I feel like I may need to introduce myself to you. I’m just coming off the longest break from writing in the past five years. It’s been over a month since my last post. If you’ve missed me, sorry. Lots going on in my life and writing just had to be put on hold.
However, if you haven’t missed getting your regular email, feed or FB post from me, let the pestering begin again!
I didn’t really intend to break the drought with this particular topic, but my hand was forced.
I’ve been preaching on Paul’s letter to the Romans through most of 2014. It’s been a pretty invigorating study for me. I have a totally different perspective on the teaching of the letter than I have had most of my life. Hopefully, those who have studied along with me have benefitted.
(I had never grasped the fullness of the context of the letter before this year. It is now my understanding that Paul was writing to address the issue of unity in the Roman church…helping his Jewish family to understand their right standing before God was not based on law-keeping and that Gentiles could be fully included into God’s family…and helping both groups live and serve side-by-side in the face of persecution.)
This past Sunday, we reached one of the most famous verses in the whole Bible. Certainly one that people hold close to their hearts and lean on in times of difficulty:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Truth? Things don’t always turn out how we plan. Sometimes they turn out horribly wrong. Sometimes they end in rejection, failure, total loss, tragedy and even, death. That’s just the way life is. But for those who love God and are called according to his purpose (that means not just anybody), God promises to continue to work in our lives, molding and shaping us into the image of his suffering servant Son. Here’s how Paul states it in the next couple of verses:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 8:29-30
When we read these verses, hopefully our hearts are filled with confidence and a growing love for a God who set a plan into motion that gives meaning and boldness to our existence. These verses are also at the center of hundreds of years of argument, divisiveness, judgment and disunity in the church.
Over the next few days, I’m going to give you my simple take on the debate. I don’t plan to write a second master’s thesis. It will not come close to covering all the angles of the war. Remember, I’m a lover, not a fighter!
I will try to define some terms as simply as possible. I’ll work hard to accurately reflect the opinions and interpretations with whom I disagree. Feel free to call me out, if you think I’m failing in that effort.
If the words, Calvinism, Arminianism, predestination, freewill, election, unlimited atonement, God’s sovereignty, and the like, capture your interest, maybe this will be interesting to you.
If not, I’ll be back to football, church goofiness, hamburgers and marriage soon.