Everybody Matters Ministry

Is Predestination Real?

Predestination is often taken too far, so that it negates free will, or man’s choices. The Predestination discussed here is related to God’s overarching plan, and makes suggestions of ways to understand this topic, with in a frame work of free will.

There are some scriptures in the Bible that are hard to understand, Peter wrote that a lot of Paul’s writings although true, were hard to understand.

2Peter 3:15-16 Don't forget that the Lord is patient because he wants people to be saved. This is also what our dear friend Paul said when he wrote you with the wisdom that God had given him. Paul talks about these same things in all his letters, but part of what he says is hard to understand. Some ignorant and unsteady people even destroy themselves by twisting what he said. They do the same thing with other Scriptures too.

Satan loves to take truth and twist it to make it hard for people to come to the truth. It only takes a small lie, or twisting of the truth to turn people off.

Gal 5:9 A little yeast can change a whole batch of dough

The Bible tells us that it is the “goodness of God that leads you to repentance”, so it is no surprise that one of Satan’s goal is to attack the goodness of God. The following is a discussion of one of these twisting’s of God’s nature of redemption and forgiveness.

Predestination is a topic that is often taken so far that it attacks the nature of God. The Bible says that “God is love”, this love is expressed in God’s desire to draw, as many as are willing to Himself:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The Bible tells us that God loved the world and gave His son so that whoever believes in Him will be saved, and that God is slow to anger, not willing that any people perish.

Predestination, takes some hard to understand scriptures, and makes a harsh view of God which attacks the above scriptures. Predestination assumes that people “can not choose to do good”, that they “can not respond to salvation”, and the only way God can save a person is to choose them for salvation, and fix their destiny. Essentially God only chooses a select few, who they call the Elect for salvation. The rest cannot respond, and are damned. This apparently is all a part of God’s will, He fixes destinies before time began, and it is His plan, a plan that cannot be altered. If you look at this with logical eyes, you can see that it makes God look like a monster, He plans, or forces the majority of men to perish, giving them no real chance to change. But I believe this to not be true. I will show scriptures to support my view; but I also wish initially to show that the Earliest Church Fathers also believed in free will not Predestination, I do this to show free will has wide support in Early Church writtings. Below are two quotes the first from Justin Martyr one of the Earliest Church Fathers (church leaders who commented on the meaning of scripture), born shortly after the Apostles (those who walked with Jesus and wrote the Bible). Justin Martyr brings up the topic of Predestination and says it is not what the Church believed in his day [A.D. 110-165.] .

Justin Martyr - First Apology - Ch 56-50

Chap. XLIII — Responsibility Asserted.

But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end;52 nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.

Irenaeus in his Against Heresies - Book 4 Ch 35-38 [A.D. 120-202] shows clearly that it is man's free will choice to choose or reject God. We see this in all the Early Church Fathers.

Chap. XXXVII. — Men Are Possessed of Free Will, and Endowed with the Faculty of Making a Choice. It Is Not True, Therefore, That Some Are by Nature Good, and Others Bad.

1. This expression [of our Lord], “How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,” (Mat 23:37) set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent goodness. Rejecting therefore the good, and as it were spuing it out, they shall all deservedly incur the just judgment of God, which also the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, “But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering, being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” “But glory and honour,” he says, “to every one that doeth good.” (Rom 2:4, Rom 2:5, Rom 2:7) God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle, and they who work it shall receive glory and honour, because they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who do it not shall receive the just judgment of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do.

2. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it, — some do justly receive praise even among men who are under the control of good laws (and much more from God), and obtain deserved testimony of their choice of good in general, and of persevering therein; but the others are blamed, and receive a just condemnation, because of their rejection of what is fair and good. And therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, as I have so largely demonstrated, because it is in our power so to do, and because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God has given us to know by means of the prophets.

3. For this reason the Lord also said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Mat 5:16) And, “Take heed to yourselves, lest perchance your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and worldly cares.” (Luk 21:34) And, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and ye like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He returns from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open to Him. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing.” (Luk_12:35, Luk_12:36) And again, “The servant who knows his Lord’s will, and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luk_12:47) And, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46) And again, “But if the servant say in his heart, The Lord delayeth, and begin to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat, and drink, and to be drunken, his Lord will come in a day on which he does not expect Him, and shall cut him in sunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites.” (Luk 12:45, Luk 12:46; Mat 24:48, Mat 24:51) All such passages demonstrate the independent will151 of man, and at the same time the counsel which God conveys to him, by which He exhorts us to submit ourselves to Him, and seeks to turn us away from [the sin of] unbelief against Him, without, however, in any way coercing us.

4. No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man’s power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. And on this account Paul says, “All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient;” (1Co 6:12) referring both to the liberty of man, in which respect “all things are lawful,” God exercising no compulsion in regard to him; and [by the expression] “not expedient” pointing out that we “should not use our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,” (1Pe 2:16) for this is not expedient. And again he says, “Speak ye every man truth with his neighbour.” (Eph 4:25) And, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.” (Eph 4:29) And, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk honestly as children of the light, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in anger and jealousy. And such were some of you; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified in the name of our Lord.” (1Co 6:11) If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things, and to abstain from others? But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God.

5. And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, “According to thy faith be it unto thee;” (Mat 9:29) thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, “All things are possible to him that believeth;” (Mat 9:23) and, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” (Mat 8:13) Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason, “he that believeth in Him has eternal life while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon him.” (Joh 3:36) In the same manner therefore the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power, said to Jerusalem, “How often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a hen [gathereth] her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate.” (Mat 23:37, Mat 23:38)

As we see free will was an important understanding of the early church. Predestinations harsh view of God flies in the face of early understanding of scripture. There are pleanty of scriptures which shows us that God does give us a choice. There is a choice of life or death based upon what we do:

1 Ch 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for Jehovah searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

Isa 1:19-20 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.

Gen 4:6-7 And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? and why is your face sad? If you do well, will you not have honour? and if you do wrong, sin is waiting at the door, desiring to have you, but do not let it be your master.

A person who believes in Predestination will say, "God just says they have a chance when really they do not, the command does not imply the ability to obey", which makes absolutely no sense at all. Take the example above of Cain, scripture says of Cain that he was "of the wicked one". To a Predestinist this means God gave him no change, no choice. But God who is not a lier said to Cain, " If you do well, will you not have honour? and if you do wrong, sin is waiting at the door". We see God offered Cain one of two pathways, life if he did good, death if he did evil.

1Jn 3:12  not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.

You can see there that God gives us two pathways, one to life, if we are willing and obedient, but destruction if we follow after our sinful nature. A Predestinist will say, man is so wicked he can not choose good. But this is not what Jesus said.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

The above scriptures show us that salvation is coupled by our obedience to the commands of God. It is God who initiates this however. As we see in Job:

Job 36:10-12 He openeth also their ear to instruction, And commandeth that they return from iniquity. If they hearken and serve him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures. But if they hearken not, they shall perish by the sword, And they shall die without knowledge.

God opens their ears to His truth, and tells them to return, and there are two path way, obey and be saved, or deny and sin, and perish.

The problem with Predestination is it is used to explain some difficult scriptures in the Bible. Paul wrote a few Bible passages that seem to support Predestination, like Romans chapter 9 that a Predestinist will apply to mans individual salvation, and when you view it through that lense the scripture would appear to support Predestination. But first we have to see that God does not have a fixed plan for every action of man. If you go to Genisis you see God was shocked at how bad man had become, and it grieved Him. If everything was set to a fixed plan then this would not have surprised God at all.

Gen 6:6-7 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

So let’s read one of the verses that Predestination leans on, and on the surface it will seem to support Predestination, but it need not as Jesus said:

Mat 23:37  Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn't let me. 

We see in this a willingness on God's part, even a desire to save, but the people He was speaking to "were not willing". So let's go to the scriptures that give support to the idea of Predestination. But remember even in Justin Martyrs day [A.D. 110-165.] people had read the scriptures incorrectly to support a form of Predestination, known as fatalism.

But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain.

He goes not to explain that man has genuine free will, as you will see from the full quotes from Justin, both (some way) above and below in this document. Now we return to the scriptures used by Calvanists (those who support Predestination):

Romans 9:11-22 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

If those scriptures were teaching about the individual salvation of man, then you would be lead to believe that God is very uncaring. But it need not apply to the salvation of man, and makes no logical sense in the light of the scriptures we have shown before, that show God wants all to have a chance at salvation, and that our deeds are important to that end.

This passage in Romans starts by saying:

Rom 9:8  That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed. 

The promise referred to here is "faith", I believe that Paul is stating the promise of faith is similar to that of the story of Jacob. It was unearned, and came as the result of God's call. I do not believe that the passage is a word for word depiction of how a man is saved, that God has premeditated hate for some and not others. The Bible is full of references stating that God wants all men to be saved. Let's look at a view of Romans 9 by Irenaeus [A.D. 120-202].

Irenaeus Against Heresies. (Cont.)
Book IV. (Cont.)
Chap. XXI. — Abraham’s Faith Was Identical with Ours; This Faith Was Prefigured by the Words and Actions of the Old Patriarchs.

2. The history of Isaac, too, is not without a symbolical character. For in the Epistle to the Romans, the apostle declares: “Moreover, when Rebecca had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac,” she received answer72 from the Word, “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people are in thy body; and the one people shall overcome the other, and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Rom_9:10-13; Gen_25:23) From which it is evident, that not only [were there] prophecies of the patriarchs, but also that the children brought forth by Rebecca were a prediction of the two nations; and that the one should be indeed the greater, but the other the less; that the one also should be under bondage, but the other free; but [that both should be] of one and the same father. Our God, one and the same, is also their God, who knows hidden things, who knoweth all things before they can come to pass; and for this reason has He said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Rom_9:13; Mal_1:2)

Of Romans 9 Irenaeus said “The history of Isaac, too, is not without a symbolical character “. What is that symbolic character? Irenaeus links them to a prediction of two nations. Jacob represents the fact that the gentiles will be join heirs of faith, receiving the birth right that was given initially to his brother Esau. Esau represents the Jews, who had the birth right, but it was given up to Jacob (The church, including Gentiles).

The term “but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man: Romans 9:10 Irenaeus, links to the fact that both Jew and Gentile have the same Father God.

He does not say that this is a prediction of the salvation of Jacob, and the damnation of Esau. I believe rather the story is a picture of the church given the blessing, and the Jews who lost it. The understanding of the next scripture is pivitol to whether a person should believe in Predestination or grace given to all.

Rom 9:11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),


The above scripture is still talking of the symbolism between Jacob, and Esau, to our current faith journey. Notice the passage uses the term:

not of works

Where ever that term is used in scripture else where it refers to the fact that we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, not by our own deeds, and that faith in Jesus is what saves, not our works.

Gal 5:13  For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Gal 2:21  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

It does not make sense to redefine the term "not of works", to mean God chooses people to save not based upon any action of their own, that is fatalism what the Early Church fought. Again, Jacob and Esau are a picture of faith, Jacob given blessing not based upon his works, having done no good or evil, but upon the calling of God. The call to us which is faith, not works of the Jewish Law. Not in Esau (representing the Hebrew Nation) but in Jacob representing the nation of faith.

The passage then enters:

Rom 9:14-16 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE COMPASSION." So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.​

It may seem unrightous for God not to select Esau, based upon his birthright, and the fact he was born of the same father. But Paul says "there is no unrighteousness in that choice", God chooses who He will bless based upon His plan, or will. But again I see this as speaking of the plan for how salvation would come, through Chirst, not of works.

Now the passage talks about the blinding, and sinister plan, that occurs to those who the early Church Fathers said “blind themselves”, by rejecting God’s evidences. We have talked about salvation, and how it is not by works of the law. But now what happens to those who reject faith.

Rom 9:17-24 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I HAVE RAISED YOU UP, THAT I MAY SHOW MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MAY BE DECLARED IN ALL THE EARTH." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

Note the Church Fathers called this blinding "self blinding", God allows/gives hardness of heart to the sinner, but those who persist in well doing life.

Iranaeus - Against Heresies - Book 4 Ch 39-End

4. But God, foreknowing all things, prepared fit habitations for both, kindly conferring that light which they desire on those who seek after the light of incorruption, and resort to it; but for the despisers and mockers who avoid and turn themselves away from this light, and who do, as it were, blind themselves, He has prepared darkness suitable to persons who oppose the light, and He has inflicted an appropriate punishment upon those who try to avoid being subject to Him. Submission to God is eternal rest, so that they who shun the light have a place worthy of their flight; and those who fly from eternal rest, have a habitation in accordance with their fleeing. Now, since all good things are with God, they who by their own determination fly from God, do defraud themselves of all good things; and having been [thus] defrauded of all good things with respect to God, they shall consequently fall under the just judgment of God.


The question asked by the sinner, is how can God find me at fault if He blinded me to the truth?

You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

Paul's reply is the potter can do what He wants with His things. He then says that God “endured with much long-suffering” the vessels of wrath so that He could make known to us His rich blessing.

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

When I think of long-suffering I think of:

2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

I believe the long-suffering talked of by Paul and spoken of by the Church Fathers. Is that of God extending his hand over and over again to man, but some reject that, and end up blind to faith, and given to a sorry plan. But God is often, giving us mercy.


Job 33:28-30 He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, And his life shall see the light. "Behold, God works all these things, Twice, in fact, three times with a man, To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.

But let's meditate on this a little longer, the topic of blinding, God does allow blindness to occur, but I believe only after a man rejects the light.

Romans 1:20-22 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

What happened in the above scripture? God gave evidence to man, evidence of Him. But some chose to not glorify God, so He gave them over to a darkened heart. This fits with the long suffering passage, and backs up the idea that darkness of heart come with rejection of God’s evidences.

How Salvation Occurs

We will now talk about the method by which salvation occurs in man.

As people when we are born we have no knowledge of God, we walk in a quagmire of maybes, yet at some point in our lives God will give a person light, understanding, and knowledge, this can occur numerous times. As in Job, the rebellious believer is given chance after chance to change:

Job 33:29-30 "Behold, God works all these things, Twice, in fact, three times with a man, To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.

This light, understanding, or knowledge God gives to all people.

Joh 1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.​

It is how the individual responds to that light that determines if they move towards salvation, or move towards destruction.

Rom 2:4-11  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?   But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;   but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,   tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;   but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God. 

We see God judges without partiallity (showing favourtism), by our deeds.

Job 36:10-12 He openeth also their ear to instruction, And commandeth that they return from iniquity. If they hearken and serve him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures. But if they hearken not, they shall perish by the sword, And they shall die without knowledge.

What we do with the knowledge God gives us, will determine, our destiny. There are two pathways, our eyes remain open, and we follow after righteousness, or we desire sin more than God and drift into spiritual blindness. I show both of these pathways below:

Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

LIFE

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Jesus said that if a man loves God, he will attempt to live God’s way. God will open such a person’s eyes to His saving grace. Note that it is often the pure grace of God that leads to salvation, God showing His forgiveness and mercy toward the sinner. But the person then needs to live out their salvation, obeying God, they still need to keep His words.

Joh 6:28-29 Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

DEATH

Note that there is a blinding that occurs to sinners, but only if they reject Jesus' revelation of Himself, and God.

Joh 14:21-24  He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."  Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?"   Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.   He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. 

The bible tells us that light has come to every man, but some love the darkness more than the light God reveals.

Joh 3:19-21 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

They suppress the knowledge of God. In doing this God gives them over to a darkened heart, if people refuse repentance they will eventually become totally blind to grace, the light that God gives. If a person lives in the desires of the flesh, refusing to return to God, they will eventually perish.

Rom 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Joh 8:43-45 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.

2Th 2:10-12 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Jesus when speaking to the Pharasees who had for the most part rejected Jesus stated, showing man has free will, said:

Luk 13:34  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

God does not want people to perish, but they often refuse willingness to follow the truth. Man is ultimately responsible for His own salvation. As the bible says of the sinner:

Tit 3:11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

God and knowing all outcomes

The degree to which God fixes events is unknown, but some events in our lives are fixed. I believe that God can tell future events in our lives based upon the current state of our heart, knowing who we are, and placing limits on what will occur. Some of these limits span the whole of creation, from start to end, others are localised to an individuals life.

It may seem hard to imagine the world having free choice and God being able to know the future, but I am a computer programmer by trade, and have studied Artificial Intelligence, there is one branch of knowledge that can predict all possible outcomes in a simulation, or game, the computer can essentially know with in a system of free choices, all possible outcomes. God is a lot faster, and smarter than a simple computer. The only way however that the computer can “know” the end from the beginning, is to set constraints on choices, making stories, or outcomes that are restricted, simplifies computation. For God to know every person, every event that could potentially happen He would need to put constraints on man’s stories. And we see this is what God appears to have done:

Acts 17:26-27 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

What is the point of God restricting choices? “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him”, God want’s us all to find Jesus. Yes, God has set end game moments, He has predetermined points of history that will never change, that are predestined, like the cross, and His return at the time of the end. But there are inconsequential choices that occur in between. You may be destined to meet someone who needs Jesus in one day, or two. But God does not care how many coffees you have in between. Yes God knew you before you were created, He knows everything that will happen, but we need to make choices that lead to good not bad outcomes.

Two Way Plan

We have shown previously that God has two pathways for man, if they are willing and obedient a pathway that is good and ends in life, if they sin and harden their face a pathway that ends in death.

We will go to King David. In the Psalms he wrote:

Psa 139:16-18 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being. How dear are your thoughts to me, O God! how great is the number of them! If I made up their number, it would be more than the grains of sand; when I am awake, I am still with you.

So we see that David says God had a plan written down for him in a book before he was formed in his mother womb. Which is not an uncommon thought. We also see of Jeremiah:

Jer 1:5 Before you were formed in the body of your mother I had knowledge of you, and before your birth I made you holy; I have given you the work of being a prophet to the nations.

So we see that God is assigning works for people to do before they are born. That God has a plan for each of us. But what I want to show is that although God has a purpose for each of us, that purpose can, and does change depending upon what we do. Our free will guides our end destination.

King David as an example sinned killing a man, and taking the man’s wife to be his own.

2Sa 12:7-12 Then Nathan told David: You are that rich man! Now listen to what the LORD God of Israel says to you: "I chose you to be the king of Israel. I kept you safe from Saul and even gave you his house and his wives. I let you rule Israel and Judah, and if that had not been enough, I would have given you much more. Why did you disobey me and do such a horrible thing? You murdered Uriah the Hittite by having the Ammonites kill him, so you could take his wife. "Because you wouldn't obey me and took Uriah's wife for yourself, your family will never live in peace. Someone from your own family will cause you a lot of trouble, and I will take your wives and give them to another man before your very eyes. He will go to bed with them while everyone looks on. What you did was in secret, but I will do this in the open for everyone in Israel to see."

So what are we looking for in this scripture? Three things, a) God said “I would have given you much more”, if David did not sin his pathway would have been blessed even more, b) God said “Because you wouldn't obey me” a curse came into his life, c) God saying “Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house,” (KJV), God changed David’s story.

So it is true that God assigns us a destiny “before we were born”, a Godly task to do, but if we obey, we will live, if we disobey we will have a curse. Our life is not set to one story, but is bound to our actions in response to God and other events.

Jer 18:10  If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Even Jeremiah had moments where he could have lost his calling.

Jer 15:19  Then the LORD told me: Stop talking like a fool! If you turn back to me and speak my message, I will let you be my prophet once again. I hope the people of Judah will accept what you say. But you can ignore their threats.

We must realize that God wants us saved, but we must be willing to respond.

Mat 23:37  Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn't let me. 

A bad purpose

God can raise people up for a good or bad purpose. Judas was one who was given a sad purpose, the betrayal of Jesus. But I believe even as the scripture says:

Romans 9:22 What if God, desiring to let his wrath and his power be seen, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath which were ready for destruction:

Judas had beforehand, in his earlier life disqualified himself from eternal life, God had put up with his behavior then got sick of it. Jesus saying of him at the time of working with him:

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

So why was Judas, a devil, or chosen to betray Jesus, why? He was a thief.

John 12:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

Judas had a lifestyle of stealing. Now we see that other thieves have been redeemed so I am not saying a thief can’t be saved, we see one of the robbers on the cross was forgiven and made it to heaven. What I am saying is our lifestyle determine our outcome.

2Peter 1:5-11 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Temptation and Election

Now let’s look at temptation. We know that God does not tempt any man to sin.

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

So God is not causing or responsible for the evil actions of man. This means God did not plan out the evil deeds of man. I believe as the Bible says of the Christian:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

That for every evil purpose man proposes, or carries out, God is working in the background moving people toward a good purpose, even though an evil act occurred. If the planning of God extends to our day to day activities, it is stating, God knows a negative act could occur, given free will, but He has a positive plan to work things out for good in the end.

Ultimately a reason for planning out situations, and life paths is to prevent any one man being exposed to any sin or difficulty that is uncommon to man. To place limits on what they can and can not do. Whether this is all preplanned or whether God daily places constraints on people, is a subject for debate.

Early Church Fathers

None of the Early Church Fathers (that I have read) believed in Predestination. They were proponants of free will salvation.

Dialogue of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew. (Cont.)

Chap. LXXXVIII. — Christ Has Not Received the Holy Spirit on Account of Poverty.

For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit.

Justin Martyr - First Apology - Ch 1-25

Chap. X. — How God Is to Be Served.

But we have received by tradition that God does not need the material offerings which men can give, seeing, indeed, that He Himself is the provider of all things. And we have been taught, and are convinced, and do believe, that He accepts those only who imitate the excellences which reside in Him, temperance, and justice, and philanthropy, and as many virtues as are peculiar to a God who is called by no proper name. And we have been taught that He in the beginning did of His goodness, for man’s sake, create all things out of unformed matter; and if men by their works show themselves worthy of this His design, they are deemed worthy, and so we have received — of reigning in company with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering. For as in the beginning He created us when we were not, so do we consider that, in like manner, those who choose what is pleasing to Him are, on account of their choice, deemed worthy of incorruption and of fellowship with Him. For the coming into being at first was not in our own power; and in order that we may follow those things which please Him, choosing them by means of the rational faculties He has Himself endowed us with, He both persuades us and leads us to faith.


Ch 56-50

Chap. XLIII — Responsibility Asserted.

But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end;52 nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.

Irenaeus in his Against Heresies - Book 4 Ch 35-38 shows clearly that it is man's free will choice to choose or reject God.

Chap. XXXVII. — Men Are Possessed of Free Will, and Endowed with the Faculty of Making a Choice. It Is Not True, Therefore, That Some Are by Nature Good, and Others Bad.

1. This expression [of our Lord], “How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,” (Mat 23:37) set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent goodness. Rejecting therefore the good, and as it were spuing it out, they shall all deservedly incur the just judgment of God, which also the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, “But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering, being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” “But glory and honour,” he says, “to every one that doeth good.” (Rom 2:4, Rom 2:5, Rom 2:7) God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle, and they who work it shall receive glory and honour, because they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who do it not shall receive the just judgment of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do.

2. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it, — some do justly receive praise even among men who are under the control of good laws (and much more from God), and obtain deserved testimony of their choice of good in general, and of persevering therein; but the others are blamed, and receive a just condemnation, because of their rejection of what is fair and good. And therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, as I have so largely demonstrated, because it is in our power so to do, and because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God has given us to know by means of the prophets.

3. For this reason the Lord also said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Mat 5:16) And, “Take heed to yourselves, lest perchance your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and worldly cares.” (Luk 21:34) And, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and ye like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He returns from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open to Him. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing.” (Luk_12:35, Luk_12:36) And again, “The servant who knows his Lord’s will, and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luk_12:47) And, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46) And again, “But if the servant say in his heart, The Lord delayeth, and begin to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat, and drink, and to be drunken, his Lord will come in a day on which he does not expect Him, and shall cut him in sunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites.” (Luk 12:45, Luk 12:46; Mat 24:48, Mat 24:51) All such passages demonstrate the independent will151 of man, and at the same time the counsel which God conveys to him, by which He exhorts us to submit ourselves to Him, and seeks to turn us away from [the sin of] unbelief against Him, without, however, in any way coercing us.

4. No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man’s power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. And on this account Paul says, “All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient;” (1Co 6:12) referring both to the liberty of man, in which respect “all things are lawful,” God exercising no compulsion in regard to him; and [by the expression] “not expedient” pointing out that we “should not use our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,” (1Pe 2:16) for this is not expedient. And again he says, “Speak ye every man truth with his neighbour.” (Eph 4:25) And, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.” (Eph 4:29) And, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk honestly as children of the light, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in anger and jealousy. And such were some of you; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified in the name of our Lord.” (1Co 6:11) If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things, and to abstain from others? But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God.

5. And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, “According to thy faith be it unto thee;” (Mat 9:29) thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, “All things are possible to him that believeth;” (Mat 9:23) and, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” (Mat 8:13) Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason, “he that believeth in Him has eternal life while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon him.” (Joh 3:36) In the same manner therefore the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power, said to Jerusalem, “How often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a hen [gathereth] her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate.” (Mat 23:37, Mat 23:38)