[Author’s note… this post in not intended to be an exhaustive theological proof for or against Predestination. It has been written to make a singular and significant point.]
Wanting to get better plugged-in, in 1991 our family transitioned to a Presbyterian PCA church that was much closer to our home than the nondenominational church we had previously attended. I was still a baby Christian, definitely drinking spiritual milk rather than solid food (1 Peter 2:2). We started attending a weeknight fellowship group and even hosted it in our home for a while. Looking back on the experience, I can now see how the more mature in the faith took us under their wing, helping to teach us many of the great truths of God. With one notable exception, it was a great time of growth in Christ.
About 5 years into our time within the Presbyterian PCA denomination, our family moved a half hour away and were again faced with a need to find a geographically closer fellowship in which to raise our kids. As a side note, one of our daughters could not ride in a car for more than five minutes (seriously) without throwing up! Not a good Sunday morning commute. After checking out a few local churches, we felt led to a small Southern Baptist church, which we still attend today.
The Notable Exception
Attending a Southern Baptist church was basically no different that our Presb. PCA experience, again with that one notable exception.
There is a view within some denominations and individual Biblical Christians that God has preordained or predestined our actions, or at the very least, our salvation, from eternity past. I suspect that hundreds of books, and thousands of sermons and lectures have been focused on this topic over the years. Likely, it remains a topic of discussion in seminaries as students practice battling over theology in preparation for an errored belief they have to know everything Godly, as a graduated Pastor.
For the total time we attended the Presbyterian PCA church, I cannot remember a single offering from the pulpit on the gospel, the Good News. Not once did the pastor tell the congregation how to come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Further, there was never an appeal to “come forward” on a Sunday morning to talk to the pastor or elders about a faith commitment. I suspect if asked, our past church staff would have scrambled for their “Westminster Confession of Faith” and then offered some Scripture verses to justify their inaction:
Westminster Confession of Faith #9/3 – Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: (Rom. 5:6, Rom. 8:7, John 15:5) so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, (Rom. 3:10, 12) and dead in sin, (Eph. 2:1, 5, Col. 2:13) is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. (John 6:44, 65, Eph. 2:2–5, 1 Cor. 2:14, Tit. 3:3–5)
Romans 8:28-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Ephesians 1:4 Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him…
1 Peter 2:8-9 A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Why Witness the Good News of Jesus Christ
So why did my Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Christ never mention the plan of salvation offered by God to mankind? Why did the pastor of our church back then never explain how one can spend eternity in Heaven? The answer is that their underlying theology was that salvation was God’s responsibility, not man’s. The logic goes that if one believes that God will draw the predestined lost to Him, why should Presbyterians get involved in the process.
Now, to be clear, this was my personal experience with a single church. It is NOT to be taken as an inditement on the denomination as a whole without further evidence of a prevailing systemic practice. However, the underlying theology of predestination within the Presbyterian church is a part of their covenant theology.
Predestination is not an Excuse for a lack of Evangelism
There are many in the church I currently attend who also believe in “Unconditional Election”, or predestination. However, it is not unusual when a Sunday morning sermon ends or contains a clear presentation of how one comes to be born-again. Further, there is a time at the end of each Sunday morning for folks to come forward to make their profession of faith public (Romans 10:27).
The point cannot be understated that God calls and desires each Christian to find proactive, intentional ways of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world.
Mark 16:15 & Matt. 28: 19-20 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
One can believe that it is God and God alone that drags the sinner to the cross and to their salvation. However, we, as mankind, have no earthly idea who God has predestined for eternal life and what method of evangelism God has chosen from eternity past to perfect His will. Among all the challenging theological constructs students of the Bible wrestle with, in my opinion, this is a no-brainer. The Bible calls the Christian to share the love of Christ with a lost and dying world AND leave the fruits of that encounter(s) in God’s hands.
Predestination is no excuse for choosing to shy away from sharing the eternal truths that you, as a Christian know to be true.