Study Guide: He Choo-Choo-Chooses You

Sunday January 13, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

We are God’s chosen people, predestined to be holy and blameless. But does God create and choose those who will be blameless and those he will blame? In this sermon, Greg shows how God does choose us but we also have the ability to choose him and get on board the predestined train.

Extended Summary:

We are chosen to receive unimaginable blessings from God because we are God’s chosen people. But the concept of being one of the chosen people can give us a bad image of God and how predestination actually works.

Ephesians 1 shows us that God chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. This has been understood to be an individual choosing of people, by God, as opposed to other individuals. But this choosing, like a gym class choosing teams, paints a picture of a God who makes people that are damned for hell the way that they are made. This is the main way that people understand predestination in the Bible.

It’s true that there is predestination in the Bible, but it’s not God picking and choosing how to make people. Instead, it is a corporate choosing. To understand this, we need to understand Greg’s interactions with trains.

When Greg was in college, he and Shelley went to a Broadway play. They had a lot of trouble getting on the train that would take them to the right destination. Whether or not they were on the train, the train would have gone to the destination. The train is predestined to go to that location.

In the Bible, this is how we should understand predestination. The Jesus train is full of people that are holy and spotless. It will arrive at the destination of righteousness and this has been settled since before time began. It is predestined. But what isn’t predestined, and this is how the Jews understood this as well, is that people can either choose to be on the train or not. If they choose to be on the train, or be a part of the Israel nation for the Jews, then they are predestined as holy and blameless.

Instead of an ugly picture of God that chooses some for heaven and some for hell, we have a picture of God that invites everyone to hop on the train that is predestined for holiness. God wants every person to be on this train. This train is beautiful. In a world full of possible trains to get on, God wants you on the train that takes you into the Kingdom of God. In the middle of a warzone of a corrupted world full of suffering, God is the one thing that we can trust in to deliver us to the right destination. We need to savor the knowledge of being on this train because it reveals to us the future that we can look forward to.

If you’re discouraged by life, remind yourself of this train’s destination. The predestined train that won’t implode on itself and has, since before time began, known it will succeed. Remind yourself of your inheritance, which was sealed on your mind and make it a part of your daily activities. Remind yourself of the things that you’re predestined to become. In a world that is a confusing, cosmic New York subway system, this predestined train is the one thing that is certain, and its destination is more beautiful than words can convey.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Why is it important to have the right picture of God?
  3. How have you understood predestination in the past?
  4. Do you agree or disagree with Greg? Why?
  5. Have you ever had trouble imagining the destination of this train? Which parts of it do you have trouble with?