As with the word “Foreknowledge”, we do not find the English word “Predestinate” in the English Old Testament even though the idea is present there. In the New Testament, the Greek word is “proorizo” which basically means to determine beforehand (but, interestingly, is also said to mean “declare”). “Proorizo” appears six times in the N.T. and is translated in the KJV four times as “predestinate”, one time as “determine before”, and one time as “ordain”. Let’s look at how this word is used…
Romans 8:29-30 is where we left off at the end of the discussion of “Foreknowledge”. The verses read as follows: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” In this passage, Paul does not speak of a pre-destinating to and for “salvation” but rather he speaks of God’s intended (pre-determined) goal for every true child of God to be like Jesus Christ – conforming to His image. This happens through a process that many call “sanctification”. When a person, who is a sinner, becomes a child of God, God intends for that person to NOT remain as they were, but rather to become like Jesus. We do not believe that God pre-determined WHO would be His children, but He DID predetermine that all of His children are to become like His Son.
1 Cor 2:7-8 “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” As in the above passage, Paul does not speak here of a pre-destinating of individuals to and for “salvation”. What it DOES state is that God pre-determined before the ages the method and the timing by which He would bring about salvation, making salvation possible for those who believe and obey (i.e. come HIS way). What is it that God “ordained” or pre-destined? According to verse 7, it is the mystery, the wisdom of God. What is that wisdom? We certainly get a clue from the preceding chapter (remember, no chapters and verses in the original documents! – all one “letter” to the Corinthians) where in 1:18-25 we read: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Now, taking the two verses we are looking at in particular in their broader context of 2:5-12 we read: "that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
Ephesians 1:5,11 must also be examined in their context (verses 3-14): “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 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, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 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 Him 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. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” We believe these verses teach us that God has pre-determined that those who believe Him, trust Him, are pre-determined by God to thereby become His children. That is consistent with Paul’s words in Romans 8:29 discussed above – “…that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The last verse we need to look at actually occurs first in the order of this word’s appearing in the New Testament. Acts 4:27-28 says “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” In this passage, Luke is not referring to a pre-destinating to and for “salvation” but rather stating simply that God pre-determined (i.e. His plan) that His Son would be crucified on a cross as the horrible means of paying the horrible price for our horrible sin; and that He would accept (or receive) those who accept that substitutionary payment for their sin.
What we have enumerated above is the Biblical doctrine of predestination. However, in very general theological terms, "predestination" generally is used to refer to the idea that God pre-destined (pre-determined) which people will end up in heaven and which ones will end up in hell. This idea is part of the system of theology known as Calvinism, and is often, although not always, closely associated with Reformed Theology , and Covenant Theology.
BibleTruthForToday concerns regarding this misuse of the doctrine:
(Some of the issues/concerns are identified and addressed at Calvinism. Please visit that link.)
Other issues/concerns are as follows:
Although Calvinists will argue that fatalism is not a result of predestination, it is difficult to imagine it NOT affecting the way people think, and we believe that for many people, it does. IF God did not choose me, and there is nothing that can be done to change that, I am without ANY hope - now that's cause for true despair. And if I HAVE been selected, and and all things (every detail) happen exactly according to God's fore-ordained plan, then Doris Day's song is true when it says "Que sera, sera - Whatever will be, will be". Some may like to use the verse in Hebrews that says "It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment" as a basis for arguing that we each have an "appointed" time to die and when "our number comes up", that's it. This clearly contradict Scriptures such as Paul's writing to the church at Corinth regarding the Lord's Supper and indicating that there are people who died "prematurely" (or was it only premature from a human perspective and "right on time" from God's perspective?). We believe that man CAN bring upon himself early demise by making bad choices. What is appointed is that man will die! Once! and after that death there WILL be a judgment day! That does NOT say that God has your death in His heavenly "appointment book".
Will of God
Are you in God's will? Are you in the center of God's will? Are you in His perfect will or just in His permissive will? All of these are confusing questions and we believe they have a relationship to the teaching of predestination (and how that teaching is related to God's sovereignty and providence). We could illustrate with "trivial" examples such as clothing, meal "choices", etc., however, let's illustrate with the example of marriage. Does God indeed have a sole pre-picked person to be your perfect mate? How am I to find that one perfect person that God "created just for me"? How do you know beyond any doubt that you have found that one right person? And if you find and marry that person, then you are in the center of God's perfect will. And if you don't, then you're not. Does everyone marry their "perfect" mate? And if you don't? Must you then live the rest of your life "outside of the will of God", or perhaps you are relegated to living in His "permissive will" (which is obviously something less than His "perfect will").
Or, has God given us direction (principles, etc.) such as "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers". So, for the believer the "field" of potential spouses is immediately reduced in size. Once you prayerfully and mutually agree to be wedded, does God not again give us (e.g. in Ephesians) the principles? - Husband, love your wife! (whoever she is!) Wife, submit to your husband! (Whoever he is!) Two people in love with God and in love with each other can have a holy matrimony, a godly home and family - not because they "picked" the ONE person that God "picked" for them, but because they love God, obey God, and walk with God, God is glorified, their testimony is encouraging to others and they can raise a next generation of children who "fear the Lord".
We believe God's will is God's will - there is not a "center" and a perimeter; there is not a perfect and a permissive. As we read the Scriptures regarding "God's will" we find that God's will for us is generally referring to our obedience to the revealed Word of God, conforming our life to the image of Christ - mostly (or at least initially and primarily) concerning in who and what we are rather than in what we do. That is not to say that what we do is unimportant! That is not the point here. The point here is that God has created us with different personalities, different tastes, etc. I do not have to labor in prayer over the decision of what color to us. Or what brand of vehicle to purchase, etc. Now certainly if I am in need of transportation, I pray for God's help to meet that need - but that is an entirely different situation.
Will of man
We believe that God has created man in God's image and likeness, which includes having a "will". Our image has been tarnished and our likeness to God in many ways is not even present, let alone evident. But as to how God constituted us, we have a will! God has, in His grace and goodness, revealed HIS will and shown us the path that leads to righteousness. He expects us to exercise our God-given wills to obey and to please HIM! Consider these verses:
Deuteronomy 30:19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;"
Joshua 24:15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Proverbs 1:29 "Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD,"
In addition, many are the commands of God in the Bible. Are these ALL given just to prove that we can't do it? Or has God given them intending that they be obeyed. In both the Old Testament and the New, there are "blessings" on those that "keep", or obey, God's Word. All the commands - to obey, to follow, to do, to yield, etc. - are vain if they CAN not be kept at all.
There are many ramifications of this teaching, but one that is pertinent to today's culture is that because of predestination, I am exactly who God created me to be. Therefore, sin no longer accounts for and explains our behaviors - we were simply "born that way"! If I am a drunk, it is in my genes, I can't help but be a drunk, therefore I am not accountable for my being a drunkard. The same can then be applied to those who are violent and beat their spouses and children. It is also being applied today to those who are homosexuals, so that, instead of the possibility of seeing that the sinful behavior is just that - sinful behavior - it gets labeled as a genetic pre-disposition, i.e. it's the way I was born, it's the way I am, and therefore it's okay for me to be that way. The Bible declares otherwise! - man is accountable to God for his/her sins! God's Holy Spirit is in the world convicting men of SIN! God commands all men everywhere to REPENT (turn from sin, turn to God). God promises eternal blessings on one hand, and eternal judgment on the other. What choice will YOU make?
Churches which hold to the above doctrine of Predestination
(at least in part)
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Many Community Churches
Many Baptist Churches
Many Bible Churches