A number of years ago when the Calvinist / Arminian controversy was being actively discussed in Scotland, one man stood up in a prayer meeting end preyed, ‘I thank you, Lord, that there is no such word as predestination in the Bible’. It perhaps reflected, sadly, that in coming to conclusions upon matters of doctrine many people base their views upon factors other than what the Bible actually says. In fact, it is our privilege to believe exactly what Scripture says for it is the very Word of God and we are not at liberty to pick and choose what we believe because it does not fit our theological system or the way we live.
At the same time it is necessary to know what the Scriptures teach as well as what they say. Often a person will ask: ‘Do you believe in predestination?’ In such cases it is necessary to reply: ‘What do you mean by predestination?’ If people mean, ‘Do you believe that God has predestinated some people to heaven and some people to hell?’ then the answer must be no. The Bible does not say that, nor require that we believe it. It is not acceptable to impose our preconceived notions upon biblical truth.
God predestinates unworthy sinners to glory through no merit of their own, all others receive the just punishment for their sin.
‘Predestinate’ or ‘predestinated’ actually occurs four times in Scripture. In every instance it describes a past activity by God in favour of certain unworthy sinners, men and women who deserve nothing but his just and eternal condemnation. On no occasion are we told that sinners are predestined to hell, they go there because this is God’s judgment on their sin (Romans 8, 29,30; Ephesians 1:5,11)
To enter the family of God
But we do believe in predestination because Scripture presents it as a Bible truth, a divine activity by which God assures the fulfillment of his will and the completion of his purpose. We believe that in order to secure an inheritance from among the fallen sons of Adam, God predestinated a people to be adopted into his own family, to become sons and daughters of the Father as a result of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. God did this because he wanted to. It was God’s good pleasure to adopt a people for himself, that they in turn would be a trophy of his grace, a song of praise to the glory of his grace.
To be like Jesus Christ
Again the purpose of God’s predestination is that those whom he has chosen from alI eternity should be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. Such an important change in the life of a person could not be left to chance. No man or woman would be able by his or her own strength to make him or herself like Jesus Christ, no one could become good enough by their own works to be called a brother of Christ. God must be active to effect such a change. Transgressions against the holy law of God must be cancelled, the natural bias to disobedience overthrown sin must be blotted out and a new nature supplied. God’s elect are changed to look like Jesus; clothed with the righteousness of Christ; freed from the judgment of the law. They are a new creation!
To be made glorious
God has also predestined his people to be called, justified and glorified. This is God’s purpose put into effect in the life of his chosen people. Those predestined will be made glorious, for they have been justified before God through the substitutionary death of Christ on their behalf. They are called from death to life through the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the gospel. They are secure in the hand of the Father awaiting the glory that shall be theirs.
God’s purpose to bless his people with such privileges as these is bound up in the decree of predestination. Such displays of grace are assured and conformed by the express foreordination of God. This truth is a comfort and a joy to the elect
And who are the elect? Who are predestinated to enjoy such blessings? Those whom God has foreknown in the everlasting love of the Father. Foreknowledge is nothing to do with looking into the future and choosing on the basis of known outcomes. It is the union of love of a Father for a son, by which the Lord God determined to join his people to himself or all eternity.