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Posts Tagged ‘predestination’

I grew up in the church and always considered myself a Christian. All through high school and college, I knew that I was a sinner and that Christ was the only one who could save me. I could not save myself. I knew this in my mind. However, I never felt affection for God, especially not over my affection for things in the world, like videogames and girlfriends. I lived a moral life, by human standards. My friends deemed me gentle, considerate, and loyal. All my classmates and teachers held me in high esteem. But the status of my salvation was always uncertain to me. I never rested in the assurance of faith.

At the end of my sophomore year at BGSU in 2007, I learned about the concept of predestination. It threw me into despair because I felt utterly powerless in my salvation. This, along with atheist literature, eventually spurred me to reject God. I decided to openly abandon my faith. I lived as I wanted, striving after the impulses and desires of my heart, caught up in the affairs of the world. I flaunted intellectual objections to Christianity and religion, but I still favored my reputation as a gentle and loyal human being.

After about a year of reading atheist and Christian arguments, I returned to God in my mind. With a refreshing change of perspective, I discovered that Christianity had the answers to the big questions in life. I even found it more reasonable intellectually than the atheist arguments against it. Over the next three years up to the present day, God has drawn me closer to Him so that I acknowledge Him in my heart, not just my mind. At first, I followed Him because it made sense. But the more I learn about Him from His Word, the more I recognize my need for Him, the more I genuinely love Him and desire to glorify Him and obey Him.

God has now given me grace to look at my past and see it with clarity. Prior to 2007, I did not have a change of heart. I did not live in a lot of sin, but I counted that as my own self-righteousness. I never had much affection for God because I gave myself my worth. In my eyes, God saved me because He saw value that I had apart from Him. That is to say, I didn’t need Him entirely. This is exactly the kind of belief that would not renew my mind, would not lead to repentance or self-denial, would not humble me, would not let me trust or love God, and would not produce authentic good works pleasing in His sight. It would send me to hell.

So it was God’s glorious will that I be exposed to the concept of predestination (the doctrines of total depravity and unconditional election,) that would show me that I really was completely devoid of any good or value. In that summer, I felt so helpless and powerless to attain my own salvation, and that was the right way to feel. That is exactly what leads me now to throw myself on the ground before Him who is my only hope and salvation. It is my joy to fear the God who can destroy my body and soul in hell, who loved me despite my utter lack of loveliness, who came Himself down into the world to save it, who crushed Himself whom He loved so that sinners could be justified and His wrath satisfied, who has all authority on earth and in heaven. Glory be to God!

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Okay, so if I had to start my story somewhere, I’d choose the early summer of 2007, but right now I think I’d rather start with this picture of a squirrel that I took this week. Enjoy.


Anyway, early during the summer in 2007, I met with a good friend of mine from high school. He had studied a lot of theology, and during the drive home from the meal, our conversation turned to Christianity. He brought up Calvinism, of which I had never heard before. Calvinism is particularly known for what it has to say about predestination—that God, as the omniscient and omnipotent creator that He is, has the right to say where each human being will end up at the end of his or her life. At the time, it sounded to me that believing this would be to believe that we, as humans, don’t really have free will. Whoever God created us to be, we’ll be, and wherever He intends for us to go, we’ll go, and there’s nothing we can do about it. This scared me a lot. (I plan on focusing a separate post on this topic of predestination later.)

My friend also recommended a preacher named Paul Washer to me. Brother Paul, as he likes to go by, is a southern Baptist preacher who has gone and started ministries in Eastern Europe and South America, namely Peru. I listened to a sermon he gave at a church camp in Alabama. In this shocking sermon, he told the more than 6,000 listeners that he figured the great majority of them would be in Hell when they died. His main point is that here in America, Christians are taught to believe that as long as they pray “the prayer” and ask Jesus into their heart, He will undoubtedly do so. He takes the verse Matthew 7:20, which says that people are to be identified “by their fruits,” to support the claim that if you’re a Christian, there should be obvious evidence of it. Someone should be able to look at you before the change, and then look at you afterwards, and see a major difference. You should be turning away from your sin and look different than the rest of the world. (Go here to watch the sermon for yourself.)

I listened to this, and realized that all that of which he was accusing the listeners there in Alabama could have been charged against me as well. I admitted to myself then that, according to this man, who I believed (and still do) was speaking the truth, I was not a Christian. You would not see any major difference between how I lived before I became a Christian and afterwards. In the words of Brother Paul, I “looked like the world, smelled like the world, sounded like the world, and loved so much that was in the world.” I could sin again and again without pausing but for a couple of seconds to ask forgiveness, and there were even certain sins where I didn’t even feel any guilt at all.

Pairing this realization up with what I thought I knew about predestination, I came to the following conclusion: not only was I not a Christian, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was going to Hell when I died. And for some reason, I was okay with this conclusion. For the rest of that summer, and for most of my trip to Spain in the fall, I was a fervent believer in Christianity, but believed myself excluded from the Good News that it preached.

It wasn’t until the end of the year, during my trip to London, where I found a book called The God Delusion by atheist Richard Dawkins, that I began to let my beliefs about Christianity turn negative.

Well folks, I apologize for the bad timing and sudden ending of this story, but I’m tired, and it is simply becoming too long for one post. I will tell the other half next time. (Click here to read it right now) But here, have another squirrel picture. 😀

-hasta pronto

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