What a word! Many people know exactly what this means when they read it, but hesitate to ever say the word, or even read it in the Bible. A lot of people feel queezy about this doctrine and pass over it without thinking about the real meaning. This Biblical term usually is defined as meaning that somebody has been predetermined or pre-destined for a certain plan or place. A lot of people believe that this term means that they were fated to either go to Heaven or go to Hell, without them choosing where they’d like to go. It’s much deeper than that, and I definitely don’t hold to any type of fatalism doctrine. So let’s dig deeper into this term.
Disclaimer: * If you are easily angered or even offended by those who profess to believe the Bible to be God’s complete and perfect Word, then please read carefully. I am not here to offend, but to help those who are simply curious to a point of view that may be the right one. Hopefully, and prayerfully, it is. And I’m going to use much Scripture to help prove my points.
If you haven’t read the article Biblical Terms: Foreknowledge, you should start there. These two terms are very closely related, in that predestination is dependant upon the foreknowledge of God. But let’s being with defining predestination and then showing how it’s related to the foreknowledge of God.
This phrase is found throughout the New Testament. Here are a few examples:
- Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”
- Acts 4:27-28 “for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.”
- Ephesian 1:4-5 “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will”
- Ephesian 1:11 “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
So here are a couple places where the term predestined occurs. It is most often used in this past tense to show that predestination is something that has already happened in the past. It is also always related to something that is currently happening in the present (at the time), and was affected by this predestined plan.
So here’s what we can understand so far.
1. Predestination is determined by God’s will.
2. Predestination is determined by God’s plan.
3. Predestination is determined by God’s foreknowledge of persons.
From this term, you get the idea that God is doing something before the foundations of the world to secure an eternal glory for certain sinners. I truly believe you cannot separate the idea of predestination with election and ordaining.
Election is similar to predestination in the sense that God is choosing, scheduling, intending, allotting, picking, selecting, ordaining and determining who will be His children. Election can be defined as “an act of God before creation in which He chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of His sovereign good pleasure” (Grudem’s Systematic Theology, pg. 670). The term election is found in so many places in Scripture that one must completely avoid them to get around it. Here are some examples:
- Romans 9:11-13 “Thought they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of His call, she was told, ‘The elder will serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
- Romans 11:7 “Israel failed to obtain what it sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.”
- Ephesians 1:12 “We who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of His glory.”
- 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 “For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”
- 2 Thessalonians 2:13 “We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”
- 1 Peter 1:1 “ To God’s elect…”
- 1 Peter 2:9 “ …a chosen race”
- Revelation 13:7-8 “And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whoe name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.”
- Revelation 17:8 “The dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel to behold the beast”
So there are plenty of references to election, being destined for something, and to be chosen for Someone. In these few verses you read that God’s purpose of election and predestination is so that He would receive a people that would praise His holy name, glorify His magnificent attributes, and be conformed to God’s Son Jesus Christ. So election and predestination are very closely related to one another. You can’t have one without the other. And you cannot have God’s election without His having planned and determined it from the beginning.
The verses in Revelation prove that those who are not chosen will no doubt follow the beast because they were not chosen.
As you can see, predestination is basically the phrase or term that defines what God has done for a people before the foundations of the world. These people are to come to Him because they were elected and chosen to be His children. These individuals were loved by God before they did anything good or bad. And everybody who now puts their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, and Treasure prove that they have been chosen, elected, and predestined for the purpose of God’s glory.