It’s a privilege to know people from all continents and to have listeners to Istoria Ministries from around the world. One such listener, Skyelar, lives in Australia. Recently she reached out via social media with a question she wanted me to answer. What follows is our conversation. I share it with her permission.
I hope the back-and-forth between Skyelar and me brings as much encouragement to you as it did to me. You may disagree with my theology of Justification by Grace through Faith. Still, I’d like for you to marvel at the rapid manner in which this young lady from Australia works through doctrinal issues to come to a place of rest in God’s unconditional love for her soul.
THE CONVERSATION BEGINS
SKYELAR: Hello, Wade! I hope all is well! Katrina said she had enjoyed your book! We’re following your Isaiah study. If and when you have time, Katrina and I were wondering if you could offer some resources/input concerning the Scriptures and whether or not they are sufficient to guide the lives of Christians, or does God give extra-biblical revelation to us through prophecies, visions, and dreams, similar to the manner He spoke to the prophets in the Old Testament?
WADE: Skyelar, I wish you a Happy New Year as well! Prophets had a particular gifting – they saw visions, had dreams, and heard directly from the LORD. The Bible, composed of Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, is a good guide. The ancient word for the Bible was CANON which meant “ruler.” A 5th-century Christian followed the ruler (the Bible) and lived quite well. To live a Christian life, it was unnecessary to have extra-biblical revelation from God. John McArthur’s STRANGE FIRE is an excellent book on the subject. I don’t agree with everything John McArthur writes. For example, I believe spiritual gifts – including miracles – still occur today), BUT MCArthur’s chapter on extra-biblical revelation is excellent.
SKYLAR: Hello, Wade! Thank you so much for your time in responding! We’ve been focusing on weighing everything said against Scripture so far all day today. That, and the resource you sent, has helped pinpoint the differences between the “decrees and declarations” and false prophets. So really appreciate it. McArthur mentions some reformed theology statutes. I haven’t delved much into reformed theology against Scripture, but predestination is a reoccurring theme. What is your take on reformed theology and predestination? I love the help and studies. And thank you so much for taking the time to offer resources and insight/discussion points. God bless!
WADE: My favorite book is John Gill’s The Doctrines of God’s Everlasting Love to His Elect and Their Eternal Union with Christ (written in the 1700s). You can find it FREE on Google Books. That book – a classic – explains the love of God for YOU – and all the elect – in a way that will blow your mind. It’s “predestination,” but I much prefer “justification from eternity” as the term. Blessings!
GOD’S EVERLASTING LOVE FOR HIS ELECT
Skyelar reads John Gill’s The Doctrines of God’s Everlasting Love to His Elect and Their Eternal Union with Christ Skyelar then messages me.
SKYELAR: Okay….so I understand (and it makes logical sense) that justification precedes faith because of our own, we cannot find faith, and if we did, it could be said that our salvation is found in Christ’s sacrifice through OUR faith, which makes it a work, which makes it Christ plus something when Christ alone saves us. I logically follow we are chosen to be justified before we have faith. But…how does that work with free will? I’m curious as to the logical underpinnings.
WADE: Yes, indeed! Rest in “justification precedes faith,” and you will never doubt the love of the Father for you – personally, unconditionally, and eternally! But beware! This biblical, logical, mind-blowing doctrine really gets people riled up! It’s one of the reasons that I love people who disagree with me on this subject and don’t press the doctrine on others who are not searching. When the LORD is ready to open the eyes of His child to the truth of “God’s Everlasting Love to His Elect,” nothing else in life will ever take precedence over that child’s loving relationship with the Creator. I am grateful for your love for Him, but even more appreciative of HIS love for you and me!
SKYELAR SENDS THREE MESSAGES IN A ROW:
SKYELAR: So….if Christ’s sacrifice justifies us and Christ died for all, does that then mean all are justified? But then He “chooses His elect”, which implies some are not? Why would He not choose all? How does free will work into this? I fear this one answer opens up many more questions. Any insight? It does make sense, too, that it is not OUR faith the count to sanctify us, but faith from justification. That also aligns with “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. “ Which is great comfort…I’m just curious as to the ramifications arising from the resulting questions above.
SKYELAR: Okay….so… We are redeemed by faith alone in Christ alone through JUSTIFICATION alone? Our faith is no longer an act of ours but arises from God’s choosing to justify us. But maybe free will comes from accepting the faith arising from justification. But then we are at square one, where it is our work. So that can’t be it. And still doesn’t answer my queries of choosing to redeem all or not and free will itself. I know, logically, it slots in with the rest of Scripture. So it is true. But to love, free will also has to exist. So how does it slot in? And again, the choice of choosing some and not others? To love Him would be a byproduct of being chosen, for we love because He first loved us…so again, that makes sense… thinking on the fly here of what I know… Wait….to love requires free will…but does free will not also arise from being CHOSEN? God had to CHOOSE for us to have free will to love Him, which to love Him requires He LOVED us first, which aligns with Him CHOOSING us….. So what about choosing some and not others? Why are some not chosen to be justified? And is my logic even correct? Or are there gaps/inaccuracies? Just sort of stunned here while my mind slowly ticks…
SKYELAR: Okay. So we can only love God because He first loved us. Which follows that He would create us with free will arising out of that love that we might love Him back because love requires both parties to love each other freely. Otherwise, it isn’t love. But if God loves all, then it would follow. He would choose to justify all to save all. And we know Christ died to save all. But only those who accept Christ are saved. But…that puts the work back on the believer? Though if we have faith in Christ’s sacrifice arising from God choosing to justify us then we are back to square one: if it is not our work, and it is God’s, why are not all saved? Unless, in God’s sovereignty, He knows the free will choices of all and knows who would be saved and thus “predetermines” to justify them?
WADE: Concerning Christ’s sacrifice: ALL are justified if Christ died for ALL sinners. Universalists like Paul Young, author of The Shack, and my friend and Hebrew scholar Dr. David Darnell are “hopeful universalists.” They believe Christ died for ALL sinners. I believe Christ died for the ELECT (“You shall call His name Yeshua for He shall save HIS PEOPLE ( e.g., the One’s the Father has chosen) from their sins (Matthew 1:21). I believe the biblical teaching is best called PARTICULAR REDEMPTION – Christ died for a PARTICULAR people and saves them through HIS WORK. The Father elects sinners; Christ redeems sinners the Father has chosen, and the Spirit sanctifies those the Son has redeemed. In the ORDER of God’s Decrees, the decree to ALLOW Adam to fall into sin WAS FIRST! God did not MAKE Adam sin; he just decreed that He would allow Adam to sin). The DECREE to save the elect OUT OF FALLEN MANKIND came after the decree to permit sin. God CHOOSES SINNERS TO SAVE, not innocent mankind to save. This may be a minor point to you, but it’s significant to me. God decrees to save sinners. He doesn’t decree to damn innocent people.
WADE: Finally, I am heading out the door for a day full of appointments. I think you know that I believe a person who lives his or her life in sin is DESTROYED by the Creator in the judgment. They die a SECOND TIME. They cease to exist. I NEVER speak to SINNERS WHO HAVE NOT REPENTED about God’s decrees. I tell them of God’s grace in Jesus Christ and point them to the Savior, BUT I KNOW, they will never desire, never believe, never choose, never follow without REGENERATION BY THE SPIRIT occurring FIRST. To be BORN AGAIN is a work of God’s GRACE. Finally (and I’ll have to close out), we are NOT justified by FAITH. We are justified by GRACE – THROUGH FAITH – God justifies. The evidence of His justification in you is that you BELIEVE. But Faith is as much of a gift of God’s grace as REPENTANCE. “For by GRACE are you saved THROUGH faith, and that FAITH is not of yourselves, but the gift of God – LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST (Paul in Ephesians).
AN EYE-OPENING AND MIND-BLOWING UNDERSTANDING OF GRACE
SKYELAR: Whoooakay! What you said makes sense and just clicked! So….we DID have the free will to choose. And, of course (I should have seen it), we all CHOSE to sin. We’ve already made our choice! And He is justified in condemning us all. We are all “dead in sin.” But He CHOSE an elect few to justify and redeem. While we were still sinners…And we are back to the original revelation, where He chooses to justify a select few by His grace, and Christ’s sacrifice and faith arise from that justification… Wow. That makes so much sense, makes everything click in, and clarifies so much… it’s just incredible… Thank you for your time and responses…I think this is going to take a long time to sink in…
WADE: Boom! Drop…the…mic. Just one little “tweak” – I believe God chose to “elect many” (not few). The Gospel starts as a seed and grows into a Tree. God will never be “outdone” by man’s sin. The innumerable company of God’s elect – from every nation, family, and ethnic group of the world, will number MORE than those He rightly and justly condemns for their sins. Blessings, Skyelar! Glad you get it!
SKYELAR: This is just astounding…like a veil has been lifted. And answers so many questions I didn’t even know I had but it all slots in to a multitude of passages in the Bible….it’s like finding the real person behind a photo of the person I’ve been given…I’ve grown up hearing about being justified by grace through faith alone, and hearing how we are all dead in sin, etc…But it was always subconsciously focused on faith and if faith, I could never reconcile how God alone redeemed us because faith in the context it was put made it a work on our end. But it aligned with the concept of free choice. Now I feel like I’ve been gladly hit over the head with a dozen lightbulbs going off and a dozen curious puzzle pieces slotting in! It’s NOT by our faith in God’s grace to justify and the free will choice is not at the point of accepting Christ but has already been chosen, resulting in us being dead in our sin BEFORE. Ergo HE SAVES SINNERS. I am just gobsmacked! Of course!! I was curious how it all fit in with His justice when asking why He would not choose to save all but that subconsciously presumed we were all innocent when He elected those He would elect And it all just makes so much sense with everything else! How we love because He first loved us. How our redemption is wholly His work and not ours. Etc., etc. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to be proverbially hit over the head with sudden realization This is astounding!!! Thank you! And THANK GOD!!!!!!
WADE: Skyelar, you are an inspiration to me. I’d love to publish our exchange on my Istoria website with your permission. I think it is time for more people to be captivated by God’s grace and love! If you permit, I’d love to publish this. This will help SO MANY as they process the truth of God’s grace.
SKYELAR: Yes! You have my permission. I pray that our exchange does help open other peoples’ eyes to the truth of God’s grace. And I should thank you for bearing with my multitude of questions and offering resources, insight, and clarification. And praise God for opening my eyes to it all! By His grace….WOW! I found a song today. On YouTube by Jeremy Camp called DEAD MEN WALKING. I feel the song seems entirely appropriate in light of our conversation.