The Doctrine of Predestination
Webster’s Dictionary defines predestination as: The doctrine that God in consequence of His foreknowledge of all events infallibly guides those who are destined for salvation. The New Testament Greek actually uses the word PROORISEN translated as “predestined” four times [Romans 8, verses 29 and 30 and Ephesians 1, verses 5 and 11]. However, there are a number of other verses in the Old Testament as well as the New that express a similar meaning in other words. The following Scriptures relate to predestination:
Acts 4:27-28. Speaking of the crucifixion of Jesus: “… with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done”.
Romans 8:29-30. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be con-formed to the image of His Son, that he* might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”[+Rom.1:6-7].
Comment: *While Jesus was the firstborn from the dead [Colossians 1:18], some bibles [e.g. NKJV] mistakenly capitalize “he”. However, the context of the passage is referring to “many brethren” and not Jesus. Christians who are described as “firstborn from the dead” are the martyrs who experience the “better resurrection” [Hebrews 11:35]. It is in this same context through to Hebrews 12:24 that the writer compares the Old Covenant to the New:
“You have not come to Mount Sinai [Old Covenant.] … “but have come to Mount Zion [New Covenant] … the heavenly city of Jerusalem … to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant …”
Romans 9:22-24. “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called out, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
Matthew 3:7-12. John Baptist is speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees most are “vessels of wrath” to be burned up, some are “vessels of mercy.”
Romans 11:3-7. Quoting 1 Kings 19:14-18: “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down your altars, and I alone am left … But what does the divine response say to him [Elijah]? I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer works …. What then? Israel has not obtained whatever it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were hardened.”
Romans 9:17. For the Scripture says to the Exodus Pharaoh, “Even for this same purpose I have raised you up that I might show my power in you …”
Ephesians 1:4-5. “ … 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 …”
Ephesians 1:9-12. “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
1 Thessalonians 5:9. “For God did not appoint us to wrath,[“vessels of wrath” Romans 9:22] but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Timothy 2:3-4. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Note: This epistle is addressed to Christians while “God our Savior” is Jesus, not God the Father. Here Jesus “desires”, this is not a guarantee.
2 Timothy 1:9. “… the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
1 Peter 1:1-2. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, … and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” See also: Acts 15:18.
1 Peter 2:8-9. “’A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they [Jews] also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” See also: Acts 2:39; 13:48; 17:26.
Question: The God of History clearly has a plan. How detailed is that plan and was it written down as an independent witness of God?
Exodus 32:32-33. Moses: “Yet now if You will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written…”
Deuteronomy 29:20. Moses: “The Lord would not spare him; for then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book [of the Law] would settle on him, and the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven.”
Psalm 56:8. David laments his capture by Philistines: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?”
Psalm 69:28. Concerning David’s enemies: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living and not be written with the righteous.”
Psalm 139:15-16. David’s prayer of thanks to God: “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your Book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Revelation 3:5. From Revelation 2:18, the Son of God is speaking:: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
Revelation 13:8. “And all who dwell on the earth will worship him [the beast], whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Revelation 17:8. The angel to John: “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”
Revelation 20:12-15. The Great White throne judgment: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God [or, the throne] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books… And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 22:19. “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
From Predestination to Destiny. God is seeking a finite number of beings made in His image and likeness who, beginning as mortals, will be called, then tested for their love for Him and willingness to be obedient even unto death. God’s plan includes certain individuals as candidates for His purpose; He named these individuals before the Creation [names written on a stone, Rev. 2:17]. In this way, no one can claim superiority because of personality, character or ability. These individuals are known as followers of Jesus or Christians while Jesus showed them the way, including the martyr’s death.
The purpose of the Old Covenant Law was to show that it cannot be kept by human effort. Under the New Covenant, new rules were even added yet it is possible to live by them by being filled with God’s Spirit and immediately seeking forgiveness of any transgression through Jesus, our Advocate before the Supreme Judge. Failure to confess sin or justification of it by the Christian can eventually lead to loss of place in the Book of Life. In the same way as the fallen angels who once knew God but rejected Him as their Lord, the fallen Christian will stand in the Judgment. Their destiny is with the fallen angels in the lake of fire [hell], conscious and under torment forever.
The purpose of all those “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,” i.e. those never included in the Book of Life, is to provide the world system or environment for Christian probation. Consider what this world would be like without one willing sinner! Like the animals who served in many ways as part of the human environment, these “vessels of wrath” were never called nor accepted Christ as their Savior and therefore could not reject Him. Their destiny seems not to be Judgment or eternal punishment but “utterly perish” [2 Peter 2:12, PHTHORA] likely when the heavens and earth are burned up.
1] God made a plan before the creation of the world and that plan was written in a Book or books.
2] The plan is so detailed that even the eternal name of each individual called to salvation is written in the Book of Life. That eternal name will be new to the individual [Isaiah 62:2; 65:15] and written on a stone [Rev. 2:17].
3] God prepares and calls those destined for salvation at a particular moment in their life, often through the voice of an evangelist.
4] Upon accepting the call, the new Christian then embarks upon a journey of probation during which the sincerity of their love for Him and their willingness to be obedient are tested. Martyrdom is the ultimate test.
5] However, love requires free-will and it is possible for a Christian to be persistently disobedient or even to reject God. Their names are removed from the Book of Life. Example: Former evangelist Charles Templeton?
6] Except for the martyrs who have passed the ultimate test, every Christian will stand in the Judgment. Those whose names were blotted out of the Book of Life will also stand in the Judgment and join the fallen angels.
7] Those who pass the Judgment will realize their unworthiness and God’s love. Their immediate destiny is the marriage supper of the Lamb.
8] The purpose for those whose names were never in the Book of Life and thus were never called, is to provide the world system for testing the Christians during their time of probation here on earth. Contrary to popular teaching, their destiny is better than that of the fallen Christian!