By Greg Holt
Many would argue that if predestination and election are true, then man couldn’t possibly have free will. That is an untrue statement, but let me begin at the beginning.
Predestination, what does that mean? Predestination means that which God has predetermined in eternity past. In the context of this article, in other words, God has determined even before the world began – who will be saved and who will not be saved.
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will
God has predestined us to eternal salvation; notice Paul says all things work according to God’s will. We will come back to this later.
Romans 8:29-30 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.
In Romans 8 Paul again says that those who God chose, those who He predestined, he called, those He called He justified and glorified – meaning those whom God predestinated are granted salvation. God reigns supreme and has the power to decide what He will do with all of His creation.
What is election? Election is simply those people whom God predestined to be saved – the elect.
Many a Christian has problems with the predestination doctrine – it sounds mean and unfair, how could God choose some to eternal salvation, and choose some to eternal damnation? That hardly seems fair now does it?
Three things here:
1. God does determine the eternal outcome of all who have ever lived, as is His prerogative.
2. We the human race have every one of us sinned, (Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God) therefore, if God strictly made the choice of His own volition with no possible input by humans – those of us who were dammed would be receiving only what we deserved to begin with.
3. In order for anyone to be saved from their own sin that causes death (Romans 6:23), it was necessary for God Himself to leave Heaven and lower Himself to exist as a mere man. After having walked the Earth as a man, (Jesus never gave up His divinity, He set aside many of His divine attributes) He suffered crucifixion on the cross to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, paying in His own blood the required price – that we may be saved. Further, keep firmly in mind that salvation is a free gift, to us, from God – and that we in no way deserve it. Ephesians 2:8-9
There are plenty who do not want to hear this, despite being biblical doctrine, the talk of God choosing, the talk of Jesus and “the blood of Christ” just does not go down well. If this is you, well – change your opinion, you are wrong and the Bible is right, it’s that simple.
Now wait a minute, hold on here, you say, if God already determined before I was even born whether or not I would be saved, then how can I possibly have free will?
There are three doctrines that come into view here:
1. The doctrine of irresistible grace
2. The Augustinian view of predestination
3. The prescient or foreknowledge view of predestination
In the doctrine of irresistible grace, the idea is that those who are chosen by God to salvation cannot resist the grace of God whatsoever, and therefore believe in God and are saved despite themselves. This originated with John Calvin, and it is a purely false doctrine. If the notion of irresistible grace were true, then man would not have a free will.
The Augustinian view of predestination: in this view, God Himself decides who will and who will not be saved, He decides who will come to Christ to attain salvation, while those He choses He also grants the faith needed to believe in Jesus. This view is also patently false. Again, man would not have free will in this view.
In the third view – the prescient or foreknowledge view of predestination, it is really man who chooses to be saved. This does indeed sound confusing because we are saying that God chooses, and yet at the same time we are saying that man chooses, which way is it? In a way, both.
Let me compare predestination (election and salvation) to a political election if I may – yes I know, terrible comparison, politicians what they are these days.
Before election day, hopefully you have listened to the issues, and the candidate’s response to these issues, how they are going to address them, solve them etc. In much the same way pertaining to God, we each were exposed to the “issues” – sin that causes death, Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sin through Jesus alone etc. So on Election Day, we vote for whom we choose after having listened to (maybe even researched on our own) all the information. Likewise, we after hearing the information concerning God and what He is willing to do for us (save us), and having already heard the apposing view having lived in the world that hates God – made up our own mind and chose God as our Savior, or we chose to reject Him. That is our choice freely granted to us by God.
Free will; God grants us free will, but how do we know this? God tells us so in His Word, to wit:
John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life
In this verse Jesus says that some certain people will not come to Him that they may receive eternal life – that indicates that these people have a choice. They can accept Christ, or reject Him, God forces no one to come to Him, conversely, God sends no one to Hell, they send themselves by their own choice to reject God.
2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them
Paul says here that the god of this world who is Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers. If God alone truly decided the destiny of man as it relates to salvation, then would Satan be able to sway the minds of men to reject Christ? No, he would have no power to do so. This cannot be turned around so that it is stated that God having all control directed Satan to blind the minds of those God chose to be blinded – and then God in the flesh came to Earth and stated that some refused Him indicating they had a choice. That is a direct contradiction having no basis in biblically sound doctrine.
I said before all things are according to God’s will, predestination, election, free will etc. None of these three appose each other. Each person makes his or her own choice freely to choose God or to reject Him. God predestines those who will be saved – based on the choice of those who He is saving; God knows the choices we will make before we make them. God having foreknowledge of our own choices predestines us to be His elect.
One last example of this: the prodigal child. In the real world, this happens all the time. People who are acquainted with God for whatever reason choose to walk away from God. They may be gone a couple years, or maybe a couple decades. Then at some point, these people choose to return to God, I know, I was one of these people. God surely did not tell me to go away that was my choice, just as it was my choice to return to Him. I left God, He never left me.
We choose God of our own free will, God chose us knowing we would later in time choose Him, we are predestined, we are elect, we are God’s children.
Related: How to be Saved