August 15 – Predestination
There are a couple different ways you can break down this order, but our series will progress through it this way:
- Week 1 – Predestination
- Week 2 – Calling
- Week 3 – Regeneration
- Week 4 – Repentance and Faith
- Week 5 – Justification
- Week 6 – Transformation
- Week 7 – Glorification
That’s right, week one we’re coming in hot with predestination. You’ll notice the order is somewhat chronological, starting with God’s actions in eternity past, predestination, and ending in our eternal future, glorification. All the steps in between, weeks 2-6, happen at the point of someone’s conversion; God calls us out of darkness and into the light of the gospel (1 Pet. 2:9), and all of a sudden we’re made alive (Eph. 2:4), we accept Jesus’ work in faith (Eph. 2:8) and repent of our sins (Acts 2:38), we’re made right with God (Rom. 5:1), and the Holy Spirit indwells us to transform our hearts, minds, and affections (Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; John 16:13). Though, to be fair, transformation has both an initial aspect in our salvation and an ongoing aspect in our sanctification, which progresses through the rest of our life.
Our hope for this series is that from seven points of view we’ll see the panoramic grandeur of God’s work in salvation, and that we’ll leave with at least seven reasons for being utterly, eternally grateful for God’s loving kindness towards us in Jesus. Ephesians 1:3-14 tells us the ultimate purpose of salvation is to the praise of God’s glory (Eph. 1:14). And may we finish knowing that God sent Jesus into the world to save sinners, such that 1. we proclaim God’s infinite goodness for saving our poor, needy souls and 2. we are full of every hope that he desires the salvation of our lost neighbors, coworkers, and friends too.
A component of understanding predestination has to do with assessing the human capacity for goodness, so we’ll turn to Ephesians 2:1-10 to help us navigate it. One of the primary objections people raise to predestination is that it interferes with free will, proposing instead that God offers salvation to all equally, without choosing any, and those who come to faith do so because they themselves choose God. First off, you can’t get away from God’s choice, since “he chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world.”(1:4a) But second, what does Ephesians 2 say about our capacity to choose God? “And you were dead in your trespasses and the sins in which you once walked.”(2:1-2a) Elsewhere Paul calls us “salves to sin.”(Rom. 6:17) Dead people don’t cry for help; slaves don’t have any say in choosing a new master. So we have to be regenerated, “made…alive together with Christ” as 2:5 says (we’ll look more at regeneration on week 3). Before we can respond in faith we have to be made alive, so we simply can’t choose to follow God outside his sovereign work of resurrecting our natures. Simply put, we can’t choose God unless he first chooses us.
• What stands out to you in this passage?
• How does this passage describe God?
• According to this passage, why did God predestine?
• Could someone read Ephesians 2:1-10?
• How does this passage help us understand our need for God choosing us?
• What do these two passages stir up in you?
• Looking back at 1:3-14, what are some of God’s goals in salvation?