at the last day.
I’m learning that God has more power over salvation than I used to think…obtaining it AND preserving it.
More to come…