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A common feature in online education is the “threaded discussion”, sometimes called a forum.  Typically threaded discussions begin with a particular topic or question posed by the professor.  In my courses each students makes an initial response to the topic/question, and then all the class jumps in with their secondary and tertiary responses.  Sometimes the discussion is comparable to a bull session with a lot of immediate or impulsive responses.  Other times, the discussion includes well thought out comments.  In any case, threaded discussions permit a good amount of interchange among the students, and the professor can add comments, questions, observations, challenges, encouragement, etc., as desired or needed.

Recently in one of my courses, the dozen or so students had discussion on “predestination.” Although what I hoped to see, but was not surprised to not see, was that someone would ask, “predestined to what?”  The class appeared to be assuming that predestination (being predestined) referred to ”being saved” in terms of the beginning of salvation (new birth, regeneration).  Consequently, the responses tended to deal with whether God had predestined who would (and in some cases, who wouldn’t) become a Christian, God’s child.

At a particular moment in the discussion, I wanted the students to consider predestination as referring to the destiny God has determined for His children, not referring to who would have that destiny.  The point is that we children of God are predestined to be like Jesus.

Consider the analogy of someone becoming a member of a sports team.  Upon becoming part of that team, the coach (or manager) tells them that as a team member their destiny is to be as good a player as was Pelé of Brazil, or Mantle of the Yankees, Favre of the Packers, or Jordan of the Bulls, etc. Joining the team included stepping into a previously existing destiny for the members of that team.   That is predestination.  Predestination was not the decision made by a coach as to who would “go out” for the team.  Predestination is the decision made by the coach as to what the person “going out” for the team would become if becoming a team member and remaining on the team.

This analogy points out that God doesn’t decide who will be and who will not be His children.  (He wants everyone to be His child.)  But, God has decided what His children will become.  That decision by God is on the level of being inescapable.  No one can say to God “I want to be your child, but I will be the kind of child that I want to be” or “I want to be your child, but ‘do it my way.’”

To those people, God will respond, “Sinatra doesn’t define what my children will be.   I define what my children will become.  They will become like Christ.”  People not wanting to be like Christ will not be God’s children.  People who want to be like Christ, will become God’s children (His way), and nothing on earth or anywhere else, can keep God from accomplishing his predestination for His children.  Now that, my friends, I call Good News.

(Do keep in mind that I have said nothing about the process God uses to carry out His predestination.  Suffice it to say that Mantle, Pelé, Jordan, and Favre did not become what they were by magic.)

What are your thoughts???