ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE
T. PIERCE BROWN
My paternal grandmother was a Presbyterian. My father was not, but apparently absorbed enough Calvinistic theology to make his conversation somewhat baffling at times. For instance, I remember his saying on numerous occasions before he obeyed the gospel, “What is to be will be, whether it happens or not.”
One passage that gave me some difficulty about 45 years ago when I would talk with my grandmother was Acts 13:48, “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Even then I knew something was wrong if God is no respecter of persons (Acts10:34) and says, “Whosoever will, let him come” (Revelation22:17) and yet arbitrarily ordained some to eternal life and let others perish. I knew enough to tell her to read the next verse when she pointed out that “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44) but I was not sure how to deal with Acts 13:48, for I had not heard Brother E. R. Harper preach on “Two Predestinated Dolls” until about 1945, and even then there were two or three things I did not know that I would like to share with you.
First, many persons assume that when the word “ordain” is used, it means “God decreed” something. This is not so. The word does not necessarily relate to God at all. It simply means, “To be disposed, to set the mind to, to arrange for a thing to be done,” or similar ideas. An idea of the meaning is found in an interesting expression in 1 Corinthians 16:15 as the King James Version reads, “They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” The word “addicted” is from the Greek word “tasso,” translated by such words as appoint, determine, ordain, and set. We know of many persons who are addicted to tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sex, or various pleasures of the world, but it was not God’s doing at all. But these were “addicted to the ministry of the saints.” It simply means that they were disposed to do it. It was their set purpose and determined will, so they arranged for it.
This is the word used in Acts 15:2 when the brethren determined to send Paul and Barnabas toJerusalem. They set their minds to it, and arranged to do it. So a great deal of light is thrown on the subject when a person sees that one may addict himself, dispose himself, ordain something for himself.
Second, I was ignorant of the Greek language (and still am relatively so) and did not know that the word “ordain” in Acts13:48is “tetagmenio” which is a perfect passive participle of “tasso.” Since the perfect participle has to do with resultant state of an action which has been completed in the past, the expression simply means, “those who had been disposed to seek for eternal life, and were still determined to do so, when they heard the simple presentation of the gospel as Paul preached it, believed.” We are confident that such will always be the case. Put in the simplest form we are able to express: When a person is really determined that eternal life is what he wants more than to please mother, grandmother, or self, when he hears the pure simple gospel proclaimed, he will not start finding excuses for not obeying it, but will believe.
I am addicted to the idea of going to heaven and trying to take others. I am determined that no matter what others may do, I want eternal life. I am thus ordained to eternal life. How about you?