4God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; (Rom 3:)
I like to be right, don't you? It inflates my ego when I'm proven right and the other person is wrong. There's just something about being right that brings out the glory in me, even (and maybe even especially) if my being right is at the other person's expense. I get to glory, they get to be humbled and be put in their place. And isn't that what God wants us to do, to be humble? I guess in a way I'm doing that other person a favor by proving them wrong.
But, on the other hand, when it appears I'm the one who's wrong, it's hard to look at the outcome the same way. So what do I do when I'm wrong? I claim foul. I say the other person was cheating, or didn't give me a chance to prove my point, or that they were just too dense to recognize my rightness over their wrongness. But what is it I never do? I never give them a chance to explain their point of view, the evidence they've found to back up their viewpoint. Doing that would be paramount to admitting the possibility that I was actually wrong. And that would never do!
Way back when, there was a man who had to deal with people like us. This man, like you and me, thought he was always right, and the other person was always wrong. Do you know who I'm thinking of? That's right, Jesus. And the people who thought they knew more than Jesus, because they were educated, came from a right background, and knew the Word of God better than anybody, refused to listen to Jesus' side of the argument. And of course, Jesus, having a new and different viewpoint on everything, had no one to back Him up except a bunch of no-accounts from Galilee who were uneducated and didn't know what Jesus was talking about either. The difference was, they trusted Jesus and was at least trying to understand His words. On the other, other hand, the Pharisees and the Scribes and all the other high muck-a-muck of the city had each other to support their view, as well as their many doctrines and traditions.
Was the Pharisees right because they had so much support? I don't think they were either.
The people of the nation, many of them outcasts because of one reason or another, had no idea what Jesus was telling them, but they liked the words He spoke because His words spoke kindly of them. Plus Jesus was a good story teller and "magician." They, not having much TV or video games in those days to keep them otherwise entertained, they liked to see what Jesus was up to next. It was a lot like us (in the old days before there was in-the-home entertainment) who liked to catch every carnival or other traveling show that came our way, even if it was a revival where we had to endure a lot of fire and brimstone preaching along with the entertainment.
What did these nobodies sitting at Jesus' feet know about God and the Bible? Why, just like you and me, they knew only what they had been taught. And who were their teachers? Of course, their teachers were the Pharisees, the Scribes, and maybe another guru or two who happened by.
Reading material was scarce in those days. They wrote on lamb skins, and lambs don't like giving up their skins for writing material, even if it is the Word of God. Wool they were content to yield, but their skins? Add to this that it took a flock of sheep to make just one Bible, you can see that the cost was right up there with a wall-size flat screen TV.
Today we don't have that problem. Today Bibles can be fetched out of thrift stores and garbage cans. In fact we have to make a conscious effort to avoid the Words of God, and of course, this we do. Why should we bother wasting our valuable time reading the Bible, when we already know the ending of the story, and every week the pastor of our church (or on radio or whatever) forces their interpretation of the Word down our throat? That's the price we pay for accepting the price Jesus paid to give us eternal life. But then, what can you do? Life is just full of those little hardships we must endure.
We now return to our movie.... that is, our story. We don't like to be wrong. And it's against our rules of conduct to admit we're likely to be wrong, or to listen to what the other person says. Are we agreed up to this point? I didn't think we were. Of course I'm right as far as the other person is concerned, they're supposed to surrender their view and incorporate ours if they ever hope to be as wise as Solomon. But for our part, it's way different.
Today I came across some studies on the web about free will and predestination. Of course whoever believes in free will can't possibly believe in predestination as well. That would be moronic... er, I guess the word would be oxymoronic. Either way, it wouldn't jell. Since this must be the case, we can assume that if a predestinator was to talk to a free-willer, there would logically have to be an argument.
Ok, now for the rest of the story. No, I'm not going to thrust a study of free will versus predestination down your throat. I've already done that elsewhere. I'm just using this doctrine as an example of something else I want to get across. So don't look at what I say about either of these doctrines, even though it looks like I'm stressing one or the other. Look at the underlying message and criticize me there, not for the candles on the icing of the cake.
When we don't hear what the other person is saying because we have a need to appear right, even if we're dead wrong, then we're looking down our nose at the person who is looking down their nose at us. We're not trying to learn what the truth of the matter is, we're just arguing for the sake of arguing. That's what rational, wise men do, isn't it? I knew you would agree. A-hem!
Now, let's go back a few centuries and apply this principle to those who were having, shall we say... discussions, with the Son of God. When those masters of the Word disagreed with Jesus, who were they actually disagreeing with? Jesus said He said nothing but the Words the Father spoke through Him. So again, Who were they arguing with?
Of course you and I wouldn't argue with Jesus, now would we? Of course not. It would be asinine to even contemplate such an idea. So we won't.
But then again, let's take a closer look at our scenario above. When we debate the Bible with someone, not looking for truth, but to defend our point of view, which usually is our denomination or church's doctrine, then who are we really contending with? Are we looking for what God is actually trying to tell us, and that through someone we don't want to believe can ever be right? Or are we defending our position, just as the Pharisees did?
The other day I was watching a couple of men, highly educated in the Word, discuss a point of view concerning the Bible where they disagreed. They turned toward each other, pistols loaded, and began to barrage one another with their view on the subject and why they believe what they do. I noticed that neither of these men asked the other (nor listened for) their reason for believing as they do. They weren't trying to come to the truth, but to prove one another wrong. I noticed that neither of these men learned anything from the conversation, nor did they prove their point. It causes me to wonder how either of them learned anything to get them to the point of being expert on a subject they refuse to learn anything about. Then I realized that what they knew, came not from the study of the Bible to see what it can teach them, nor from following the lead of the Holy Spirit, but from paying close attention to what their teacher told them the Bible says. And on this note, I also observed that, rather than divulge what they had learned from reading the Bible, they would quote what they heard someone say they learned from the Bible. Usually it was their favorite radio personality or preacher they were quoting.
Back to my example concerning predestination. Is there evidence supporting predestination? Surely there is. Predestinators have lots of ammunition to shoot at the free-willers. And, on the other hand, the free-willers are not without their cache of ammunition themselves. Now, which is right?
Let's look at the predestinator. They believe that a person is destined to either be saved from the beginning of the world, and because of this predestination they can't be lost regardless of what they do. And on the other foot, the lost can't be saved in spite of their living a righteous life. They're doomed for hell no matter what. Quite a paradox, don't you think?
Let's look at a couple interesting aspects regarding this concept. First, if this is true, and the only truth, without their being any credibility for the other side, then what about Jesus saying whosoever will come to Him will by no means be turned away? Why did Paul and Peter (as well as Jesus) say whoever is baptized and believes will be saved? Why are we taught that if we don't obey Jesus' commandments to love one another we can't be His disciples? As you can see, there's too many "if's" to set aside if we want to hang on to just one side or the other of this topic. It takes some looking into both sides to reach an understanding of what God is wanting to tell us.
As I said earlier, this is just a simple example, one that can cause an eternity of problems if not considered realistically. There are others even more serious than this that are dismissed because we choose to ignore someone's viewpoint, and not consider the reasoning of those who disagree with us.
And above this, if we're only looking to be right without considering the truth of the Gospels, then aren't we doing exactly what the Pharisees did? Aren't we disregarding God's Words, and in doing so, saying our need to be right is more important than allowing God to be right? For myself, I find this to be a very dangerous position to be in, and that merely for a moment of ego-massaging.
29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Rom 8:)
On another topic, sorta, this thought came to mind. I attend a church that claims to preach free-will, while another church of the same name, up the street, who used to preach free-will, now preaches predestination. I think that's called flip-flop is some circles, circles that do flip-flops. Two points of interest come to my mind when I think of this argument over free will. For one thing, if I believe in predestination, and you believe in free will, then how am I to know that I'm one of those chosen from the foundation of the world to be assigned to Heaven? What if all my confidence in being chosen is for nought? What then?
It occurred to me that the only way I can know I'm one of the chosen, is because I answered the call. If I'm in church, then I answered the call, therefore I'm one of the elect destined for Heaven. If I wasn't one of the elect, then I wouldn't have been called, and therefore I wouldn't be in church. Does that make sense to you?
There used to be a church, and maybe still is, called the "Anti-missionary Baptist." That's right, as you would suspect, their purpose in being a church was to oppose the concept of sending out missionaries for the purpose of evangelizing because it's unbiblical. "That sounds foolish" you might say. It does to me too. But the preacher of this gospel has a point. He is a believer in predestination. Under this belief it is pointless to send out missionaries to save people, because God has already chosen those He wants in Heaven with Him, and who He wants to watch burn forever. So to send out missionaries to say people can be saved, when they can't, is not only wrong, but teaching a lie (my words). How would you feel if you were to tell someone that if they joined your church, paid a lifetime of tithes, and was going to spend an eternity in Bliss, only to learn at the Judgement that you had deceived that person? Or more to the point, what if you're that person who was so told, only to find your self to be a tare wishing for a flame-proof suit?
Another question: if the concept considered above is valid, that those who are in church are there because they're called and destined for Glory, then what if the church I attend is one that's called a cult? The mere fact I'm in the pews is evidence that I've been called, isn't that right? And if this isn't right, then who's to say which is the right church? Me? You? Everyone does, but what if everyone is right? Or better still, what if everyone is wrong? What then?
Back to my church. I've often wondered, and have written about, why it is that the churches, my church of the Free Will, doesn't preach against sin in the congregation. They talk about sin "out there" in the world, where sin is supposed to be, and condemn them to the same place those not called are supposed to go; but they do the very same thing those in the world do without regard for consequences. Why? Why aren't those in the churches more concerned about being sinful than those sinful people in the world? I can see why those who have confidence in their salvation because they've been called to salvation, and guaranteed it no matter what they do might believe it. That's part of the package deal they've been offered by their church. How God feels about this doctrine we won't know until we're before the Throne, and then our wrong thinking will have been discovered too late to do anything about it.
Ok, that's the predestinator. But how about the free-willers? Why are they doing the very same thing? Could it be that they, in their heart, are actually predestinators waiting for their church to change their banner out front, just as all the other churches are doing?
28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE. (Rom 8:)
4God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; (Rom 3:)
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