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You have a VOTE in Salvation
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"You have a V.O.T.E. in Salvation"
Kevin Butler serves as the Associate Pastor and Minster of Education at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lebanon, TN. Kevin is a freelance writer and a current student of Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Kevin and his wife, Valerie, are awed daily at the responsibility of spiritually leading and equipping their five children to absolutely adore their Savior, Jesus Christ.
Total Word Count: 1364
In my personal studies through God's Word and personal convictions I have not been able or willing to accept the Calvinistic structure of salvation. Neither have I been able to accept all five of the Arminian motifs of the salvation desideratum. Therefore, I have constructed an acronym, which might help explain my fix between these two predominate systems. I have labeled this acronym V.O.T.E.
V: The first letter of this acronym is the letter "V". This letter stands for a "Virtuous Love". While man is not born with anything virtuous (Romans 3:10), God and His love are virtuous/holy (Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4, Titus 3:4, I John 3:16, John 3:16). This virtuous love is a love for all those created in His image. Man, himself, cannot comprehend nor fully explain this type of love. It is the love that only God can display to His creation. Every time that God's omnipotent hand and omniscient mind begins to form a living being inside a mother's womb, a virtuous love is at the core. This virtuous love was in existence before the foundation of this universe was ever conceived. This virtuous love is love not bound in the viscera of time nor is it limited only to the favored or elect. Therefore, it is with this virtuous love that God displays to mankind that He alone calls one's heart to examine their spirituality and His excellence.
O: Once God chooses, through His virtuous love, to call man into a time of spiritual evaluation, the responsibility of man's free will must take control. The letter "O" stands for an "Ordained Freedom". God chose or ordained man to have an absolute free will. One would be hard pressed to argue the account that the scriptures record in Genesis 2:15-17. Here we find that God ordained Adam to have a choice, a free will, the ability to obey, and the same ability to disobey. Here God even tells Adam what would happen if he "chose" to disobey God's clear command. Yet, this ordained freedom seems not limited simply to humans. In the Calvinistic structure there is no free choice, only a predestinated strong-arming by God. If this system were correct, it would be self-defeating when compared to Adam's life. The next question that should incarnate in one's mind is, "If the Calvinist system is correct, where did evil come from?" Once again, according to the Calvinistic system of pre-ordinational decisions, Lucifer didn't have a choice. If God controlled this choice then God Himself would, by logical default, become the creator/inventor of evil! This should immediately cause a concerned study if not dismissal of the Calvinistic system due to its logical failure. As evident in the creation of mankind and in human nature itself, an ordained freedom is not only logically believable, but affectionately felt and experienced by many.
T: The letter "T" represents the belief of a "True conviction/repentance" as part of the salvation experience. This type of conviction can only be brought by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, this type of repentance can only be formed by the power of a sinner's choice (Matthew 9:13, Mark 1:4, Luke 15:7, II Peter 3:9). God even demonstrated in scripture the ability of a true conviction/repentance that occurred in Jonah 2:6-9. This passage demonstrates that true conviction (brought by God's choice) felt by the inhabitants of Nineveh also led to true repentance (demonstrated by the people''s choice) throughout the entire land. Then, and only then, does one read in verse 10 that God saw their true repentance and did not allow the destruction of this city. Notice the lack of pre-destination and pre-formed decisions that God compelled upon them. The people of Nineveh received a true conviction and in turn they responded with a true repentance. Logically, the question arises, "Can someone have a true conviction and not produce a true repentance?" There are several biblical passages that answer a resounding, "Yes!" (I John 2:19, Matthew 7:21-23) Therefore, a genuine salvation experience must include a true conviction and true repentance.
E: The last symbol of this acrostic is the letter "E". This letter represents the phrase "Eternal Security". This eternal security begins at the conception of the believer's salvation experience. The scriptures teach a believer is "sealed" for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and this new life in Christ is eternal. The believer is then passed from death unto life (John 5:24). It is also taught in scripture a believer can never be separated from the security of an everlasting life with God (John 10:28-29). This is an eternal security not of works but of God's mighty power (Ephesians 2:9).
The modern acronym VOTE is a logical and biblical order to help aid in the proper systematic structure of one's belief of salvation and its processes. When it comes to an opportunity of salvation, each human is given the right to VOTE (Virtuous love, Ordained freedom, True conviction/repentance, Eternal security). While defending the acronym VOTE, one hopes to counter-argue the flawed and self-defeating system of both Calvinistic and Arminian structures.
Yet, one could ask, "What about the passages in the Bible that speak of God predestinating one's salvation?" While it is clear in scripture that God is predestinating, it may not be so clear as to what God is predestinating. Let us quickly look to one example in Ephesians 1:3-5. These verses make up a complete sentence and thought that God is displaying through the Apostle Paul to the believers at Ephesus. Let us review this passage:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."(KJV)
Let's begin to look at the common phrases that blaze throughout this sentence: in Christ, in him, before him, by Jesus Christ. Do you see the underlying theme? The way that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings is "in Christ". The way that God has chosen, before the world's foundation, for us to be holy and without blame is "in him". The way of the saved (adopted children) is "by Jesus Christ". This is what God predestinated: the way of salvation, not the beneficiaries of salvation. This sentence is structured around the reoccurring phrase "in him".
Lastly, let us look at the word used here in this sentence: predestinated. This Greek word προορίζω,v (pro-or-id'-zo), most accurately proves the defining way one can enter into an reconciled relationship with God. One should be so thankful that God omnisciently chose to use this word to define the plan of salvation. For the purpose of study, let us break down this word to its roots. The preposition "pro"(64253) is best defined: before or from above. The verb "horezo"(63724) can best be defined: to mark out boundaries. When placed together to form the word "prooridzo" this becomes a powerful revelation of God's way of salvation. So, verse 5 of Ephesians 1 could be interpreted, "God marked out the boundaries of salvation (adopting us as his children) before the foundation of the world BY CHRIST JESUS (the means of salvation) unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." So, it is clear that the avenue of salvation (John 14:6) was predestinated by God the Father to be through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). This was the will of the Father (Isaiah 53:10).
I am blessed to have witnessed this word properly placed in this sentence. There are many other wonderful examples of God's predestined way/avenue of salvation all throughout His word. However, verses like the one above prove that God's predestination speaks of His PLAN of salvation and not the PEOPLE of salvation. I pray that a study of these passages and the acronym VOTE will encourage other students of the Word to search the scriptures for themselves for a stronger understanding.
Novum Testamentum Graece. Nestle-Aland 26th edition. Stuttgart: 1979
Thayer, Joseph. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Massachusetts:
The Greek New Testament. 3rd edition. United Bible Societies, London: 1975
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