ARE YOU REALLY PREDESTINED to SONSHIP?
BY: ELWIN R. ROACH
The question of predestination has been debated over the centuries, and it would be very presumptuous to think that what I have to say will put to rest these arguments and long-held beliefs on the matter. Even so, I will mention a few things that may bring some clarity to the thought.
First, predestination should be one of the most widely embraced beliefs for anyone who knows and believes that their creator is truly a God of love, but this is not the general case. Moreover, it can be very unsettling to think that predestination could be true; for it might mean to them that they are not in total control over their lives, especially when it comes to some religion’s statement of faith on man’s sovereign free will. The majority of all races embrace the doctrine of free will whether they are religious or not. But for those of many religious persuasions, it is more powerful and sacred than God’s will. For their constitution of having free will or being free moral agents would be reprehensible. Free will places all types of success and failure in the hands of the bearer. Free will enables people to walk whichever road they wish to take regardless good or bad.
People’s lives will go in varied directions when they are supposedly at the helm of their own destinies. We all know many of these in the world of politics, business, and secular churches throughout our cities and nation. I believe these are the greatest proponents of being anti-predestination and are the ones who embrace whole-heartedly the idea of man having a free will to choose as he or she pleases.
However, there is another side to this issue. It is the side that is totally contrary to a man esteeming himself higher than he ought. It has to do with those who believe they are totally worthless. They feel that they are not worthy of anything good to come their way, especially that of sonship. They face everyday obstacles that prevent them for achieving anything of real value, and with some it has been going on all their lives. They know that to be a son of God they have to overcome every high hill and mountain that is set before them; but they just can’t seem to muster up the wherewithal to overcome anything. Try as they may, they fail at almost every turn. They exercise their will to the absolute limit with hopes of pleasing God so they might have an outside chance of becoming one of the manifested sons of God that Paul wrote about in the eighth chapter of Romans. After each day comes to a sad close, they feel no better about their efforts than the day’s dawn, and again, the cruel face of failure stares them coldly in the face.
One of the saddest feelings in the world is that their life is going nowhere, and they have no special purpose of being alive. They live, they breathe air and eat, but that’s about it. They might get a little flicker of hope now and again, perhaps after reading or hearing a word that touches them in some way. They will have fleeting moments that enable them to believe that they can be a part of something really great. But after a short time, everything looks the same as before, and they believe themselves to be so small, insignificant, and pitiful misfits. They feel that they are on the backside of nowhere, and everything is pointless, and there is no possible avenue of escape, and the fabled hell’s mouth has opened so wide before them that they will surely be consumed by the sulphuric flames of that dreadful pit. As they sail the sea of life, storms will lash out and pull hard upon them, drawing them into the deep. If they look upon those turbulent waves and believe that it is impossible to stand against their dark threats, then they will certainly sink into the depths of darkness. During such times as this, they are left in a void while having no assurance of a worthwhile destiny and the thought of being predestinated to sonship is out of the question.
When people have no destiny set before them, they have virtually no hope, not even a will to live in many cases. They must have a meaningful future of some sort or despondence can set in, and everything will seem to be totally futile. What’s the point of taking another step? They may question. For they have no idea which direction they are to walk, and if they do walk, why should they when failure is sure to be awaiting them at journey’s end.
We are creatures that in order to thrive, we need to know that regardless how mundane or uneventful any given day may be, it is in the direction of something great that will unfold in due season. When we fail to know this, either by revelation or even by natural understanding, we will have at least three options: 1) We can kill ourselves. 2) We can numb ourselves with television, video games, computers, the internet, drugs, alcohol, overwork, play, or a myriad of other distractions. 3) Or we can reconnect to Life wherein lies our true destiny to which we were predestined.
The first option is the worst case scenario, and although some may entertain that notion and have carried it out, it is really not a viable option, period! Many, however, embrace the second and (1) dumb-down their lives by the cares and addictions of the world. The third is the only real option a son of God has. Even so, not much of the reconnecting has to do with him or her, unless, of course, they are prodigal sons who are sorely repentant of being in the condition to which their Father had sent them when He bid them farewell. Some may question this, I am sure, and in turn I ask:
Do you think that our Father, the antitype of the prodigal son’s father, did not know what the life without Him would do? He knew that they would digress all the way to the pit of the pigs, and to those therein, it seems to be bottomless; for there is no hope of ever rising out of it. This, however, was necessary for their adamic desire for independence to exhaust itself in the Valley of Swine’s Gehenna that worked Godly sorrow unto repentance and deliverance from that miry pit. It was then that every prodigal son could reconnect to their Father, and although they made the decision to return, they were being driven by a force mightier than their will to be independent.
So as it is with salvation, it is not of works that we return lest we should boast, but grace, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Therefore, beloved of the Lord, we do not of our own accord decide that it is time to reconnect to our destiny, that is, unless we are moved by His Spirit and predestined circumstances of life. Neither do we chose to predestine ourselves to the glory of sonship; but I can tell you with assurance that when we hear the voice of the Son of God—we will live and be on our way to that end! Although we might be despondent, forlorn, tormented in the lowest reaches of hell, please know that ALL IS WELL! For “God, our Father, chose us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having (G3724 horizÇ From G3725; to mark out or bound (“horizon”), that is…to appoint, decree, specify) predestinated us unto the adoption of children (Grk. uihothesia, the placing of sons) by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
Once more, He predestinated us! That, my friend, you can take to the bank; for it will come to pass. It will be manifested! Moreover, the Greek word, einai, for should be in this verse means to exist. Therefore, we can see that being holy and without blame is not something that rhetorically should be, or would hopefully take place someday in the distant future. It is not something set to take place after we die, or perhaps once we are transfigured, or, as some believe, after they are raptured. It is none of these. It is right here, right now! Einai states that being holy and without blame already exists. It is substantial, right here, right now! Again, “God, our Father, chose us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world, that we EXIST TODAY holy and without blame before him in love.”
Hopefully, it can be settled in our hearts what predestination is, which is to assure us that our destiny is sealed, that it is one of the great and good and beautiful things that was foreordained in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. Although it may not be evident today, it has been signed, sealed, and delivered in the heavens, and that which is spoken or done in the heavens will be made manifest and finished in the earth. You can count on it! Nothing can stop it! Not even ourselves! That is our destiny! We are predestined to it!
How wonderful it is to know where we are headed; but not everyone has clarity of vision, and without a vision people perish; that is, without a vision they have no cognizant destiny set in their minds, and this can be devastating, even unto death. For instance:
“In a Nazi concentration camp in Hungary during the Second World War prisoners were forced to do nauseating work in a sewage plant. But it was work; and something was accomplished. Then the plant was destroyed by allied bombers. So the Nazi officers arranged for the prisoners to shovel sand into carts and drag it to the other end of the plant and dump it. The next day they were ordered to shovel it back into the carts and bring it to where they started. And so it went for days.
“Finally one old man began crying uncontrollably; the guards hauled him away. Another screamed until he was beaten into silence. Then a young man who had survived three years in the camp darted away from the group. The guards shouted for him to stop as he ran toward the electrified fence. The other prisoners cried out, but it was too late; there was a blinding flash and a terrible sizzling noise as smoke puffed from his smoldering flesh. In the days that followed, dozens of the prisoners went mad and ran from their work only to be shot by guards or electrocuted by the fence.” (Charles Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, p. 68)
We were created to be sustained by a future with some sort of purpose howbeit ever so small. We were made to live in the assurance of a significant destiny. We cannot live without hope as it was with some of those in the Hungarian Nazi concentration camp. Some of the captives lost the will to live when they could no longer see a purpose in their lives and in their work. They lost hope, and without hope, their lives meant nothing.
I want us to never lose hope and weep over empty days or madly scream over futility or throw ourselves onto electric fences due to feeling there is no future for us that is worth living. I also want us to know that being blameless and holy is the result of not our will but the sovereign will of God. If it was our sovereign free will, it would then be accomplished by works that it would be accomplished. Contrary to man having a sovereign free will, as it is generally believed—it is God! Prior to being born from above, the only will man has is as a prisoner, as a slave to sin, and it is not in him to save a flea much less his own soul. It is all of God, and Paul lays it out clearly in Ephesians 1:5; namely, HE predestined us to sonship through Jesus Christ for Himself and according to the good pleasure of HIS WILL. Our sonship has nothing to do with our efforts, our works, our belief systems, our feelings, or the pleasure of our own will, but the good pleasure of GOD’S WILL.
Can we not see and be at ease in the fact that we were chosen before the foundation of the world as mature sons of God? We were predestined to holiness, blamelessness, to sonship and not in accord to what we do or don’t do. Our sonship has nothing to do with what we have learned, how much we believe and pray, or how often we attend church. Neither does our religious background have anything to do with it, nor does our race, ethnicity or who our parents might be. Sonship is not partial to the United States of America, England, Africa, the Philippines, or Israel. We may desire to be among the 144,000 who come upon Mount Zion more than anything else; but such desires are futile as well. Moreover, if we are predestined to sonship, fearing that we will miss it will not prevent us from that place; for the choosing and predestination is according to the good pleasure of God’s sovereign will. It is all according to His will, and not just according to His will, but according to THE GOOD PLEASURE of His will. God chose and predestined us without any outside influence. It was by His own sovereign will alone. Isn’t it comforting to know that we are in such good hands, and that our sonship is not up to us. Sadly, some do not realize this, and what a heavy load they have laid upon their shoulders.
I pray today that it dawns on each of us that our Lord will not fail us. If we are called to sonship, He will take us all the way to the other side. Regardless of how fierce the storms may blow we will safely arrive with Him. If we are not called to be among the firstfruits, let us rest in that fact and be filled with the joy of whatever it is to which we were called. Are any of us disturbed because we were not called and elected the governor of our State? Then why would it bother us if we were not called to be among the 144,000? It really shouldn’t. However, if the word of sonship, the manifestation of the sons of God, the Kingdom message burns like fire in our bones, we should know that we are called and predestined to it. It will come to pass as we make our election sure (rf. 2 Peter 1:10).
Everything seemed to be going real well until that last statement was mentioned; namely, “It will come to pass as we make our election sure.” It was looking like we had an effortless clear-cut path to glory, that God had laid it out and all we have to do is to go along for the ride. But now, we must make our election sure? This sounds as if there is something on our part, and if so, perhaps we could foil the good pleasure of His will He has for us. Perhaps we can miss out on that to which we were predestined before the foundation of the world.
From a surface observation it appears that we have a dichotomy (two things that are opposed or entirely different), or an antinomy (a contradiction between two statements that seem equally reasonable) as we noted in The Apocalypse of Man’s Free Will Part 2. On one hand it is all God and on the other there is something we have to do to make sure that we accomplish our predestined goal. If we stop only with what Peter wrote, this would certainly be the case; but when we read Paul’s admonition it is not such an impasse. He said to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (earnest concern). For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, when we see that it is God who inspires us to make our election sure, that is, to work out our own salvation, it is not an antinomy; for we understand that we are working together as a team that will bring us to maturity, the placement of sons into His Kingdom.
Even so, there still seems to two truths colliding with each other, in that, the Bible teaches God is one hundred percent sovereign—sovereign in creation, sovereign in redemption, sovereign in judgment, and sovereign in the predestination of His elect. We also find that men are responsible for their actions and are either rewarded when they are good and suffer when they are not.
With this, we have no recourse than to believe both are true, yet without a revelation by His Holy Spirit our finite minds are not able to reconcile the two. Some, I know, can do so better than my attempts, but even so, I believe a great mystery will probably remain.
What, then, should one do with this antinomy? Whether it is comprehended or not, accept it for what it is, and refuse to engage in the thought that one must be true and the other false. Think of the two principles not as rival alternatives, but that you simply do not grasp it at the moment; yet know that they are in some way complementary to each other. Be careful, therefore, not to set them at odds against each other, nor to make deductions from either that would annul the other. Use each within the limits of its own sphere of reference and content. Note what connections exist between the two facts and their two frames of reference, and teach yourself to think of reality in a way that provides for their peaceful coexistence, remembering that reality itself has proved to contain them both. This is how antinomies should be handled, whether in nature or in scripture. This is how modern physics deals with the problem of light and other antinomies, and this, I believe, is how we should deal with the antinomies of biblical teachings.
Although we do not understand all of His mysteries, there is a time when the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ will eclipse our limited vision, and we will see all things as they are rather than as our natural minds perceive them. There will be no questions as to how all things in Him fit so perfectly together. There will be no antinomies with which to worry our weary minds.
Therefore, a part of our predestination is working together with the Holy Spirit and making it sure. We can do this out of obedience to His word to us, by His in-worked nature, and out of love. In all this, we will find that there is much that is to be done on our part as we continue to the other side with Him while there are choices that we make which will affect our journey. To illustrate, please note the fine words of our dear friend and fellow sojourner in these mysteries:
difficulty and the valleys of testing, never through the plains of ease. Dearly beloved, let us give diligence to make our calling an election sure. Let us strive to enter the strait gate. Let us run that we may receive the prize. Let us fight, not as those who beat the air. Let us press toward the mark and never flinch under stress or the pain. Let us “Everything that is worthy and valuable is filled with labor, and the road to it always lies through the mountains of not be mere religious windbags who make great claims of revelation and attainment but do not live up to them. A religious windbag claims intimate knowledge of God, but his behavior shows no signs of such knowledge. He claims to walk with God and to know the ways of God, but such a relationship has little affect on the way he treats his wife and children. He is like the farmer in the fairy tale who brags that his daughter can spin straw into gold — but, of course, that is all talk. His poor daughter is forced to try and live up to her father’s lie, but she never can. Our claims to sonship must not be empty. If we want to be sure we have this Life, our expression of nature and character must be like Jesus. Love describes Jesus! Love was made perfect in Him, and it must be in us, too.
“A dear brother pointed out that there was a time in our childhood when we played ‘grown-ups.’ He added, ‘I see in my spirit that there are children who are merely playing ‘sons.’ They appear to be sons, they speak like, and they act like sons, yet there is more pretending than being. They still cling to worldly joys, to family ties, and to the old ways and customs of Babylon. My dear brethren, this is not a voice of condemnation, for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, it is a voice of discernment, a voice of love, tenderly admonishing the precious jewels of the Father to abandon all, and to enter into the dawning of the Day of the Lord, that He might manifest Himself in us, as He prepares to manifest us to each other and then to the world.’ God grant it!” (J. Preston Eby, The Kingdom of God, Part 59)
Now, when you join your working with the Lord’s predestined goal of your sonship, you can rest with assurance that Jesus Christ is the root of your life that was planted by the eternal counsels of God, and the branches of your life are growing into an absolutely sure and glorious future in His Kingdom. There are no unimportant days in your life. You don’t ever have to go to bed at night feeling that your life is going nowhere. You don’t have to worry that you are a dismal failure and you might not be among the 144,000 upon Zion. You don’t ever have to give in to the lie that you are not connected to an awesome purpose for which creation is awaiting with great expectation.
Therefore, be assured today that your sonship does not hinge on your feelings or your free will; for you don’t have one. God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world that you might be holy and blameless before Him in love; He predestined you to sonship through Jesus Christ for Himself according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace! Now, isn’t that marvelous?
1. dumb-down: the simplification of education and thought; a decline in creativity and innovation; a degradation of cultural and intellectual standards, or undermining of the very idea of a standard.
ARE YOU REALLY PREDESTINED to SONSHIP [Elwin R. Roach] 1