THE TAKE AWAY
Calvinism: Predestination from Another View - Part IV
By Kersley Fitzgerald
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This is a fantasy story in five parts — a tale that unravels the complicated issue of salvation to reveal the single, shining treasure that it is. Part One is here.
The Golden Heart: Part V, Josie's DecisionThe next morning, Joseline found out one answer to her questions from the night before. Xander woke them all an hour early. The kitchen staff gathered around the table and stared, bleary-eyed, at the stack of parchment in front of the butler.
"I thought you might like to know that I went to the gate last night."
Questions exploded into the air. "Did you see Him? Did you go into the forest? Where's your locket?"
Xander waved a dismissive hand. "Time for that later. Yes, I did see Him. He is as wonderful as Miranda said. Very smart and very disciplined. But Miranda was mistaken in a few things. You can't just go through the gate and expect to receive a gold heart. No, no. He told me about a book of rules. I figure you need to earn your heart, so to speak."
"That makes sense," Daisie said. "What do we have to do?"
Xander gestured at the paper. "It's all in here. All the rules and guidelines. There are some things to memorize, of course. And everything must be word-perfect. I added a few things too, just to make sure we don't miss anything. We'll meet here every morning, an hour early, and study. Within, say, twelve years, maybe we'll be ready."
Joseline spoke up. "But Cook went through last night, before you did. And she didn't know all the rules."
"And where is she?" Xander asked. "I'm not convinced she went through far enough to meet the Prince. She's probably got herself lost."
Maisie smirked. Daisie shrugged. Bernie looked at the stack of parchments with more longing than he'd shown the key, his mouth thin with determination.
They spent the rest of the hour going over the first page of the instructions. Joseline thought it was strange how much they sounded like Xander's own habits. Did the Prince really care what kind of socks she wore? Or what staircase she used? Life in the castle seemed free in comparison to following all of these rules.
Later that afternoon, while closing the shutters in the third north-north-west tower, Joseline found Miranda leaning out a window, staring at the forest.
"It was you — you've been opening the shutters. But why?"
"To remind people of the forest. So they will want to go before they know how. But what about you? You love the forest. Why are you still here?"
Joseline took a seat on the sill of another open window. "I'm very confused." She explained what she'd seen — Cook breezing through the door without a thought, perhaps to her death; Daisie and Maisie with very logical reasons why this gate was not unique, not to mention that it seemed unfair; Bernie's fears about being good enough; and now Xander's rules about admittance through the door.
When she was finished, Miranda only smiled. "What do you think of all that?"
"Well, Maisie always sees the bad side of things. Daisie's a bit of a flake, but she always seems so happy. Yet I've seen her 'gardens', and they don't look anything like the forest. Bernie seems to really like the idea of following all of Xander's rules, but Cook went right through without knowing any of them. Is anyone so bad that this Prince wouldn't have them on His list?"
"Good thoughts," Miranda replied. She tapped her cheek. "But here are a few more. Maisie says she won't go through the gate if everyone else can't. That's very noble, but if she's so concerned about the fate of others, why doesn't she show any kindness or compassion to them now? If she really cared, she'd go through the gate, then come back and convince everyone else to follow. You're right about Daisie's optimism. When you're continually surrounded by cow pies, even a weed looks like paradise. As for Bernie...I don't know if he is filled with pride or self-pity." She held up her locket so it caught the rays of the setting sun. "But when someone offers you a brand new golden heart, why would you waste the time trying to clean up the dark grungy original?"
"So Xander's rules aren't true?"
"Xander's rules are true." Miranda shook her head. "They just aren't possible. There is no way anyone can follow enough rules to earn a golden heart and freedom in the King's forest. That price could only be paid by the Prince. Xander knows this, but he told the Prince he didn't want the gift. He wants to earn it."
Joseline touched Miranda's locket. "Will he ever understand that this is a gift freely given?"
Miranda sighed. "He understands, but he rejects the gift. The next time he goes through the gate, he'll find his key doesn't lead to the Prince anymore." She gazed out into the evening mist. "What about you, Josie? Why aren't you at the gate right now?"
"I'm afraid of the list."
"The list of names that the Prince checks. Even if Daisie or Maisie or Bernie goes through the gate, what if their name isn't on the list? What if mine isn't? What if I get all the way through the gate and the forest is right there, and the Prince sends me back?"
"We don't get to know whose name is on the list. All we know is that if you go through the gate and ask the Prince for a new heart, your name is on the list."
Hope rose in Joseline's chest. "So anyone could get a gold locket?"
"Anyone, but not everyone."
Joseline heaved a heavy breath. "I don't understand. Why do I have to go through the gate? Why can't He give it to me here?"
Miranda laughed. "There's nothing magical about the gate itself. If you want to live in the King's forest, you have to go through the gate because the King is on the other side."
"But what if I'm not on the list?"
"If you ask for a gold heart, you are on the list."
"But what if, when the Prince paid for the slaves, He didn't pay for me?"
"If you ask for a gold heart, He did pay for you."
Joseline clasped her hands together. "But how can I know for sure that He'll give me a gold heart? What if He..."
"If you ask for one, He will give it to you."
"Tell me," Joseline said, "how many people are on the list?"
"As many as ask for a heart."
"How many people did He pay for?"Joseline pressed. "Just the people on the list or everybody?"
"We don't know." Miranda leaned forward. "But do we really need to?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you need to know how many slaves He paid for before you ask for a gold heart?" Miranda twisted the chain in her fingers, letting the reflected light dance across the room. "You're looking at this from the King's perspective, as though you need to see the list yourself. But you're not the King. It's foolish and, well, ungrateful to demand to know all the answers before you agree to accept a gift."
"What if..." The sun set lower, throwing a last beam of light into Joseline's eyes. "What if He did pay for Daisie and Maisie and Bernie — what if He even paid for Xander — and they're just sitting here, being slaves, when they could live in the forest now?"
Miranda raised an eyebrow. "What if...?
"I gotta go." Joseline raced from the room. Seven flights of stairs passed in a blur. Once in the courtyard, she skidded to a halt outside the dairy barn. "Maisie! Daisie!"
The sisters came outside, startled. "Did something happen?" they asked.
"Maisie, you can't help people by being a slave. You can only help them to the gate if you've already been." She turned to the other girl. "Daisie, if the forest is so much like your weed-filled gardens, then why do you have to work so hard to get in and then you aren't even allowed to stay?" She left them, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, and ran to the butcher's shed.
Bernie opened the door to her incessant knocking. "What is it, girl?"
Joseline was breathless. "I know you probably did some terrible things, but it doesn't make sense. The golden heart locket is a gift, not a trade. You can't ever be good enough to deserve it. But you don't have to be." She grabbed his arms and squeezed. "You don't have to be!"
When Joseline got to the gate, she found Xander there, key in his hand, a smug look on his face, but the key was changed. Instead of shiny silver it was dull and soft, like lead. He fit the key into the lock and opened the gate. As he walked through, a mist filled the doorway, obscuring what was on the other side. No sooner had he disappeared into the fog than he walked out again, another set of parchments in his hand. He closed the door behind him.
"Joseline, good to see you taking your studies so seriously. We have more to go over. We'll meet again at eleven tonight."
"Sorry, Xander," Joseline said as she fit her own silver key into the gate. "I won't be there." She slammed the gate open and ran into the forest.
Standing at the edge of the trees was a man. He opened his arms out to Joseline expectantly. "I've been waiting for you."
Joseline stopped short, her gaze flickering around him. "Where is the list? Am I on it?"
The man smiled. "You came to me, so I know your name is there." With that, he raised his hand, and a sparkling light danced across Joseline's face.
She recognized the object immediately, as though it had been hers all along. "My gold locket!"
The Prince secured the gift around her neck, then led her down the path to the kind King's Kingdom, where the castle windows stood wide open and the aroma of salty sea winds billowed white sails on the water.
You know if your name is in the Book of Life if you decide to follow Jesus. That is how God designed this thing to work. No, faith isn't a work. Your faith, or the act of walking through a door, is not a work that earns salvation. It is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), and the manifestation of the realization that we belong somewhere else.
What about Calvinism and witnessing? If God already chose people, why witness? As a friend of mine once pointed out, God says who will receive salvation, but there's nowhere in the Bible that says God chose when. Do we choose the when? Honestly, I don't know. But, like Miranda, that should inspire us. Why would we leave our friends and family — even strangers — to the terrors of the barons and the wolves for one more day? Why not see them free now?
Calvinism is not the gospel. Calvinism is our attempt to understand the working of salvation. It's foolish to reject a ride from a friend because you don't understand the intimate details of an internal combustion engine. Similarly, it's the ultimate foolishness to reject God because you don't understand His work in salvation.
Image Credit: LearningLark; "My Heart by Candlelight"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Calvinism-Tulip | Witnessing-Evangelism
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