“Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul& when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God. One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon
I chose God God chose me
The doctrine of predestination is one of the most controversial and misunderstood doctrines in the Christian faith. It has brought both comfort and distress to those who hear about it. And by God's grace, I will try to explain this doctrine and hope that it brings the former to you. In this article we will discuss what the doctrine of election or predestination is, whether it's conditional or unconditional and the purpose of election.
Note, this article will only deal with predestination relating to salvation.
What is the doctrine predestination?
The doctrine of predestination is the teaching that God from the foundation of the world chose (or elected) for Himself a group of people (usually referred to as the elect) whom He would save. Predestination is a combination of two words “pre” (before) and “destination”. So in simple terms, to predestine is to destine or appoint or ordain beforehand.
Does the Bible teach Predestination?
The word “predestination” or “proorizo” in greek occurs about four times in the New Testament in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1. Even though the word “predestination” is not found in the Old Testament, the doctrine itself can be found there. The word “election” or “ekloge” occurs about seven times. We will now start by examining the different views that people have concerning the doctrine of election.
The are two main views of election: conditional election and unconditional election. Conditional election teaches that God looked into the future and saw the individuals who would choose Him and them chooses those individuals to salvation, this is also called the prescient view of election. Unconditional election teaches that God chose people for salvation with no regard of anything that they have done or would do i.e. God's election is independent of the persons past, present or future decision.
Those who hold to a conditional view of election usually use Romans 8:29-30 to support their view. We will briefly explain why that passage cannot be used to support conditional election, let's look at the passage:
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)
Those who hold a prescient view (Arminians) would say that we are predestined because God 'foreknew' that we would choose Him and as a result He predestined us. But this explanation fails, since if God 'foreknew' our decision it would follow that He also 'foreknew' that some would not choose Him and predestine them also. But if this is so, we'll would have a problem since all who are predestined are predestined “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (that is to be saved). Also, those whom God foreknew are called, justified and glorified. The same argument would apply for 1 pet. 1:2
“The pre-sight view of election makes God seem absurd in His language if not somewhat dishonest. You see, God has gone to great lengths to say that some are elected, chosen, foreordained, predestined as part of His eternal purpose. For God to say that He saw those that would choose Him and then He calls them elect (select from a number) is linguistic trickery. It is like the Queen decreeing that the sun will rise in the morning, as others have said. God&s words about His action toward man would mean nothing but could only be construed as a way of presenting an authoritative front that God is in charge, whereas the decisions of eternal life and death are really within man alone. Apply this to prophecy. Much of prophecy is presented to us as that which God determines to do in the future. Is this the truth of it? Did God prophesy that John the Baptist would be the forerunner of the Messiah (Isa. 40:3-5; Luke 3:3-6) on the basis of pre-sight, and then declare that it would happen? Doesn&t language lose all meaning to say that? Does it not make sense of the language to say that the action predicted was based on God&s determined plan and not just what He saw happening?” Jim Elliff
To know a person is to love intimately. This kind of language is used frequently in the Bible. It is also sometimes used as having sexual relations with another person. So to foreknow is to love before.
“Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”” (Amos 3:1-2)
“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”” (Luke 1:34)
“The foreknowledge spoken of (in Romans 8:29) is foreknowledge of persons, not events. The statement reads, “whom He foreknew” You see this as well in Romans 11:2, speaking of His endearment to Israel: “God did not reject His people whom He foreknew.” Therefore we can deduce that foreknowledge as related to salvation is not just seeing a person's conversion experience prior to election and therefore electing on the basis of the individual&s choice. It is a foreloving of persons.” Jim Elliff
Election is unconditional. God elects people to salvation not based on what they have or will do. The Bible tells us that no one can come Jesus unless they are drawn by the Father (cf. John 6:44) so there is nothing we can do to saved ourselves or make God want to save us. Even if God would look down to the future, He would see rebellious sinners who don't want to be saved.
Let's quickly examine other passages that talk about election:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)
“And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”” (Romans 9:10-13)
The purpose of election
“God elects us in order to eliminate all boasting, all self-reliance, all human pride.” G.K. Beale (1 Cor. 1:29-31; Eph. 1:3-11; 2:8-9).
The purpose of election is not for us to feel miserable or wave our fists at God, but to humble us. How can anyone boast about their salvation knowing that they were chosen unto salvation and they would have never chosen God left to themselves.
“After giving a brief survey of the doctrines of grace, I asked for questions. One lady, in particular, was troubled. She said, “This is the most awful thing I've ever heard! You make it sound as if God is intentionally turning away men who would be saved, receiving only the elect!” I answered her in this vein: “You misunderstand the situation. You're visualizing that God is standing at the door of Heaven, and men are thronging to get in that door. And God says to various ones, 'Yes, you may come, but not you, or you, or you yes, you may come, and you, and you, but not you, etc.' The situation is hardly this! Rather, God stands at the door of Heaven with His arms outstretched, inviting all to come. Yet all men without exception are running in the opposite direction towards Hell as hard as they can go. So God, in election, graciously reaches out and stops this one, and that one, and this one over here, and that one over there, and effectually draws them to Himself by changing their hearts, making them willing to come. Election keeps no one out of Heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of folks out of Hell who would otherwise have been there! Were it not for election, Heaven would be an empty place, and Hell would be bursting at the seams!” That does put a different complexion on the thing, doesn't it?
If you perish in Hell, blame yourself, as it's entirely your fault. But should you make Heaven, blame God, for it's entirely His fault! To Him alone belongs all the praise and glory!” – Mark Webb
The doctrine of predestination or election is the doctrine that God chose those whom He would save before the foundation of the world. Election is unconditional. Election must humble us before Our sovereign Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria