Sunday, August 12, 2007



It’s Sunday afternoon. After preaching three times, I packed my bag and went to the Tyler Airport and got on a Continental Express turbo-prop bound for IAH. As I write this I’m on a Continental ERJ Jet cruising at 550kts level at FL330 toward Ft. Walton Beach where I will spend a week’s vacation in one of my favorite spots – Destin. You might say I’m “pre-Destined” at this moment!
Folks often ask me if I believe in predestination. Of course I do! But as I understand the wonderful doctrine of predestination, it’s NOT a predetermined plan by which God has decided to send some people to hell and take others to heaven.
To me, the key predestination verse in the Bible is Romans 8:29. Have you ever noticed that verses beside “great verses” often get overlooked? You can quote John 3:16 to me, but can you quote John 3:15? Romans 8:29 has the unfortunate distinction of following one of the BIGGIE verses, Romans 8:28.
The promise contained in Romans 8:28 is to those who love God and to “the called according to His purpose.” So what IS God’s PURPOSE for me and you? It’s found in Romans 8:29: “Those He foreknew, He also PREDESTINED to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he (Jesus) might be the firstborn of many brothers.”
It seems to me that predestination doesn’t address who will or won’t be saved – instead it tells us will happen to those of us who are already saved. Once we are a member of God’s family, He has already predetermined our DESTINATION – that we will become more and more like Jesus. If you’re looking for a 50cent word, that’s the process of SANCTIFICATION. God starts the process when we’re saved and He doesn’t finish with us until the Day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
Here’s how I understand it in my simple mind. It’s like when I boarded that Continental Express flight in Tyler this afternoon. I had a choice about whether or not to get on the aircraft, but once I got on board the aircraft, I didn’t have a choice about the destination – the plane was going to Houston.
I believe that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph1:3), but I also believe He gives us a choice in the matter. I believe God wants us to choose to love Him and trust Him. Love that is coerced isn’t really love.
I know …. There’s NOTHING I can do to be saved – it’s ALL God and nothing of me. So I’m okay in saying that I didn’t buy my ticket, Jesus paid it all. And I didn’t even drive myself to the airport, the Father brought me (John 6:44), and I didn’t even walk on the airplane myself, the Holy Spirit carried me.
Predestination isn't the same thing as Calvinism. There is a ongoing conversation in the Southern Baptist Convention about the role of Calvinism (Reformed Theology is the preferred label for those who embrace it). There is no doubt that Reformed Theology was one of the main streams that produced the Southern Baptist River. I don’t know too many FIVE POINT CALVINISTS. (google Calvinsim and TULIP for more info). Most of the ones I know are 3 or 3.5 or 3.798 point Calvinsists!
However, within the past year I have personally seen the introduction of hard-line Calvinism divide and wound apparently stable congregations. I’m grieved by that. We need to keep this issue within the boundaries of love. Calvin? I’d like to put Herschel Hobbs beside him if I could - and then we'd have our own Calvin and Hobbs dialogue!