For centuries, theologians have discussed-and debated the parallel teachings of ‘predestination’ and our ‘free will-or faith’ -2 seeming opposing viewpoints. One side believes the Lord makes the choice who will respond to His salvation call, the other camp believes it is mans response to Gods call-mans faith that decides their eternal destiny. When we look at scriptures individually, both groups have verses that support their view. Only when we combine scripture can we begin to see the importance of each teaching- how they bind together into a ‘perfect fit’.
Background For Studying a Theology
When the Lord commands us to obey a certain scripture, in most cases we do not need a long ‘mediation time’ to understand His Word-it just takes obedience. With theology however, this can be a different matter. As with this doctrine, several parallel scriptures are going to need to be combined in order understand how the Lords salvation call works. We all agree, this is an important truth.
Like most theologies, the process of unifying numerous scriptures needs to be aided by the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
The Holy Spirit does not teach opposing truths, so if we truly spend time to hear from Him, we will unite in most teachings while we serve Him on earth. This theological unity will not be perfect until we are in heaven (1 Cor. 13:12), but we will be amazed how our doctrines will ‘match’ if we genuinely seek the Lord for answers Ep 4:13, Phil. 2:2. Praying, seeking after Him, acquiring and using our prayer language will help in this task. Man simply does not have the capacity to think through the deep things of God without His help 1 Cor. 2:13-14, See Praying in the Spirit
Gods plan as written in the Word along with a general order of world events occur simultaneously with other activities. The works of angels-both holy and evil, the actions of man and the sin that opposes God all set the formula to understand the Divine purpose of God. As we continually ‘plug into’ the Lord, He reveals scriptures and theologies in the correct manner as needed in our lives. His guidance on all truths when multiple scriptures are needed to be formed together cannot be understated. See Listening With our Hearts, Why We Disagree, 4 Keys to Hearing God, On Eagles Wings
This particular teaching has been labeled under several names. On one side, those that believe God chooses mans eternal destiny is called Election, Predestination or Calvinism. The other view is called, Arminianism, or Free Will-those that believe scriptures teach it is mans responsibility to have faith in the salvation process.
I would like to suggest, scriptures presents truths in both areas…it’s the inability to ‘blend them together’ that causes the error. If we strictly use Predestination verses and exclude scriptures on mans faith, we run into error. Likewise, with the strict ‘free will’ view-if we believe man can exclusively respond to God without His interaction, we will find scriptures that teach differently. I personally believe, the only way to avoid negating scripture (throwing some scripture under the rug) with either view-is to see them working together. The framework to understand His eternal salvation call is completed when we use His entire Word 2 Tim. 2:15, Is. 28:10
Matthew 4:4 , Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
We are going to look at Bible verses in both areas and finish by using the most obvious example given to us-our own salvation experience and the examples of those we witness to.
Predestination- The Process
There is no question that the Lords predestines those that will receive His salvation call. Let’s look at two interesting scriptures Rm. 8:29-30. First, vs. 29.
Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Predestination (greek proorizō-pre determined) starts ‘after’ Gods foreknowledge (gk-proginōskō-pre knowledge). In the next chapter in Romans, Paul gives us one of the greatest teachings on the Sovereignty of God-a foundational predestination chapter, see Rm. 9:17-18.
In Rm. 9, the Lord-in no uncertain terms-makes it clear He sovereignty exalts and humbles whom He pleases, even before their birth. In Rm. 8 however, He explains ‘how’ the process of predestination works. This is critical.
Predestination is the Lord directly intervening in the world and the lives of men. Foreknowledge, mentioned before predestination-is predicting some one else’s knowledge or actions.
Let’s use an illustration. A person would not be impressed if someone said, I have a great revelation (foreknowledge) I am going to get lunch in 5 minutes (Yes, we would think this is a strange statement). We would be impressed however, if one had foreknowledge and then predicted some else’s actions, like a person walking in the door with lunch 5 minutes after his prediction or foreknowledge (without prior contact).
Foreknowledge could be interpreted as having prior knowledge or ‘intimate knowledge’ about someone, but this still would be knowledge about ‘another persons’ actions or decision. Otherwise, the scripture could have read, whom I elected I predestined… to draw them to Me. In context, the next words in this verse teach-to conform to the image of His Son-becoming a believer-living for Him. The only logical answer would be the Lord saw our decision-faith in eternity past to conform to the image of His Son-(Savior and Lord)-thus He predestined us to come into the knowledge of truth.
The next scripture reads vs. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, he also glorified
These verses explain His order- First, He foreknew (mans behavior- decisions and actions), He then predestined (His plan to move in men’s lives), He then called-chose. In this scripture, called is referring to the called out ones, those mentioned in the Word as chosen Mat. 22:14 or elect Mat. 24:31 (Note: Similar to our language, called in some scriptures can also mean to call out to all).
The Lords plan is then finalized in ‘real time’ when we are justified (faith in Christ Rm. 5:1, Jn. 1:12), and then we are eternally glorified with Christ, receiving our everlasting bodies 1 Cor. 15:50-54, Dan. 12:3. Realizing how the the predestination process works in Rm. 8, helps us understand the Lords holy sovereignty in Rm. 9.
From the scriptures given about His act of predestination– I believe we will spend eternity marveling how the Lord planned our ways in order for us to receive His salvation call. His guidance to bring us to the point of faith will be eternally appreciated in heaven
Psalm 40:5 Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. Job 26:12-14.
Note: One illustration given by an author may help. God created time, thus He is able to be on a thrown above the past, present and future-seeing them in one view-as on a mountain Gen. 1:1, Ps. 90:2. From the Lords perspective, those that believe (Jn. 3:16) would be His sons in eternity past. Those that do not believe, He would know (foreknow- Rm. 8:29) in eternity past. His would thus predestine life events accordingly, even before our birth.
-As the Lord foreknew their hearts in eternity past, He planned (predestined) their call, even before their birth
Galatians 1:15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased Ps. 139:15, Lk. 1:41.
-To some, He hardened their heart, to others, He drew them to Him.
Romans 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Romans 9:13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Romans 9:22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (His call to all is genuine).
-Life events, His bringing believers into our lives for the gospel, were all planned by the Lord in eternity past.
Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
-He preordained our works-those whom would believe ‘from the beginning.’ How we need to be like Jesus and see in the Spirit-plug ourselves into the divine works that He has already created for us Jn. 5:19.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
-Without the Holy Spirit, no man could overcome darkness and understand His call. While scriptures teach our faith is required-see below-the Spirits hand must be upon us to have faith- this ‘drawing’ is indeed a gift from God.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Other scriptures for Predestination-the Lord drawing man to Him.
Jn. 6:44-45, Phil. 1:29, 2 Peter 1:1-as well as scriptures in Jn. 6, Lk. 6 and Mat. 22 mentioned below.
Mans Response (Faith) to the Lords Call
As mentioned earlier, if we strictly use scriptures that support only one view, we error. To teach man does not respond to Gods call by his choice –will or volition, goes against the scriptures below.
There was a example given by a pastor teaching that ‘grace alone’ brings one to salvation. As he preached this, a visiting pastor in the pew was compelled to talk to the preacher giving the sermon. After service he mentioned for every provision from God found in the Word, a response is needed by man. Man chooses to be obedient or disobedient. This response to the salvation call is determined by our faith. Hundreds of scriptures teach about mans faith to God, many of which include salvation faith-listed in next paragraph. Thousands of scriptures teach man has a choice to follow or not to follow the Lord as they proceed throughout life. This balanced view in the Word, Gods provision followed by mans response; I believe summarizes the entire Bible Deut. 28.
Mans Faith Found in the Word
The example of Abraham’s faith is mentioned a handful of times in the Word
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
In Romans, Paul shares the same teaching
Romans 4:9 We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.
Yes, the Lord draws us to Him Jn. 6:44, He gifts us with the Spirit in order to bring us to the point so we can have faith Eph. 2:8, but it is definitely Abraham’s faith-his choice to respond to Gods call. Abraham could not be credited unless ‘he’ chose-or believed God in faith Rm. 4:9. If the Lord instilled His faith in Abraham and Abraham did nothing, then Abraham-according to this scripture could not be credited-in righteousness. We also begin to see-if we leave out mans response to Gods call-our decision process to have faith-we also cancel out mans ability to choose. Those who have faith are sons of God and are not programmed individuals Gal. 3:26. As seen with the scripture below, it is mans response that decides his fate, for the Lord desires all to come to the knowledge of the truth 1 Tim. 2:4.
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The scripture teaches we use ‘our voice to declare’, likewise-we believe with ‘our faith’ and we are saved. As with this verse and the others shown below, there is no mention of the Lords faith or His gift of faith
John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
‘All’ who to receive Him-who believe and have faith to come unto salvation-become children of God. Eph. 2:8, and the other ‘grace aided’ verses are soo important, but they should never omit verses that teach ‘our faith’ is required on such an important topic as salvation.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
-whoever believes-has faith-will not be condemned. There are several parts of the salvation call, including ‘our faith’ to receive Him as Lord and savior.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Scriptures that reveal the nature of the Lords predestination plan are holy truths; likewise-verses that teach our part (faith) in receiving eternal life are also holy. Whoever believes-whoever responds to the salvation call-shall not perish. The same management of scriptures applies to the entire Word of God.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth Also 2 Pet. 3:9.
Note: We stand on the Word, but lean on prophecy and prayer Gal. 1:8, 1 Thes. 5:20. Just wanted to share what I received in prayer-feel free to take this to the Lord and the Word for validity. The Lords divine love is pure Ps. 18:26. He cannot ‘force’ someone to come to Him. He draws, pulls-shows eternal truths-but the reason man does not come to eternal life is ‘their’ rejection of truth. He was just showing me, Bill-My love for them is intense! I cannot prove this more than sending My Son to die for their sins. There is no greater sacrifice in the World than having Him receive the wrath of unrighteousness upon Him. There cannot be anything further from the truth that I choose some to perish-that is why I sent My Son-My desire is to save all!
I personally believe there is no short circuit-or hidden meaning to either Jn. 3:16, 1 Tim. 2:3-4 or 2 Pet. 3:9.
Romans 3:22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
-who is eligible for this faith–all who believe. Important! God says He does not show favoritism 2 Chron. 19:7, Rm. 2:11.
-Notice the scriptures says righteousness is given to those who have faith – not works. Some view ‘our faith’ the same as ‘our works’. The opposite is true. Our works promote our ability before God. Our faith is simply realizing we cannot obtain true righteousness before God and need to believe in a Divine Savior to come into our lives-crossing the door to eternal life. Thank You Jesus 🙂
John 10:9 I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved
Here are some scriptures that teach that we have faith-that comes ‘from us’.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life,
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth,
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 2 Cor. 1:24, 1 Thes. 3:7, Lk. 8: 47-48, Mat. 21:21, 1 Cor. 2:5.
Chapters In the Word that Teach Both Views
You did not choose Me, but I chose You.
In John 6 and Luke 6, we have two chapters that teach Jesus chooses some disciples and they did not choose Him. Many in the Predestination group site some of these verses.
Let’s start with Luke 6
Luke 6:12-13 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated as apostles: 16. ( One of the ones chosen,) Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Here Jesus is teaching He is choosing them (12 above) for ministry, and indeed they did not choose Him (for ministry). The ‘choosing’ then is ministerial and not for salvation. It is interesting to note Judas Iscariot was not only called–but also chosen, though he did not receive eternal life-see next verse Matt. 26:23-24.
Note: This is a life lesson for pastors. All are welcome to the alter for salvation, but as Jesus spent all night in prayer ‘choosing them’-leadership should be prayerfully chosen by the Lord.
This mirror teaching is also taught in John 6
John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
Here the Lord chooses 12 of them-again for ministry. One of the chosen ones however ‘was the devil’. Without going into all the theological options here-one truth stands true. When Jesus chose them -it was not for salvation-at least for one.
If we continue to ‘blend’ the entire Word, Jn. 6: 28-29, 47 (mans faith) with Jn. 6:65 (Gods calling or predestination) the scriptures again come into a unified teaching.
Matt. 22: 1-14
In this illustration, Jesus is explaining His call to the Jews-their rejection of Him and then a call to ‘all’ the Gentiles (paraphrased).
A King was having a wedding banquet for His Son and they refused to come (vs. 1-8) The Jewish Nation. For this reason, the King then gave a call for ‘all’ to be invited -the Gentiles (vs. 8-10) Gal. 3:28. Out of those called to come, one was not clothed in banquet attire-or did not have on the righteous works of God-salvation by faith (vs. 11) Rev. 3:4, 19:8, Jn. 3:16.
He was then punished Matt. 22:13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Here the Lord is giving an order of events
-The call goes out-to the Jew first and then to the Gentile Rm. 1:16.
-Those that come to the wedding banquet-have to be clothed in righteousness in order to stay in attendance, or the will be thrown out
Revelation 19:8 Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear, (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people) Rev. 3:4
-There is only one way to be clothed in righteousness, it is salvation by faith in Christ
Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Jesus waits till the last verse in this illustration to say-many are called but few are chosen vs. 14. Why? Again, Paul tells us in Rm. 8:29-30...see below.
The Lords holy saints had prior faith in Christ and were already attending the banquet in righteousness (were not thrown out) before Jesus confirmed they were His chosen ones. For whom He foreknew (to have faith-clothed in righteousness) He predestined-then chosen.
Note: In John 13-17, Jesus is with His 12 Apostles at the last supper, giving them their final teachings. Jn. 13: 18 explains whom He has chosen as Apostles-ministerial and not for salvation vs. 11. In John 15:16 KJV, again speaking to the Apostles, reflects the same thought –chosen and ordained you. Acts 1:2. Here are other verses that use the word ‘chosen’ that are not in reference to salvation Act 1: 24, 9:15, 10:41, 15:22.
Life Example-The Salvation Experience
Recently, Ray Comfort videotaped some individuals who received Jesus as their savior. There were some universal characteristics they all shared.
Each started out with a self confidence in their world view. They did not need Jesus, or thought much about His Gospel. As time went on however, many started to be moved by the Holy Spirit when scripture and evidence for God was presented. You could see their countenance change. Science showed there was a God and scripture pointed this out. As the Word was given, the their hearts became more open to the truth.
When Pastor Ray explained from the Bible how we all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Rm. 3:23) many agreed and admitted that they have indeed sinned-and are guilty before God. At this point, the Holy Spirit became even stronger. Throughout the presentation of the Gospel, the Lords love was mentioned and could be felt-but the conviction of sin was also penetrating their heart. The Holy Spirit was drawing them to knowledge of eternal truths-wrapping their hearts with an understanding about the urgency of His salvation call. See How Shall We Preach.
Without this work of the Holy Spirit-this predestined encounter would not have happened. They needed the Spirit to recognize heavenly truths concerning their eternal destiny. Thus, their ability to understand they needed a savior was essential in order for them to have faith for salvation. This ‘drawing’ by the Holy Spirit in order to have faith (otherwise an impossibility) is indeed a gift from God Eph. 2:8. For some, you could literally see the Holy Spirits light wrapping around them-they were so ready to receive.
After all this conviction however, Pastor Ray did not force the last part of this salvation process. He asked them, you understand there will be a day when you have to decide to have faith in Jesus-your Savior. This choice was entirely theirs-you knew it was ‘their’ final act to jump into the arms of Jesus-or walk away. The ones that were smiling-who were receiving His light- when asked-what day would you like it to be-said today 🙂 , I want Him right now!
This last ‘step’ I believe Pastor Ray understood completely. He treated this with dignity. The Holy Spirit was doing His part, Pastor was doing his work…and the final ‘act’ was our faith in Jesus Christ-as soo many of the above scriptures teach. All the above Word of God is applied for the complete salvation experience.
It was literally so beautiful. The Father planning in eternity past to bring the Holy Spirits conviction to the hearts of the lost. The Holy Spirit did His work- draw them by His love, convict them of sin and give them understanding of eternal truths needed for salvation. The last step however, running to Christ, surrendering to this call is indeed our responsibility, our faith in Him. His entire predestination plan combined with our faith-our choice to receive Jesus finishes His salvation call for eternal life Jn. 10:9 KJV.
I believe any sincere alter call, including our response to the salvation message, will have the exact same scriptures being used by the Holy Spirit –drawing those who respond in faith to Jesus.
Thanks for taking the time to review with me the Lords salvation plan. I am truly blown away how deep He loves us-how He suffered for us-taking each and every one of our sins and planned an escape for those who believe…Life in His everlasting Kingdom. See Understanding the Christian God.
To experience Jesus as your Lord and savior, please see Knowing the One True God.
God bless you as you pursue His truth.