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Sabbatical 2017
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Predestination?

A great posting from GotQuestions.org - jk:


Answer: Romans 8:29-30 tells us, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Ephesians 1:5 and 11 declare, “He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Many people have a strong hostility to the doctrine of predestination. However, predestination is a biblical doctrine. The key is understanding what predestination means, biblically.

The words translated “predestined” in the Scriptures referenced above are from the Greek word proorizo, which carries the meaning of “determine beforehand,” “ordain,” “to decide upon ahead of time.” So, predestination is God determining certain things to occur ahead of time. What did God determine ahead of time? According to Romans 8:29-30, God predetermined that certain individuals would be conformed to the likeness of His Son, be called, justified, and glorified. Essentially, God predetermines that certain individuals will be saved. Numerous scriptures refer to believers in Christ being chosen (Matthew 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20, 27; Romans 8:33, 9:11, 11:5-7, 28; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9; 2 Peter 1:10). Predestination is the biblical doctrine that God in His sovereignty chooses certain individuals to be saved.

The most common objection to the doctrine of predestination is that it is unfair. Why would God choose certain individuals and not others? The important thing to remember is that no one deserves to be saved. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and are all worthy of eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). As a result, God would be perfectly just in allowing all of us to spend eternity in hell. However, God chooses to save some of us. He is not being unfair to those who are not chosen, because they are receiving what they deserve. God’s choosing to be gracious to some is not unfair to the others. No one deserves anything from God; therefore, no one can object if he does not receive anything from God. An illustration would be a man randomly handing out money to five people in a crowd of twenty. Would the fifteen people who did not receive money be upset? Probably so. Do they have a right to be upset? No, they do not. Why? Because the man did not owe anyone money. He simply decided to be gracious to some.

If God is choosing who is saved, doesn’t that undermine our free will to chose and believe in Christ? The Bible says that we have the choice—all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). The Bible never describes God rejecting anyone who believes in Him or turning away anyone who is seeking Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). Somehow, in the mystery of God, predestination works hand-in-hand with a person being drawn by God (John 6:44) and believing unto salvation (Romans 1:16). God predestines who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved. Both facts are equally true. Romans 11:33 proclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

Recommended Resource: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer.

2 comments:

  1. I'm still confused by this. If God has decided who is to be saved then that person has no choice but to serve God. His/Her free will to choose or not choose to follow God is taken away. I agree and understand the idea of a free will to choose to follow God and be saved beyond predestination, but those who have been predestined by to God for salvation have their free will to NOT follow God removed. Because God has predestined them their free will has been removed. It also lends creedence to "Guarenteed salvation". If one is predestined by God for salvation then there nothing he/she can do on earth that will cause them to lose their salvation because God is never wrong and can not lie. If one decides that they have been "predestined" by God for salvation then they are free to sin at will if they so desire. Just seems to be a dangerous and scripture conflicted belief.

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  2. These are good questions, Dennis but the author has already addressed them, "If God is choosing who is saved, doesn’t that undermine our free will to chose and believe in Christ? The Bible says that we have the choice—all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). The Bible never describes God rejecting anyone who believes in Him or turning away anyone who is seeking Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). Somehow, in the mystery of God, predestination works hand-in-hand with a person being drawn by God (John 6:44) and believing unto salvation (Romans 1:16). God predestines who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved. Both facts are equally true. Romans 11:33 proclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”

    I think both sides of this issue try too hard to do two things; Make sense (reason) of one of the greatest mysteries we encounter in the Bible. Some things are beyond our comprehension. This is why we now "see through a glass darkly". The other attempt frequently levied upon the debate is one that tries to ensure that God is "fair". God is not fair, He is just and His justice must be met. If His justices is satisfied by our ability to decide correctly, it seems to me that grace goes out the window and salvation is then achieved, not by faith and grace, by by our human understanding.

    Yet, we see both principles of God's divine election and human responsibility in Acts 13:46 & 48. We see the Pharisees, who have "...judged themselves unworthy of eternal life", a clear case of humans being responsible for their decisions. Then we see that the Gentile came to Christ "as many as were appointed", an obvious instance of God's divine election.

    John makes a very clear statement in John 1:12-13, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." When John uses "born" here, it is in the spiritual sense, not the physical and refers to being "born again" or "born of God", as john frequently does.

    Obviously, there is some supernatural combination of God's predestination, and human responsibility in responding to the gospel. We have to deal, with a Bible that uses the word "predestined" at least 6 times, depending on your translation. We can't just discard it as not lining up with our preconceptions. We also have to deal with the very clear fact that God holds us accountable for our decisions including the one the respond to the gospel. One day, this will all be clear to us but, for now, we have to accept it in faith.

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