Being a male computer geek and a conservative protestant, being "emotional" can be something foreign to me. Or at least, I will be stereo-typed directly opposite from the new age sensitive guy. However, getting myself to feel emotional has never been difficult. Reading through Romans 8 always worked. Every time.
I still remembered the first time I heard Romans 8 preached. That was 1997 at The Bible Talks, when Phillip Jensen was preaching through the series of Romans. He preluded, "if John 3:16 is considered as the greatest verse in the New Testament, many have considered Romans 8 as the greatest chapter in the New Testament." And how true! "For God so loved the world..." but how sure are you about this God? Can you be 100% sure that God will not condemn you but glorify you on the last day? But then we see God's love elaborated.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:31-35 (ESV)
Joshua preached the very passage last Sunday at FOCUS (sermon in RealMedia format is available if you are a website member), but attacked the issue of assurance from a different angle - the very dirty word of predestination. The focus is on the golden chain, a.k.a. Romans 8:29-30.
29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
As long as you are part of this chain, you will experience the whole of this chain. A Christian, being called and being justified by the blood of Jesus, and has been declared right with God. However the key is, God has determined all these before the creation of this world (Ephesians 1:4). Not only he chose to call you and declare right with you, it is certain that he has also chose to glorify you on the last day. How much more assurance do you need, when the very Creator of this world has made up His mind to carry you to the end, way before this planet existed!
That is the beauty of Romans 8. That is the beauty of Predestination, in a Biblical context.
Again, being a male computer geek and conservative protestant, I take pride of being logical. Logic is good - it helps you to understand the reason and derive consequences. However, a simple deduction of logical statements would not give logical meaning if it is done outside the context. This is especially true with predestination.
- God predestines. Therefore I have no freedom to make choice. Therefore I am not responsible.
- God predestines. Therefore once saved, always saved. Therefore why not sin more?
- God predestines. Therefore a Christian must be predestined. Therefore I am not predestined as I am not a Christian. (Typical converse logical error)
- God predestines. Therefore the elect will always be called. Therefore why evangelise?
There are many others, applying their logical deduction without looking at the context - why is Predestination there? Not only paganism and Arminianism school of thinking, but sometimes I found Calvinism making this kind of deduction as well.
- God predestines. Therefore only elects will be called, justified and glorified. Therefore, Jesus cannot die for the non-elects. Therefore, Jesus did not die for the whole world. (Limited Atonement in TULIP)
Enough thoughts for my Friday afternoon. Maybe more later.