Prophecy? Or Predestination?
Vol: 145 Issue: 24 Thursday, October 24, 2013
One of the most controversial (and least understood) points of doctrine apart from eternal security or a pre-trib Rapture is the doctrine of predestination.
“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29)
‘Predestination’ suffers from the same malady as do many other controversial doctrinal issues — political correctness.
(WHAT? No, really. It’s true. Hear me out.)
There are two main objections to predestination. One is doctrinal, the other, political. Let’s look at the political objection first.
If the doctrine of predestination is true, then it follows that those who were not predestinated to be conformed to the Image of His Son were predestinated for hell. That is politically incorrect; it is hateful and exclusionary.
The second objection to predestination is that it negates free will. Of the two objections, this seems to be the one with the least ground to stand on. Because God knows what your decision is going to be doesn’t mean that you don’t have any choice.
I could offer you a million dollars, tax free, without any strings or a good swift kick in your behind. I could also predict in advance what your choice would be.
You may surprise me and choose the kick in the rear. But my prediction would not affect your choice.
The difference is that in my case, I could be wrong on my prediction, whereas God isn’t guessing. He already knows. But YOU don’t know what your choice is until you make it.
Your free will is unencumbered.
Many of the same people that just can’t seem to get their head around the concept of predestination have absolutely no problem in believing in Bible prophecy. How is it that YOU view Bible prophecy?
Consider the following Scriptures:
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.”
“For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” (Psalms 22:14-18)
Did Psalms 22 predestinate the Crucifixion? Or does it simply predict it? Is there a difference? In what way?
Did God foreknow Judas? Did God foreknow Caiaphas? Did God foreknow the Roman soldiers who scourged Him, spat upon Him, drove the nails into His hands and feet? Did God foreknow which of them would gamble for His robe?
Is this really even a question? Of course God foreknew each of them — or He couldn’t have foreknown me. Which then means the Bible cannot be true, since it says that He foreknows us all.
Foreknowledge is the same thing as predestination in the sense that God’s knowledge is perfect. But since you don’t know your own future, how can your free will decisions be encumbered by the fact that God does?
The politically correct response to predestination being advanced as a doctrine is to shout “Calvinist!” at the top of one’s lungs, cover one’s ears with one’s hands and to run screaming from the room.
One needn’t be a Calvinist to believe that God is omniscient. One needn’t be a Calvinist to believe that the Old Testament prophets predicted Christ’s First Advent. Isaiah wasn’t a Calvinist when he wrote of the suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53.
“Calvinist” is a label applied to the five major points of doctrine outlined by French theologian John Calvin in the mid-14th century. Calvin’s five points are identified by the acronym TULIP.
- Total Depravity of Man
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement
- Irresistible Grace
- Perseverance of the Saints
Calvinism teaches that salvation is entirely the work of God; God chose His elect, the Son died to pay their sin debt, and the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel.
I am not a Calvinist, primarily because the general understanding of Calvinism is that Calvinists need not witness to the lost because God’s irresistible grace nullifies our obligation under the Great Commission.
So according to that understanding, I am not a Calvinist. But that understanding is so totally flawed that it astonishes me that anyone can actually believe it.
If prophecy is foreknowledge, why is it not predestination? And if it is predestination, then what is the argument against predestination? If prophecy were to fail, what would that mean? That man’s free will trumps God’s foreknowledge?
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the CALLED according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners encourages others to hope in His grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by anything done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)
It is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by His power. It was His purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of His will, and His Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our perseverance to holiness.
‘Holiness’ (Gk hagiasmos) means ‘purification’ which is a PROCESS, also accomplished by God through Jesus.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you will PERFORM it UNTIL the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)
There are no Christians more deserving than others. Because you have not yet achieved the state of holiness others have does not mean you are less favored. We all come to the Cross equally lost, and we all came away equally saved.
Salvation is an eternal state for which each of us were called before the world began, or else the Bible is not telling the truth.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)
“In hope of eternal life, which God, that CANNOT LIE, PROMISED before the world began. . .” (Titus 1:2)
Let’s bring it together. Nobody can come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father, who provides us with both the extension of the offer of salvation and the faith necessary to receive it, a calling that was sealed in heaven before the world began, according to His purpose and grace.
Our salvation is immediate and eternal, but our purification is a process, which, having been begun in us at the moment of salvation, will be performed in us — BY CHRIST — until the day we stand before Him. Lest anyone should boast.
That’s not my opinion of what the Bible says — look up the verses in context and see if you can make them mean something else.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:23-24)
Legalism runs counter to the clear teaching of Scripture. This is a very difficult doctrine to both teach and understand. It sounds like a license to sin. It is not.
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)
We don’t think like God does, which is why He inspired the Scriptures. To provide us with the tiniest bit of insight into the way God sees things.
Our relationship to Christ is unique — that God knows our hearts, and has already judged us accordingly. So that sin cannot reign supreme in our mortal body and thereby render us useless to our calling.
If the enemy can convince us of our own personal unrighteousness (of which each of us is acutely aware) or cause us to doubt the truth of Scripture or of our faith (which is a gift from God, lest anyone should boast) or cause us to doubt our own salvation, then we will not be able to effectively wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
God has a plan for each of us, and His plan is to send us to seek out and introduce others to their Savior. That is our assignment on this earth. THAT is our ‘calling.’
To spread the Gospel.
As Christians, we have an awesome responsibility before God. We have been assigned to seek out the lost and offer them the Gospel. To accomplish our mission, we need to be fully equipped for the task.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1st Peter 3:15)
The most effective weapon we have in our war with the enemy is the knowledge that he cannot take away our salvation. We walk in the light of the Gospel, but we remain human beings and sinners, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, but still trapped in the “body of this death“.
Consequently, there is never a time when we are unworthy to tell others of Jesus Christ.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1st John 1:7-8)
Bible prophecy isn’t Calvinism. Is Bible prophecy predestinated? Well, it is written down in advance. The choices necessary for its fulfillment have not yet been made by the participants.
And God says that Bible prophecy will all be fulfilled to the letter. What else could it be?
Predestination plays no role in your free will, or in the free will choices of anyone else.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Trust Him. The more hopeless you think you are, the more you have to rely on Him.
Don’t let the enemy convince you that you aren’t worthy to carry the message. After all, your prospect is just as liable to say, “Heck, if he can be saved, then there must be hope for me.”
God knew what He was doing when He gave you this job. Trust Him.
And get ‘er done! Maranatha!
Note: Jack wrote this doctrinal overview for us back in 2010. J.L. Robb shares in his article; “The Abraham Connection” that Abraham’s free will choices are still being felt today. God is still not surprised. Maranatha!