1. Can you explain how our choices affect God’s election, if at all? i.e. people denying, accepting or forsaking the Gospel?
The monergistic view (1-handed salvation, or salvation based solely on God’s choice) believes that when God sets out to have a relationship with a person, then God will make sure that this relationship will inevitably happen (Romans 8:29-30). Ultimately, if someone denies or forsakes the Gospel then this decision gives evidence that their faith may not have been real (1 John 2:18-19). We can never know the state of another’s soul, but if one does not love and follow Jesus there is no reason to feel confident in their salvation.
2. How can we explain God’s selection of who is saved to unsaved friends without making him sound harsh or cruel?
This would not be a subject that I would focus on with a non-Christian. However, if it comes up, I would expect nothing less than a person with a Western mindset to view this element of God’s character as harsh and cruel. The mindset of a non-Christian will always find something about God’s character to reject (Romans 8:7-8). Our responsibility is to share the Gospel by our words and deeds with the world around us.
3. I still have a hard time reconciling in my brain how some people are not chosen and therefore destined for hell. Should I live ignoring this fact?
I think it is good for Christians to recognize that there are aspects of theology that are difficult and don’t make sense to us. This realization should drive us to be humble before God and ask Him for wisdom. Instead of ignoring the issue, I would recommend studying it since God has given us Scripture that specifically address the topic of election. This realization led Paul to have a great burden for the Lost (Romans 9:2-3).
Also, sometimes we are asking questions from a different angle than the Bible. Instead of asking why God doesn’t save more/other/all people, the Bible approaches this subject with awe that God would save any of us (Romans 3:10-24).
4. 1) salvation is all from God. We are dead in our sin and dead people cannot choose God. 2) God is SO different from us. He chose (predestined) who would be saved before the earth was created. AND. There is not a fixed number of Elect. What are the benefits of applying both of these truths to our life??
I would need to modify or clarify the question before I could answer it. I believe there is a fixed number of the Elect, since God will definitely save those whom he predestined to save (Romans 8:29-30, see answer 1 above). However, humans do not know this number nor do we know who is a part of this number. We should be burdened for the lost, like Paul (Romans 9:2-3). We also respond like Paul, by preaching the Gospel to all in full confidence that God will truly save others through this message (Romans 10:14-15).
5. If it is one-handed, where does our acceptance by faith fit in that. Isn’t that something we do?
Faith is a human response of placing one’s trust and obedience in the Lord. The question, for the one-handed approach, is how does one change from a heart that is hostile to God (Romans 8:7) to one that places faith in God? Romans 8:8 states, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Here, Paul is claiming that people apart from God do not possess the ability to do anything that brings pleasure to God. Certainly an act of faith would be found pleasing to God. I believe that the faith that brings one salvation and a relation with God is God’s gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).
6. If God is technically outside of time is it worthwhile or even accurate to put His “choices” into order?
Keep in mind The Supra/Infralapsarianism debate is not attempting to create a chronological order of God’s choices. The attempt is to find God’s highest priority amongst the decrees He made before time existed. This is certainly difficult since there is limited Scriptural evidence on the matter. It is probably best viewed as a minor issue with little benefit, if any.
The one aspect that I try to focus on is the fact that God chose his elect in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). This means that God’s plan, from before time, included sin (the Fall), a savior from sin, and a people that would be saved. I believe the order of these things can be debated but the fact that God preordained them is clear.
7. If God chose people before they were born, then isn’t he ultimately responsible for sin and for those who are not saved?
I strongly recommend reading Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility by D. A. Carson. He deals with a number of Old Testament text that present God as the ultimate cause of sin but man who is held responsible. This creates a tension for the reader but it is one that many authors of the Bible hold.
On Sunday, Mike explained that God partners with people’s desire to live as God instead of worshiping Him as God. This is exemplified in the story of the Plagues of Egypt in Exodus:7-12. Notice how both Pharaoh and God are depicted as the ones who hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
8. What are the problems with Arminianism?
True, historic, Arminianism believes that a person’s will is the ultimate deciding factor in their salvation. They believe God tries to save everyone equally, but does not fully save anyone. They believe man can resist God’s grace and even hold to the possibility that man can sin enough to lose their salvation. This belief is highlights man’s will over God’s Sovereignty.
It is important to note that not everyone who rejects Calvinism/Reformed Theology/a one-handed approach to salvation is a true Arminian. Some people try to hold to tenants of both systems. For example: Believing that man’s will is the deciding factor in becoming saved (Arminianism) while at the same time believing that it is impossible for a person who was truly saved to ever lose their salvation (Calvinism). I believe it is difficult to hold parts of both views without having Scriptural and logical inconsistencies. But, to be fair, they would claim a one-handed approach is Scripturally inconsistent or unbalanced. So, ultimately at Genesis, we believe this is an area that should led us to have good discussions, agree to disagree, and continue to unite in worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.