Another Perspective on Predestination
The Scriptural teaching of predestination has led Christians to a few different positions. It can be difficult at times to first grasp this concept and what it really means. Does God make people follow His will and believe on Jesus? Do people have a choice in the matter on whether they can be saved? Is there another way we should understand this? Whatever way you pick let your conclusion be because of the Scriptures in honest attempt to understand them. For those struggling on this issue and even for those who have made up their mind I hope you will consider these three things that relate to the teaching of predestination as found in the Bible.
1. Our justification comes by God’s grace; which is Jesus’ faithfulness
Grace has been used and abused. Many in Christendom will acknowledge this, but many themselves are actually guilty of a different facet of this abuse that they probably haven’t thought about. When it comes to inheriting the promises of God concerning salvation such as entering the kingdom there are two principles that we have to work with. That is God’s works and our works. God’s work is making the promises and making them available while our work is aligning ourselves with that promise for the purpose of inheriting it. Many Evangelicals and Protestants tend to morph the two when it comes to God’s grace. I say God’s work in salvation is His grace, while our work in aligning ourselves with the promise is not God’s grace. In evangelicalism the two principals work like this:
- The Gospel/Jesus’ atonement (God’s Grace)
2. Mankind accepting/having faith in Jesus to inheriting the promises (Also God’s Grace)
For me I see it pretty much the same way, except I would have a different understanding of faith as faithfulness. Either way when evangelicals approach this model they are keen to say that both are God’s grace when in most cases in Scripture the first only is applied as God’s grace. Practically speaking evangelicals often make our “faith” as a means of grace when really the only means of grace that God gives is that He first and fore mostly desired to give mankind the future kingdom and made it available by the work of Jesus. So consider this when reading portions of Scripture that deal with God’s grace. Entrance into the kingdom is not a divine right, but is an act of grace and mercy from God, which He completed through the faithfulness of Jesus.
2. People, a kingdom, and a King are predestined
The second thing to remember is that while people are predestined to God’s kingdom, so is its King and its existence. I think the authors of Scripture are clear in portraying that the way in which people are predestined by God is through His will in desiring them to enter. Then individuals placing themselves of their own free will into that position to inherit the promises. Many will say that because God predestined people to the kingdom that proves God’s determination in practice, i.e. that God makes people practice the things which will guarantee their salvation. In other words God makes people have faith and causes them to persevere in the Christian religion and in this way they were predestined. My point for this section is this. If predestination immediately means determined practice, then in what way did God manipulate Jesus in becoming King and in what way did He manipulate the inanimate kingdom into coming into existence. When we come to a conclusion based on one word we are missing some steps. What does the fact that other things in the Bible are mentioned as predestined do for our understanding of a predestined people?
3. The means by which we align ourselves to the promise is determined by God in philosophy, but not in practice.
I touched on this in the last point, but I will briefly reiterate this here. When reading passages of Scripture that discuss the topic of predestination remember that predestination does not always mean determined practice. Predestination can also mean determined desire. We know that in God’s love He desires all to be saved, but we also know that in His sovereignty He does not accomplish the salvation of all men. So if God predestines the kingdom and wants all to enter, but some forfeit their chance of entering in because of unfaithfulness, then we see that God’s predestination does not extend to practice. Only the elect, that is those who are faithful to Jesus and God, are spoken of in context as being the ones whom will receive salvation as the predestined ones. So the philosophy of who will inherit the Kingdom is determined by God, but the individual practice of that philosophy is not orchestrated by God. God determines what must be done and in this way is sovereign, but He does not force or determine individual compliance to this philosophy.
What God does:
Make the way for mankind (Jesus) à Determine what mankind must do in response to this to inherit the blessing
What man does
Considers the commands of God -> Makes the choice of obedience or disobedience-> Enters or fortifies the Kingdom
So when considering the different approaches to the Scriptural teaching of predestination consider first these three principals.
- God’s grace is His own mercy in wanting to give us these salvation promises
- People are not the only thing predestined in Scripture and that should make us consider some things.
- Predestination and election do not immediately equal manipulated practice.
Remember to come to the conclusion on your own. Don’t ever allow a leading theology book, teacher, or anyone else bully you into an unconvincing position. God’s peace.