Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
If you are thoroughly human, no doubt you have at times wondered if God has elected you to be saved. You know you need a Savior; and you know that lots of people are going to be lost. There are sincere Christians who actually believe that God elects some to be saved and others to be lost.
A text that appears to support that idea is Acts 13:48. Paul has been preaching the gospel in Antioch. Then Luke says: "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (King James Version). The New International Version says the same: "All who were appointed for eternal life believed." Sounds like discouraging Bad News for those who are not so "appointed" or "ordained." Some dear people actually give up in discouragement; they tell themselves, "It's too hard; youth say, temptation is too strong; I am sure God has not 'ordained' me to be saved; He hasn't 'appointed' me." Calvinists actually use this text to support their doctrine of double predestination.
But the Greek verb doesn't say what the KJV and NIV say. It is tetagmenoi, which means that the translation should read, "As many as appointed themselves for eternal life believed." In other words, they heard Paul preach the Good News; they said to themselves, "I want that! Paul's preaching is for me!" Once they made that decision, then immediately their hearts began to be melted; they learned to appreciate the cross of Christ that Paul was preaching, "they believed."
This has to be the correct understanding according to the context. In verse 46 Paul addressed the Jews who chose not to believe: "Seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." What they did was the opposite of what the believers did. Same idea, only in reverse. Those who believed were not acting out a preprogrammed agenda determined for them before the foundation of the world (Calvinist "predestination"); they took the truth to themselves, grabbed it, "judged themselves" to be favored of God with the gospel.
So, grab every ray of light that comes your way; don't wait a moment; "I made haste, and delayed not," says David (Psalm 119:60). The idea is not that God preaches the gospel indifferently, or only once in a while; the problem is that your own heart can become dull and unresponsive.
Believe the Good News now; everything that God has promised is for YOU.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 17, 1999.
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