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, 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 then no real choice to change.
This flies in the face of scripture which shows us that God does give us a choice.
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.
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. If you wish to read more about salvation and what it is go here.
The problem with Predestination is it is used to explain some difficult scriptures in the Bible. Paul wrote in the Bible the following passage, 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 the verses that are the main scriptures Predestination leans on.
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.
Firstly let’s look at the start of the scripture it says that “purpose of God according to election might stand”, it is talking about the purposes of God, I believe the overarching purpose of God, which is fixed. But under that purpose comes the individual salvation of people. If we look carefully at the last piece of the scripture we see it says:
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,
Paul says inspired of the Holy Spirit, God “endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath”, what does he mean by that? Well,
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.
God is long-suffering, not willing that any perish, but that all, and I stress all, should come to repentance. If we flow this thought through the passage in Romans. It could be stated this way: “what if God wanting to show His wrath against the vessels of dishonor, had previously endured their behavior, i.e. attempted to bring them to salvation, but they had resisted it, so God gave them over to a plan that displayed His wrath” This fits with
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.
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.
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, for a long time put up with 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.