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1. Definition

(From Nelson's Bible Dictionary)

[NOTE: This article tries to justify both sides of the doctrine. The article makes some statements which are not correct. Study the rest of this lesson to see what the Bible teaches.]

The biblical teaching that declares the sovereignty of God over man in such a way that the freedom of the human will is also preserved.

Two major concepts are involved in the biblical meaning of predestination. First, God, who is all powerful in the universe, has foreknown and predestined the course of human history and the lives of individuals. If He were not in complete control of human events, He would not be sovereign and, thus, would not be God.

Second, God's predestination of human events does not eliminate human choice. A thorough understanding of how God can maintain His sovereignty and still allow human freedom seems to be reserved for His infinite mind alone. Great minds have struggled with this problem for centuries.

Two views of predestination are prominent among church groups today. One view, known as Calvinism, holds that God offers irresistible grace to those whom he elects to save. The other view, known as Arminianism, insists that God's grace is the source of redemption but that it can be resisted by man through his free choice. In Calvinism, God chooses the believer; in Arminianism, the believer chooses God.

Although the term predestination is not used in the Bible, the apostle Paul alludes to it in <Ephesians 1:11>: "We have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will."

All Christians agree that creation is moving within the purpose of God. This purpose is to bring the world into complete conformity to His will <Rom. 8:28>. From the very beginning of time, God predestined to save humankind by sending His Son to accomplish salvation. Thus, "God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" <1 Tim. 2:4>.

The doctrine of predestination does not mean that God is unjust, deciding that some people will be saved and that others will be lost. Mankind, because of Adam's FALL in the Garden of Eden, sinned by free choice. Thus, no person deserves salvation. But God's grace is universal. His salvation is for "everyone who believes" <Rom. 1:16>.

Paul also declared that he was a debtor under obligation to take the message of the gospel to other people <Rom. 1:14> so they might hear and obey. Paul clearly meant that no one is saved apart from the will of God and no one is lost apart from the will of God. But the will of God functions within an order which God Himself has established.

Predestination is a profound and mysterious biblical teaching. It focuses our thinking on man's freedom and responsibility as well as God's sovereignty.

(Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


2. Biblical Terms

  1. Foreknowledge - To know in advance
  2. Purpose - According to God's will, plan, promise
  3. Election - To choose, select
  4. Predestination - To determine before, predetermine

3. Misunderstandings About Predestination

A. Calvinism - T U L I P

T - otal Depravity = We are born lost, not capable of believing.

U - ncontitional Election = Predestination

L - imited Atonement = Christ dies ONLY for the elect ones.

I - rresistable Grace = Direct operation of Holy Spirit on the heart.

P - reserving of the Saints = Once saved, always saved, Eternal security

B. What the Presbyterian creed says: Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646)

Chapter III, Section IV

" These angels and men, thus presdenated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished."

Chapter III, Section V

"Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Chirst, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace."

C. Common errors from this teaching:

"Whatever will be, will be"

"God took him. It was his time to go."

"When your number's up, your number's up."

4. Correct view is:

A. NOT: Calvin believed that all the passages dealing with election, purpose and predestination should be applied to the individual. Thus, he taught "Individual Predestination."

B. These passages are written to a group or class of people. The decision of God was to save all who believed and obeyed his Son. This is "Group Predestination." God has not pre-set your life. He has not decided if you will be saved or lost, who you will marry, what you will suffer, when and how you will die. God's predestination is that "all who believe and obey the Son of God, Jesus Christ, will be saved."

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