Summary: Predestination is most likely one of the most controversial topics in Christian circles today, and yet undoubtedly one of the most vital. In this teaching session we have a look at an introduction to the doctrine of predestination.
In theological circles there are two main camps when it comes to the doctrine of predestination.
One the one hand we have people who feel that because this doctrine is so embroiled in past difficulty and misunderstanding, that it is better to rather avoid the topic, and not to discuss it at all, especially so from the pulpit.
On the other hand we have a group of people who feel that the doctrine of predestination is so central to our understanding of Scripture, and to our understanding of God and how He works that we cannot ignore it, and that it should be discussed and explained in depth and in great detail so that people will understand salvation and how it is imparted to them.
I make no apologies or excuses for the fact that I fall into the second group of people.
Martin Luther, the great reformer called the doctrine of predestination the ‘core ecclesia’. Core been the Latin for ‘heart’, and ecclesia been the Latin for ‘the church’. So in effect what Luther was saying was that the doctrine of predestination is the heart of the church.
While many would disagree with this statement, I need to say this morning that I can’t think of any other teaching or doctrine that brings us to a clearer realisation of our dependence on divine mercy and grace than the doctrine of predestination. I can’t think of any teaching or doctrine that is more comforting, especially when we consider our struggle and difficulties when it comes to faith than the doctrine of election.
Now having said all this, I do need to utter a word of serious and almost severe caution this morning, because as I have said, this is the one doctrine that has so often been distorted and misinterpreted, and misused that it can easily lead to a view which will regard God as been vengeful and spiteful and hateful, or on the other hand it could lead to a view in which man becomes complacent and settled and satisfied in and of himself.
This is why we will be taking a considerable amount of time to study the doctrine, to be sure that we cover all the main points, all the basics, and to be equally sure that we leave nothing to a chance understanding. The last thing anyone needs is for us to be jumping to any sort of rash or presumptuous conclusions, and for this reason I urge to make sure that you are here every week for the next 8 weeks, and if you should miss one of the sermons, it is really vital that you get hold of the cd and listen to it so that there can be no grey areas in your mind, and to be sure that you will not misunderstand what might follow, or that you will be unsure about what has already been said.
Well let’s start getting into this wonderful doctrine then, so that we can lay the foundation for the study which is going to follow. To begin with I just want you to understand that predestination is not something which is foreign to Scripture, (saw that 2 weeks back), and further we need to realise that predestination is not foreign to the church, or even the individual Christian.
Every single denomination, every single group, and every single Christian that has ever live and studied Scripture has developed some sort of doctrine regarding the issue of predestination. So the question is not based on whether predestination is a reality or not; it is not based on whether predestination is Scriptural or not. The question therefore is not on whether the doctrine of predestination exists, the problem is that not every church and not every Christian has the same doctrine of predestination. The question then becomes one of how do we understand the doctrine of predestination?
That’s the question, and to be fair I must tell you – the answer to this question will only be fully answered on Christmas morning, because that’s when we will finish this wonderful series.
Ephesians 1: 1-6; 11
What we have here is Pauls letter to the church at Ephesus, and he is going to be giving them some theological guidelines with regards to Christianity and with regards to God, His grace, His mercy and His love.
What is interesting about this letter isn’t the fact that Paul discusses the doctrine of predestination (He does that in every letter he writes). What is interesting here is the fact that Paul doesn’t begin with some other doctrine telling us about our freedom, and our choices and our responsibilities, oh no, Paul plunges right into the doctrine of predestination!
Why that is important is quite simply because Paul considers this doctrine so important, that at the onset of his letter, he gets right to the crux of the matter.