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I'm about to get all deep and theological on you, so be prepared.

I've been wanting to write about this subject for some time, because it plays into my testimony, but for some reason I haven't.  Maybe because it seems like such a huge topic.  But I feel like the time has come for me to tackle it on here.

As most of you know, I grew up in a Christian home, and we went to church every Sunday.  I heard so many sermons about what it took to be saved that I could preach one myself probably (which is a good thing, because every Christian should know how to explain how to be saved!).  God paid the penalty for our sins when He gave His son to die on the cross for us.  Salvation is a free gift for us, and we just have accept it.   All we have to do is believe in Jesus and we will be saved.  All true.



But when I was about 16{isn}, something came up which I had never heard before.  We made some friends who were hardcore Calvanists, and they got pretty fired up about predestination.

Just in case you aren't familiar with this topic, there are two camps on this issue - one is the "free will"  camp, which believes that every person has free will and chooses whether they will believe or not - and if they choose not to, they will go to hell because God isn't going to force them to believe in Him.  He wants us to follow and love Him willingly, because love isn't really love if you force someone to love you, so that wouldn't make sense.  This is what I heard mostly when I grew up.

The other camp is the predestination side, which believes that God predestines some people to believe in Him.  Because God is sovereign over everything, that means God is also sovereign over who will choose to believe in Him and who won't.  If He is not in control of everything, including who chooses to believe in Him, then the parts of the Bible that say God is sovereign would be wrong.  And that wouldn't make sense.  

This "predestination" is the new concept that was presented to me when I was 16{isn}.  Just one little theological issue, but it rocked my whole world.  I have never doubted my faith as much as I did then.  All this time I had been believing that all a person had to do was believe in Jesus, and they would be saved (still believe that, just to be clear).  If they wouldn't, they would spend eternity without Jesus.  Cut and dry.  Easy peasy.




But all of a sudden I was presented with all these verses about the sovereignty of God, how God has chosen, predestined, called certain individuals to believe in Him.  And it was complicated, and I was confused - because if God chose, then was He choosing to send some people to hell?  That wasn't the God I knew.  The God I knew was "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance".  

But if it's all up to us to believe to be saved, then that would mean that God isn't in control of everything.  He isn't sovereign.  And that wasn't the God I knew either.  The God I knew was all powerful, sovereign, in control of everything.

I struggled to reconcile the two, and I couldn't.  I cried.  I felt shaken, and I didn't know what to believe anymore.


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I have a very wise mother.  She told me at the time that it was okay to doubt.  That every Christian doubts at some point, but we can chose to turn to God with out doubts, or let our doubts turn us away from Him.  She encouraged me to just pray and tell the Lord how I was doubting, and ask Him to make things clear to me.

And I read verses.  So many verses.  Verses regarding our faith to believe in Jesus.  Verses regarding God's sovereignty.  Free will.  Predestination.  And I was confused, because I saw the two concepts both presented in the Bible, yet I didn't see how they could work together.




I remember especially one verse in the Bible where it says that God chose to love Jacob and hate Esau.  And I remember praying over that verse, asking God why, because it didn't seem very fair to me.  But there it was in ink, in my Bible.  And I was struggling.

And somehow, in the midst of these struggles, I feel like God opened my eyes, and spoke to my heart.  Because what it boiled down to was whether I really believed that God was good.  


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I realized that I did - no matter what, I did believe that God was good, and that what He did was always right.  I cried and told God that I believed that He was good, and that His Word was true, even if nothing made sense.

And in the moment when I accepted that, I think my faith deepened, and truly became my own in a deeper way.  Because in that moment when I didn't understand, I chose to hold fast to the fact that the God I served was a good God, and even if I didn't understand Him sometimes, I could trust in that.

After this realization, I felt like the issue cleared up for me.  Both concepts were in the Bible.  I didn't understand how they could work together, but they were both in there, and I trusted that God's Word was true - so somehow they must work together.  

My mom told me something that someone had told her, and it was like a light dawned.  Why can't God know something that we can't?  And I realized that of course He can!  If I knew everything God knew, then God would be too small.  And I don't serve a small God.  




Of course He can know something I don't know, and I came to realize that this was one of those things.  The mind of God is so much greater and higher than our minds - so even if I don't see a way that both sides of the predestination issue can work together, God can.  And I can't, because I'm not God.  I don't have to know everything He knows, and my tiny, three dimensional brain probably couldn't handle it anyway.

I learned to be okay with the not knowing.  Because even though I might not know all the answers on the predestination debate, I know what kind of God I serve.  I know Him.  

In the midst of that struggle, I feel like I also received a gift.  Because while I do believe both must work together, I've also come to see the beauty in a truth I hadn't really thought about before - that God chose me.  And it's a blessing to my heart - to be chosen by a God like that.  

When I get to heaven I might ask God to explain this whole thing to me.  Because I still don't get it, and I don't think I ever will unless God Himself explains it to me.  

But until then, I know that however it works, He is good and His Word is true.  And that's enough for me.




Linking up with Kerrie.

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Natalie said...

I feel like I could have written this! when I first learned about predestination, my world was rocked too...I was so confused! I've been blessed to have some really wise theologians in my life to explain it to me more and for the most part I'm settled, but when I really start to think about it, I get confused all over again! praise God that our salvation isn't dependent on this topic!! :) I'm excited to have Him explain it to me one day!

Amanda said...

We just sang a song at church on Sunday and part of it says, "When I don't understand, I'll choose You. When I don't understand, I'll choose You, God. When I don't understand, I'll choose to love You, God." (The song is I Breathe You In God by Brian and Katie Torwalt) And then someone spoke about letting go of our need to understand everything God is doing and just trust that God is in control and loves us no matter what. That He is good, like you said. That's the thing about faith. You won't always understand, but you have to choose to believe in Someone bigger than you even when your flesh wants to be in control. In the natural, it doesn't seem logical, but in the spirit, we know how awesome it is to serve and trust in a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God!

Sarah Nicole said...

I love this Callie! Questioning is something I too have struggled with in the past. But what you said is so true! If we can just know and believe in our heart that God is a good God then we don't have to let the doubts creep into our mind. Even though we don't know it all, God does and that puts my mind at ease!

Kerrie Williams said...

When I was at Bible college, I was confronted with this same thing. In the end, I decided that my time was best spent telling others about Him. Either way, the opportunity must be given. "But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?" God is sovereign and God is good. He is trustworthy. I'm so glad you linked up today :)

Amanda said...

Thank you for this post! I have struggled with doubts and I remember a sermon that my pastor gave a while back talking about John the Baptist, who even baptized Jesus, doubted if Jesus was who he said he was while he was in prison. Jesus sent word back to say that he was in only a way John the Baptist would know. It's so hard in this world now to not have doubts and I appreciate your honesty. Thankful for a God who loves us even in our doubtful times :)

Unknown said...

Straight from the heart Callie and I like that. I may not believe the same as you do but I appreciate you sharing always

Brittney Galloway said...

Really beautiful post, Callie. It mirrored my experience to the T, except I think I was almost 18 when I first learned of the other 'camp.' It shook me and made me think of my faith as my own for the first time.

Bethany G said...

Great post. I think a lot of people are so confused by this. But I think your conclusion is really perfect !

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for linking up Callie. I have often struggled with these same issues. I'm so glad that you were honest and shared your heart and your struggle with these topics. And I agree with your mom, it's okay to doubt and question. I think God can handle it.

Melissa said...

I love this post, Callie! Love the way you tell this story, too. I remember first hearing about predestination & was like...WHAT?! Haha. I thought it was very strange. I still believe anyone can be saved. And if the other side is true, you are right - the two have to work together somehow! Great post. :)

Melanie said...

Fantastic topic Callie!! I hadnt really had the whole 'predestination' thing explained to me the way you did in this post (I grew up in a church a lot like the one you did from the sounds of it)..I can really see why it burdened you so would have me too if it had been presented to me in that way. Sometimes things in the Bible aren't always totally clear (like in this case)..but your right..God doesn't expect us to know what He does! Thank God we don't either..because I dont think I could handle it anyways!!! So thankful we serve such an awesome and in control God!!

Kate Craig said...

I thought you would be stirring something up with this topic, but it seems everyone agrees with you! I put it in a category with the trinity - it's just not going to make sense to us.

Brittney said...

This post really hit home with me as I've had similar thoughts/doubts with my faith in the past before..not necessarily wondering if I/others are pre-destined in life in the larger sense, but whether or not we have any 'free will' over how individual events unfold in our lives? Or if we are just passive passengers on this road, which I honestly find a bit depressing to consider. I like to believe as you do - that both free will/pre-destiny have a place under God's sovereign reign. But I too would love to ask Him similar questions one day:)

Kasey said...

Thank you so much for posting this! (I found your blog through the Girl Behind the Blob Linkup). I remember being confronted with this issue, and coming to that crossroad. There are just some things in life that I have to come to a point and say, "God your ways are so much higher than my ways, and your thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts." Even in the Psalms David talks about how God's ways are so high that he cannot attain God's understanding. I think you said it perfectly in this post. God is God and I am not. I know He is good and I will trust Him.

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