This past week I was at the Grand Rapids marathon watching my lovely wife run a half marathon! Ross Slagh took over for me in Sunday school, and the students continued our Gospel Project curriculum! Make sure to encourage them to be diving into their daily discipleship guides!!
Youth Group was a little intense this week. Last week we were answering some questions from our question box, and the concept of election came up. One of my goals as a youth pastor is to try and attack any question our students have in an age appropriate way and in the right context. Generally, this is not a question I would have tackled in a youth group setting, and I doubt I ever will again. It's fairly intense.
Before we can even begin to touch on what election is, we have to agree on three general premises; God is real, God is good, and the Bible is His word. We also have to have some idea of what Calvinism and the RCA believe as a whole so that we can see where election fits in that system. The 5 points of Calvinism are often written as TULIP. That acronym represents 5 tenants that form the basis of our systematic theology.
T stands for total depravity, or the idea that humans are completely dead in their sins without Jesus Christ.
U stands for unconditional election (our main talking point this past week), and simply means that God chooses to save some people without looking for certain qualities as a condition to save them.
L stands for limited atonement (also called particular atonement) and suggests that Christ's blood is 100% effective for all who He intended to save. This means that Christ died for His elect, and though His death is sufficient for all, it is not necessarily effective for all. This is a pretty divisive point.
I stands for irresistible grace, and essentially says "If God's grace is extended to you, there is nothing you can do to resist it."
P stands for perseverance of the saints, reaffirming that those whom God calls, justifies, and accept Him are secured in Christ.
If you want to see these points explained by smarter people with scriptural support, this is a great link!
If you want to see Calvinism compared with the other major (and opposite) view, Arminianism , click here!
All of this conversation kind of tiptoes around the concept of predestination and man's free will, so here is a helpful link looking at that as well :)
I shared this with the students, but its really difficult as a youth pastor to know if certain topics "land" well with students. This is undoubtedly a heavy and heady topic, but when 50% of students are leaving the faith after high school because we don't discuss the hard stuff, this becomes a priority. Even if this only serves as an introduction to systematic theology, and there was 5% comprehension, it was valuable. Every person at some point in their faith journey will encounter opposition or doubt, and it takes a strong foundation to stand in the midst of that. Hopefully this past Sunday was one more piece of that foundation for our students.
This would be a great thing to keep talking about at home! Theology isn't as scary as we typically think and even when it cannot provide satisfactory answers, we can stand assured that God is good and loves us dearly. In the midst of our quest for understanding, we have to remember that if we could completely understand God, He wouldn't be God!
Have a great week!
I'm Noah. I do High School things. Expect this page to update every Tuesday morning!