Spring break edition. I’m taking a break for a few days. During that time, I’ll be giving you a sampling of the Q&A that you’ll find in leader’s guides for the Casual English Bible. In the guides, I provide discussion questions along with info Bible study leaders can use to help the group talk about the question. Here’s one question from the leader’s guide for Ephesians.
QUESTION. Paul serves up a big plate of predestination in this chapter, or so it seems to many Christians. Paul says “God chose us. Even before he created the world, he decided that we should be his children” (1:4). Who do you think Paul was talking about? People destined by God to become Christians? Or all people everywhere, whom God invited into his family?
ANSWER. There’s a debate regarding how much free will human beings actually have when it’s compared to God’s sovereign power over people. Many Christians follow in the theological tradition of Anglican preacher John Wesley (1703-1791, United Kingdom), insisting that God chooses everyone for salvation but that not everyone accepts the invitation. Churches that emphasize this kind of free will include the United Methodist Church, Salvation Army, Church of the Nazarene, and the Wesleyan Church. Other Christians follow in the theological tradition of French theologian and pastor John Calvin (1509-1564). He argued that God himself decides who will be saved and who will not be saved. Churches that teach this understanding include many Baptists, Presbyterians, and many nondenominational congregations.