God’s election of a predestined group

The debate about Calvinism vs Arminianism sometimes center around the issue of predestination.  Everyone believes that God does predestine, but to what extent are we predestined to?  God has predestined that Christ should live within the believer in order to be saved, but the question is: Does God predestine a certain chosen or elected smaller remnant of people to be saved?  Scripture seems to point to this.

Certainly Israel was chosen, as the Apostle Paul points out here in Romans 8:28-30,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:28-30, NIV)

Calvinists would say that predestination is explicit in this passage of scripture, however, Arminians would interpret this verse to imply that God’s prevenient grace is universally offered to all people, regardless of whether or not they’ve heard the gospel. In a way, this grace also renders the person “neutral” so that they can decide themselves whether to accept or reject Christ (see Monergism).

In the Old Testament, Paul quoted Moses and makes it clear that only a remnant will be saved to continue on as the surviving and true Israel,

“For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children…” (Rom. 9:6-8)

Furthermore, the argument of whether God is truly merciful or not is clear in the Old Testament. Paul quotes Moses from Exodus 33:19,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Rom 9:14)

This begs us to wonder: “What if my son or daughter, brother or sister, is neither predestined or called by God?”  Ouch.  A loving father, mother, sibling or spouse, would feel a deep heart-ache if they knew that their loved one was not predestined to be with the Lord on the Last Day.

Another question might be: What about all the other millions of people around the world who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus?  Are they not predestined to be saved?

I still have unanswered questions, but for me, come what may, I still believe that God is a sovereign God and will place my bets on God’s mercy, grace and love.

 

 

A Father’s Letter to His Daughters…

Here is a blog post from Brandon Andress about his love for his daughters. It is beautifully written so I repost it here. It is found at: https://brandonandress.com/2013/02/11/a-fathers-letter-to-his-daughters/

brandon andress

I have been thinking a lot lately.

I have been thinking about all of our mornings at Starbucks and the conversations we have had about God and life.

I have been thinking about all the nights we laid in your bed and asked questions and talked about all of your dreams.

I have been thinking about all the hikes we have taken and how we talked about beauty and peace and contentment and joy.

Those are the most amazing moments I have ever had in my life.

I will never forget them as long as I live.

But while we have shared in so many special moments and had so many amazing conversations, in too many ways, I have been the stereotypical man, unable to fully open up and express my heart and my feelings to you.

So first let me say that, even though I tell you every night…

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Resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord – Happy Easter!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.  This Sunday, Christians will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus whom God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit, raised from the dead to defeat sin, death and evil.  Praise the Lord!

The resurrection is God’s living proof to the disciples, and to us today, that he will fulfill his promise to also resurrect us on the Last Day.  It is the power of God that enables us to receive the good news…to see it and believe it that your sins are really and truly forgiven. The good news is that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven by God.  Praise the Lord!

St. John and St. Peter at Christs Tomb. Artist: Giovanni Francesco Romanelli

Easter Prayer of Confession

Gracious Father,
you sent your Son to die and rise to new life
in order that death might be brought to an end
and that we might live a new life in Him.

Yet we confess that we too often have chosen to remain
captive to doubt and fear and ways that lead to death.
By our thoughts, words, and actions,
we have scorned your love,
diminished the lives of others,
and defaced your image in us.

Father, forgive us for Jesus’ sake,
and enable us by His resurrection power
to live no longer for ourselves
but for Him who died and rose again for us. Amen.

(Prayer from: http://www.missionalchallenge.com/easter-prayer-of-confession/#.VtpVQpwrKhc)

Title: The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection.  Eugene Burnand (1850-1921)

In this painting, the artist captured Peter and John’s sense of urgency and determination.  There is also a sense of uncertainty and anxiety mixed with excitement (“could it really be true that our Lord is alive?”)  Some of us might have these same feelings. Pray that the Holy Spirit may give you certainty of Jesus resurrection and life hidden in Christ Jesus.

United Airlines disrespectfully kicked passenger off flight

Yesterday, we returned from Taiwan back to Canada on EVA Airlines (a Taiwanese airline).  I am glad to say that we received great customer service from their stewardesses and customer service reps on the ground. I was impressed with how EVA Airlines took care of us and treated us with respect.  I would fly EVA again and recommend them to anyone flying international. They even offered to change the date/time of our return flight free-of-charge (provided their were available seats due to cancellation), and by the way, the food was good too.


I just saw in the news today about a passenger who had a disastrous experience with United Airlines.  It was all over the news and on YouTube videos gone-viral. This paying passenger was violently forced off flight 3411 because they overbooked.

United Airlines needed to fly four of their own employees and needed passengers to give up their seats. No one volunteered when they offered $400 hotel voucher, which was then increased to $800 and still no one volunteered.  Then they randomly picked four passengers to remove from the flight. This last one refused to leave.  The passenger hadn’t done anything wrong but they treated him in an unbelievably disrespectful way.

United Airlines failed to plan, and handled this in a very disastrous way. First, this is not a criminal matter. It was their own fault of failing planning but yet, they brought in police who used force to remove a customer off the plane.  Unbelievable!  This customer was not a criminal.  Police should only be involved if it’s a criminal matter.  A very bad move by United Airlines. It showed disrespect toward this passenger who was a doctor and had patients to see the next day.

Second, they should have used persuasion.  Customers can be persuaded to volunteer to give-up their seat.  If they had offered a $1,500-2,000 cash credit for a flight of their choice to be used in the future, someone would have offered to volunteer… heck, I might even be tempted to. After this disaster, I think United Airlines will be losing millions of dollars in customer revenue–not just hundreds.  I certainly would not fly United Airlines and I foresee many thousands will not be choosing to fly with United in the future. No one should be treated in this abhorrently disrespectful manner.  Even if UA had a right to decline a passenger their flight, it should never treat any customer in such disrespectful manner.

Years ago, Air Canada messed up a flight my wife and I were on but I will always remember.  The airline asked the entire plane who leave due to engine problems, and it happened twice in the same evening.  It was way past midnight.  The only thing Air Canada offered us later was a $250 voucher off a future flight, without an offer for hotel over night. It was a joke, and I was furious and chose not fly Air Canada for many years after that horrible incident.

New domain name for this blog?

I have been thinking about getting a new domain name for this blog. Years ago, I lost a previous domain name for NewEpistles but didn’t have time to blog anyway.  Now, I’ve been thinking it still might be good to have a dedicated one that is free from WordPress’ secondary free domain.  I’m debating whether to switch.  I really don’t blog much but I’ve have had more time to blog more than usual while I’ve been vacationing here in Taiwan these several weeks (but returning today).

Pray for God’s wisdom to guide President Trump

Pray for President Trump and an ethical and moral leadership to carry his Administration through the unilateral attack on Syria’s airbase.

President Assad used chemical gas Sarin to kill innocent Syrian civilians including men, women and children. He is a cruel authoritarian who destroyed his own country and created a huge refugee crisis around the world.  Assad has shown a disdain toward his own Syrian people, forcing them to leave their homes and their country because he didn’t like their views.

This is a crucial time for President Trump because he is exerting a much-needed American leadership in a chaotic world.  There is a need for a more stable Syrian situation in the world.  Pray that God would guide President Trump and give him wisdom.

Doing Good Works: Praying, Fasting, Charitable Giving

Some devoted Christians around the world will be observing Holy Week starting this coming Saturday till Sunday, 9-15th of April 2017. For many this can be set aside as a holy time for praying, fasting, giving alms and doing charitable deeds to help the underprivileged. What a special time!


An angel in Acts, announced to the devoted Cornelius that his prayers of thanksgiving and almsgiving were remembered by God. He is about to come to know Christ.  Acts 10:3-4 says,

3 “About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror, and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God…” (RSV)

Here’s a seemingly simplistic but a spiritual question:
If God recognizes and remembers our prayers and charitable giving, then shouldn’t we be encouraged to pray more and give more? 

Our obvious answer would naturally be “Yes!” but our good works of praying and almsgiving can either be both a good work or they can be done purely out of genuine faith.  Martin Luther cautioned that none of our good works can earn any merit toward our salvation, or earn God’s recognition to merit more approval.  According to Paul, our human righteousness is worthless as rags.  Salvation and good works ought to be done only in faith.

Now here’s a bit of theology to get your head around… If you are past the “human religion” stage and couldn’t care less about trying to earn salvation or earn God’s favor by being a good person, then that’s great!  You are set free to act in good faith to move on to do even more good works.  Since you’ve already been created into God’s beloved child, then you are set free from a human striving in order to please God (see Luther’s quote below).

Be encouraged to observe Holy Week with passion. Pray more, fast more, and be more charitable. Praise the Lord! Do your good works boldly. God loves it and hears it. 

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Martin Luther states in his A Treastise on Good Works (1520):

XVI. But you say: How can I trust surely that all my works are pleasing to God, when at times I fall, and talk, eat, drink and sleep too much, or otherwise transgress, as I cannot help doing? Answer: This question shows that you still regard faith as a work among other works, and do not set it above all works. For it is the highest work for this very reason, because it remains and blots out these daily sins by not doubting that God is so kind to you as to wink at such daily transgression and weakness. Aye, even if a deadly sin should occur (which, however, never or rarely happens to those who live in faith and trust toward God), yet faith rises again and does not doubt that its sin is already gone;…