Some Thoughts on Predestination
1. The doctrine of predestination is the notion that God freely chooses particular individuals, before the world was created to come to faith in Christ. This is a decision that God makes based on His own free will, pleasure, and design and is not because of any foreseen future human actions or choices. Those who are elect will one day come to faith in Jesus (Rom 8:29; Eph 1:5,11). Since we have all chosen sin and death, God is gracious and kind in choosing any of us to come to Him.
2. God exercises absolute sovereignty in determining who are the elect and yet at the same time we are truly responsible for our decisions and choices. The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and genuine human responsibility. This tension is clear in Acts 13:48: the Gentiles freely chose God, yet only those who “were appointed to eternal life” believed. Thus, the Bible holds that man is accountable for his decisions, but also that God predestines some to believe.
3. God has given humanity the free will to choose to do what is good or evil, but this will has been enslaved since the fall of Adam, and now we all chose evil all the time (Gen 6:5). Though we have the ability to choose to do what is right, our moral will is in bondage and we will only choose evil (Rom 3:1-20; 5:12-14).
4. The elect are those whom God has freely predestined (Rom 8:29-30). Only God truly knows who the elect are, and this hidden knowledge will be made known when the “sons of God will be revealed” on the Last Day (Rom 8:19). While we do not have access to this information, we can reassure our hearts through our faith in Christ, trusting that God is faithful to His promise that everyone who places their faith in Jesus will have eternal life (John 3:16; Rom 10:13).
5. Order of salvation (logical order rather than sequential, as some steps occur at the same time):
1. Election: God chooses some to be saved before creation out of His own pleasure and for His own purpose (Eph 1:5, 11; Rom 8:29).
2. Calling: The gospel is proclaimed by a human agent and God calls people to Himself through it (Rom 10:17; Eph 1:8; John 10:3–>His sheep hear His voice).
3. Regeneration: God brings spiritual life to those who have been called (Ezek 37; Tit 3:5).
4. Conversion: We willingly respond to the gospel call, repent of our sins and place our faith in Jesus (Acts 13:48).
5. Justification: The instant legal transaction where God declares our sins forgiven and Jesus’ righteousness is given to us (Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 5:21).
6. Adoption: God makes us a child of His family (John 1:12; Rom 8:15)
7. Sanctification: A lifelong, progressive work of God and man where we grow in our freedom from sin and become more like Jesus (Phil 2:12-13).
8. Perseverance: All true believers endure by God’s power and remain Christians until their death (John 10:28; Phil 1:6).
9. Glorification: God gives Christians a glorified body free from sin and corruption (Rom 8:18-30; 1 Cor 15:35-49).
[I used Tim Challies’ chart on the Ordo Salutis for help on this.]
6. The doctrine of predestination is important exegetically, theologically, and practically. First, the doctrine is important exegetically. If we want to base our understanding of God and salvation from the Bible, we cannot responsibly get around the texts of election. John 10, Roman 9, and Ephesians 1 cannot simply be cut out of the Scriptures because we do not like them. The Bible is clear on this: God predestines some to salvation. Theologically, the doctrine is important because it answers the question: How can a sinful person–a person who will only choose sin and death–ever come to God? The only way a depraved sinner will come to God is if God decides to predestine and save them. Thus, predestination is vital theologically. Finally, predestination is important practically. The doctrine of predestination inspires bold evangelism–the elect will believe, His sheep will really hear His voice; predestination encourages our hearts when we doubt–God is the one who chose us and gave us the faith, so we can trust in Him; predestination leads us to fear God–God is mighty and His will shall come to pass, thus we ought to fear and love Him; predestination gives us courage when the world seems to be headed toward rebellion from God–God is still at work, He has predestined some to believe and they will come to Him and He will get the glory.
2 replies on “Some Thoughts on Predestination”
Great post Tom! Very well articulated.