Guys, I just wanted to share a view of "predestination", that Wesley held. You can contrast it with Calvin's idea of predestination, and decide which, if either, that you believe. One doesn't have to believe in all facets of Arminianism, if one believes in Wesley's view of predestination. The same way, one doesn't have to be a Calvinist, if one believes in something that Calvinism holds to.
I also has something to share with you - my debate with my old wise friend
(I could have posted this earlier, but anyway ...). Hopefully, you enjoy it.
How are you doing? I'd like to ask you about the verse Acts 2:39 (NASB95): “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself
.” Why it is written the way it is written? Is it also this way in Hebrew and Greek? Since it sounds like not everybody is called. But this seems to be in conflict with John 3:16 (NASB95): "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." What is your opinion?
So, friend, there are "ABC's" to Christian teaching....and then there is the "Bachelor's level stuff, Master's level and Doctorate level (so to speak). On the one hand, all Scripture is understandable at one level (so simple-minded folk like me can even get it). And there are plenty of "surface gems" that are easy to just pick up and take with you (e.g., John 3:16; Rom. 8:28, etc.). But as most miners know, the "best" gems are only found deep underground. If you want them, then you have to be prepared to go deep and sweat as you dig for them. But the rewards are more than fair compensation!
So, about Acts 2:39. Let's take it apart, bit by bit. It contains"surface gems", but even some of those deeper gems too. So, let's "dig" together!
"The promise". What does that refer to? Would the audience that heard that expression know what it meant just by hearing it? Do we? The audience itself and the context for the whole sermon by Peter is a key to understanding this verse and the entire passage. [Background info: They were Jews who had been dispersed all over the known world at that time had traveled to Jerusalem celebrate the Passover. It was a goal of Jews in those days to make a pilgrimage at least once in their life to observe the Passover in Jerusalem]. So, this group that Peter is speaking to are those who have made a pilgrimage for the Passover. They speak lots of different languages depending upon where they had traveled from, but in the final analysis they were Jews.
"For the promise is for you and for your children...." That little word "For", means that whatever came before that word had caused this "promise" to be spoken as some kind of cure, or as some kind of good word for a troubled person(s) soul. Peter used "the promise" to comfort those who were troubled and agitated in heart. What had Peter said to them that upset them? What did they say to Peter that he knew from what he heard them say that they now needed this kind of comfort? How is the promise "comfort"? And why does the promise extend to the children of these adult listeners? Why are their children of concern here? How did they get into this sermon? These are the questions that help to unlock the mysteries that only "miners" seek. But the answers are very rewarding!
Now, on to the part that you have underlined, "...as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."
You ask "Why it is written the way it is written?" Good insight and question. Firstly, it is indeed "written the way it is written" intentionally. It is not a random or careless choice of words. Actually, Peter could not word it otherwise in view of the entire teaching of Scripture that teaches God sovereignly calls sinnners to be saved. That is one thing that is really neat about Greek: Greek is a precision language (like Slovak). It is very precise both in terms of language, but also in words related to theology! Many seem not to like this last point, but it's unmistakable "theology" which is being spoken by Peter. And Peter sees theology as "comforting" to his audience! The theological point Peter is expressing to these people is found throughout the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.
The "point" is that God calls sinners to be saved. For example, you can see this immediately in the first epistle (letter) Peter wrote, Chapter one, verse one and in the first part of verse two: "To God's 'elect'.....who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father...." You can also see it further down in verse three: "...he has given us new birth...." These expressions are found all over the Bible indicating that God sovereignly chooses his people out from among the general masses of sinners. They are not better when called. There is no reason in the people themselves, but it's simply God's mercy to save some from among the many. Try reading the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians and miss this teaching. It's very difficult to do so. Most tend to ignore that and how it transitions into Chapter two, the first ten verses!
I know, it's not a popular teaching. But what is mostly popular is.....well, only that: popular. But the Bible is not written to win any popularity contests. It speaks the truth. And a major Truth is that people are "dead in sins" (e.g., Ephesians 2:1. But hey, if the Bible doesn't inform you this is so, you'd only have to read the news of the world to be taught it). People are born with sinful natures and live their lives "out of" that nature. Sin just comes naturally to people (ever try to teach someone to sin because they just aren't getting it! Ever find people who are so good they just don't know how to sin? Ever have to teach a baby to sin? It comes "naturally"! But believing in and loving God and good ways of living and thinking must be taught with intention). I know, most people dislike God's "choosing". I myself so disliked it I threw the book that was talking about it across the room ---and hated it! But as I read the Bible, and thought about my own heart and the hearts of those I knew best and lived with, I could not but agree that it was true; in fact, the truest explanation for me and the world I lived in. Then I saw that it was really merciful to be chosen. I mean, we make our choices. I can get stuck in the life I myself got myself into (and I can really like and prefer my life before God enters it). But then to have someone come into that life of choice and offer to remove my guilt and my sins and offer me new life....well, if that is what is the meaning of "being chosen"..... to be lovingly drawn and made aware that God's love is not only available for me, but to make me to see it as desireable ....then I want to be one of the chosen ones!
When the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonika (Greece), he said "...we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." (1Thess. 1:4-5). That means that when God chooses to save anybody, he comes not only to speak to the mind (hearing the gospel), but with the heart being transformed by the Spirit's powerful action on the heart (First Corinthians 2: 4). The Holy Spirit is necessary in this work because the "natural man" is "dead in sin" and therefore cannot receive the things of God, for they are foolishness to him (First Corinthians 1: 18). That means that Man is not only spiritually dead, but that deadness of heart and soul comes with a distate for the life that is truly life (and maybe even a bit afraid of God).
Now, about what you asked about: "...it sounds like not everybody is called. But this seems to be in conflict with John 3:16 (NASB95): 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." This statement is true. The emphasis you made on "whoever" is a conditional word in itself. It means it is true, but there is a condition: and that is the "whoever" must believe. And whoever does believe (therefore) will indeed be saved and have eternal life! But the question is, "who will believe"? Who are the "whosoever" ones? That answer must be given in the context of the Scriptures as a whole as, well as from the world as a whole. From the perspective of the Word of God, the "whosoever ones" are the called out ones. The word "Church" in greek (ekklessia) literally means "the called out ones". God calls everyone. The gospel is for everyone to hear. I will tell it to everyone. But clearly not all want to be saved. For some, it is offensive to be "lost". Jesus said "I have not come for the healthy, but for the sick. I did not come for the righteous, but for the unrighteous." (Luke 5:32). In order to be saved, we need to agree with Jesus's assessment of us; to agree that God's judgement is true: that we are sinners and we need a Savior. So, it's good to note that the gospel goes out to "whosoever"; but it is important to know that "naturally speaking" no one comes willingly, without God's chosing and drawing them first so that they might have life (Romans 3: 9 - 11); (John 6: 36 - 40). Therefore, as Jesus also said, many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14).
Well, is Jesus drawing you because God has first chosen you to be saved? That is the question that everyone must face. The offer and promise stand: "Whoever believes in Him"-- shall not perish..... If you want to know if your one of his chosen, the way to be certain to come (Isaiah 55: 1; Psalm 66:5). All those he chooses he invites to come to him (Revelation 22:17) And you will come if he draws. And He will draw if he has chosen. The famous "logic" passage for this is Romans 8:29, 30. Linguistically speaking, this verse has a logical premise and a conclusion. The premise is "Those God foreknew he also predestined" the logic then is that a chain of events MUST then take place as a result. The conclusion states that these people, on the basis of having been foreknown are the same ones he called back in verse 29. Those (called) are the ones He then foreknew. That starts a chain of events that leads to glorification (being transformed into Christ's perfect character in heaven). Because this is a logic sentence the chain remains logical if you work "backwards" from conclusion to premise: All those glorified are those (now go back through the steps) who are called. It is an unbroken chain from beginning to end either way.
Well, I hope you have been helped and not overloaded.
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6