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Once saved

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4,5).

I had a conversation about Calvinism recently with a young person. We were speaking of a couple that had left the church for a community church that taught Calvinism. My young friend observed, insightfully I thought, that they like the teaching because they assume that they were among those destined to be saved.

How nice for them. They were saved. God had determined that they would be so, and so they were.

But what about those who were not saved? Any compassion or concern on the part of the “saved” for them?

I also thought of those who bore the burden of this heavy doctrine in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Interestingly these people did not assume they were saved; they were terrified they might be lost. I think that, as much as anything else, explains the mania, the terror, the emotions at the great Cane Ridge meeting in 1801. What swept through this vast throng was the fear that they might be lost, that they would have no communion with God.

I have deep respect for this response. Who are we to presume upon God? How dare we assume he would forgive us because, well, we’re so swell?

If God forgave one person in history, that would be one more person than he was obliged to forgive. The fact is that he forgives multitudes, daily, sinful and unworthy people, is amazing grace.

God does not want “any to perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wants all to be saved. Apparently he does care about all those who were not “predestined” to be saved after all.

The factor that smashes the doctrine of predestination, my friends, is God’s grace. God’s grace is great enough to forgive every sinner whoever breathed. That grace does not forgive every person indicates not a failure on God’s part but on ours. God offers grace; humans respond to that grace. No one should take God’s mercy for granted; however, all should take his mercy because it is offered to all.

Israel’s great leader put it best: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

God chooses to love us all; we choose, if our hearts are tender, to respond.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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