Pentecostals

 

 

3. I have noticed that Pentecostals hardly ever speak about predestination, and when some of them happen to speak about it, they say many things which are untrue. Could you tell me why this happens?

 

 

Because most Pentecostals think that the doctrine of predestination makes God appear unjust, because while on the one hand He predestined the elect to be saved, on the other hand He predestined the others to go to perdition!! Another reason is because they think the doctrine of predestination produces laxity and laziness; in other words it discourages believers from seeking holiness and doing good works!!

Let me reply to these objections.

Because of the fact that God predestined some to be justified and others to be condemned, He cannot be accused of being unjust because it is lawful for Him to do what He wants with His own things; that is to say, He is free both to have mercy on whom He wills and not to have mercy on whom He wills. God says to those who strive with Him: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things” (Matthew 20:15 – NKJV), and also: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:19 – NKJV). I realize that it is hard to accept this way of acting of God, I realize that it is not comprehensible from a human point of view, yet this is the way God acts because the Scripture says so. If the Scripture did not say such a thing or such a thing were inconsistent with the Word of God, then I would reject it; but the fact is that the Scripture teaches that God acts in this way. For instance, let us talk about Esau and Jacob: what does the Word of God say about them? It says that before they were born or had done anything good or bad - in order that God’s purpose in election might stand - God said to Rebecca: “The older will serve the younger. Just as it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:12-13 – NIV). Isn’t the Scripture clear? Is it not clear that God acted in that way not because Jacob deserved to be served by his brother and Esau did not deserve to be served by Jacob, but simply because that was His good pleasure? Why do many keep speaking empty words then? Moreover, I want to emphasize the fact that Paul took the example of Esau and Jacob in order to explain the purpose of God according to election, and we have to admit that this example fits perfectly because it shows clearly and unquestionably that the purpose of God according to election is not by works but by Him who calls, that is, as Paul says a little further: “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16 – NIV. The NKJV reads: “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy”). Therefore, when we read that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a stew of lentils and that Jacob took away the blessing of Esau (by deceiving his father Isaac), we must bear in mind that those events came to pass by God’s set purpose, for God caused those things to happen so that His Word might be fulfilled. Obviously, the wrong behaviour of both Esau and Jacob did not go unpunished, for they received the due penalty for their misdeeds.

Similar things must be said about Pharaoh. When God sent Moses to Pharaoh in order to command him to let His people go out of Egypt, He told Moses that Pharaoh would let His people go out of Egypt because of His mighty hand for He would harden the heart of Pharaoh in order to manifest His glory, so that the Egyptians might know that He was the Lord. Listen to what God said to Moses: “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Exodus 7:1-5). It is true that in some places it is written that Pharaoh hardened his heart (Exodus 8:15,32), but that hardening was caused by God without Pharaoh knowing it. God had determined to act in that way, and He did exactly what His hand and His purpose had determined to do. Someone may say that this is just an isolated example of hardening caused by God, so it cannot be taken as an example. I answer that it is not an isolated example because in the law we read that Sihon king of Heshbon was hardened by God too, in that Moses said to the Israelites: “But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 2:30 – NKJV). As you can see, the case of Pharaoh is not isolated. And not only this, but there is also the case of the Jews who refused to believe in Jesus even though they had seen many miracles. Listen to what the apostle John says: “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them” (John 12:37-40). I think that it is superfluous to expound the words of John!!!

Therefore, in the light of the Scriptures, Paul is right when he says that God has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens (Romans 9:18). But who dares to reply against God? Who dares to quarrel with God? What can a man, who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground, say to his Maker?

Therefore if God has mercy on whom He wills and He hardens whom He wills, the objection according to which the doctrine of predestination makes God appear unjust or respecter of persons proves to be untrue.

The doctrine of predestination does not produce laziness in those who accept it; the example of Paul confirms this very clearly for Paul believed that God had separated him from his mother’s womb for the Gospel (Galatians 1:15), yet he stated that he labored more abundantly than all the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:10). On the contrary, the doctrine of predestination prompts those who accept it to be zealous for good works because this doctrine leads believers to be grateful to Him who had mercy on them.

However, now I want to make it clear that even though I teach the doctrine of predestination I don’t accept the doctrine called ‘once saved always saved’ for the Scripture teaches that a believer can fall away from grace and go to perdition. It is evident, therefore, that when I say that the doctrine of predestination cannot produce laziness, I say it because a believer, knowing that he was called with a heavenly call by the grace of God, will make every effort to live a life full of good works, a holy and right life; for he knows that if he refuses to pursue holiness he will go to perdition. If the just draws back, he will go to perdition; this is what the Scripture teaches (Hebrews 10:38-39). That’s why a believer who knows that he was predestined to be saved before the foundation of the world is not encouraged or led to live ungodly. What shall we say then about those believers who accepted the doctrine of predestination but afterward they drew back to perdition? We shall say that they did not want to continue in the faith to the end and thus their soul went to hell. Therefore the expression ‘once saved always saved’ can be applied only to those believers who continue in the faith till the end. While as for those who once were saved but did not continue in faith, we need to say that ‘they remained saved only for a certain period of time’.

In conclusion I want to say something else: there is another reason for which many Pentecostals refuse to accept the doctrine of predestination, and this reason is pride. What do I mean by that? I mean that they reject the doctrine of predestination because it deprives them of any boasting for according to this doctrine the fact that one has believed in the Lord did not depend on his will but on the will of God because God predestined him to believe and so He enabled him to believe by giving him faith. In other words, the believer’s conversion did not depend on him but completely on God, and this annoys all those who think and say that they believed because it was they who wanted to believe, it was they who wanted to come to Christ. When we speak about predestination to these believers, it is as if they said to us, ‘Through this doctrine you don’t allow us to exalt ourselves even a little, you don’t allow us to congratulate ourselves even for a moment, because, according to you, all is God’s work: we were converted by God, we were drawn to Christ by God, and we were saved by God only because of the good pleasure of His will!!’ It is sad to notice this, really sad.

 

 

 

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