Monday, February 22, 2016

Foundation Stones for Future Scenarios

I am currently writing some articles for the website on "The Future". As always, I am interested in your feedback on my thoughts before I publish them.

I know I have posted on some topics more than once.
Indeed, topics concerning the future are certain candidates for multiple posts because I am always discovering fresh clues from the Bible which either make me more certain about the content of previous posts or require me to amend them, sometimes significantly.
And, let's face it, we can only speculate about the future as there are not many clues to begin with, and those we have are open to seemingly endless interpretations.

However, we must have a starting point for our speculations.
What are the basic "givens" on which all other facts and/or opinions must stand?

1.  God's ultimate purpose, his end result, is clearly revealed in the New Testament ...

    God desires all to be saved. (1 Tim 2 : 1 - 6)
    God is the Saviour of all. (1 Tim 4 : 10)
    God will bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth. (Eph 1 : 9 - 10)
    God will become all in all, that is, everything to everybody. (1 Cor 15 : 28).

2.  God will achieve this purpose through Jesus, who is ...

    The Reconciler of all (2 Cor 5 : 18 - 19; Col 1 : 19 - 20)
    The Drawer of all (John 12 : 32)
    The Sacrifice for all (1 John 2 : 2)
    The Saviour of all (1 John 4 : 14; John 12 : 47)
    The Light of all (John 1: 4 - 9)
    The Giver of Life to all (1 Cor 15 : 20 - 22)

3.  God always remains true to his character ...

    God is love. (1 John 4 : 16; Matthew 5 : 44 - 45)
    God is in control (Proverbs 19 : 21; Ephesians 1 : 11)
    God is kind and merciful to all (Luke 6 : 35 - 36)
    God's grace completely saves us (Romans 5 : 15 - 21; Ephesians 2 : 4 - 8)
To me all other events or opinions that I wish to include in my picture of the future must stand on and be consistent with these three "givens". 
For example ...
God has already reconciled the world to himself. (2 Cor 5 : 19)
All those who know God and Jesus Christ have eonian life, that is, are alive and will be alive in the coming ages. (John 17 : 3)
The Book of Life increases in size at the Great White Throne judgement. (Revelation 20 : 11 - 15) *
The Lake of Fire is God's refining or purifying process, the death/destruction of all that offends God. (Malachi 3 : 3; Revelation 20 : 14) **
Death itself will be finally removed, so that only life remains.
(Revelation 21 : 4; ! Cor 15 : 25 - 26)
What do you think?
    Are there other "givens" that need to be added to the list?
    Do any of mine not stand up to scrutiny?
    What other events or opinions that are consistent with the "givens" could be
    included in the examples?
Please consider and send me feedback.
Blessings, Barry

* See previous post "The Great White Throne Judgement" in December 2013.
** See previous "The Lake of Fire" posts in 2010 and 2011.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Called and The Chosen

I have been musing on these terms recently and have discovered two interesting verses.
Jesus said, "For many are called, but few are chosen."
[ Matthew 22 : 14  NKJV ]
On the other hand ... 
Paul said, " ... those he predestined, he also called; ...
[ Romans 8 : 30  NIV ]
Notice the reverse order: "called then chosen" in the first .. versus .. "predestined (chosen) then called" in the second. Why the difference?

Jesus was addressing Israel's leaders and forecasting that from all those who belonged to this specially called-out nation only a few would be chosen.
Chosen for what?
Israel had been called to live under God's provision and direction, demonstrate that life and its value to the rest of the world, and was destined to reign with God in the future kingdom. 
However, only a few of them were chosen by God to receive the faith necessary to believe in Jesus, their Messiah, and the message of forgiveness and reconciliation that he brought.

Sadly, only a relatively few of Israel will live during the coming age, and reign with Christ in his kingdom.
"Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it," Jesus told them. { Matthew 7 : 14  NIV ]

Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles.
His message was to an audience that had not been seriously considered to have any part in God's reign.
However, God's plan right from the start was to choose others, from the Gentile nations, to add to the faithful few from Israel to create the Body of Christ that would reign with Christ during that coming age.

The mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
[ Ephesians 3 : 6  NIV ]

As a result, those who would rule with Christ in the kingdom age had already been chosen by God before they were even born, and will be called during their lifetime on this planet.
These are the early believers, which we mention from time to time.
These previously chosen (predestined) will be called, and will be trained by the indwelling Holy Spirit for their co-ruler role in the future age.

But Paul's message of "chosen then called" has an even wider, more general application.
From before the foundation of the world, we were all chosen for salvation, for fellowship with God.

Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose.
[ Ephesians 1 : 4, 5  GNB ]

In all his wisdom and insight God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
[ Ephesians 1 : 9, 10  GNB ]
The whole creation has been chosen, so we will all be called eventually - some as early believers by faith and some as later believers by sight.

God's amazing plan, decided at the beginning, hinted at by the prophets, mentioned by Jesus, and fully described by Paul, should be celebrated from the rooftops by churches across the world.
What a different view and appreciation of God that would produce !
Blessings, Barry