Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wovenist Answers, Does God Choose Some For Hell Pt 2

From the Wovenist perspective, there is one pivotal point to the entire question. What is the difference between those who are on the right as sheep and those who are on the left as goats? In Wovenist theology, God transcends time. Being outside of time, the questions of “when” make little difference. If we were predestined to be saved or not, at the end we will all be in one of two camps. We will either be sheep or goats. What makes a person a sheep or a goat, more importantly, what makes a person accept or reject the Gospel? This is the key, the thing that we have been arguing without arguing about it. Does man have the ability to accept God on his own, by his own will, or is it required for God to draw and call the person, to give them the ability and affinity to accept Christ? Is it man’s choice, or God’s choice? This is the struggle in most theological conflicts, but the question that drives the Wovenist is, what is the difference between the sheep and goat? Is man makes the choice, what is it that causes him to choose God? If God chooses the man, what is the requirement that causes God to choose?

For a Wovenist, the answer cannot come from logic or philosophy, it cannot be something that makes sense or reason, it must come from scripture. Unfortunately the scripture doesn’t specifically answer this question, so we will start with the evidence. First, in the Old Testament we find those who were chosen. Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and others. What did they have that caused God to choose them and reveal Himself to them. Let’s start with Abraham, the friend of God and the man who received the Covenant. When Abram is first called, there is no indication to why. He was living in the land of Ur with his dad and his wife and his nephew. God tells him to go, and he goes. Abram had faith, is that why he was called? What about Issac and Jacob? They were called before they were born, Issac was the son of the promise before he was born. Jacob was chosen, Esau was rejected before they were born. Romans 9 points out that God made the choice before they were born. Neither of them were particularly noble men of faith. David was chosen while he was a boy tending sheep and Jeremiah was told he was known while in the womb. So was it God knowing their future that caused them to be called, or God shaping their future by calling them?

So these men are Old Testament, and some say it was the nation being chosen, not these men so much. Has nothing to do with Salvation, right? Well, since the OT is the place we learn about the character of God, we can't dismiss these realities, that God choose some, they didn't necessarily choose God. Isaiah, however, was in the temple and had a vision of God, and he replied “here am I, send me”. When he experienced God, he made a profession that he wanted to go. We cannot discount that either. The nature of God we find in the Old Testament is God choosing some, revealing Himself to some so they can choose, and having others choose to do the right thing, like some of the righteous kings. We can't base our theology on just Old Testament case studies can we? Let's examine what we see in the New Testament.

To begin at the beginning, we have 12 guys who were chosen. Jesus picked His disciples, and He told them in John 15:16 “You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit”. So Jesus chose the 12, but the Apostles were a special case, right? After all, they were the foundation of the church, so they had to be a specific set of guys. In talking about Salvation, don't we choose? Jesus appeared to Saul who became Paul, but again, an Apostle, so does that really apply? It seems harder and harder to find case studies of people choosing God. What makes this harder is Romans 3:11 says no one seeks God. Well, that may be true, that no one seeks God, but that doesn't mean that no one chooses God when given the choice, right?

We have this in our head, that if we don't choose God, then it's not real love. God doesn't want us to be robots, which is true, He wants us to make our own choices. God is a gentleman, He never makes people do what they don't otherwise want to do. He doesn't force our hand, make us do things that we don't want to do. If I choose to sin, God will not force me to stop, unless you lie about how much money you are giving to the church during it's infancy, then you fall down dead, but Ananias and Sapphira had the choice. When presented with the Gospel, do we have a choice, or does God force some to heaven and others to hell? If God calls, but God does not force us to be saved, how are we saved? Are we as humans able to choose God, even though Romans 3 says that no one chooses God? We are left with a paradox that we either violate (or ignore) scripture or we create a theology that seems to force a nature on God that isn't expressed in scripture.

The more time you spend pouring over scripture, the harder this becomes. There are passages that tell us that if we call on the name of the Lord, we will be saved, that whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have eternal life. We are also told that no one seeks God, that all have sinned, that God saves us, not by our will, not by our works it's a gift of God. We see predestined and elect repeated, the very word Church means “called out ones”. No one chooses to be called out, they one calling chooses who is going to be called out. Every were we turn, we are faced with this issue.

It boils down to these points.
  1. Does man accept God apart from God's call?
  2. Does man have the ability to reject God's call?
  3. Does man have any influence over God's call?
  4. If God does call, who can be saved?
These are difficult questions, because we want to believe that every person on the earth has the opportunity and the ability to be saved. If God is loving, wouldn't He call everyone to be saved? In many ways, what we see in scripture contradicts what we know about God from scripture, so how can both things be true? Does God call everyone to be saved, and if so does that call only have an effect when man chooses to obey? Does the work of the cross have no power until man accepts the cross, or is man judged solely on his response to the cross? At what point are sins forgiven, did Christ pay for them at the moment of death or are they forgiven at the moment of belief and faith? These are hard questions, and the more we look, the more difficult it becomes.

In the same way, we can't just become lazy and negligent of scripture and belief whatever the easiest position is to hold. We cannot be swayed by popular opinion, by peer or academic pressure or by notable voices, but by scripture alone. In this post, we have raised more questions than answers, so in the next post, I will propose the possible solution to this complex issue. We are unable to find the difference between the sheep and the goats without looking at one more key component. The next post will deal specifically with that one component.

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