Even Jesus’ disciples struggled to grapple with the doctrine of predestination. Today, R.C. Sproul describes how wrestling with this important doctrine can lead us to cherish the truth of God’s sovereign grace.
The normal human reaction to any teaching of sovereign election or divine predestination is a reaction that is negative, to say the least. Even those who embrace this doctrine usually don’t embrace it the first time they encounter it. Minimizing the effects of the fall upon the human race is so deeply rooted in our nature that even after we’re regenerated, we still have to struggle with any concept that would magnify God and minimize our contribution to salvation. And not only do we struggle with teachings about election and sovereign calling, but even the disciples in the New Testament had the same kind of a problem.
Do you remember the time when Jesus was talking about these things, and after He gave the so-called “hard sayings” that were really concerned with predestination, that many of His disciples left Him and walked with Him no more? And Jesus then turned to Peter and said, “Will you also go away?” And Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou alone hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:67–68).
Well, I like the second part of this, the response of Peter: “Thou alone hast the words of eternal life. There’s no sense going anywhere else. You have it.” But you see, there’s sort of an atmosphere there, even in Peter, of reluctance, like: “Well, I can’t stand this teaching either, but where can I go? You are the One that has the words of eternal life, so I guess I have to just grin and bear it, grit my teeth and acquiesce to the teaching whether I like it or not.”
And that I relate to because I remember, when I was first a Christian, I happened to come under the tutelage of a professor who was a convinced predestinarian, and he taught it in every class, and I fought it in every class. And the thing that finally turned me over to the concept—that was five years later before I submitted to it—but I had a little sign on my desk that said, “You are required to believe and to teach what the Bible says, not what you think it ought to say, or what you would like for it to say.”
And the thing that ultimately convinced me was Romans 8 and 9. But even then, I went through stages—that once I was convinced of the doctrine, I sort of accepted it like Peter did: “Alright, if that’s the way it is, then I will accept it and teach it.” But I still did not see the loveliness of it, the sweetness of it, the delight of the Lord and comfort that comes with a confidence that is borne of divine sovereignty.