Can You Feel Your Predestination?

Reverend Anthony R. Locke November 7th, 2010 at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker Romans 8:28 – 9:33 English Standard Version

There is an amazing Bible topic called Predestination. It answers some pretty important questions about God and our salvation. Specifically, predestination is suppose to make us feel certain things in our heart and in our faith about God and about our salvation.

I know most people think of predestination as a painful journey in Calvinistic theology, but, God doesn’t handle it that way in the Bible. God doesn’t think this doctrine is hard. To God this doctrine is meant to be a huge blessing. We aren’t suppose to think it first; we are to feel it.

So what are we suppose to feel?

First, we are to feel wrapped up in the everlasting arms of our heavenly Father who is in complete control of everything. Romans 8:28 reminds us that the rollercoaster ride we call life never catches God by surprise. Even sad events are used by God to build our character, return us to prayer and test our submission to the will of God. Predestination means that we can be at peace with our tomorrow because God controls our yesterday, today and tomorrow. Can you feel that? It’s the steady hands of the Lord leading you forward.

Second, we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:29. We are not elect just so we can go to heaven. That’s never the language of scripture. Being elect for salvation isn’t something we can measure or quantify. We can measure our progress in a godly life. A resurrected life that walks in the commands of God is measurable.

Saying we are elect is mysterious and out of sync with the language of the Bible. Saying we are predestined to be living like Jesus can be judged by an accountability partner, mentor, pastor or friend. Others can question our claim to be predestined if we are living a sinful life. Feel the moral imperative of a Biblical understanding of predestination.

Our predestination marks us for a new life in Jesus. We were born in Adam with a broken and blemished image of God. By resurrection we are reborn with the perfected image of God that was uniquely manifest in the human flesh of Jesus. Feel that call to holiness and now walk in a manner worthy of the name of Christ. This is the destiny of the elect. Feel the call to Christian obedience, not election superiority.

Third, our salvation, justification being the beginning, will be carried forward and completed with an eternal sanctification or what we call glorification. God finishes what He starts. Romans 8:30. God will not leave the job half finished. You will overcome all the sin left in your flesh and you will be fully saved. Feel the promise of future glory that is only guaranteed by this doctrine of predestination.

Fourth, God is on our side. Most people would argue with that assessment and request rewording verse 31 that we are on God’s side. But that’s not what the verse says. God chose people for Himself by putting Himself in their corner. You didn’t recruit God. He chose to be on your team. You and God will overcome for Jesus already won the battle. That’s something which is very awesome to feel once we think about it for a while.

Romans 8:32 reminds us that in the eternal decrees of God’s plan He gave the Son of God as a sacrifice for our sin. Nothing is more important or valuable to God the Father than Jesus. In Jesus everything else is ours. Predestination should make us feel affluent.

Romans 8:33-34 leads us to cast off our guilt. How can we feel condemned for our past sins when Jesus suffered for them on the tree? Did Jesus handle our sins on the tree or not? Then walk away from false guilt by looking to the finished work of Jesus.

How do we know this Gospel plan worked? Because God raised Jesus and repositioned Jesus back into His eternal glory to prove His death was vicarious. This salvation remains effective for Jesus continues to intercede for us. Could God make us feel more secure? No way.

Romans 8:35-39 Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. His sovereign control over all things means we are safe in his arms. If we are in control of our salvation than we should be very insecure and fearful of our eternal destiny. Predestination gives us a solid confidence that we did not cast the deciding vote to make us saved. God did. Now that’s a wonderful feeling.

Romans 9 opens with an appeal for all of us to embrace this doctrine. This is not a Pauline distinctive not found in the Old Testament. Predestination is not unique to Paul’s theology. This doctrine is not somehow only true for Calvinists or Reformation theologians. Predestination is a Biblical doctrine that the Holy Spirit led the authors of scripture to affirm.

Romans 9:2-3 We should feel compassion for those who might not be predestined. Now this is a funny turn in the conversation. How can we tell who isn’t elect so we can show compassion? Can we read a palm and tell a person’s eternal future? No. Can we look into tea leaves and see who is elect? No. Can we shake someone’s hand or look deeply into their eyes and figure out if they are elect? Of course not. So why are we called to compassion for those who are not elect if we can’t tell who they are?

Let’s trace our steps backward to Romans 8:29. The only outward mark that someone is elect is that their life is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Like in Romans 12:1-2. Believers present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is their spiritual worship. Not being conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewal of their mind, that they may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. These sorts of people are showing themselves to be children of promise.

Those that we love who are not walking in a resurrected life are in need of our compassion. Paul said he was their kinsman in the flesh. Boaz was a kinsman redeemer to Ruth. He had an obligation to make every sacrifice necessary that she be redeemed. So how does this compassion manifest itself in us? By begging God that mercy be shown and that they be given faith that they might be saved. Most churches really need to feel this obligation to pray evangelistically.

Romans 9:4-5 reminds us that religion can be embraced and not lead to conversion of the heart. Being a regular attendee at worship, learning the stories of the Bible and obeying the ten commandments do not earn anyone a place in heaven. Predestination isn’t about making us church people. Predestination is about getting church people, and everyone else, saved.

We must pour out our soul to God that our loved ones might be saved. This goes against logic. Didn’t predestination already determine who would be saved? Why should we expect God to change His predestination plans just because we prayed? Because God tells us that’s the way it works! Don’t feel that the salvation of loved ones is impossible because they might not be predestined. That’s not a Biblical use of this doctrine. It is the opposite. Predestination is the only hope of anyone getting saved. So ask God, who makes this determination, to save people.

We should feel confident that the Bible can lead people to saving faith. Romans 9:6. We cannot save anyone. All the responsibility for salvation is on God’s shoulders. We are responsible to pray and share the word. Predestination releases us from feeling like we need to save our neighbor. God does the hard part. God changes hearts and prepares them to hear the words of life.

We should not be stressed out that there are hypocrites, half hearted believers and ungodly people in church. The people of God are a mixed bag of sheep and goats, wheat and tares. This isn’t our responsibility to fix. God handles this on His own schedule. Our responsibility is to point people to Jesus. Romans 9:7-13.

And God’s predestination doesn’t save everyone at the same time. Don’t be in a rush to blame God for not saving someone. God isn’t finished with them yet. Romans 9:14.

We can’t see God’s future plans for mercy. Maybe that person is predestined to get saved on their deathbed. Are we really going to act judgmental toward God for not saving them when we think it’s time? Are we really that bold or that foolish? Don’t think you can guess God’s plans and then judge Him. Only a complete idiot would do that. God elects some for life and some for death. It’s His decision. It is what it is. Leave it to God. Romans 9:15-24.

We can’t insist that God show mercy. That’s why it is called mercy. The wages of sin is death, not life. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are righteous. We all deserve Hell. If we insist that God be fair right now, then everyone not saved goes straight to Hell right now. Predestination includes mercy to allow time for repentance. Feel God’s justice and mercy. Every person He predestines is a trophy of His mercy.

And God finds people in the strangest places, where there is no heritage of faith, no previous church, and God predestines them to be called by His name. Romans 9:25-28. Every tribe, every language, and every nation will be represented. God’s grace is greater than sin. Generational unbelievers, by predestination, are now called sons of the living God. That’s grace.

Romans 9:29. Isaiah says our places of faith would inherit the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah without the pre-determinative work of God’s Holy Spirit to bring our children, friends and neighbors to saving faith. If God stopped the power of His predestination right now, then our churches would wither and die. Churches grow through God’s unconditional election and irresistible hand of saving grace which leads sinners to a persevering faith.

We don’t save people: God does. We need to stop slandering God for His role in our salvation.

Romans 9:30-31. The do’s and don’ts of religion do not save souls. There is only one path to God that leads a soul to eternal life. One foundation is a solid rock; all the rest are shifting sand. Jesus is the rock of our salvation. Jesus is the rock and from Him flows a river of living water.

It is impossible to find God without finding Jesus. Either you stand on Jesus as the solid rock of your salvation or you stumble over him in the night. Either way, you will have to decide what to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 9:32.

Our eternal destiny is dependent on our relationship with Jesus Christ alone. Either we are saved by trusting in His work, or we are lost through stubborn disbelief. We are responsible for our own choice.

This is how God wraps up the teaching on Predestination. The invitation is wide open for anyone to place their faith in Jesus. God ends with a promise that anyone who believes in Jesus will not be put to shame. Romans 9:33.

Predestination doesn’t keep people from getting saved. Predestination is the only way salvation happens for a sinner such as I.

We need to submit our thoughts to God’s revealed truth, so that our hearts can feel the promises and blessings interwoven into this Biblical doctrine God calls Predestination.  Amen.

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.