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What is the doctrine of predestination?

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Romans 8:29-30 tells 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 brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." Ephesians 1:5 and 11 declare, "he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will … In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." Even though predestination is a biblical doctrine, many people resist it. However, the key is understanding what the Bible says about predestination.

The word translated 'predestination' used in Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:5 and Ephesians 1:11 comes from the Greek word proorizo, which means "determining beforehand", "ordain" and "to decide upon ahead of time." Using the definition of the word, predestination is God determining, in His sovereign will, certain things to happen ahead of time. According to Romans 8:29-30, God has predetermined that certain individuals would be confirmed to the likeness of His Son, be called, justified, and glorified. Other scriptures that refer to believers in Christ being chosen include Matthew 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20, 27; Romans 8:33, 9:11, 11:5-7, 28; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9; 2 Peter 1:10. Using these scriptures, predestination is the biblical doctrine that God, in His sovereignty, chooses certain individuals to be saved.

One of the most common objections to the doctrine of predestination is that it is unfair. Why would God choose certain individuals and not others? However, it is important to understand that no one deserves heaven. The Bible states that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and because of our sins, the only thing that we deserve is eternal separation in hell (Romans 6:23). However, in His grace and divine mercy, God chose to save some of the people who deserved hell. God is not being unfair to those who are not chosen because they are receiving what they deserve. In other words, God choosing to be gracious to some does not make it unfair for others. No one deserves anything from God; therefore, no one can object if he does not receive anything from God. A practical example of this principle would be a man handing out money to five people in a crowd of twenty. Would the fifteen people who did not receive anything be upset? Probably. Do they have a right to be upset? No, they do not. Why? Because the man did not owe anyone anything and only decided to be gracious to some.

Another common objection to the doctrine of predestination is the role that our free will plays in all of this. Doesn't predestination undermine our free will to chose and believe in Christ? The Bible tells us in John 3:16 and Romans 10:9-10, among others, that we have the free will to chose and believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. The Bible never tells us of God rejecting anyone who believes in Him or turns away anyone that is seeking Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). Somehow, in the mystery of God, predestination works hand-in-hand with a person being drawn by God (John 6:44) and believing unto salvation (Romans 1:16). God predestines who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved. Both facts are equally true at the same time. Romans 11:33 proclaims, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!"

Related Truth:

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Is salvation by faith or works or both?

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