What is Predestination?
Predestination key passages: Prov. 16:1, 4, John. 13:18; Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:2-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:1-3, 20
The key words of chosen, elect, foreknew, and predestined have been topics of hot debate amongst many Christian groups over the centuries. The principle theme is agreed upon, that God does choose us and makes us holy-to which our eternal destination is preordained. This is not just found in the Pauline Epistles which clearly attests to this, but many others passages too. The Bible clearly proclaims predestination. This is not just about Reformed theology either, rather it is about being Biblical (By the way Reformed theology just means the Bible is being read and adhered too by sound logic and reason. The Reformed part is about reforming the Bible away from the apostasy and corruption that was rampant prior to the Reformation. So we can gain sound doctrine for our understanding of God and for Christian living). That unless God redeems us, that He chooses us to be regenerated we would stay in our sins and be eternally separated from God. So, predestination means He loves you and chooses you. This is good for us, why? If Christ did not select us, we could never obtain salvation on our own. God being God also has the right to make the choice and choose who He wants, and keep in mind no one would ever chose Him first! And also remember the other characters of God too such as Just and Merciful, thus He will never be unjust or unloving so He never treats us unjustly. This leaves salvation up to God and His love for us and not in the hands of us who would never ever choose Him! Think this is wrong? Well many Christians do, but see what the Bible has to say: (Gen. 45:8; 50:20; Job 14:5; Psalm 33:13-14; 115:3; 147:5; Prov. 5:21; 15:3; 16:1, 4, 9, 33; Is. 14:26-27; Dan. 4:33-34; John. 1:13; 13:18; Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29-30; 9:9-18; Eph. 1:2-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:1-3, 20).
We have a God is all knowing, all loving and has a purpose for you; He knows you more deeply than you can ever imagine (Rom. 8:29; 9:10-16; Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9). Do not fear this; rather thank God who is the One to go to in times of stress and times of success! Never lose the promises of God, and that He is God and you are not! That God is omniscient, omnipotent, that is all knowing and all powerful; His incredible greatness. This applies to us that He loves us and chooses you who would not, left up to your own seek Him or His eternal grace. This even applies to God is with you, that no matter what we are going through, God is there through the valleys and the mountain tops, and the roads between. When we have a healthy grasp on God's power and authority, it gives us a correct confidence to persevere through battles and difficulties, as well as to stay firm in Him when things are going great. Because God is our strength, and heartbeat, and vision for life, regardless of our understanding.
The real debate over predestination is over how He chooses: by His Sovereign purpose (which the Reformers believed) or by His foreknowledge (as many Evangelicals today believe.) Such debates, although invigorating and insightful to know more and establish a position, sometime cause us to ignore the main thing-that God is God, He loves us, He chooses us, He makes us holy, and now, because of what He did for us, we are to spend our energies growing and serving Him. What we are not to do is make a nuisance of ourselves by spending all of our energies in supercilious debate, and ignoring what Jesus did, so it does not impact our lives. The key thing we forget is our obedience and faith development, which is far more important in God's eyes than getting the particulars of theology correct. Correct theology is very important because it teaches us who God is! But, our faith development is even more important, because it is our response to what God did!
Let's look at two other key controversial words, all listed in 1 Peter 1:1-3:
Foreknowledge refers to God as sovereign and "omniscient," meaning He is all-knowing, crossing time and space; thus, He knows the future. This is where some people see "predestination" comes from, (Gen. 4:1; Psalm 90; Amos 3:2; Mal. 1:2; Matt 1:25; 1 Cor. 1:9;) that God's plan is sovereign and eternal. We have a personal plan and agenda to follow, a purpose that is God's. The argument in theology is not that He elects us; rather by what means God uses His foreknowledge or His purpose. The book of Romans says it is by His purpose. Human reason says it is by God seeing ahead.
Elect here means our privilege to be eternally called in Christ, and that our salvation is secured by God's grace alone, received by our faith alone (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Elect or election in biblical theology means "to select" or "to choose," that God chose us by His purpose and nothing else. Because, if it was accordingly by His foreknowledge, that would mean it was by our future means, therefore the need and work of Christ would be thwarted (John 17:24; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). Divine election is a continuous theme in Paul's Epistles (Rom. 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5, 7, 28; 16:13; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 1:1).
We cannot fathom this true implication, meaning, or reasoning. We have to trust that God is God and we are not; thus, we have no idea of His plan or purpose. All Christian groups who use the Bible teach election; the division is in its meaning and purpose, which God has not revealed to us, and about which we can only speculate. We only know what He has revealed and that He does elect; our call is to trust and obey (1 Cor. 1:8-9; Phil.1:6; 1 Thess. 1:3-6; 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 1-12; 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:10). Our purpose is not to argue over this, but to accept His amazing grace.
Paul uses this as an illustration to stress God's Hope for us and how we can hope in Him! Predestination also stresses the sovereignty of God! Romans and 1 Peter is where predestination comes from as well as many places in Scripture, (Gen. 4:1; Psalm 90; Amos 3:2; Mal. 1:2; Matt 1:25; Rom. 8; 11:1-10; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Peter 1:1-2) that God's plan is sovereign and eternal. We have a personal plan and agenda to follow, and a purpose that is God's. All Bible believing Christian groups believe in predestination, you would have to throw out ½ the Bible to reject it.
Keep this essential fact in mind about predestination, it is all about that we are deeply loved and pursued by the only eternal and wise God! For us we need to realize our hope and comfort is in Christ alone. He will not reject us, that power is only in our hands; rather He will lift us up when we are in Him (James 4:10). In so doing God turns our faith into reality (Matt. 6:33; John 14:9). The goal of faith is not the work we do, but to allow Him to do His will in us! There is no such thing as chance, this is God's providence. We may not understand, all we can do is hang tight and trust Him. This applies to our spiritual growth so we can beware not to try to run ahead with your desires or distractions ahead, or behind, of God's timing.
Is not predestination Fatalistic? Fate is looking at what must be, what has been decreed by whoever is in charge. But doctrine is what God has revealed for us to understand, not because it must be, but because this is what is best for us on our behalf! And since it is the best, then it should and must be. Philosophy tells us that faith is blind; however, doctrine has the eyes of love. Fate is without care and love and understanding. The Doctrine of predestination is the care and the love and the kindness that abounds. Because He first loved us!
Faith and predestination are also the voluntary choices by the sanctified Christian, because God is working and foreordained it. This is not contradiction, as it transcends normal thinking!
So what is our call in this? To be joyful, thankful, and glad! To honor and enjoy our inherence and love that we have received, so it overflows to others around us. Then, we can grow and endure through all things!
Predestination means that God is not bound by time or by our feeble choices predestination also means that He perseveres us with His Love!
©1998, 2001, Rev. Richard Joseph Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/