A Courteous Contrararian

Predestination 3

Written By: Jon Jaroszewski - Jan• 15•15

And now on to the third way of looking at predestination.

We’ve seen how a Calvinist might say God has predestined who gets to heaven (and how everyone else by default goes to hell). We’ve also seen how the Arminian can point to all the commands to believe, and all the commands for believers to evangelize, and say we must somehow have a choice. To them, predestination means God has “middle knowledge,” he knows everything that might ever possibly occur, and so predestines those he knows will accept the Lord.

The middle way relies on the words “us” and “we” and “our.” I noticed them first in Romans 8, the way the pronouns unfold. I thought about them for months without discovering if they had some special meaning. Then I noticed the same pattern in Ephesians 1 and by verse 13 hit me like a thunderbolt.

Let’s look at Ephesians 1; only the common pronouns, excluding those referring to God or Jesus, starting in verse 3.

Our, us, us, us, us, us, we, us, us, we.

The passage is about the wonderful things God has done for us through his son, our Lord. He blessed us, he chose us, he predestined us, he has freely given us grace, he has redeemed us and lavished grace on us. I love lavish as a verb when God is doing the lavishing.

God did all these things in order that we who were the first to put our hope in Christ might be for the praise of his glory (Eph 1:12 NIV). So that we might be what, you may ask? Just so we might be. That we might be for the praise of his glory. I’m for the praise of his glory, that’s for sure, even though I don’t know for certain what it means. But I digress.

Whenever I’ve read Ephesians 1:1-12, or its parallel toward the end of Romans 8, I’ve always marveled at all that God has done for us. But are we the “we” to whom Paul is referring? You know I think the answer is no. I think he is referring the the Apostles.

The Apostles of which he was one. Paul is saying he is the same as them in the way he has been treated by God. Chosen, lavished with grace, predestined, among the first to believe (Romans has it as among the first fruits). He made known to the apostles the mystery of his will and they have made much of it known to us. Paul is saying he was predestined like the other apostles were. His wisdom and knowledge is at least on a par with theirs.

Right about now you might be thinking, “that’s why he wrote the previous post, to bolster this shaky conclusion. You’d be partially right, that was exactly why I wrote the last post. But I’ve got a good deal more evidence.

It starts with Ephesians 1:13 and 14, and a pronoun change. and you also.

Let’s revisit Paul’s common pronouns thus far. There is one in verse 2 that we haven’t mentioned, “you.” grace and peace to you. “You” here are the Ephesians he is writing to. And then, in verses 3-12 we have the earlier list.

Our, us, us, us, us, us, we, us, us, we.

And then suddenly in verse 13, And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Paul and the Apostles (a mid-first century punk rock group) were predestined. The rest of us – and the Ephesians – on the other hand, were included in Christ when we hear the truth.

That’s the third way. It’s been lying right there for everybody to see all along and yet we haven’t. We’ve been so busy defending our ingrained positions that a very simple thought has never occurred to us: God can have more than one method to bring people to salvation.

The Calvinists are right when they insist that God predestines people.        The Arminians are right when they say people must choose to be saved.

It’s only that not all people are predestined and not all come by hearing the word of truth from other believers. Some, like Peter and John, heard not from other believers, but from Jesus himself, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Others, like Paul, were also visited and taught by the Lord, but in what manner we don’t quite know. And the rest of us have generally been drawn through the word of truth. (Technically, that’s three ways, but hey.) The point is, God is not limited, especially by our limited imaginations. Just because we’ve been unable to imagine it doesn’t mean he hasn’t.

We’ll begin tightening up my little theory in the next post. There’s quite a bit more evidence, so it may take two or three more posts.



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