There’s A Reason The Old Testament Is In The Bible

The_Holy_BibleI heard a part of a sermon today emphasizing that the whole Bible is about Christ, not just the New Testament.

This theme is something my not-so-new-any-more pastor Mike Err has reiterated throughout his first year with us.

I admit, I’m always a little taken aback. For a moment. I have been blessed to sit under some outstanding preaching as an adult, and I forget that isn’t the case for everyone.

Over at Spec Faith the issue came up in a tangential way. Regular contributor Yvonne Anderson had occasion in her article to give Wikipedia’s description of “Christianity”

a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament.

Yvonne pointed out two things she disagreed with in that brief sketch, but my mind was drawn to that last phrase: “presented in the New Testament.” The statement directly contradicted the sermon I’d heard . . . and all the sermons I’ve heard this year from Mike Erre, and practically all the sermons I’ve heard over the years preached in my church.

And then something dawned on me. If Christianity was presented in the New Testament only, why did our Bible continue to include the Old Testament? What did the Old Testament have to say about Christianity if Christ wasn’t part of the Old Testament?

Some people accuse the Apostle Paul of making up a new religion, which is how Christianity came into being. But only someone who doesn’t know the Bible would come to such a conclusion.

All throughout Jesus’s ministry on earth, He made the connection between the Old Testament and Himself.

    * He compared Himself to the bronze snake Moses lifted up to cure the people stricken by disease brought on because of their disobedience.
    * He declared His existence before Abraham.
    * In the Sermon on the Mount, He expanded commands God gave His people from of old.
    * He connected Himself to a statement David made about the Christ.
    * Upon reading a scripture about the Messiah, He declared it’s fulfillment that very day.

Further, when He was talking with the two disciples on the road to the town of Emmaus, He scolded them for not believing what the prophets taught about the Messiah:

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

“Moses” refers to the first five books of the Bible, and all the prophets would likely mean, all the prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi.

In fact, throughout the forty days Jesus remained on earth after His resurrection, He apparently spent His time, or at least some of it, teaching His followers from the Old Testament.

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44-47)

Then the apostles preached about Jesus by declaring His Messiahship, based on the Old Testament. Peter’s first sermon is a good example. After quoting a prophetic passage about the Messiah which David wrote, Peter drew this conclusion (words in all caps are quotes from the Old Testament):

Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. (Acts 2:29-32(

All throughout the letters, Paul, Peter, James, the author of Hebrews, Jude, John continue to refer to the Old Testament to clarify, support, or illustrate their points.

It’s apparent Jesus didn’t see Himself as starting something new and His followers didn’t see themselves as starting something new. Rather, Jesus is the completion of what God has been doing from before the foundations of the world. And we know about His work with mankind from the beginning because of the Old Testament.

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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What Is Truth?

Nearly two thousand years ago, Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea serving under Emperor Tiberius, asked Jesus, What is truth? The problem was, he didn’t stick around for the answer but headed outside to tell the Jews Jesus wasn’t guilty of the crimes of which they were accusing him.

Jesus, you see, had just said that He came into the world to testify to the truth and that everyone “who is of the truth” hears His voice.

In light of the context, Pilate’s question seems disingenuous. It was more dismissive than it was searching, as if truth was an ephemeral will-o’-the-wisp, impossible to grasp.

In that regard, Pilate would have made a good postmodern thinker.

Postmodernism postulates that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change. It emphasises the role of language, power relations, and motivations in the formation of ideas and beliefs. In particular it attacks the use of sharp binary classifications such as male versus female, straight versus gay, white versus black, and imperial versus colonial; it holds realities to be plural and relative, and to be dependent on who the interested parties are and the nature of these interests. It claims that there is no absolute truth and that the way people perceive the world is subjective. (excerpt from “Postmodernism”emphasis mine)

What a contrast to Jesus’s testimony. He not only told Pilate He came to communicate truth, He told His disciples He is truth.

Jesus said to [Thomas], “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)

Of course, to believe Jesus’s statement, of necessity we must believe that the Bible faithfully recorded it.

Back in the eighteenth century, a scholar named Hermann Samuel Reimarus, using the methodology employed to study Greek and Latin texts, concluded that very little of the New Testament could be considered as indisputably true. That is to say, he had no proof that anything recorded in the Bible was untrue, but it lacked the supporting evidences from extra-Biblical sources.

Of course a good number of extra Biblical sources confirming Biblical truth have since been discovered, but the horse was already out of the barn, and higher criticism or “historical criticism,” the new term now favored, had already begun to sift through the Bible for the “historical Jesus.”

Similar efforts were being made regarding the Old Testament and scholars were concluding that it was nothing more than a human document. Apparently everything came under question, including authorship.

No longer was it sufficient for the book of Isaiah, for example, to state in the first chapter that these were the prophecies of Isaiah the son of Amoz.

The point is, a set of scholars came to believe that, despite internal evidence to the contrary, they could determine, thousands of years after the fact, what was true and what wasn’t.

The internal evidence I’m speaking of includes the clear declaration in various verses that these things are so. It also includes the evidence that the New Testament writers quoted the Old as proof of what they were saying. It also includes writers like Paul referencing Old Testament individuals like Adam in a parallel argument to explain what Christ means to people who believe in Him. (Why would Paul compare Jesus to a myth if he wanted people to believe in Him?)

In addition, there is a collection of methods such as what the leaders of the church wrote in the years following the writing of the last book of the Bible, that scholars use to verify the veracity of Scripture.

Other scholars will rely of methods such as socio-scientific criticism:

A typical study will draw on studies of contemporary nomadism, shamanism, tribalism, spirit-possession, millinarianism, etc. to illuminate similar passages described in biblical texts. (excerpt from “Biblical Criticism“)

With all the voices saying this or that, I can see a Pilate throwing up his hands and saying, What is truth?

As I think about this subject, I come to a central point — does the Bible depict truth as I know it, starting with the existence of God. Does He exist and is He the person the Bible describes?

Oddly enough many people make that determination without having ever read the Bible. I suspect such a decision says more about the person than it does about Truth. I heard, for example, Christopher Hitchens in a debate, and he said, for all practical purposes, that he didn’t believe in God because he couldn’t stand the thought of a “tyrant” telling him what to do.

The bottom line for me is this: if the God of the Bible exists, then He is all powerful. Could an all powerful God communicate through people to reveal Himself? Could He preserve and protect that communication down through the ages? Could He be sure that those writers who contributed to it gave a unified message? Could He verify the truth of that communication to individuals through His own Spirit?

If He could not do those things, then it would seem He is not all powerful, calling into question all the key components of the Christian faith — specifically the Son of God come down in the form of Man, dying for the redemption of sinners, rising on the third day to be seated at God’s right hand until He returns again in glory.

None of those things could be true unless God is all powerful. And an all powerful God can do all those things, He can let people know He did them, and He can let them know why He did them by producing a reliable, authoritative written record.

It seems to me unless a person believes in a “different God,” the Bible is His authoritative word. If Truth exists, if God exists as an all powerful person, what couldn’t He do to make Himself known?

Published in: on March 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm  Comments (4)  
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Back To Bible Memory

I don’t memorize well. Never have, and it doesn’t get easier the older you get. I can memorize a line, recite it word for word, over and over, but when I come back to it the next day, it’s as if I’ve never seen the material before. This isn’t unique to Bible verses, mind you. It’s just the way my brain works. Concepts, I get. Rote memorization, not without much repetition.

I say this so you don’t think memory work is easy for me, explaining why I think everyone should jump in too. Just the opposite. I think it’s hard. And for a time I thought it was sort of self-defeating. I mean, I’d learned Bible verses as a kid going to Sunday school. The result was that I could rattle off passages like Psalm 23 and John 3:16 and Romans 8:28 without giving much thought to them. They were in my head, but the meaning of those words wasn’t connected.

Then the day came when I stood beside my mom’s hospital bed, holding her hand as she breathed her last breath. Into my mind flashed, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” Yes, it was there in full-blown King James English though I hadn’t used that translation since I was a child.

It may not have been right at that moment, but I began to see how the Holy Spirit could call to my mind the verses I needed when I needed them — provided, of course, they were in my mind to begin with.

That motivates me to memorize Scripture, and a few years ago, I took it up again. As I worked on different passages, I discovered something else. During the memory process — the one I find so hard — I see things about verses I never noticed before, no matter how many times I may have read them.

Take my new project, for example — 1 Peter. I don’t think I’ve ever done much with that book. It seems pretty straightforward. Nothing earth shattering, no big doctrinal revelations or controversy that I am aware of.

For one thing, I’m more mindful that this is Peter writing. I’m seeing the content through the eyes of someone who actually hung with Jesus. So in chapter two when he refers to Jesus as a living stone and those who believe in Him as living stones, I can’t help but think of that day when Jesus asked His disciples who they said He was and Simon answered: You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus replied by saying, You are Peter, or “Stone.” Scholars debate about the meaning of what came next, but I don’t doubt that Peter was thinking about that conversation with Jesus when he wrote

you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

I’m still at the beginning of chapter 1, but I’ve noticed a couple other things. For one, Peter’s language seems more straightforward than Paul’s. Some of Paul’s sentence construction seems, at times, a little convoluted.

When I need extra help remembering a verse, I will sometimes diagram it in my mind (something left over from being an English teacher. And go figure — I always hated diagramming!) Some of Paul’s are beyond me. So far, Peter’s are pretty standard — kind of what I’d expect from a fisherman versus a Torah scholar.

But here’s something else. Peter was always the exuberant disciple. It was Peter who wanted to walk on the water with Jesus, as a test to be sure it really was Him. Peter was the one who dared to take Jesus aside and rebuke Him for talking about His upcoming execution. Peter was also the one who adamantly said he would rather die than desert Jesus. It was also Peter who whipped out a sword to stand against the mob who came to arrest Jesus in the garden (that would be, right before he ran away).

Peter was flamboyant. Many of us like him best of all the disciples, and I suspect that was the case for those in his circle, too. After all, when he said he was going fishing after the resurrection, a handful of the others followed him out to sea.

Well, for the first time, as I’m struggling to memorize what he wrote, I’m seeing Peter’s flamboyance come through in his writing. For instance, he doesn’t just greet those he’s writing to with the blessing, Grace and peace be yours, as Paul so often does. In true Peter fashion, he goes a step beyond. “May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

He refers, not just to an inheritance reserved in heaven for believers, but one that is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.” In verse 5 he says those believers “greatly rejoice,” not merely “rejoice.” Then in verse 8 it’s “greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible.” I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a guy who would run to a tomb, push past his friend who’d arrived ahead of him, and plunge inside to see what he could see.

In short, because I’m memorizing some of what Peter wrote, I’m seeing his life poured out in his words. And it’s an amazing thing — realizing that God inspired the writing, down to each jot, and did so by using Peter, just as he was.

I love what I’m learning through this memory process!

Published in: on February 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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It’s Time To Revive Scripture Memorization

Recently my church did a survey as part of the process of looking for a new pastor. We’re quite deliberate about this, and I’m glad. First we are taking stock: looking at what Scripture says about the qualifications of a church leader, a shepherd of God’s people, and then looking at ourselves as an organization to see who we are and what we need most.

Recently the pastoral staff asked us to fill out a demographic survey. When they had compiled the results, they passed them along to us. As it turns out, we are an older congregation (no surprise there — a quick scan on a Sunday morning tells you this) but also a fairly mature one. The stat that jumped out at me was in answer to the question about reading the Bible daily. Seventy-five percent of those filling out the survey said, yes, they spend time reading God’s Word. Of course, not quite half of those who attend our church filled out the survey, so I suspect that number may be a little high for the entire congregation. Nevertheless it reflects the emphasis our pastoral staff put on Scripture reading the past three years.

Noticeably absent was Bible memorization. Absent. As in, it wasn’t on the survey. Prayer was. Church attendance, participation in a fellowship group (i. e. Sunday school class) or Bible study, participation in a ministry, meditation (in disguise), witnessing (also in disguise), and fasting all made the list. Not Bible memorization.

I suspect Bible memory went the way of old technology about the time educational professionals began disparaging memorization as a learning method. No more rote learning for us! That’s not real education!

I could argue that point, but I don’t really need to. Even if it were true, Scripture explains the benefits of knowing God’s Word intimately — meaning that even if all other memorization was worthless, learning what the Bible says, still has value. “Your word I have treasured in my heart,” Psalms says, “that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

Take a look at a few others:

The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip. (Psalm 37:31)

I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)

Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
A people in whose heart is My law;
Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings. (Isaiah 51:7)

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. . . . then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD (Deuteronomy 6:6, 12a)

Are these “heart” verses necessarily talking about memorization? I think a case could be made against that position, but I don’t think anyone could show that memorizing Scripture leads away from a person becoming intimately involved with God’s Word.

Here’s the thing. As I’ve said elsewhere, I believe prayer is most effective when we pray for the things we know God wants for us and for us to do — things we learn about in the Bible. How can we effectively pray according to God’s revealed Word if we don’t know what His Word says?

How can we formulate a Biblical approach to politics or romance or work or suffering if we don’t know what the Bible says about these matters? Yes, reading the Bible and listening to preaching that explains it are huge parts of our being equipped to face our world.

But the fact is, when someone pulls me aside to tell me the latest bit of gossip, my pastor isn’t there beside me to remind me what God thinks about that. When I’m ticked off and looking for someone I can voice my complaints to, my Bible isn’t going to pop open to the verses about grumbling.

These are things I need to have as a part of me. They should be part of an ever expanding body of knowledge that the Holy Spirit can then bring to my remembrance when I need them. Because He is present when I face temptations or when I’m bowed in prayer. How powerful when He works by calling up the verses I need.

God’s Spirit bringing God’s Word to bear on the needs of God’s children. I’d say it’s time to bring back a little Bible memorization.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm  Comments (4)  
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Some 2011 Stuff I Like (That’s A Date, Not An Amount)

Every year has its unique trials, some personal and some national or even global. But there are good things too, and I want to focus on those. Too often they get shuttled to the side, so here are things I like from this year, in random order — and even saying that is giving this list more credit for organization than it deserves. 😀

More truthfully, this is an “as I think it, down it goes” list.

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 movie came out.
  • God provided the resources I needed so I didn’t have to move.
  • My friend Sally Apokedak signed with a literary management company.
  • Critique group member Mike Duran‘s debut novel Resurrection came out.
  • Tim Tebow became a starter for the Denver Broncos and led them on a six-game winning streak.
  • Fred Warren joined the Spec Faith team in January, and John Otte came on board this summer.
  • I finished book four of The Lore of Efrathah.
  • Thanks to my crit group, I saw how to re-write a section of book 3 and the opening part of book 4 — work that is also finished now.
  • I finally found a candidate for President I could support with my whole heart — Rick Santorum.
  • God surprised me with the generosity of friends, some in small ways, others in big ways — each encouraging and a reminder that God never leaves us or forsakes us.
  • My church did a summer sermon series on faith from Hebrews 11.
  • Our pastor search team announced the top things our congregation identified as qualities we want in our pastor, and number one came in as expository preaching.
  • Books 1-3 of D. Barkley Briggs’s Legends of Karac Tor came out with AMG.
  • I learned about Katie Davis, an inspiring young woman who is serving Christ in Africa by working with orphans, even adopting many. She started when she was sixteen!
  • After a long wait, Andrew Peterson’s third book in the Wingfeather Saga released this summer.
  • The LA Galaxy won the MLS championship.
  • I entered the 24-hour Short Story contest twice and ended up with two stories I like.
  • I picked up a handful of new editing clients, some who have already brought repeat business.
  • I started memorizing Scripture again — currently working on the book of Colossians.
  • Agent Lee Hough (Alive Communications) learned that his first scan after treatment for an aggressive brain cancer showed he is cancer free.
  • Trish Miller, my sister-in-law, lost her job only to find a better one a month later.
  • Following the sermon series on faith, my church followed up with a study of the book of Mark entitled, Fix Your Eyes on Jesus.
  • I’m starting to figure out how to use Twitter.
  • I got new windows in the living room.
  • Our apartment building was painted this fall.
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family was fantastic.
  • I got to see my nephew run in a cross country race I used to coach.
  • The blog traffic at my editing site — Rewrite, Reword, Rework — has increased, and I think it’s in large part because of a Facebook group I’m in, PenTalk.
  • Writing group meetings have been helpful and encouraging and thought-provoking. Our members keep me working to improve.
  • Friendships near and far have brought me closer to Christ.

That’s a good place to end, thinking about iron relationships — the ones that sharpen one another (Prov. 27:17). 😉

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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When God Shows Up In Fiction

In “Realism In Fiction,” I pointed out that rarely, if ever, do writers advocating for realism in human characters indicate that there needs to be more realism in our representation of God and His work in the world.

I find this imbalance disquieting. For one thing, I think it takes little talent to put four-letter words in the mouth of a reprehensible character, something realist advocates say is necessary to make such characters believable. Use of language in that way is cheap and easy. In contrast, I think it takes an amazing amount of skill to make the invisible God appear in a novel as a present and active part of the story.

But more importantly, I am troubled that we seem to care more that humans are depicted accurately than we care whether or not God is depicted accurately.

Perhaps the difficulty of the task discourages some writers from trying. After all, if we ask, as C. S. Lewis did for Narnia, how would God show up in a world such as this, we see that He does so through His word, through the preaching of His word, through the Holy Spirit speaking to individuals in ways that are consistent with His word.

I suggest those are the ways that contemporary Christian fiction has shown God since its inception, but these are the very elements that earned Christian stories the “preachiness” label. I tend to think that execution was more at fault than the traditional means by which God relates to His people, but I don’t think I’m going to convince very many people.

Hence, if a novel shows a character listening to a sermon, the cry of “preachiness” is sure to follow. Same if the character reads a passage from the Bible or a friend shares a Biblical truth. In other words, our fear of falling under the condemnation of being preachy has nearly handcuffed Christian authors from showing in a story how God works in our world.

In addition, few writers seem willing to tackle the hard truths — the fictional Jim Elliots or Corrie ten Booms or Joni Eareckson Tadas or George Mullers. It’s easier to say God loves you when no one dies. But the truth is, people do die and God still loves the world.

Even more difficult would be the fictional Ananias and Sapphira who received a death sentence for their conspiratorial sin. How hard to show God’s wrath and judgment. Those aren’t twenty-first century user-friendly images of God. Can we pull off showing the things about God that seem to collide with what we want Him to be like?

When I write posts like this, I am so thankful that I write fantasy, because I have to say, I don’t know how I would show God in this world. I love showing Him in a unique way in fantasy. But in a contemporary story, it’s a whole lot harder, a much greater challenge.

I know a writer who is tackling a difficult story without softening the lens or putting a slight glow over God’s head. I haven’t read her manuscript, so I don’t know how it’s working out, but I commend her efforts.

Do readers want to think deeply about God, to moved past the glad-to-meet-you stage, even past the acquaintance stage? I think there are indications that make me think so, but even if not, I’d still say we need stories that make the attempt. That’s where realism really lies, and it’s a lot more important — eternally important — than whether or not we show a human character slugging back a beer.

– – –
See also “God In Contemporary Fiction, Another Take”

Published in: on July 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm  Comments (11)  
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Who’s Your Hero? – A Poll

I suspect we all have people we look up to and admire, ones we want to emulate. I’m curious especially about spiritual heroes, specifically ones in the Bible. So let’s do a little investigating via a poll.

You may vote for as many as three, and if you don’t see your hero listed, you may write that person into the mix.

Thanks for taking part. Feel free to add a note in the comments to explain why you voted as you did. Also let your Facebook friends or Twitter followers know about the poll so they can take part, too — any time between now and the end of June. I’m looking forward to the results. 😀

Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm  Comments (12)  
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Christ Died for … ?

When I was young, I thought it was clear who Christ died for. In fact, most of my adult life, it never crossed my mind that this was a controversial subject. Rather, it was fact … that some believed and others did not.

But the world of the internet has put me in touch with lots more people, and suddenly the things I thought were clear, plain, easily understood from Scripture, I now realize don’t appear the same to everyone. Some professing Christians believe one thing and others believe a quite different thing, all based on the Bible. 😕

When it comes to some topics, I don’t think it’s all that surprising that Christians hold differing positions, simply because the Bible isn’t all that clear. End times comes to mind as a topic that can stir debate. Some have studied prophesies in the Old and New Testaments and believe they can create a time line, with the only missing piece the actual date of Christ’s return to rapture His church. Others don’t even think there will be a rapture. And among those who do, there is disagreement as to whether this will occur before, during, or after the Great Tribulation.

And so it goes. Other topics that generate similar disagreements are creation, the ecstatic gifts of the Spirit, church government, baptism … and so it goes.

But to the question at hand, Who did Christ die for? Isn’t that sort of … the foundation of what it means to be a Christian? So how can there be debate about this question? But there is.

Here are the positions I’m aware of (doesn’t mean there aren’t more):
1. Christ died for the whole world—literally, which means that no one will go to Hell (the view espoused by The Shack).

2. Christ died for the whole world—literally, which means that Man’s sin nature has been forgiven, but he will be judged for the specific sins he commits, the sins of believers covered by the blood of Christ and the sins of unbelievers bringing down judgment upon them.

3. Christ died for the elect, those He predestined to be His from the foundations of the world.

4. Christ died for the whole world, but only those who believe in Him appropriate forgiveness.

5. Christ died for the whole world, but only those who believe in Him, chosen from the foundations of the world, appropriate forgiveness.

The latter is my view, and the more I study Scripture, the more I believe it to be true. This position, as I see it, takes into account all of Scripture, not just a handful of proof texts. I came across a verse, one of a number, that shows this tension between God’s work, through His predestination and redemption, and Man’s faith, though it actually addresses the lost.

In I Peter 2, the Writer declares Jesus Christ to be the corner stone, who also is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and then says “for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” There it is, in one verse: men’s response to God and God’s appointment of men to their destination, given equal weight with the conjunction and.

Too many people want to make salvation a chicken-or-egg discussion (which came first, God’s foreknowledge or God’s predestination?) Does a person have faith because he’s predestined or did God predestine those He knew would have faith?

Those are unanswerable questions, though people seem quick to pull out Scriptures to support their view. The fact is, Scripture clearly says God foreknew. And it just as clearly says He predestined. So can we know which He did first? Many will look at Romans 8:29 (“for those He foreknew, He also predestined …”), and say, Yes, foreknowledge first. But those from the predestination camp can just as easily point to election verses.

Which is why I say the entire Bible needs to be taken en toto.

In the end, I think only the first view skewers God’s nature and distorts His work (and therefore is false teaching). As I see it, the last position best accounts for the varied statements throughout Scripture—passages like I Peter 2.

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