Saturday, October 9, 2010

Predestination and Eschatology

I believe in predestination – not at all as the Reformers conceived of it, but as scripture presents it in the cosmic, eschatological vision of the Apocalypse. I believe in predestination as seen in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, in whom the blessed end is present from the beginning. I believe in predestination as revealed in the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. I believe in predestination as visioned by Julian of Norwich: All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

What does it look like, this eschatological predestination?

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev 21:1-8, NKJV).

It looks like the consummation of all things in Christ Jesus, the renewal of all things in him according to the foreknowledge and will of God. It looks like the free choice of all men honored by God: the water of life granted to those who thirsted for it and the lake of fire bequeathed to those who refused to turn from it. It looks like the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven – a kingdom come in answer to the prayer Jesus taught us and made us bold to pray.

1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever (Rev 22:1-5, NKJV).

It looks like life and healing and purity and worship and light – the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus, a light penetrating and transforming and finally shining from the righteous, the sons and daughters of men made sons and daughters of God. It looks like blessing.

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie (Rev 22:14-15, NKJV).

It looks like – and this is where I must depart from the Reformers – invitation, not for some, but for all.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely (Rev 22:17, NKJV).

This is the great predestination of God: that in his abundant mercy he determined from before the beginning of creation the glorious end of creation and determined to make available to all who freely come to him, freely the water of life.

So, I believe in predestination: that our sovereign God, by his sovereign choice made from before all creation, will put all things to rights, for our God is righteous; that our merciful Savior, slain from the foundations of the world, offers light and life to all men, for our God is gracious and the lover of mankind.

Our God, who spoke the first word of creation, speaks also the first word of new creation: a word predestined in the gracious will of God.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen (Rev 22:20-21, NKJV).

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