Child’s Faith

Q. Since I was a child, I have always believed in John 3:16 but had no concept of Eph 1:4-7 or 2 Co 5:21. All I knew was that Yahweh is the only true god instead of Buddha. Was I saved as a gentile child?

A. Only God who knows your heart, then and now, can answer your question. However, I can offer a few comments:

1. Being saved depends on your relationship with God, not how much you know:
Jn 3:16 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.
• Jn 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
• Jn 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
• 1 Jn 5:11-13 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Note that John’s consistent testimony is that:
• Eternal life is in the Son
• Has the Son = Has life
• Does not have the Son = Does not have life.
How do you have the Son? By believing in Him.
What does believe mean? Not intellectual assent, but:
• Trusting that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God or God the Son;
• Obeying the Son to demonstrate that the trust is genuine.
John said nothing about head knowledge, how much theology you know. It’s all about trust, as a child trusts in his/her parents, and depends totally on them for everything. It is a matter of the heart. I’ve heard lectures and read books by unbelieving “theology professors” with several doctorates, but I don’t think they are saved. Now whether you have the simple, complete, faith of a child, only God knows and you know.

2. You quoted Eph 1:4-7 and 2 Co 5:21, both deep truths penned by Paul:
Eph 1:4-7 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
• 2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Eph 1:4-7 teaches:
1. Election (He chose),
2. Sanctification (holy),
3. Perfection (blameless),
4. Predestination,
5. Adoption,
6. God’s will,
7. Free grace,
8. Redemption,
9. Forgiveness, while
2 Co 5:21 teaches:
10. Jesus as perfect Man (no sin),
11. Substitutionary atonement (to be sin on our behalf),
12. Imputation (righteousness of God).

I doubt any new Christian would have a full grasp of these dozen subjects, yet they are saved the moment they placed their trust in Christ alone and commit to follow Him. Christ gave them the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). I do not mean to belittle theology, but it’s the heart that counts, not the head.

Predestination

Q. Is there such a thing as predestination? Paul had chosen to be a Pharisee. Saving grace was forced on him and he repented and accepted. The Israelites had chosen to reject Yahweh but all Israelites will repent and be saved at the end times. The gentiles have quite a different fate. As a gentile, I treasure God’s saving grace and mercy.

A. Yes there is predestination. I have written on the subject before so I won’t repeat myself. Please refer to the previous posts:
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/predestination/

https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/is-everything-pre-determined/

https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/election-based-on-foreknowledge/

https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/election-of-saints-election-4/

Paul was a Pharisee, but saving grace was not forced on him:
Php 3:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;

For the conversion of Saul, read Acts 9:3-9, 17-18; 22:6-16; 26:12-18. Unlike ISIS who put a knife to the throat to force people to recant their faith, God did not threaten him. Paul was not coerced or under duress, but saw the light when he was struck blind temporarily. He repented willingly when he realized how wrong he was about Jesus.

Nor is the privilege of knowing God offered to Jews alone, but Gentiles also:
• Acts 26:23 that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
• Rom 3:29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,
• Rom 9:24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
• 1 Co 1:24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
• 1 Co 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
• Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The difference is only of timing –
• Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
• Rom 2:10-11 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

Hope this helps to clarify your issues.

Why Evangelism?

evangelize 1

Q. If God foreordains who would be saved, then why bother with evangelism at all? He has already predestined everything, so it really does not matter what we do.

A. We evangelize because:
1. Christ commanded it:
Mt 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
• Mk 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
• Lk 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
• Jn 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
• Acts 1:8b and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

When our Lord commanded it in the Great Commission, that alone is more than enough reason for us to evangelize.

2. God ordained not just the ends, but also the means:
Rom 10:13-15a for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?
God chose who would be saved, but He also chose that they would be saved through hearing the gospel. So He sent preachers to preach the good news.

3. It is our privilege:
Rom 10:15b Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
Most feet are not beautiful, but those who bring the gospel are. It is an honor for those who are given the opportunity to share, and brings great joy when those we witnessed to come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. That’s why we evangelize.

Foreknowledge or Foreordination?

foreknowledge foreordination 1

Q. My Sunday school teacher explained that there are two views with respect to our salvation. The foreordination view says God foreordains everything that comes to pass according to His good pleasure. The foreknowledge view says God foresees who will believe Him, and chooses them based on this foreknowledge. I spoke to people in my cell group and their opinions are divided. Which is correct?

A. My short answer is the foreordination view is the biblical one. Here is my rationale. The key issue is the sovereignty of God. Both views agree that God chooses the elect before the foundation of the world
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

However, their reason for God’s choice differ. The foreknowledge view asserts that God foresees who will believe in Jesus, and chooses these to be saved:
1 Pet 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

In this view, the final decision of who gets saved rests with man, whether he believes in Jesus. God simply confirms man’s decision by choosing those who would believe. Man is sovereign, God is not, in the matter of salvation.

The foreordination view, on the other hand, claims that God chooses according to His purpose, the kind intention of His will:
Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
• Eph 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

In this view God’s choice is not pre-conditioned by man’s action. He does whatever His hand and His purpose predestined to occur (Acts 4:28). God is sovereign, man is not.

Logically, the foreknowledge view cannot be true, because by definition, God is sovereign. God is the Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe, with authority over everything. If God is not sovereign, then God is not God. How can man the creature dictate the final outcome and God the Creator simply rubber stamp? It just does not make sense. But then how do we explain 1 Peter 1:2?

To begin with, foreknowledge is simply a subset of omniscience. Since God knows all things, of course He knows what will happen before it happens, including who will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. But His choice is not based on man’s action:
Rom 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
• Rom 9:16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Man’s will does not have the final say, God’s purpose does.

Secondly, foreknowledge mean more than prior knowledge. It includes that, but is not limited to cognition. The word “foreknowledge” translates the Greek noun prognosis, which means both foreknowledge and forethought, pre-arrangement:
Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Jesus was delivered over by the pre-arrangement, not just prior knowledge, of God. It was His pre-determined plan.

Furthermore, foreknown means more than being known beforehand. The Greek verb proginosko can also mean predestined, foreordained:
1 Pet 1:20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
“Previously known” would be inadequate, only predestined would do.

1 Pet 1:2 could therefore be translated “chosen according to the prearrangement of God”. So both logically and biblically, I believe the foreordination view is the correct one.