Pathways (pt 2)

Good Morning Brothers…

When I mow paths for the deer, my intentions are to place deer in a particular spot at a particular time by walking a particular route. I can help this process along by utilizing a number of tricks which tickle the senses of the deer and entice it to keep traveling along the provided path. In States where baiting is legal…the science of “enticing” deer has changed to the science of “feeding” deer. A couple bags of corn, or a well tended food plot, will make up for a ton of “presentation” blunders.

Do we have a choice…?

I mean, do we really have a choice in this big thing we call life? Are you and I walking this path because of choices we made or because we were “predestined” here…? When I read Scripture, there are certainly passages which seem to swing toward “free will”…and there are passages which seem to swing toward “no free will”…and I can see both sides. In 1 Timothy 2: 3-4, Paul says this, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

My question with this passage is really quite simple; “Does God’s desire equate to God’s will…?”

The obvious answer to that question has to be “No”…or maybe it’s “Yes”…? See what I mean? The problem I always run into when discussing predestination is…”To what extent?” Meaning, did God (or rather does God) predestine every situation…every event…every conversation…every rain drop…every marriage…every birth…every political election…every act of compassion…every display of trust…every act of infidelity…every act of violence…every act of “everything”…? Paul tells us what God’s desire is, yet, all men are not saved. So, I assume that means God’s desire is not the same thing as God’s will…right?

Wait a minute, this whole discussion reminds me of a portion of the Lord’s Prayer. The part that says, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth, as it is in Heaven”…this leads us to assume that His will is done in Heaven. We have all recited the Lords Prayer and probably have never thought about that part specifically, however, we should. That statement, “as it is in Heaven” has always made me think about the fallen angels. That event, happened in Heaven…so was that God’s will?

How about this verse from Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Does this mean that God “works good” only for those He has already selected? If so…by what process did He select? This mind set suggests that some were created with heaven in mind and others were created with hell in mind. As if, God were to say, “These I’ll keep as my own…I’ll call them my people, I’ll send my Son to die for them, I’ll send the Spirit to fill their hearts with My essence so they may spread the gospel to only the persons I have already selected. My Son’s sacrifice on the cross only covers the sins of the persons I’ve already selected and nobody else.”

This is called “Limited Atonement”. The atoning work of Christ, the free gift of grace, is only available to a select crowd.

John 3:16 says, “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.”

Does that verse sound like the atoning work of Jesus Christ is “limited”…?

Who chooses…? It really boils down to this question, “Who chooses…?” Countries, churches, and families have torn themselves apart over this question for centuries. Who chooses…? I’ve heard it argued from both sides and all angles, I’ve seen the language word genius’s pull apart the words in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic… explain the “tenses” of the word and come to different conclusions. Who chooses…? I’ve watched the “Biblical Scholar” types wrestle with this question and assign a bunch of unnecessary theological weight to the outcome. I’ve listened to clever guilt provoking exercises designed to “shame” you into compliance.

Frankly…I’m tired of the discussion.

A friend of mine once said, “My study of Scripture has led me to believe, sometimes God chooses to see the future…and sometimes God chooses to not see the future.”

And really, that is the crux of it. For every “predestination” passage produced, a “free will” passage can be produced as well. It’s point – counter point…with no solution in sight. Well…I do have an opinion here, and it has to do with “paths”.

Ephesians 2: 8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

This verse has been championed by both sides of this “discussion”, however, rather than writing a couple thousand words on “faith” and where it comes from…lets focus on the good works. This passage captures my view of predestination, the elect, who chooses…all of that. Call this the JVB commentary on Ephesians 2: 8-10. “We have been saved by the free gift of grace because we believe it to be true, not because we earned grace that we may brag about it. We are all created in the image of God, His masterpiece, designed to serve Him and walk the pathways of righteousness, in which He has already prepared.”

When I mow paths for the deer…they are leading the deer toward a destination that I have already prepared. I may not know which deer specifically will walk those paths, but I know some deer will choose to walk them. I believe the paths to righteousness are prepared beforehand by God the Father. His Son…Jesus Christ, mowed those paths at Calvary and on the 3rd day. We have the choice (faith) to walk those paths which are covered in grace…or to not. Once we are walking the predestined path, God will draw us along by revealing Himself to us step by step. Similarly, I will hang scent sticks and create mock scrapes along the path to entice deer to walk my predestined route.

Now…I know there are old men sitting on mountains with big long white beards trying to figure out the greater questions of God’s sovereignty, election, predestination, etc…and I mean no disrespect to any of them. I love and respect both sides of this argument and I don’t think our opinion on this has anything to do with our salvation. So…do I think God chooses our path?

Yes…I do. However, I believe that I have the choice to walk it…or not.

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