When we see Jesus, will we be instantly like Him? John says so, and he should know. He was Jesus’ best bud, during the old discipleship days. John the beloved. John should know. So if this is the case, why is Paul worrying about running races so as to receive the prize? What prize? Authority in the next age? But authority over who? There won’t be anyone there to boss around. We’ll all be perfected, matured believers, won’t we?
I suppose you could make the point that the next age will be the millennial reign of Christ, and there will be the children of the Christian survivors of the tribulation. You can make a lot of babies in a thousand years. Maybe it’s them. Maybe it’s the animal kingdom. I dunno — seems like a bit of a stretch to me.
But what if maturity isn’t like instant oatmeal? Yes, those who take part in the first resurrection and those who are alive at His coming will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. So who are those who are alive at His coming? Those whose hearts are overrun with weeds? Those who have hidden their master’s talents? Those lukewarm or unloving or corrupted, who nevertheless call themselves Jesus’ followers? Are these the spotless bride of Christ? And as we saw in the post before this one, even Paul was working hard to make sure he was qualified to take part in the first resurrection.
Yet we affirm with confidence that we are saved and washed in the blood of the Lamb; that it’s not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us. (Titus 3:5) We are saved by grace through faith, and even the faith doesn’t come from us. We are not saved by works, so no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9) But Paul also says, Run the race to win! What does he mean by it?
When things don’t fit together, that usually means it’s necessary to look at them from a different angle. You know those Chinese puzzles where you have to figure out how to take the little bent wire thingies apart? Yeah, I can never figure those out, and the solution is always something insultingly simple — if only I had looked at it a little differently! Perspective is everything.
If we look at Paul’s foot race analogy from an Arminian perspective, it makes no sense at all. Either you make it or you don’t, and if you don’t make it, that’s only because you, personally, did not choose to make it, or even to run the race. But from a Calvinistic point of view, it isn’t much better. Paul can’t lose the race if he’s of the elect — and let’s face it; who could possibly be more elect than Paul? But if it happened that Paul wasn’t elect, well it wouldn’t matter how hard he ran. He would never have had a chance, and what’s more, he wouldn’t even have tried, because the “try to” comes from God just as much as the win does.
What if both the Calvinists and the Arminians are right . . . to a point? Is it possible?
To be continued . . .