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by Bro. Kenneth Crews
1101 North Union Road
Dayton, Ohio 45417
This is about Hula hoops. It is not an attempt to attack or argue with those who espouse Calvinistic predestination. It isn't about throwing a gauntlet down to those who believe in irresistible grace. It is about throwing a Hula hoop. Over forty years ago, Hula hoops were the in thing for teenagers. One of the things the teenage-me thought so neat was throwing the Hula hoop so that it would return to me. If one threw the Hula hoop in front of him by swinging his arm forward and at the same time spinning it back towards his body and down towards the ground with a flick of his wrist, after hitting the ground at some distance away, the hoop would return to him. My wife has a box of toys in our living room for our grandkids. One toy has a bunch of hoops, toss rings, about a foot in diameter. The other day there were several young kids at our home playing with those rings. I picked up one off the floor and called for their attention: "Watch. I will throw this way over there," pointing to the other side of the room, "and it will come back to me when it hears me say, ‘Come to me.’" As I had with the Hula hoop all those years before, I threw the ring across the living room and, as soon as it landed, I said, "Come to me," and it did. The kids' eyes were wide as if I had worked magic. I said, "Watch. I'll do it again." I said, "Come," and the ring rolled right to me. What does all this have to do with predestination, with irresistible grace? My causing the hoop to return made me think of when Jesus gave that wonderful invitation, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." To the kids in my living room, it appeared that the ring had heard my call to "come" and had responded. But, the ring had no choice but to come back to me. I made it come. It matters not if I said, "Come," or not. I was not giving an appeal because the ring had no choice. If grace is irresistible, if some are predestinated in the sense of predetermined to be saved, then Jesus' invitation to "Come unto me," is something of a shyster-like sham. It appeared Jesus gave an invitation appealing to the people's choice and it appeared that some chose to answer that invitation and come to Him. If grace is irresistible and the elect predetermined, Jesus did not give an invitation, though it appeared to be one. He only announced what those who came to Him had been predetermined and made to do--come to Him. As the ring was already pre-set to come back to me before it even hit the ground and I uttered the word, "Come," those people who came to Jesus were already bound to come to Him before He gave His appeal, "Come unto me." That is why, if predestination be true, it seems so like a sham, an illusion. Jesus' "Come" seemed to be an invitation. The invitation seemed to give people a choice. People seemed to make a choice and respond and come or not come. But, it was all only appearance. Those that came had been predetermined and made to come. Even though we have free choice, salvation IS all about grace. It is grace that Jesus has invited me to come. It is grace that Jesus made a way for me to come. It is grace that Jesus will not reject me when I come. But, it is not grace if He makes me come. A gift forced upon me is not a gift. (Think white elephant.). Grace forced upon me is not grace. Even if I have been coerced to be willing to receive, grace was still forced upon me. It was predetermined. Make no mistake. That I can come to Jesus and freely receive salvation is not in any way by my merit. It is grace because I do not deserve it: I do not deserve to be called. I do not deserve a way to come. I do not deserve to be accepted when I come. A grace that would bid me come, a grace that would make a way for me to come, a grace that would not reject me when I have come, now that kind of grace I find irresistible. Not that I couldn't resist it, but why would I want to?