Predestined To..

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Ask the group the questions in black.

Words in italics are written to help give some guidance and ideas.

Read out loud the text in blue.

Have someone read out the Scripture passages.

Introduction

If God guaranteed you an answer to any question, what question would you ask?

Gather thoughts. Ask why? This is not the time to answer those questions, but just to get people thinking.

People are curious about many things, but when it comes down to it, two of the most basic questions of life are: Who am I and why am I here?

Can you answer those questions with total confidence?

Who am I?

The question “Who am I” is a question of identity. Your identity is simply who you think you are.

When you think about your life, what influences have shaped your identity (who you think you are)?

This could be parents, teachers, sports coaches, pastors, friends, the world etc.

Share something about who you think you are.

Let people share at whatever level they are willing. Simply listen.

We all begin creating our sense of identity from birth, mainly based on our interactions with other people. The things we believe about ourselves can be both positive and negative.

So for now, we know that the “who am I” question is about identity. Over the coming weeks, we are going to explore this more.

Why am I Here?

The second question “Why am I here?” deals with our sense of purpose.

Think about things that people have created and their purpose? What comes to mind?

Share ideas. Choose any examples such as toasters, cars, lightbulbs, roads, houses etc.

Can you think of anything that has no purpose at all?

There is nothing that has been created that has no purpose. Things like space junk may seem to have no purpose now, but they did once have a purpose.

We have been created, so what is our purpose?

Gather thoughts. Ask, “what makes you think that?”

Does something that is created have the ability to determine its own purpose?

Use an example from above to pose the question. Can a toaster decide to be a jug instead?

Design

We can only come to a true sense of identity and purpose when we first understand our design. Think about a lion.

What is a lion designed to do?

To hunt animals. No healthy lion defies its design to become a vegetarian! It never happens.

What gives a lion the ability to be a hunter?

Its whole body is designed to hunt from tooth to claw. The lion’s identity as a hunter comes from its design.

In the same way, our sense of identity and purpose is connected to our design.

Do we begin life with an understanding of our design?

No, newborn babies have no knowledge or understanding of purpose or design.

How do babies learn about their physical design?

Babies and infants learn their physical design by watching people around them. In fact, studies have shown that if an infant does not hear someone talking, they will not learn to talk. If they do not see a person walking, they will not learn to walk.

The same is true spiritually. When we first begin to follow Jesus and are born again, we are like spiritual infants, and we learn our design by looking at people who we consider “spiritual.”

In our spiritual infancy, how can we be sure that the people around us are or were actually living in their spiritual design?

We really can’t be sure. Babies do not have the capacity to question their design. Because they are so vulnerable, there is a great responsibility to protect babies and nurture them in truth.

What if we have not truly learned our design? Imagine that you discover an object you’ve never seen before and you don’t know what it is designed to do.

How could you find out?

You would ask the person who made it!

Read these Bible verses together:

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Who is the Creator of the universe and of us?

God.

As our Creator, we owe our existence to God. We are not random products of chance. We have been wonderfully created by a God who has a clear design for our lives. And as our Creator, He alone holds the answers to those questions “who am I and why am I here?” The only way we can discover our design is to ask the One who designed us.

So, how does God reveal our design to us?

Gather thoughts.

Our Mirror

Look up the following passage in James.

James 1:22-24

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

What is the purpose of a mirror in the natural realm?

To see what you physically look like.

So, if you want to see a spiritual reflection of yourself, what is the spiritual mirror that you look into?

The word of God.

The Word is a spiritual mirror that shows us our natural face. The word “natural” used in this verse is the Greek word “genesis” meaning “source, origin or birth”. You could say that when we look into the mirror of the Word, we see our genesis face. We see our true identity and purpose as God originally designed it.

Summary

There are two questions we need to answer: Who am I? and Why am I here? These are questions of identity and purpose. Only our Creator has the right to determine who we are and why we are here, our design. So, over the coming studies, we are going to look into the mirror of the Word to find out how God answers these questions.

Questions for Further Discussion

Has there ever been a time in your life when you consciously asked yourself Who am I? or Why am I here?

Do you have any early memories of believing that God is Creator?

What do you think spiritual infants need most?

 

1 In the Beginning—Homework

Reflect

Read these verses from Psalm 139 and reflect on the questions below.

Psalm 139:13-14

For You formed my inmost being;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I will praise You,

for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

What do these verses reveal about the value of your life?

What does it mean for you to be a unique creation?

Is it important for you to know “who am I” and “why am I here?” Why or why not?

Do you spend time looking into the mirror of the Word? Is this a focus for you?

Pray

As you begin these studies, ask God to reveal your identity and your purpose/design in life to you in a fresh and deeper way. Share with Him your desires for your own spiritual growth.

Romans 8:28-31
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

In this passage we learn that those whom God foreknew He also predestined, called, justified and glorified. So if God foreknew and predestined us, does this mean that we were always destined for salvation? If so, does this mean that God also gives us the faith and desire to receive His salvation? If so, were we ever truly free to choose our salvation? Or is God orchestrating our every thought and action according to His master plan?

A Spiritual Destiny

Destiny
The events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future; the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.

A destination is the endpoint of a journey and so when we read the word predestined, we often tend to read it in terms of what happens after we die. Like the word destination, the word destiny conveys the sense of an ultimate and inescapable fate. So from this perspective, if our predestination is our spiritual destiny then it is not a possible outcome that may come to pass, but rather it is an inevitable end that we are compelled towards and must experience.

So if God has predestined us to salvation then it is inevitable that we will receive eternal life with Him after we die. This means that nothing we do or fail to do can alter the outcome. If this is true then it also follows that God has predetermined all our choices towards receiving the grace of salvation. And if He makes our choices for us then it stands to reason that He is orchestrating all of our thoughts, motives and desires that shape the choices we make. This complete sovereign control of God over every aspect of life is the belief called determinism. In this determined sense of predestination we have no control over our choices or desires, but rather our will, along with every other aspect of our lives, is entirely scripted by God.
So is God controlling every detail of our lives? Is that what the Scriptures imply when they speak of predestination?

Proorizo

Predestined: proorizo
From pro, meaning before; and horizo meaning: to define, mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing), to determine, appoint, decree or ordain.

The Greek word for destiny or fate is the word moira and it is not used in Romans 8 or anywhere else in the Bible. Rather, the Greek word proorizo (pro-horizo) is used. The base-word horizo comes from the Greek word horio (meaning coast or border) and is the source of the English word horizon. The sense of horizon here is not a future that we are endlessly journeying towards but a boundary or limit of a plan. At its core, the word proorizo is focused more on design than it is on destiny. It is about defining a plan rather than sealing a fate.

From this perspective, the word proorizo can be translated as predefined or predesigned. So instead of using the term predestined, which focuses on the control of God over our lives and our future destiny, we can use the word predesigned, which focuses on God’s plan for us now and our present spiritual experience in Christ.

Predesigned

Romans 8:29a
For those whom He foreknew, He also predesigned…

When we read Romans 8:29 again from the perspective of predesign, we learn that before we were created, God had a specific design for our lives. Like the rest of His creation, God created us for a defined purpose. So what is our true design? What have we been created for?

Continue reading here.

This article has been taken from chapter one of the Living Image book, which is available now.

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