It wasn’t long ago that I was sitting in a hospital waiting room and as I was reading, I overheard two young ladies talking about the subject of predestination. It was very clear that they were looking at the doctrine from a negative perspective rather than from a positive perspective. Why is it that so many professing Christians and church leaders approach predestination from a negative perspective rather than a positive perspective—if they approach it at all? It seems that God has other intentions by the way he delivers it to us in the pages of Scripture.
Predestination & Eternal Security
One of the grand truths of Scripture is the eternal security of God’s people. In John 10:28-29, we find some very comforting words from Jesus who makes it abundantly clear that all of God’s people are secured by the Father and the Son and that nobody can snatch them away!
In another text, in Romans 8:29-30, we find Paul expounding on the depths and riches of our salvation. In that text, he not only uses the term “predestination” as a means of describing God’s work of saving sinners, but he then describes every one of God’s children as having been predestined…and glorified. We all know that we have not been glorified yet, but the point is clear—since we have been predestined, we will certainly be glorified in the future, so much so that Paul uses an aorist indicative verb tense in order to describe something that hasn’t yet occurred as if it has already occurred—that’s how secure and certain it is.
Predestination & the Success of Jesus’ Death
If Jesus came and died on the cross without any degree of certainty that fallen sinners would be saved, what does that do to the doctrine of God? If salvation is determined by the free-will acts of man and if predestination is not a determining factor in the equation—Jesus would have died on the cross and not one single person would have been saved through his death. It’s obvious in John 6:44 that not one person could come to God unless God engages. To connect the inability of man with the predetermined plan of God found in texts like Ephesians 1 and Romans 8, points to the fact that Jesus’ death was successful from eternity past to eternity future and that every last one of his people would be saved. That’s why the angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus was coming to save his people. He didn’t say that Jesus was coming in hopeful aspirations of saving his people. That’s also why Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished”—the payment for every last one of his people was complete (John 19:30).
Predestination & the Gospel Mission
If the salvation of fallen rebels was up to the persuasion of missionaries and church planters and all of us as we share the gospel—none of us would have any confidence that people in our communities would be saved. However, remember what was communicated to Paul as he slept regarding the mission of the gospel that God had sent him to accomplish.
Acts 18:10 – for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.
This was a statement about people who had not yet been converted. But, God was sending Paul comfort that he had his people in the city, but they had yet to be converted, so as Paul went he had confidence that God would save his people.
Predestination & the Revelation of the Omniscience of God
Some people who reject the doctrine of predestination turn it into a mere response of God to what man does. In their way of thinking, God looks through a long tunnel of time to see if fallen sinners will accept or reject the gospel of Jesus. Based on their rejection of Jesus or their acceptance of Jesus—God then acts to either predestine that person to salvation or reject that person to hell, but the ultimate determining factor was based on what the person did in their own free-will.
The problem with such a view is that it forces an improper view of God. In the view stated, God would not only be stripped of his absolute sovereignty, but he would be stripped of his absolute omniscience. God would not have all information at some point, which would require him to look through a tunnel of time to gather information that he did not have access to nor did he control. This is not the view of God from the pages of Scripture. The only way you can arrive at such a view is to redefine and misinterpret the word “foreknew” in Romans 8. The meaning of the word is to “forelove” rather than to “foresee.” The idea put on display is that God decided to love people before the foundation of the world rather than to foresee events taking place. The context makes this clear.
Predestination & Worship
Doctrine matters. Either we will worship a God who is dependent upon us or we will worship a sovereign God—One we are completely dependent upon. As we come to see the doctrine of divine sovereignty in all things—including our own salvation—it crushes pride, increases our dependence upon God, and leads us to a humble approach to worship rather than some prideful approach of man-centeredness that is so prevalent in so many evangelical circles today.
When Peter and John were praying in Acts 4, notice that in their prayers to God, they simply talked about predestination. God is in control. At the end of Romans 11, after climbing to the top of the mountain peak of predestination in Romans 8-11, Paul concludes with these words:
Romans 11:36 – For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Rather than a doctrine for the seminary classroom or for moderated debates among apologists, the doctrine of predestination was given to God’s people through prophets and apostles to God’s Church. We must never forget this truth. Predestination is written down in the pages of holy Scripture for God’s people to know God and worship God.
To hear more on this subject, listen to the latest G3 Podcast as Josh Buice and Jeremy Vuolo discuss the doctrine of predestination together.