To Reconcile Our Differences

This is another addition to my introduction for “The Complex Nature Of God’s Heart For Lost People.”  I felt that I should be more upfront about what I intend to learn more about and expound upon.  Please understand that this piece is not intended to explain or go into depth about the doctrine.  It is what it is- an introduction and basis upon which to build the things that I will write later.

To Reconcile Our Differences, So That We All May Rightly and In Unity Embrace God’s Heart For Lost People.

I pray and desire also that through this work God would grant His children His heart for lost people.  Let us examine the hard and seemingly contradictory texts that made me entitle this work “The Complex Nature Of God’s Heart For Lost People.”  May we not be so bound up in fear and misunderstandings, that we neglect to be “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom (we) shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:15).” 

It has seemed increasingly more important to me over the past couple of years to understand God’s heart for those who have been “predestined…for adoption through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5)” and for those “who long ago were designated for this condemnation (Jude 1:4).”  The importance of it seems to weigh upon me because of the discord this has past brought between myself and fellow believers (much to my sadness), and because of the wide spread misunderstandings and applications that are made on either side of the “Arminian” and “Calvinistic” fence. 

This is more than a doctrine to argue over or to try to understand simply for the sake of understanding it.  If we do not seek for God’s heart in the doctrine of election, than we are in grave danger of informing only our minds and not our hearts.  If we try and deny the doctrine of election we must forfeit scriptures and set up our own wisdom above the wisdom of God.  God’s heart is no doubt, difficult for us to comprehend when we consider the doctrine of election.  Many will outwardly deny its biblical truth so as to avoid having to wrestle and struggle with it.  In this denial they bypass the courage and hope that the doctrine of God’s sovereignty over sinners’ hearts can provide them as they prepare to evangelize.  Not only this, but to deny God’s sovereign right and ability to draw whomever He wishes to Himself, is in some cases to open a door of denial into many other aspects of God’s sovereignty, such as His control over unpleasant circumstances, diseases, natural disasters, and the list could go on. 

If we embrace the doctrine without considering the heart of God in it, not only for the saved, but also for those who ultimately perish, than we are in equal danger of becoming cold hearted.  A person might have great zeal for doctrinal soundness, but if their prayers for the lost are without anguish and their fervour for evangelism dwindles as their comprehension of election ascends, then they have missed out on finding God’s heart for lost people.  Their life reflects that they think it unnecessary to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15).”  They reason to themselves “God will save them with our without me” and use scripture to ease their guilty conscience falsely.

I want to start this work, with the same basis that J.I Packer introduced his book “Evangelism & The Sovereignty Of God.” 

“People see that the Bible teaches man’s responsibility for his actions; they do not see (man, indeed, cannot see) how this is consistent with the sovereign Lordship of God over those actions.  They are not content to let the two truths live side by side, as they do in the Scriptures, but jump to the conclusion that, in order to uphold the biblical truth of human responsibility, they are bound to explain away the great number of texts that teach it.  The desire to over-simplify the Bible by cutting out the mysteries is natural to our perverse minds, and it is not surprising that even good men should fall victim to it.  Hence this persistent and troublesome dispute.  The irony of the situation however, is that when we ask how the two sides pray, it becomes apparent that those who profess to deny God’s sovereignty really believe in it just as strongly as those who affirm it.

How, then do you pray?  Do you ask God for your daily bread?  Do you thank God for you conversion?  Do you pray for the conversion of others?  If the answer is ‘no’, I can only say that I do not think you are yet born again.  But if the answer is ‘yes’- well, that proves that, whatever side you may have taken in debates on this question in the past, in your heart you believe in the sovereignty of God no less firmly than anyone else.  On our feet we may have arguments about it, but on our knees we are all agreed.  And it is this common agreement, of which our prayers give proof, that I take as our starting point now.”

And so not for the sake of controversy, but for the sake of Christ, the lost, and for my joy and yours, I have determined to labour to understand and write about God’s heart for lost people.  As the title of this work declares, I am striving to understand something far beyond me in complexity and depth:  the nature of God’s heart.  Absolutely, my understanding is going to fall far short.  But just because the mountain of the knowledge of the Holy is an impossible mountain to climb, that does not mean that through prayer, scripture, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we do not begin to climb it;  And for certain, it is God’s will that we would climb it.

So let this be our prayer, that we “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19).”  Indeed, His love is so beyond our human comprehension, so vast and so wide, that we must ask God for the strength to comprehend it.

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