Predestination

Introduction

The subject of “predestination” troubles many. The primary reason for distress is the idea God has chosen some for heaven and some for hell and one’s destiny is fixed. The Bible does not teach this nor is this what the Bible means by predestination. Theologians have spilt much ink arguing Calvinism versus Arminianism and created an arcane technical vocabulary with words such as sublapsarianism and supralapsarianism.

A study of predestination requires examination of related areas–God’s foreknowledge, election, man’s will, and how divine and human wills interact. While we cannot have full knowledge of these operations, God has provided a framework and enough information to understand the subject sufficiently. The goal of this study is to examine the Bible’s revelation on this subject and remedy the confusion that exists.

Biblical Terms Concerning Predestination

Foreknowledge (προγινώσκω) is part of God’s omniscience, that God knows everything. The verb προγινώσκω is formed by the preposition πρό (before) + γινώσκω (know). It means to know something beforehand and as it relates to man is confined to time. It occurs in the following verses: Acts 26.5; Romans 8.29, 11.2; 1 Peter 1.20; 2 Peter 3.17.

“Elect” or “Choose” (verb) ἐκλέγομαι occurs in the following verses: Mark 13.20; Luke 6.13, 10.42, 14.7; John 6.70, 13.18, 15.16, 19; Acts 1.2, 24, 6.5, 13.17, 15.7, 22, 25; 1 Corinthians 1.27-28; Ephesians 1.4; James 2.5. The most helpful verses are Mark 13.20 and Ephesians 1.4. One might object that verses which speak of Jesus choosing the Twelve should be considered (Luke 6.13; Acts 1.2, 24) but these seem problematic since John 6.70, 13.18 include Judas as one of the chosen.

“Elect” or “Chosen” (noun) ἐκλεκτός provides more help than the verb. It occurs in the following verses: Matthew 20.16 (KJV), 22.14, 24.22, 24, 31; Mark 13.20, 22, 27; Luke 18.7, 23.35; Romans 8.33, 16.13; Colossians 3.12; 1 Timothy 5.21; 2 Timothy 2.10; Titus 1.1; 1 Peter 1.1-2, 2.4, 6, 9; 2 John 1.1, 13; Revelation 17.14. Most of these verses clearly declare that God has chosen some and that these are synonymous with believers.

“Called” καλέω is a verb frequently used (146x) and means “to call,” or “to be called or named.” Useful occurrences are the following. Matthew 9.13, 22.3-4, 8-9; Mark 2.17; Luke 5.32, 14.16-17, 24; John 10.3; Romans 8.30, 9.11, 25; 1 Corinthians 1.9, 7.22, 15.9; Galatians 1.6, 15, 5.8, 13; Ephesians 4.4; 1 Thessalonians 2.12, 4.7, 5.24; 2 Thessalonians 2.14; 1 Timothy 6.12; 2 Timothy 1.9; Hebrews 9.15, 11.8; 1 Peter 1.15, 2.21, 3.9, 5.10; 2 Peter 1.3; 1 John 3.1; Revelation 19.9. The word’s meaning in terms of our subject is synonymous with “chosen” or “elect.”

“Predestine” προορίζω occurs six times, five being from Paul: Acts 4.28; Romans 8.29-30; 1 Corinthians 2.7; Ephesians 1.5, 11.

These words reveal God has elected, predestined, or chosen certain individuals. In every case the terms refer to believers. The Scriptures never state God has predestined or chosen unbelievers.

All Enlightened

The Bible states God has revealed Himself to every human being and that everyone knows God exists. God holds each of us responsible to respond or to reject Him. Consider the following verses:

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man (John 1.9).

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1.19-20).

if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister (Colossians 1.23)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, (Titus 2.11).1

Predestination and the Angelic Conflict

No discussion of predestination is complete without a consideration of God’s purpose in creating man. One of the principle reasons God created mankind was to resolve the angelic conflict.2 Job is the story of a righteous man whom God used as an example to reveal how man’s choice will vindicate God against Satan’s accusations. In the first chapter we read:

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (Job 1.6-7)

Little is known of the activities in heaven but God has disclosed that angelic beings are accountable to God and have to “front and center” to report on their activities. Hearing Satan’s report, the Lord asked him a question:

The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1.8).

Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4.4) and the puppet-master of the world’s governments (Matthew 4.8-9; Luke 4.4-7). Before God created man, Satan had a headquarters in Eden (Ezekiel 28.11-19). Since then, he has roamed the earth observing earth’s activities and influencing its rule. Based upon Satan’s reconnaissance, God asked him his opinion of Job, the premier man on the earth. Satan clearly knew Job and one can sense the sneer in his response:

9 Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1.9-11).

Satan’s counter-argument was Job feared God because God protected him (had Satan tried to harm Job?) and made him rich. He challenged God that if He removed His protection and blessings, Job would curse Him. God responded He would “take that bet” and placed Job under Satan’s power.3

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord (Job 1.12).

Following Satan’s destruction of Job’s livestock, servants, and children, we read:

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God (Job 1.20-22).

In Chapter 2, is the record of Satan’s next report before the Lord. We read:

The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause” (Job 2.3).

God noted Job’s faithfulness again to Satan even in the face of Satan’s attack. Irked by his failure to get Job to curse God after destroying his family and wealth, Satan conceived another line of attack:

4 Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” 6 So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life” (Job 2.4-6).

As a result, Satan afflicted Job with extremely painful boils. We read:

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2.9-10).

After much discussion by Job’s friends of the nature and occurrence of evil, the book ends with God revealing His wisdom and power to Job. He peppered Job with a series of unanswerable questions (Job 38-42). In response, Job replied:

Then the Lord said to Job, 2 “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.” 3 Then Job answered the Lord and said, 4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more” (Job 40.1-5).

Then Job answered the Lord and said, 2 “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” 4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42.1-6).

Satan’s argument to God was that Job feared God because God had given him health and wealth, not because of Who God is. That was the battleground. Job persevered (Job 13.15) and trusted God despite his undeserved sufferings and slander levied against him. Job’s wife counseled him to curse God and die (Job 2.9). His friends advised him to acknowledge his sin since the innocent do not suffer. Job made a choice. He chose to trust God against appearances. He clung to God, and in the end, God vindicated him before Satan, his wife, his friends (Job 42.7-9), and exalted and rewarded him for his faithfulness (Job 42.10-17). Man will choose God, not as Satan argued, because God gives health or wealth, but solely because of Who He is. Man’s role in resolving the angelic conflict is that by choosing God for Who He is–even when confronted with seemingly irrational and undeserved circumstances–he gives testimony against Satan and the angels who rebelled with him in their choice. The lesson in the realm of predestination is that God has given man a will which man can exercise to choose or reject Him. It is the will of man, his choice to choose God for Who He is, that God will use to condemn Satan in his case against God.

The Argument of God’s Absoluteness in Salvation

Some argue God has predestined man by sovereign decree wholly independent of man’s choice. Below are several passages used in support of this view.

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, (Ephesians 1.4-5)

11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy (Romans 9.11-16).

In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1.11-14).

These passages, according to those who maintain man’s salvation is based solely on God’s choice, demonstrate God has predestined or elected some men wholly apart from what man wills. John 10.26 is interpreted to mean a person believes because God has chosen them to believe. Thus, according to the reasoning of those who maintain that God is absolutely sovereign in the matter of salvation, God chooses to have mercy on some and not on others. Furthermore, it is argued that when one exercises faith, it is God who has drawn the individual and gives them faith (cf. John 6.44-45, 65; Ephesians 2.8; Philippians 1.29). Does this argument have Biblical merit?

Response to the Argument

Several problems exist with the argument. While the passages above seem to indicate God’s absolute sovereignty in the matter of salvation these passages are a subset of a larger body of Scripture on the subject. To gain a sound understanding of predestination and election requires us to consider the entire body of Scripture related to the subject, compare Scripture with Scripture, and interpret them in their context. Failure to do this will result in flawed exegesis and logical inconsistency.

Comparing Scripture with Scripture

God has revealed He is unwilling that any perish. But clearly, some do. Why? If God wills something and it does not come to pass, does it mean He is not sovereign? Consider the following verses:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing [βούλομαι] for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3.9).

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires [θέλω] all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.3-4).

12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 “If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 “So it is not the will [θέλημα] of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish (Matthew 18.12-14).

These passages are from Peter, Paul, and the Lord Himself. Each declares God wants none to be lost but ALL to be saved. If He wants ALL to be saved and ALL are not saved, what accounts for the discrepancy? In the face of the logic of those who maintain salvation is wholly a matter of God’s sovereign decree are the following statements:

God chooses some to be saved.
God wills that all be saved.

These two statements form the proposition: “God wills that all be saved but chooses some to be saved.” Such a statement is logically unsound. It cannot be true apart from other information. How do those who maintain God’s will alone is significant in salvation account for this?

Those who maintain salvation is based solely upon God’s sovereign decree teach that the straightforward reading of the text is a misreading of the text. They teach the text should read “all kinds of men,” not, “all men.” Thus, they maintain God does NOT want all to be saved. Related to their concept of predestination and election is their idea of the extent of Christ’s work on the cross. They teach Christ did not die for the whole human race but only for some. Why do they teach this? If Christ died for all, their theology is destroyed.4 Thus, their theology is greater than the Scriptures.

Divine and Human Will

Jesus brought the relationship between the divine and human will into sharp focus with His declaration to the Jews of His day, shortly before His crucifixion. Matthew recorded:

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted [θέλω] to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling [θέλω]. 38 “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'” (Matthew 23.37-39)

This passage reveals the Lord wanted to gather the Jews to Himself and be their King but they WOULD not. Matthew used θέλω for both divine and human will. It should be clear to even a casual reader that God’s will was thwarted by human will. How do we know this? The Lord God Himself said so! Furthermore, He promised He would not return until the Jews asked Him to return. Therefore, we have an explicit statement from the Lord Himself that His return was conditioned upon the Jews’ WILL.5

Many passages speak of man’s will in the execution of divine activity. Consider the following familiar passage:

14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3.14-16).

Jesus said that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish.” Belief is an act of human will. God will save no one apart from human will, which is revealed by faith (cf. Romans 3.21-22, 4.3-5, 5.1; 1 Corinthians 15.1-2). Having said this, how do we account for the following passages?

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6.44).”

And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6.65).”

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16.14).

The above passages reveal one cannot respond to God unless God draws them. How should these verses be viewed in the light of other Scriptures?

Solving the Issue

We have examined five kinds of passages so far. They are the following:

  1. Passages that indicate God’s absolute sovereignty in man’s salvation (Ephesians 1.4-5; 11-14; Romans 9.11-16; John 3.3-8; 6.44, 45, 65, 10.26; Ephesians 2.8; Philippians 1.29; 2 Peter 1.2)
  2. Passages that indicate God is unwilling any should perish (2 Peter 3.9; 1 Timothy 2.3-4; Matthew 18.12-14)
  3. Passages that indicate God must draw an individual before he can believe (John 6.44, 65; Acts 16.14)
  4. Passages that indicate all men know God exists and are accountable to Him (John 1.9; Romans 1.19-20; Colossians 1.23; Titus 2.11)
  5. Passages that indicate man must believe of his own free will (John 3.14-16; Romans 3.21-22, 4.3-5, 5.1; 1 Corinthians 15.1-2)

The Scriptures provide two key verses to help solve the issue of the divine will and man’s will and the nature of predestination and election. One is from Paul and the other from Peter. In Romans 8.29, Paul wrote the Roman church (primarily Gentiles) and defined God’s foreknowledge and predestination. It reads:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called [κλητός] according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew [προγινώσκω], He also predestined [προορίζω] to become conformed [σύμμορφος] to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined [προορίζω], He also called [καλέω]; and these whom He called [καλέω], He also justified [δικαιόω]; and these whom He justified [δικαιόω], He also glorified [δοξάζω].

Peter, addressing Jewish believers, wrote the following in 1 Peter 1.1-2:

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen [ἐκλεκτός] 2 according to the foreknowledge [πρόγνωσις] of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

These passages provide critical information in understanding and resolving the issue of God’s foreknowledge and predestination.

  1. Believers are the subject of God’s foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification, and His working of all things together for good. Unbelievers are never the subject of these teachings.
  2. The texts state God predestined and chose those whom He foreknew; thus, foreknowledge precedes predestiny and election. Foreknowledge governs election.

God exists in eternity. Eternity is NOT simply a long time. It is non-time, i.e., timeless. No one really knows what time is but the scientists tell us it is a physical property of space-matter. Time is a fourth dimension of reality in addition to length, height, and width. For man, the present is NOW. For God, past, present, and future are NOW. God is outside time and its constraints. God experiences all events as NOW. We can only experience the present as NOW. Therefore, God sees all decisions we make (or will make) and all events as NOW. In effect, God has all eternity to contemplate each moment we experience in time. We describe God’s foreknowledge as something “future.” But for God, foreknowledge as “future” is meaningless. For Him, it is simply NOW. The chart below illustrates God’s relationship to time.

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ScreenHunter_20 Mar. 19 11.32

God inhabits eternity outside the time dimension. Past, present, and future are NOW for Him.

As we have seen, the proposition, “God wills that all be saved but chooses some to be saved” is illogical and can only make sense with additional information. The passages above, Romans 8.28-30 and 1 Peter 1.1-2, provide the missing piece of information. God’s election and predestination of individuals is based upon His foreknowledge, which includes knowledge of all things that do happen and could possibly happen. The Scriptures reveal God has provided a witness of Himself to all men. All men know God exists. The Scriptures reveal God has given man a will to respond or to reject Him. Therefore, what God foresees is man’s response to that knowledge. If an individual responds to the light he has been given, the Lord will provide him with more information. Thus, like Lydia who listened to Paul, God opened her heart to respond (Acts 16.14) to the things she heard. Lydia was willing to know more and God opened her heart to believe Paul’s gospel. Such explanation links all the Scriptures into a logical fit. God has given all men a knowledge of Himself. He desires all be saved. But He has also given men a will to accept or reject Him. A person can say, “I want to know more.” Or he can say, “I have no interest.” If a person responds, God provides more light. If he doesn’t, God doesn’t. The genius of God is He can give man free will and still have things come out exactly as He planned. In this, God is completely sovereign. Therefore, God predestines on the basis of His foreknowledge. Foreknowledge governs predestination but does not determine it since within foreknowledge are events that will not occur (since God knows all possible outcomes). Those who respond to God are those whom he saves; they become the elect and predestined.

Conclusion

Those who argue for God’s absolute sovereignty in man’s salvation have no answer for verses that declare God wants all to be saved. They address the issue by theological legerdemain (Spurgeon called it “theological gunpowder”) by declaring “all men” means “all kinds of men.” But the Scriptures are clear: man has a choice in salvation and God’s will is not uncontested. Ultimately, we have to trust God. If God did not love us, would He have suffered on the cross for us? Does He love some more than others? No, God created each of us His image and loves us equally. God has provided salvation for each person. God has given everyone a choice to respond to His love or reject it. C. S. Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done. All that are in Hell choose it”6 and “the doors of hell are locked on the inside.”7

1 Paul meant the “knowledge of salvation,” not salvation itself. He was no universalist.
2 I have yet to find a study on predestination in which God’s purpose in creating man is discussed.
3 Satan wished God to be the agent of evil against Job, “put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has.” This was a subtle temptation. Satan seeks to tempt God to not be God (cf. Matthew 4.1-11). God replied He would give Job over to Satan’s power.
4 The extent of the atonement is considered in my article For Whom Did Christ Die?
5 We know EXACTLY when the Lord will return because He told us. He will return when every Jew on the earth says, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”–and not a moment before (cf. Acts 2.36, 38; Romans 11.26).
6 C. S. Lewis. The Great Divorce. New York. Macmillan. 1946. p. 69.
7 C. S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain. New York. Macmillan. 1973. p. 115.

©2014 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.


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38 Responses to Predestination

  1. Bruce W says:

    Don,

    I understand this now to be as I thought it actually is. God sees it all and can call his elect (ahead of time since he’s outside of time) by who he sees, past, present and future who made a free will choice to accept him.

    Interestingly, I’ve argued this same position with my predestination friends who disagree with this reasoning but that’s their problem.

    Romans 1 tells us God turns those who refuse to acknowledge him over to a reprobate mind. He no longer interacts with the conscience and allows them to take their sinfulness to it’s ultimate course. He didn’t force them to do anything just like he doesn’t force anyone to accept him. Is this right?

    Now please explain OT passages and Romans 9 that show God seemingly intervening in the hardening of kings and men’s hearts? I’d like to clear that up in my mind.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bruce,
      I think they are two sides of the same coin. In the account of Pharoah, some passages state God hardened Pharoah’s heart. Others, that Pharoah hardened his heart. How does God harden hearts? I think by simply leaving man to his own devices, as Paul wrote in Romans 1.

      • Brandon says:

        I’ve kind of read that before, about the Pharaoh.

        I used to think that God directly hardened the Pharaohs heart, like in a supernatural way, but after reading it, I noticed that what really happened is:
        God’s miracles through Moses and the staff made the Pharaoh harden his heart.

        How so?

        The Pharaoh saw that God’s power was far greater than anything the Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do. This hurt his pride as a Pharaoh. That’s why he hardened his heart.

        Read it again in Exodus and see if it makes sense.

        Hope it helps, Bruce.

        God bless you.

  2. Joe says:

    The question of fairness comes up. Can a sovereign be unfair? Any action on the part of the sovereign is exactly what the sovereign wants to do. Isn’t fairness simply a view from the party receiving the action? Children at a dinner table may receive different amounts of food. A 17 year old high school football player may get three pieces of fried chicken while the 8 year old may get two and the 3 year old only a drum stick. Can either of the younger children claim unfairness if mom’s intentions were to be fair? Who decides what’s fair?

    Does the question of fairness only apply to peers? ( a place with no sovereigns). If a person is the last living human on earth can that person be unfair about anything?

  3. Derrick says:

    Hi Don,

    This subject of predestination and foreknowledge has often stirred in my mind. Reading your article helped a bit but I still cannot crystallize the passages and put them together to set my mind at ease. Could you elaborate on one of the sentences in particular?” In effect, God has all eternity to contemplate each moment we experience in time.”

    Perhaps this subject, like you said, is one in which we cannot have full understanding. I would just love to at least have sufficient understanding. Thank you, brother.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Derrick,
      Thank you. Since God is outside time, he is not subject to its constraints. For example, with regard to prayer, God can hear billions of prayers at once with no problem. For Him, he has infinite “time” to respond to each one since He is outside of time. In the same regard, He sees and therefore knows the choices we will make for He sees all events as “now.” So God can “elect” one because He already has seen the choice one will make based upon light provided. The really difficult part is understanding the mechanics of the divine and humans wills. I think all we can know is that God provides a certain amount of revelation and men respond either positively or negatively to it. If the former, God will provide more light–God can see all choices a person will make towards Him. Jesus stated no one comes to Him unless the Father draws him. How this works is unclear but man’s will is involved. God is able to keep man’s free will and His sovereignty fully in play. God’s primary purpose in creating man is to resolve the angelic conflict. To do that, He must have free agents. God must allow us choose Him because we want Him. Forced choice or love is out of bounds.

    • Jasen says:

      Don, I never understood this issue myself and want to respond. I believe that predestined was God’s plan to save the jew and the gentile the same way. God’s plan is what was predestined. I don’t believe that predestined in scripture has to do with God choosing some and not others FOR salvation. It’s not about me’s and you’s. Predestined is that both jew and gentile were chosen the same way to receive salvation (not for) through Christ. It’s dealing with jew and gentile. Jews were the elect, not the church. First it was for the jew, they rejected, then the gentile. This is how I believe predestined is revealed in scripture. It was God’s plan revealed in scripture, not that some were appointed salvation and others weren’t. Elect is a reference to Israel. They were the elect. If we look at scripture in this light it makes sense. We think we’re the elect. Elect was Israel. God’s predestined plan was to save the jew the same way as the gentile, by faith. Bob George has a good podcast on predestination and Doug Hamp does as well. I’m not sure where Doug is coming from on other issues, I haven’t looked at his other studies, but I believe he is correct on this.

      • doctrine doctrine says:

        Jasen,
        Predestination and election only concern believers. The word is προορίζω. See Romans 8.29-30; 1 Corinthians 2.7; Ephesians 1.5, 11.

  4. Joe says:

    I am not very articulate and I know my thoughts usually come in bursts. With this in mind please allow my ramblings below and please correct me. Thank you

    God individually created angels for some reason. (As per mankind only Adam was created. All humans since Adam are not created but born from a single source requiring a single Savior)

    #1 angel was Lucifer possessing free will. Lucifer fell. (There are no substitutional sacrifices for angels that we know of)

    Lucifer was judged and condemned but Lucifer appealed. Lucifer is not omniscient.

    Lucifer questioned God’s Divine attributes ie: love, mercy, justice, etc.

    God answering Lucifer’s appeal set up a program to illustrate his attributes and show his love, fairness, justice, etc.

    The program involves man kind….made a little lower than angels.

    If mankind in his lower state can succeed while combating Lucifer (evil) then God’s resolution of the Angelic conflict is made evident and Lucifer loses his appeal.

    Israel and the Church play important roles both in time and beyond. One earthly and one heavenly.

    Doctrine, please correct me. Thank you for your time and study. Your work and investments have made our study so much easier.

  5. Laird Bean says:

    There is a dear brother on Facebook who is a missionary to India. But, he also teaches this doctrine of predestination minus foreknowledge. Though not in the category of a cardinal doctrine (thus not heresy) it is certainly false teaching and taints this man’s ministry. My concern is for those who are young in the Lord and receive a false concept of the character and nature of God.
    We have provided a link to this site so that a few of those who responded to his posts have an alternative that is accurate.
    Thank you for your true and balanced teaching!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Laird,
      Thank you. God wishes all to be saved (1 Timothy 2.4). He has made a way for all. The idea God has predetermined some to righteousness and some to condemnation is not a Biblical teaching.

      • hoodaticus says:

        If God does not predestine people then why does Romans 9 not only clearly state that God’s choice determines salvation, but also then spend the rest of the chapter dealing with this very objection that God can’t find fault in someone He predestined?

        Romans 9 repeats that God is the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart. The context leaves no room for doubt – the Apostle is defending the doctrine of predestination in that entire chapter. He even answers the objection that this is unjust by saying that God has always reserved the right to do as He pleases.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          hoodaticus,
          If you read the article, you would have discovered the Scriptures state God predestines believers and foreknowledge governs predestination. The Scriptures do not support double-predestination. If you read the account of Pharaoh, the Scripture states Pharoah hardened his heart and that God hardened his heart. Both divine and free will operated. This is the case Paul made in Romans 1 when he stated “God gave them up.” God did this because they made the choice to reject him. Both Calvinism and Arminianism are false.

          • Joe says:

            An interesting passage re: predestination/foreknowledge is 1 Samuel 23:1-13.

            Here we have David wondering if he should go to Keilah and fight the Philistines. God told David to go and defeat them and he did. Keilah was a city with two gates. Saul found out that David was inside the walls of Keilah and headed to Keilah for a siege. David learned of Saul’s plans and asked God if the rulers of Keilah would deliver him (David) into Saul’s hands and God said, ‘yes’ so David and his men left the city. Saul learned of David’s departure and gave up on his plans. …..think about it…..God told David what was foreknown but not predestined. God knew what would happen if David stayed in town…but it didn’t happen……”That which never happens can be foreknown by God, but it is not predestined, since it never happened.”…”Since foreknowledge doesn’t require predestination, foreknown events that happen may or many not have been predestined,”..Heiser, The Unseen Realm, page 65

  6. Elvie Manrique says:

    Hi Don, did Jesus die only for the elect or believer? Thanks

  7. Roger Spielmann says:

    Will we still have free will in the next life?

  8. Roger Spielmann says:

    What I mean is, if we still have free will in heaven isn’t there always a possibility of rebelling against God?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      Theoretically, yes. But the Scriptures provide no evidence for this. The Scriptures indicate choices of both sides (believers and unbelievers) are established. There will be no rebellion of the redeemed who have chosen God and no repentance of those who have rejected God.

  9. Stephen Pugh says:

    I think we need to see a difference between Election and Salvation. Election is the word ‘piercing the scroll’ and it refers to a king who selects from among his children those that he will call to high office in his kingdom and he pierces a scroll of their names to indicate those that he chooses. (This practise still occurs today as the Queen selects her Sheriffs in England.) It has nothing to do with their birth.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Stephen,
      The word “elect” is ἐκλεκτός and means “chosen” or “selected.” The root words are ἐκ (out) λέγω (say). It has nothing to do with England. Foreknowledge governs election.

  10. Stephen Pugh says:

    Another point, The word ‘Pre-destination’ was added with pressure from the Presbyterians to the JKV to indicate a sort of Calvinistic fatalism. Wycliffe had the proper word ‘Pre-ordination’. We all know that ordination has to do with the service of the King and nothing to do with their birth.

  11. courtney says:

    Don, great article i allways thought that God hardened Pharoahs heart, by forceing Pharoah, an idolotor to deal with Him(God). Free will comes in to play so Pharoh in effect is to blame ?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Courtney,
      God does not force. He created us with free will. Without it, love is meaningless. God wants His creation to love Him for who He is. Exodus reads Pharoah hardened his heart and God hardened his heart. The latter was the result of the former. Read Romans 1. When men reject God that rejection forms a scar tissue, a hardening of the soul to respond to God. As Pharaoh continued to fail to respond to God, he became hardened. As such, God hardened his heart.

  12. Dexter Batistil says:

    The reason why people argue about this matter because they forgot the. Very important doctrine salvation is not a choice its a change of heart if mans have to choose without changing His heart ofcourse they will reject the gospel so it is not the matter of choice the reason why people hates election because they want to have a part in their salvation scripture is very direct in saying that its only by grace not in our own work or decission to election =grace its all about God ot us infact if God doesnt save He will still be a just God worthy of everything..

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Dexter,
      This is an oversimplification. Real issues exist here. Some teach that man essentially has no will and that God has chosen some for salvation and damned others. That is what they mean by predestination. The Scriptures present both. God has elected and predestined (believers only) but men have wills to accept or reject God. God has provided salvation for all but salvation is a choice. The whole point of God’s plan is to have creatures who love and accept Him of their own free will. Choice, free will, is the center of gravity of God’s plan.

      • Bobbi says:

        Reading through these replies is interesting. The point of the “man has no will” people’s (Calvinists…?) is quickly refuted in
        Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
        In fact Romans 7 is excellent to explain why we need salvation.
        The Lord himself had to save us because of this very thing, because in the flesh we can do no good thing.

        One thing that is awesome in the predestination doctrine is it is eternal. :) For believers this is stunningly wonderful.

  13. Grace Receiver says:

    Hi, Don!
    This seems to be the best topic under which to ask my question:
    2 Cor. 4:4 – Is it at all possible that we’ve missed the boat entirely with this verse? Could it instead be saying that God IN this age has blinded some? We can find much support for this: Isa. 6:9-10 and Rom. 11:7, to name the most obvious.
    Based on Eph. 2:2, it’s easy to name the “god” of this Corinthian passage as the serpent. However, the Greek word “theos” is never translated as Satan or the serpent, as far as I can see. I will admit that I did not do an exhaustive study, as the word “theos” shows up 1,343 times in the Masoretic.
    Also, the Greek word for “world” is translated as “age” sometimes, which as an aside seems to be a better fit in many passages.
    What are your thoughts on this?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Grace Receiver,
      In this age, Satan controls the governments of the world. See Matthew 4 and Luke 4. He has the power to blind and deceive. God breaks through this deception through faith. In our day, it is by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). According to what Paul wrote in the verse, blindness is the result of unbelief.

  14. Jim Wood says:

    Hi Don, I like the approach of laying out the various types of passages in a clear format as you have done. I have three questions.

    My first question is why would a type of passage dealing with the omnipotence of God not be included (see, e.g., Romans 9:21)? I can see how such inclusion would complicate the discussion, but it still seems to be an issue that should be addressed in the topic if a correct conclusion is to be achieved.

    Secondly, could you explain how you believe the original Greek in 2 Peter 3.9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-4 should be interpreted? Specifically, the operative word in these passages is the Greek word, “pantav”. I am NOT a Greek scholar, so I stumble along with other resources such as the study tools at http://www.studylight.org, which discuss the usage of this word in other passages as follows:
    … “the whole world has gone after him” Did all the world go after Christ? “then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan.” Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordan? “Ye are of God, little children”, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one”. Does the whole world there mean everybody? The words “world” and “all” are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the “all” means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts– some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile …

    So, the operative word in these two passages typically means a subset of the human race. Clearly, if this is a valid interpretation, then the two remaining passages could properly be interpreted to mean that God is not willing that [a certain subset of man] should perish, and that [the subset of man] should be saved. As such, they would seem to support a different conclusion than the one you presented.

    Thirdly, in the event the foregoing is a valid interpretation, do you have any other support for your proposition that God is not willing that any human should perish? I ask this because the Matthew passage does not appear to support the argument.
    For example, in Matthew 18 the context is the Kingdom. The preceding passages address entry into the Kingdom (Matthew 18:1-6) and stumbling blocks (7-11). The immediately following passage deals with correction of a “brother” (15-17) in the Kingdom. Thus, the passage appears to be solely directed to a teaching regarding those in the Kingdom. This is particularly true since I believe you have mentioned previously that “sheep” is a term that is always used in connection with Israel. Accordingly, Matthew 18:12-14 appears to be discussing a citizen of the Kingdom who has gone astray, while saying nothing regarding people who are not in the Kingdom.

    Thank you for your time and insight!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jim,
      1. I don’t understand the question.
      2. The word πᾶς has an individual and collective sense. Context determines how it is rendered.
      3. See my article, For Whom Did Christ Die? Since He died for all, it is logical He wishes all to be saved.

  15. John says:

    Don, this is the best clarification of this subject I have ever read. I am going to print it and study it over and over. Reason being, I run into lot’s of people who think you have to be chosen to saved, I never could agree with the Calvinist on this. Again, a very fine job my brother!

  16. joe says:

    Dear Doctrine:

    Please explain John 6:44. Is everyone called?

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