The story is told of a young seminarian attending his first theology class when a “fight” broke out. He listened intently as the class of upperclassmen staked out their positions on freewill and predestination. The division was so intense that the groups separated, each to their own corner of the room. The new student weighed the points made, and though he still had many questions, decided that the predestination group was more in line with his views of what Scripture taught, so he walked over and joined them. These veterans of theological debate looked at the novice and asked, “Why did you come to join us?” He answered, “I came of my own freewill.” Immediately they howled, “Then you don’t belong with us—go away and join the other group!” A bit dejected at first, he trudged over to the other group, that quizzed him on arrival, “So, why have you decided to join up with us?” His response was, “I was compelled to come.” They yelled at him and shoved him, “Then you don’t belong with us!” The poor fellow was left standing out in the cold, feeling like he didn’t belong in either camp!
That’s where you may be today in this discussion that has often led to discord and division. You’re not sure about this business of freewill and predestination. Yet, we cannot and should not avoid the subject that is thoroughly biblical. For instance, Paul wrote these words in Romans 8:29-30:
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
This week we are going to attempt to crack open the door and invite you in from the cold and into the warm light of God’s truth. We will seek to say what God says and try not to say more (nor less) than what He says. Sometimes a subtle danger to the preacher is to attempt to read between the verses and impose his own thoughts on the text or to skip over the difficult verses and focus on those requiring little in the way of controversy. As concerning our salvation, we must affirm Divine sovereignty and on the other hand, human responsibility. Neglecting the former is to make God our servant and man the Lord as God waits for our response before He acts to save us, and to deny the latter is to make those created in His image to be mere puppets manipulated by fatalistic strings. As in most Biblical truth, it is very narrow—a tightrope where we must maintain balance, lest we fall into error. Only with the grace and wisdom of God can we hope to grasp such lofty concepts. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, even as Christ promised.