Monday, July 3, 2017

Q: What is Decisionism? Is it Biblical?

Decisionism is the belief that human beings shape their own destiny ultimately by how they manage the course of their actions / decisions in this life. I emphasize the word "ultimately" to make it clear that you do not become a decisionist simply by believing that humans make decisions. We all believe that humans are capable of making decisions, but we are not all decisionists. Decisionism asserts more than just the fact that we make decisions; it insists that our decisions are inviolable, autonomous, and sovereign.

This philosophy has become very prevalent both in our society and in many "Christian" churches today. How many times have we heard preachers saying: “God has a wonderful plan for your life, but it is up to you to make it happen”? or that “God has done everything He could do to save you; now the rest is up to you to invite Christ in your heart”? The idea is that God has always wanted to break into our lives, but wouldn't do it unless He gets our permission. While “there are many plans in God's mind," yet "it is man's counsel which will stand,”

The Bible, on the contrary, tells us that “there are many plans in a person’s mind, but it is the counsel of the LORD which will stand” (Prov. 19:21). We don't hold our destiny. God does; for “the LORD has made all things for himself: yes, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4).

Even in the economy of Salvation, the Bible says that “it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy” and that, therefore, “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden” (Romans 9:16, 18). In fact, our very conversion (faith and repentance)—which, as every one must admit, involves our “willing decision” to follow Christ—is itself a gift from God! (Eze. 36:26-27: cf. Acts 16:14).

Every Christian must understand that God's work of Salvation didn't stop at Christ's death and His invitation for sinners to come to Him. God Himself, by His sovereign Spirit, unfailingly converts the heart of whomever He wills! He demands faith and repentance (Mark 1:15), yet He also produces them in the heart of His elect (Jn. 6:29; Acts 13:48; 2 Tim. 2:25-26).

Don't me wrong though. I'm not suggesting that we never decided to receive Christ (or that it isn't necessary). Of course we did receive Christ, and we did so freely and willingly (John 1:12). To acknowledge this, however, is not necessarily Decision*ism.* It is one thing to grant that Salvation involves our will, and rightly so; but it's a completely different story to insist that our willing decision to receive Christ is a product of our own inherent ability apart from the sovereign operation of God's grace by His Spirit (Decisionism). God converts hearts, and He converts invincibly (see Eze 36:26-27 & Acts 16:14).

Therefore, if we take the Bible for what it says, we must affirm that the final decisive factor of our eternal destiny lies ultimately on God's Sovereign Decree, and that our decision to follow Christ is just a product of the mighty work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It's not "up to us" in any way. Our decision to receive Christ (whereby we are forgiven) could never have been possible if it weren't for the grace of the Spirit that first quickened our rebellious, sinful, darkened, spiritually dead hearts (see 1 Cor. 2:14; cf. Jn. 6:44, 63-65). It isn't that God chose us because we chose him, but that we choose God because He has first chosen us (Jn. 15:16; Eph. 1:4-5, 11). Or as Christ puts it:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.” (John 6:44)
Salvation is by God's Sovereign Grace alone from first to last. Decisionism, then, is an affront to the Grace of God. Our churches need to be purged from this dangerous philosophy once and for all.

Monday, June 26, 2017

In Jesus' Name, We Pray... Amen

Praying “in Jesus’ name” means more than closing a prayer with that phrase. Indeed, mentioning “in Jesus’ name” at the end of every prayer is never a requirement.

When the Bible tells us to pray in Jesus’ name (Jn. 16:23-24), it means first and foremost that we must be mindful of the fact that we are able to approach the holy throne of the Father only through the mediation of our Savior Jesus and by virtue of our union with Him (Jn. 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 1:3; Heb. 4:16); and, secondly, that our prayers must always be in line with the will of Christ (Jn. 15:7). Since Jesus is our Lord, His priorities must be our priorities, and Christ's main priority is summarized in this way:
"Our Father in heaven,
Hollowed be your name.
May your kingdom come,
And your will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven..."
All our subsequent supplications must be consistent with and subservient to this overarching priority. Our requests must be to the glory (hollowing) of God's name and for the propagation of the Kingdom of Jesus on earth as it is in heaven. We must therefore stop making self-serving requests sealed by superstitious mantras like “I declare in Jesus’ name!” To pray in Jesus’ name is to subject your will to Christ, not Christ's to yours. This is how we truly pray “in Jesus’ name", and there's a promise attached to it:
"If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." (Jn. 14:14)