8/05/2004

PREDESTINATION 5

I took a brief hiatus from the topic of predestination, in order to ponder it more, and research more. Tonight, I have only one verse to talk about. It is a verse hidden in Acts, and not very well known. Here it is.

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. Acts 16:14 (emphasis mine)

Take a close look at the words I emphasized, “the Lord opened her heart to respond”. It is clear from this verse that Lydia did not open her own mind, or heart, but that it was done for her by the Lord.

I took the liberty of checking out the Greek word used for “opened”. It is dianoigo, and it literally means to open, to be opened, to have been explained. This word is only used four times in the entire New Testament, and each time, it was used when the Lord opened someone’s mind to the Word.

In the disciple’s case, when Jesus did it, it was used to open their minds to the memorized or written word. When Lydia’s mind was opened, it was opened to the spoken word. No other usage of this word is found anywhere in the New Testament. It has only been used in reference to the Lord's opening of someone’s mind, and they then understanding, then believing.

The root word for dianoigo is dianoia, which means of the mind, of the inner person, including the place where choices are made, the seat of which is the heart. This word is only used a total of seven times in the New Testament, each time referring to the entire mind, or place where choices are made. The first three times are used in the same quote found in three different gospels, that quote being the most important Law, which is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind (dianoia).”

The other four times it is used is the following; Colossians 1:21, Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16, and 1 Peter 1:13. The first three listed are the same verse taken from Jeremiah, when the Lord tells us He will write his Law on our minds. The verse from 1 Peter speaks of preparing our minds for action. The entire context of that verse is many verses long, and speaks in the end of focusing on the grace which is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Literally, that verse speaks in reference to the inner mind which belongs to Christ if we are saved.

The reason I went into this long researching of two words is simple. First, it is very rare to find such words as we have looked at here in the Bible. While we use the word mind to mean several things, the Greek word here, dianoia is very succinct, it means only one thing, that mind which is opened, or written on by the Lord. The English word mind is used many, many times in the New Testament. The Greek word normally used for “mind is nous, although there are others. None are as pointed as the words dianoia (mind), or dianoigo, (opening of the mind), however. These two words only and always are used in reference to the Lord opening the mind or heart, or writing on the mind or heart. They are used for nothing else, no where else.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
The fact that Lydia’s mind was opened, and the disciples minds were opened speaks of a choice the Lord made. It does not speak of any choice the disciples, or Lydia made. They may have, after their minds were written on, and opened, made a choice to believe. But, without the Lord’s sovereign choice to open their minds to the gospel, His Word, they would not have believed, because they would not have understood. The key to believing is understanding, and if one is not made to understand, then one cannot believe.

If God writes His Law on our hearts and minds, does He do it only after we have believed? Or, does He do it so that we will believe. The evidence here is that Lydia, although a worshipper of God, was not a believer until God opened her heart to respond. She was most likely a Greek Jew, who knew nothing of the gospel until Paul preached it, and upon hearing it, would not have understood it to believe it unless the Lord had acted on her behalf.

Therefore, at least in Lydia’s, and the disciples' cases, it was the Lord who chose them first. Would it be prudent to say then that this is the case for all believers? Again, I say, unless one understands, it is impossible for them to believe, and how can they understand unless their minds are opened? We do not open our minds, God does that, for we couldn’t understand the foolishness of the gospel without His act of opening. Who could understand a man naked, nailed to a cross as an act of saviorhood? Who? Who could believe in the same man performing all the miracles He did, and acting powerless when it came to saving His own life? Who could believe such nonsense? I assure you, the world views this as nonsense, as utter foolishness. Ask a Muslim, or a Hindu what they would think of such a man. The only thing they would think was that He was dead, because He wasn’t very powerful after all.

Yet, you and I know differently, as if it is utter nonsense not to believe it. For us, it is foolishness not to believe. How can one explain the differences between the world and us if not for God’s first act of opening our minds? Certainly, we cannot rest on our own understanding, and say we chose Jesus, because if we say that, we nullify grace. Why? Because salvation comes to us through no effort, and no work of our own. The mere act of “choosing”, no matter how small an act, is still an act. And acts, or works do not save. Acts and works only cause us to boast, and Paul was clear when he said it was given to us as a gift specifically so we could not boast. The Lord has done it, and it is wonderful in our sight.
When it comes to free will, we can certainly truthfully say that God has it. I do not think we can say that we have it, at least not in the way God has free will.

4 comments:

Elaine said...

Tom, you brave soul, Predestination is probily the #1 topic most clergy avoid.
I find your understanding of it very intresting.Yet, I have never come across where in the Bible it is stated
"some" are chosen. This is from your first posting.
In Ephesians 1:1-14, the actual word "Predestination" is used twice. In every application I have studied when Paul uses the words "us" and "we" the extended meaning is "Mankind" not just belivers.
The Lord predestenatnated mankind (both men and women) whom were created in His likeness, for His glory.
Then enters free will. He alows man to use his brain above the capibilty of just servivle, we are graced with the ability to reason. We (mankind) are given the ability to make choices, becouse the Lord "gave" us that ability. So when anyone chooses to belive in the truth of the Living God, it is only becouse He allows it.
I belive this "choice" is given to All of mankind. God "knooks on the door to our heart" whether we answer is a God given choice, granted to us, not by us.
Yes God hardens some peoples heart. I wonder what kind of pain He feels when one of His creations reject him over and over. Yet even when He hardens someones heart He can still soften that same heart.God even tells us why ...Exodus 10:1&2, ...that you may know that I am the Lord.
Look at Romans 11:8-10
this is fulfillment of prophicy. A hardened heart is God's punishment given to those who continually refuse to hear God calling them. And they will loose the ability to understand God's Good News. This choise is still God given, even if they dont't understand.
God will punish whole nations who refuse to answer to Him. He has in the past and He will in the future.
Some belive every thing we do, and everything that happend to us is predestinated.
The only thing I know for sure is God is in controll.
We (Mankind) being made in the image of God, but not god's our selves,in no way can fathom the hights and depths of His enteligence no can we begin to imange the wonders of His love; when we joun Him we will know Him better. We never will be His equill, we are made to worship our King, and do for Him.

Elaine said...

To Everyone,
Please accept my apology for all the errors
Thank You

Tom Reindl said...

Elaine,

Thanks for your well thought out comment.

First, preachers stay away from predestination either because they don't understand it, or they don't want to offend people. I am not worried about offending people, because regardless of what I write, someone is always going to be offended. So, that can't be a reason for not writing, or talking about God's Sovereign choice.

I must gently disagree with you on this Elaine. Paul talks about the "chosen" numerous times in the New Testament. Romans 8:33, 11:5, 16:13, Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, James 2:5, and on and on and on. James was yet a different writer of scripture who also, as listed above, talked about God's choice of us. And let's not forget that Jesus calls us the elect.

God has ALWAYS worked through a chosen people. The new covenant didn't change that, it only changed who those people now are. Where once it was only Jews, now it is Gentiles as well. The idea of God's sovereign choice, of Predestination, is not a new idea. It has been around since Adam.

The idea of "free will", however, is a newer idea, not really ever being talked about until long after Jesus rose from the dead. In fact, there is not even one mention of man's free will in the entire Bible. Man's free will is a doctrine of man, not of God. That doesn't mean it doesn't feel like we make choices, because it certainly does.

Predestination, and God's choice of us is mentioned in the Bible in many ways and places. Free will isn't mentioned even once. The only will talked about in Scripture, is God's will. Why is it that in the one where we have so much evidence of it's truth, we deny it, whereas in the other where there is absolutley no evidence of it other than how we "feel", do we rest on it?

Answer? Because man doesn't like the idea of not being in control. It has been this way since Adam fell, and it will not change until Christ comes again. But the fact is, it doesn't matter if we like it or not. God doesn't require us to like it. It just is, and no amount of rearranging scripture, or making excuses as to why predestination doesn't really mean "predestination" is going to change that. We don't make God real, He makes us real. We didn't choose Jesus, He chose us.

Here is an analogy. If a swimmer is swimming, and all of a sudden tires, and begins to drown, is it up to him whether he lives or dies once he begins to drown? Then, there is the savior on the shore, watching as this swimmer is drowning. Much personal risk is at stake if he chooses to save this one. And it is his choice to swim out and save, or to let die. The swimmer is beyond any choices anymore, he is dying, and nothing he can do will save himself, unless the savior on the shore chooses to help him. The one is lost, dying without hope, and only grace will save him. The other is alive, and has a choice, whether to save, or let perish. But the one on the shore can see so much more than the one dying. he can see how every choice will affect everything else. The one dying can only see that he is dying, nothing else is any longer in his sight. Does he have a choice?

Elaine, this "doctrine" is heady stuff for anyone. It can test the limits of faith. That is why I have been saying all along that it doesn't matter if you believe it, just so long as you can leave room for it to be true, and still love God. We can't understand all things about God, because He has "chosen" to only reveal what He wants us to see, and predestination is one of those things. To believe it is to trust Him to know what He is doing. To deny it in the face of all the facts because one believes that if it is true, then God isn't a God they could love is like putting God in a box and saying, "This is the way you are God, and you don't get to be any other way". Can we really do that with God?

Elaine said...

Tom, even if we don't agree completly, we do both Put God First. I am doing more research, and you are correct, free will is not mentioned in the Bible.But....