2 Christ. How God Knows Us
God is like a time traveler; He has already "spent" those ages with us. He knows us and knew us beforehand. That doesn't mean, as Arminians argue, that in 1993 David Benjamin was going to "choose" to follow God and be saved. No, He knew me in the sense that He had already enjoyed those ages to come with me.
Everything is finished from the foundation of the world with God (Heb 4:3). He has it with Him. He dwells in Eternity (Is 57:15). He doesn’t just see from Creation until the Bringing of the Kingdom. He sees Forever, and it is all before Him. He already has a history of what that relationship with me looks like, and He’s coming back to me, His loved one, to rescue me and begin the process of sonship and bring me into this journey that He knows. This is what predestination is all about. God cannot help but know these things!
That doesn’t mean that God made everything happen. Yet, if you look back at your life, you have to ask, how did God overcome the resistance in me? This is something the Arminians don’t understand. They think if you can stir someone up emotionally, they will be pressed to make a “decision” for Christ. It’s all in their free will to “choose God.” So, you need to get the environment just right for them to be motivated to make that choice.
That is where revivalism comes from. It is based on the notion that it is man's prerogative to "choose God" and he needs the right environment. Altar calls, passionate persuasive speeches (with plenty of manipulation), exciting music, charismatic ministers, and seeker-friendly churches all come from the Arminian notion that man must have the right conditions to be likely to "choose God." Ironically, all the "tools" they use betray that they believe man must be assisted in making this choice.
In the altar call these days, everything is done to stir up emotions and get people to come to the front. Then they are rushed through a "sinner's prayer" where they are force-fed the gospel, which was basically absent from the sermon.
They are asked to pray, "I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead, and I invite you in…" But they haven't had time to process any of this yet. They are overwhelmed, pressured, and crying because the charismatic preacher said something that really got to them, and they don't even know what he said.
In a sense, I am exaggerating, but this kind of altar call can produce many false converts who don't understand the gospel. I have been in churches that are full of people who are the "results" of these altar calls, and many of them were clearly not saved. They were zealous for the Christian life but didn't understand justification at all.
Arminians approach salvation as a matter of man's choice. With that comes the fear of deciding not to be saved: "I chose my way in. I could choose my way out!" This fear leads people to look into what's called Calvinism, not necessarily to become Calvinists, but to explore the scriptural concept of predestination.
They begin to see that God had to overcome something in them in order for them to be saved. It wasn't that there was something "good" in them that desired to be saved. The Arminian position, or the "Pelagianist" position, is that there is something in man that wants God, and if one can lure that part to respond to God, it will choose God because man is inherently good. In Calvinism, there is a notion of utter depravity, which is too strong.
But in the Scripture, we do see that we are born as heirs of wrath by nature and enemies of God (Ephesians 2:1; Romans 5:10). The flesh cannot please God and cannot be subject to Him, and the mind of the flesh is hostile to God (Romans 8:7). So, God has to break that down and soften it. He does this in a very gentle way.
In my life, before I got saved, how many people did God put in my path? The older you get, the more resources God must spend. When people were children and got saved, it was easier. But I was saved in my twenties. There must have been ten years of people being brought into my path, whom I mocked, persecuted, argued with, hurt, and tried to bring into sin. They suffered because of me. Christians suffered by being brought into my path while I was in opposition to God. They shared the Gospel with me and prayed for me. God was working through them. I got convicted because they didn't respond the way the world did. In the world, I would have gotten my butt kicked for the way I treated these people. But they always forgave me and didn't cut me off. This was really powerful for me.
I eventually found out that these were the only people I could be myself with. They accepted me. None of them could really answer my questions because I was too cerebral. Eventually, I met my match, and I had a roommate who was more intelligent than I was. He knew what he believed and why and could answer my questions from the scripture. He helped me understand at last. God had already prepared the way. There was preparation for me. This is God putting people in my path and ordering my steps.
In John, we see this kind of statement again and again:
- Joh_6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Calvinists go to the extreme and say that we cannot fight this grace, and it is irresistible. If you’re one of the “elect”, it doesn’t matter if someone preaches the Gospel to you. God will get you. They go so far as to say that you must be regenerated or born again to believe the Gospel. You have to be born again and then you believed!
This is where people get so far into the extremes that they contradict the clear teaching of the scripture. Paul teaches clearly that after we heard the word of the truth, the Gospel of our salvation, and believed, we were sealed, with the Spirit. This is regeneration.
- Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
However, the scripture also tells me that the Spirit was drawing me (2 Thess 2:13). I could evidently resist and harden my heart. For whatever reason, God was able to soften me, and it took Him a lot of resources to do so. A lot of resources are spent on us. Why does He do this? Because we are His children whom He foreknew. It is His prerogative to do this. His grace, though, is extended to everyone, and all who are thirsty may freely come and drink of the water of life (Rev 22:17). A Calvinist will say that only the predestined will thirst. However, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man begged Abraham to give him a drop of water to quench his thirst (Lk 16:24). Man was created with eternity in his heart and has a basic thirst to be filled which only God can satisfy. Thirst is associated with being lost and without God, which is why Jesus said on the cross, “I thirst.” He was tasting death for us as He bore our sins and alienation.
There is a special treasure in store already for the believer, and he has been predestined to receive this inheritance. However, God’s Spirit runs to and fro on the earth (2 Cor 16:9), and the call of the Gospel is genuinely made to everyone, whoever will. I eventually found out that these were the only people I could be myself with; they accepted me. None of them could really answer my questions, as I was too cerebral. Eventually, I met my match and had a roommate who was more intelligent than I was. He knew what he believed and why, and could answer my questions from the scripture. He helped me understand at last that God had already prepared the way for me; there was preparation. This is God putting people in my path and ordering my steps. In John, we see this kind of statement again and again: John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." The Calvinists go to the extreme and say that we cannot fight this grace, and it is irresistible; if you’re one of the “elect,” it doesn’t matter if someone preaches the Gospel to you – God will get you.
They even go so far as to say that you have to be regenerated or born again in order to believe the Gospel; you have to be born again before you can believe! This is where people get so far into extremes that they contradict the clear teaching of scripture. Paul teaches clearly that after we heard the word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation, and believed, we were sealed with the Spirit – this is regeneration. Eph 1:13 "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." However, scripture also tells us that the Spirit was drawing us (2 Thess 2:13).
We could evidently resist and harden our hearts; for whatever reason, God was able to soften us – it took Him a lot of resources to do so. A lot of resources are spent on us because we are His children whom He foreknew; it is His prerogative to do this. His grace, though, is extended to everyone; all who are thirsty may freely come and drink of the water of life (Rev 22:17). A Calvinist will say that only those predestined will thirst; however, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man begged Abraham to give him a drop of water to quench his thirst (Lk 16:24).
Man was created with eternity in his heart and has a basic thirst which only God can satisfy – thirst being associated with being lost and without God – which is why Jesus said on the cross “I thirst” as He bore our sins and alienation. There is a special treasure in store already for believers who have been predestined to receive this inheritance; however, God’s Spirit runs to and fro on earth (2 Cor 16:9) and calls everyone through His Gospel – whoever will.
The Calvinists deny this, teaching that Jesus died only for the “elect.” This is disgusting and unscriptural. He died for our sins and also the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). He desires that none would perish, but all would come to the knowledge of the Truth (2 Peter 3:9). He came not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:16-17).