A way to explain spiritual principles.
The train is stopped at the station. You look out the window and see the signs. You’re on Track 1. You don’t like the direction you’re headed! You get out of your seat fast, before the train pulls out. You cross the platform to Track 2. You present your free ticket and board the other train. Your transfer was simple and easy… but you had to make a decision and make a move to get headed toward the right destination. This illustrates how a person becomes a Christian.
Godʼs ʻelectʼ (people chosen for heaven) are those who in ʻfaithʼ(trusting the signs) move from Track 1 to Track 2. God ʻpredestinedʼ (determined in advance) that they (group who choose Track 2) will go to heaven. He ʻforeknewʼ who (specific individuals) would choose Track 2, but his infinite wisdom did not affect anyoneʼs ʻfree willʼ (personal choice). With ʻgraceʼ (unmerited favor) he ʻjustifiedʼ (paid penalty for sin) and ʻglorifiedʼ (admitted to heaven) everyone on Track 2.
See below for further explanation of these theological terms.
TRAIN ILLUSTRATES KEY THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES
Using analogies from the train illustration on the preceding page, here are technical words used by theologians to express important spiritual concepts.
Hereʼs a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.
Romans 5:12-19, Romans 7:14-20
We are born with a sin nature
God knows in advance how every person will respond; he predestines those who respond positively to his call and justifies and glorifies them
Those who believe Godʼs words are chosen and predestined for heaven
We are justified by Godʼs grace and our faith, not by good things we do
We are saved (from going to hell) by grace through faith because of the free gift (ticket to heaven) from God
Adam corrupted human nature but Christ justifies us through grace and gives us eternal life.
For help, see Topic 29.
ORIGINAL SIN: WEʼRE BORN INTO SIN
Everyone is born with a sinful nature. Everyone comes into the world on the track headed for hell and stays on it except for those who choose of their own free will to get off and change trains at the station.
PREDESTINATION: GOD HAS LAID THE TRACKS
Some people say there is really nothing we can do about our destiny… that God has determined it in advance (predestination). True, he has laid the tracks and our options are limited. But we have a choice of either of two tracks. He has predestined that all who stay on Track 1 will go to hell, and all who change to Track 2 will go to heaven. There are no other tracks, and no other destinations.
FREE WILL: WE CHOOSE OUR DESTINATION
God has predestined the routes, but we choose (free will) the track. Most people are too pre- occupied to look out the window and heed the signs. To change, we simply get off the train on Track 1 and walk across the platform to the waiting train on Track 2… and it’s a better train with softer seats and nicer passengers.
FAITH: WE TRUST THE SIGNS
We believe that the signs at the station (Bible, testimony of Christians, urging of the Holy Spirit) accurately identify the tracks and directions.
ELECTION: GOD CHOOSES SOME FOR HEAVEN
God’s plan is that everyone on Track 2 goes to heaven. He has chosen (election) what group of people will go to heaven, but each individual chooses (free will) whether or not he wants to be a part of that group.
FOREKNOWLEDGE: GOD KNOWS IN ADVANCE
God, in his infinite wisdom, knows in advance (foreknowledge) what track each of us will choose. He knows us that well! But his foreknowledge does not affect our free will in making our own individual choice.
JUSTIFICATION: JESUS PAID THE PRICE
By what right (justification) can someone simply get off the train headed for hell and get on the train headed for heaven? Because Jesus Christ offers a fully paid ticket, purchased by his death on the cross.
GRACE: WE DONʼT DESERVE IT
We didn’t have to pay for the Track 2 ticket with our own money or works. It was a free gift from God, more than we deserve.
GLORIFICATION: WEʼRE ADMITTED TO HEAVEN
Everyone on Track 2 goes to heaven. Each train runs in one direction only. It’s a one-way trip for everyone, for eternity. None of the passengers on Track 1 – not even the rich and famous – can come back to the station and change to Track 2 when they discover they’ve made a mistake. Once a train pulls away from the station (death), it’s too late to change.