Biblical Predestination

by William J. Stewart

That predestination is spoken of in the Bible is apparent, the word “predestined” occurring 4 times in the New Testament (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5, 11). The English “predestined” comes from the Greek proorizo, which is comprised of two words, pro, meaning “before, above”, and horizo, meaning “determine, ordain, limit, boundary”. Thus, predestined means to “predetermine, decide beforehand, foreordain, appoint beforehand” (Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament).

Calvinistic predestination declares,
“God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam’s race to be the object of His undeserved favor. These and these only He purposed to save. God could have chosen to save all men, or He could have chosen to save none – but He did neither. Instead he chose to save some and exclude others. His eternal choice of particular sinners unto salvation was not based upon any forseen act or response on the part of those selected, but was based solely on His own good pleasure and sovereign will. Thus, election was not determined by, or conditioned upon, anything that men would do, but resulted entirely from God’s self-determined purpose.” (The Five Points of Calvinism, David Steele and Curtis Thomas, p. 30).

The Bible presents a very different concept of predestination than that of Calvinists.

WHO DOES GOD WANT TO BE SAVED?
The Calvinistic position of predestination states that God only wants a select few to be saved. In Calvinistic Predestination, man’s salvation is completely based upon God’s selection, and according to these folks, God has chosen some, but not others. The Bible would teach otherwise.

Throughout the New Testament, we find that God wants all to be saved. In 1 Timothy 2:4, we read that God “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Peter 3:9 reveals that God is “…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God calls those who are walking in wickedness to turn, and thus live. Ezekiel 33:11 records, “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'” (cf. 18:21-32)

When Jesus died on the cross, it was not for a select few, but rather He tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). John says that “…He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2). Indeed, God has not chosen to save some and reject others; God has sought to save all.

JESUS, THE PREDESTINED SAVIOUR.
In considering what the Bible says about predestination, we would be amiss if we did not consider that Jesus is identified in Scripture as the predestined saviour. In discussing the precious blood of Jesus, whereby we are redeemed to God, Peter writes, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” (1 Peter 1:20). His sacrifice at Calvary was predestined, for we are told that the Lamb of God was “…slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8).

In fact, the Bible speaks of the Saviour as having come from a predetermined or predestined people. Romans 11:2 reads, “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.” However, the fact that God foreknew the nation did not affirm that all Jews would be saved. In fact, we are told in the context that only “…a remnant…” (v 4-5, 23) would be recipients of God’s grace.

CALVINISTIC PROOF TEXTS TO CONSIDER
Romans 9:11-13 – the individual salvation of Jacob and Esau is not under consideration, but the choice of a nation (Genesis 25:23). “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” is from Malachi 1:2-3, and refers to the nations, not the men. God did not choose one above the other for salvation, but for the completion of His plan to save man through the Messiah.

Romans 9:15-18 – God has a right to choose the terms whereby He will save. It is left to all men to either accept or reject. Like Pharaoh, the Jews rebelled, hardening their hearts to God’s commandments. God used them, as He used Pharaoh, to show His power and to declare His name throughout the earth (v 15).

Romans 9:15-18 – God has a right to choose the terms whereby He will save. It is left to all men to either accept or reject. Like Pharaoh, the Jews rebelled, hardening their hearts to God’s commandments. God used them, as He used Pharaoh, to show His power and to declare His name throughout the earth (v 15).

Ephesians 1:3-13 – The emphasis in the context is not on the individual who is saved, but upon the Christ who saves. It is a predestined place and plan, not predestined people. Notice:

  • …blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… (v 3)
  • …He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… (v 4)
  • …He has made us accepted in the Beloved… (v 5)
  • In Him we have redemption through His blood… (v 7)
  • …that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ… (v 10)
  • in Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will… (v 11)
  • in Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth… (v 13)

Romans 8:28-30 – God’s purpose was central in the Ephesians 1 text. His purpose was to supply a Saviour and provide blessings in Him to all who believe. Who are those that God foreknew and predestined? It is those who will conform to God’s plan. They are called by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14) and justified by faith in Christ (Romans 3:23-26).

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