People are often troubled with questions about predestination. Confusion abounds, but God gives us answers in the Bible.
Do We Believe in Predestination?
Yes, we do believe in predestination. The Bible teaches it.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans 8:29
Why the Confusion?
Predestination is not what many people think it is. A popular use of the term leaves some people with the idea that God chooses only certain people to be saved and then causes them to believe in Christ by giving them faith. But what about those who are stuck outside this group of special elected people? Well, according to this view, they go to Hell because they were condemned before they ever took a breath. This confusing teaching is often coupled with other unscriptural claims such as the upsetting notion that Jesus did not even die for those who are not chosen. The conclusions of this faulty set of ideas have left many people confused and angry towards God.
Definitions are important
Bible doctrines rise and fall on definitions of words. Throw a faulty definition into a theological paragraph and truth will hide under the confusion. For example, if I tell you that “God so loved the world” means that God loves dirt, trees and rocks, you might not understand why you should believe in Christ to save you. The building blocks of truth are accurately defined words.
Two Important Definitions
Definition # 1: The word used in Romans 8:29 for “foreknew” was originally written as a Greek word “proginosko.”
Divide the word into two parts and you have “pro” (before) and ginosko” (know). So “foreknow” means “to know before.”
Question # 1: Is there any choosing involved with God’s foreknowledge (proginosko)? No.
God simply knew. In fact, there is nothing that God did not know, at any time. He knew everything, before. God’s omniscience (all knowing) is an awesome attribute of God. Part of the everything that God knows is who will believe in Christ. He does not need to wait and see who will believe; He knows, from eternity before, what children will be spiritually born into His family because He has the sonogram of His foreknowledge. But He does not choose for them.
Definition # 2: The word used in Romans 8:29 for “predestinate” was originally written as a Greek word “proorizo.” Divide this word into two parts and you have “pro” (before) and “orizo” (mark). So “predestinate” means “to mark before.”
Question # 2: Is there choosing involved with God’s predestining (proorizo)? Yes, absolutely. Who gets chosen? Those whom He foreknew (believers). What are believers chosen to receive? They are marked beforehand to receive special blessings that only believers can receive. In Romans 8:29, one of those benefits is that God marks believers to be conformed to be like Jesus. He doesn’t predestine this special purpose for the unsaved because that would be absurd.
The condemned are outside the circle of those whom God foreknew, not because He picked them to stay outside, but because they would not believe in Christ. And God knew they wouldn’t.
What Did God Choose?
In summary, God says that whoever believes in Christ will be saved into eternal life. God permits us to choose our own destiny. Since God is all-knowing, He has always known each person who will believe. Those whom God foreknows are destined by God to enjoy certain blessings that are limited only for those who believe in Christ. So God, in His sovereignty, chooses to allow us to choose faith in Christ or not.
God loves you. Period. He gave His Son for you. He calls you to believe, to trust in Christ. He knows whether you will or not, but the choice is yours. If you don’t believe, you will be held without excuse. If you do believe, God already knew you would; He has planned in advance for your place in the family of God.
Why are People Saved?
Are people saved because God predestined them to be saved? Or are they saved because
they believed in Christ? Did God say, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever is predestined should not perish?” Of course not. Anyone who is a “whosoever” can be saved, if only they will believe. It just so happens that God knows every single person who will choose to believe and has already painted the spiritual nursery for them.
Why are People Condemned?
Are people condemned because God did not predestine them to be saved? Of course not! They are condemned because they did not believe. The Bible says:
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:18
Notice that people are condemned because they did not believe in Christ; people are not condemned because they committed sins!
Would God condemn people who didn’t believe in Christ if they couldn’t believe? No. Would He call everyone to believe in His Son if some of them couldn’t believe? No.
God is Sovereign
Sovereignty means that God causes or allows all things to happen. He can do anything He wants. And what He wants is to allow each of us to choose our own destiny. So He sent His Son to die for all. He calls us all to believe, if only we will. How about you? Will you believe in Christ right now, if never before?
“…the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…” – Romans 3: 22
– Freddie Coile
President of Focus Evangelistic Ministries, Inc.
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