The subject of predestination has at times been a controversial one. There are some who take a very literal and hard line position on predestination, insisting that God chose beforehand who He would save, and only those He chose will go to Heaven. If they stopped right there, then their interpretation of scripture would be valid. But hard liners also insist that everyone else will be rejected and if you’re on the reject list, you’re out of luck. You’re doomed to spend eternity in Hell, even if you professed your faith in Christ. (You’re in, you’re in, you’re out, you’re in, you’re out, etc…) That view is far too narrow and has some serious flaws. First, it totally negates the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Second, grace and mercy are rendered meaningless in that view. Third, it ignores what the Bible says about those who call on the name of Jesus Christ (more on that later). And fourth, how would anyone know if they were the ones who were chosen?
There’s no getting around what the Bible says about predestination, that God chose in advance who would be saved. In Ephesians 1, verses 4 and 5, the scripture tells us, For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:29, and 30 tell us: For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. And those whom He predestined, He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.
From those two passages, it’s hard to deny that there was a pre-selection process in which God determined long ago who would be saved. The scripture is clear on that. But is that the only way to think of predestination?
Here’s another application for the term predestination. Imagine a cargo ship that’s moored to a dock. That cargo ship was built for a specific purpose. But until the mooring lines are cast off and the ship is pushed away from the dock and out into the harbor, it cannot fulfill the purpose for which it was built. But once the lines are cast off and the tugs give it the push it needs, the captain can then put out to sea and set a course for a seaport anywhere in the world.
God’s desire is for everyone to be saved. He has a plan for everyone’s life. But as long as a person is tied down to sin, or is in bondage to unbelief, God will not use that person. He will not set that person on the course He has predestined for his life (or her life) until the lines that keep that individual moored to sin and bondage are cast off. And the only way to cast off the mooring lines is to repent and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then and only then can he or she begin to fulfill God’s predestined purpose.
So yes, God decided in advance who would be saved. And yes, predestination applies to the predetermined path that’s been laid out for a believer after he or she chooses to follow Christ. Wait a minute…….did I just say “after he or she chooses to follow Christ?” Yes I did. While we cannot deny what the scripture says about predestination, we cannot dismiss free will either. Predestination does not exclude free will. The Bible tells us in John 3:16 that all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved. So God chooses who will be saved, and we also have the freedom to choose to follow Christ so that we may be saved. In God’s great plan, predestination and free will……..can and do co-exist. We don’t understand how it’s possible, but they do. Confused yet? Don’t be. God has it all worked out. In fact, He had it all worked out ahead of time…….from the very beginning!