The birth and life of Jesus Christ was decreed by the Almighty God and just like any decree issued by any king, all those under his dominion should submit to the decree. Divine decrees are a focus of theologians because the decree is issued by God, who is sovereign. Another concept that is of interest to theologians is predestination which originates. Predestination represents the decree of election which is one of Gods eternal decrees. According to the book of Ephesians 1:3-6, God in his eternal love predestined us to be adopted as his sons through the blood of Jesus Christ based on the objective of his will so that we could praise his glorious grace, which he has blessed us with as his beloved(Sproul 5).
The eternal decrees of God, which include the decree predestination, agree that the purpose of election is to achieve salvation which is received through Jesus Christ. However, there are controversies around the decree of predestination which are reprobation and the basis upon which God has to make his choice to elect certain people to salvation. Reprobation focuses on the negative side of Gods decrees. The idea of double predestination means that if a person is not elected unto salvation then they fall into the class of reprobate.
Reprobation, however, is countered by the concept of prescience which elaborates that the election into salvation is based on Gods prior knowledge of the actions that people will engage in. nonetheless, the scriptures in the book of Ephesians 1:5, explains that predestination is determined exclusively on the good pleasure and the will of God. The fact that predestination is not based on the actions of an individual but rather the will of God makes many believe that God is tyrannical. However, Gods plan for salvation is based on his righteousness and as such he cannot desire to do something bad.
When the concept of predestination is presented, questions come to mind on the role of man in his own salvation whether it is through his actions and efforts that he will receive salvation. Monergism and synergism are concepts that have been presented to elaborate on salvation. Monergism believes that salvation is based on the efforts of man, while synergism believes that it is the collaborative efforts of man and God that enable salvation of a man. Monergistic regeneration believes that faith which is an act of God is regenerated through his will. Therefore, God mediates to the hearts of the elect which he has chosen through predestination and alters the disposition of their soul.
The concept of salvation and specifically the order in which one attains salvation in terms of faith and regeneration has been the cause of the difference between reformed theology and non-reformed theology. Most Christians believe that faith precedes regeneration, and, therefore, one has to believe before they are born again. However, the capability of God to change the heart of man indicates that regeneration precedes faith. In essence, the Holy Spirit alters the nature of a mans soul before he/she comes to faith. The concept of regeneration before faith is the core of reformed theology. The doctrine of justification is attained through faith is a concept that was defended by martin Luther and John Calvin alike because they felt that the gospel was at stake when justification is under debate.
The concept of faith has been the source of many conflicts between theologians and doctrines alike. The relationship between faith, salvation, justification and sanctification is a rather complex one. Consequently the relationship between faith and works has been the source of differences in the interpretation of the different decrees of God. Ultimately, mans interpretation of the concept of faith has led to different interpretation of the objectives of Gods decree of predestination and salvation.
Gods decrees that have led to great debate and the distinction between religious denominations are the decrees of predestination and faith. The concepts of monergism and synergism developed from the decree of predestination and salvation. And they attempt to explain Gods decrees and the idea of salvation. The decree of justification has led a different interpretation which has led to a distortion in the original meanings of justification. Martin Luther believed that a justified man could be just and sinful at the same time. The Roman Catholic Church believes that it would be unworthy of God to declare a sinful person as just. The scriptures state that cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law and do the. Therefore, a person becomes justified by the law, even though in some cases faith alone becomes the justification for instance in the case of Abraham who was not justified by the law. A case in point, he lied about his wife to the king and it is the king who was punished instead.
These two interpretations present the concepts of analytical and synthetic justification. Despite the different interpretations that distinguish the denominations most of the decrees that are presented in Christianity are similar. It is of interest, therefore, to understand if the different interpretations in the decree of predestination and justification were resultant from ambiguity in the scriptures. Alternatively, different interpretations of the meanings could have resulted from the understanding and conviction of the different theologians who influenced their understanding on others. The concept of perseverance especially of the saints explains further the decree of predestination and election. The elect will remain elect and this is what justifies their perseverance even in extremely tough situations where a normal human being will break.
The decree of predestination and the sovereignty of God fall on all those under his dominion, consequently even those who are not elect will be under the decree of predestination. However, the concept of predestination and election contradicts the fact that he cannot wish bad on the non-elect because election is based on his good will. Salvation and whether it may be lost also presents another concept that is under controversy because while certain scriptures present Christ as a craftsman who is interested to mold us in his own image. It is imperative, therefore, that he does not intend to throw us away. However, certain scriptures warn against being undisciplined in body which will lead to disqualification 1 corinthians 9:27.
Religion is bound to create controversies because the interpretations of the scriptures and the quantity of the text are subject to ambiguity in understanding some of the text. Additionally, the understanding of the scriptures is based on human minds which are inferior to God who inspired the writing of these scriptures. Consequently, the understanding of these controversies can only be perfected if it is the will of God.
The confession of sins
According to Romans 10:13-17 whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, however, even though this is true it is questioned how one who has not believed will call upon the lord to be saved. The decree of predestination is presented in different scriptures that indicate that justification is achieved through the forgiveness of sins and not through infusion of righteousness (Romans 8:30). Justification allows for believers to be partakers of the grace of adoption through Jesus Christ so that they can be able to benefit in the privileges of God. Regeneration leads to the creation of a new heart and spirit which leads to increased sanctification which results from the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection (Young 58).
Gods decrees of predestination and justification are presented in such a way that they develop each other that is one decree leads unto another. These concepts revolve around the death of Jesus Christ and by it forgiveness was available to all those who believed. In several contexts justification has been observed to be achieved through forgiveness of sins that is possible through repentance. Alternatively justification can be achieved through obeying the law. The creation of a new heart and soul is attained through the belief that Jesus Christ died for our sins and through this regeneration is achieved. The decree of salvation, justification and sanctification all revolve around Jesus Christ who died for the sins of mankind so that they that believe will be saved and considered partakers of the grace of God.
Sproul, R C. Everyone's a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. , 2014. Print.
Young, W S. The Confession of Faith: The Larger and Shorter Catechisms : with the Scripture-proofs at Large : Together with the Sum of Saving Knowledge, (contained in the Holy Scriptures, and Held Forth in the Said Confession and Catechisms,) and Practical Use Thereof : Covenants, National and Solemn League ... 1842. Print
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