Are some predestined by God to be eternally saved (from eternal punishment) while others are not, or do we all have the option of choosing our eternal home? In other words, do we believe in predestination or do we believe in determination (free-will)? Rather than talk about what we feel, let’s take a look at what God shows us through His scriptures.
In the beginning, God created a perfect abode for man to lay his head. Man had no knowledge of evil in this abode and so there was no shame, fear, or justice to speak of. Man had dominion over every living creature and his only job was to tend the garden. See, God so loved man that he created a world where man could live in perfect and perpetual fellowship with man. How do we know this? He created a world without sin (for sin came with knowledge of evil) and did not keep the tree of life (eternal) away from man. Truly, God predestined man to live the good life forever!
Now, since true love is never forced (for anything forced involves control and torment) but is freely chosen and given, God (who is love) gave man free-will to choose. Too bad man chose to end the good life. But when man did this, God was still merciful to stop him from eating of the fruit of life by removing him from the garden and guarding the way to the tree of life with a flaming sword (see Genesis 3:24). You see, if man had eaten of the fruit of life after his disobedience, he would have lived forever in eternal separation from God. God did not want that! So while putting him out the garden seemed harsh, it was actually done out of love. See, as soon as man disobeyed, God already had a master-plan to redeem man from being separated from Him but rather to be redeemed through the shed blood of Christ.
To reiterate, when man exercised his free-will of disobedience, both evil and justice entered the world. Being a just God, He had to mete out the punishment that man’s choice (sin) deserved. But thankfully, He found Abraham righteous enough to make a covenant with him that through his Seed (Jesus) all the nations will be blessed (with the covenant blessings available in the Holy Spirit).
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” – Genesis 22:18
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ” – Galatians 3:16
See, because of Abraham’s faith, God predestined man (all nations) to be blessed through the redemptive work of Christ. Note that is does not say “this” nation or “that” nation, but it says all nations – meaning all peoples or all mankind. Thus, it is clear that God wants all mankind (all nations) to be saved. But man still has the same free-will to choose Christ, just as the first man (Adam) and subsequent men had the free-will to disobey God in the garden at the beginning. Paul puts it this way:
“For since the creation of the word His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” – Romans 1:20
How much God loves us – that He would have His own son slewed in order for us to be saved from eternal separation from Him when we choose to believe in His Son (see John 3:16). All that is required is belief! It is not based on performance or our own self-accessed righteousness (which is as filthy rags) but it is a free gift which is irrevocable!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a free gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” – Ephesians 2:8-9
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” – Romans 11:29
But the above is not the end of God’s love, there is more. For those that choose to believe in His Son, He seals with His Spirit who upon our choosing can direct our path. When we choose to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to lead us, we are lavished with the fullness of the covenant blessings – riches, honor, life, peace, and so much more. We are able to live heaven on this earth just as God designed it from the beginning! We do not have to wait till we get to heaven (our destination once saved) to experiences goodness.That is not to say that bad things will not happen to us (for we still live in a fallen world), but that things are eventually working for our good (see Romans 8:28)
So, looking through the lens of the love of God from the beginning of the world, it now becomes clear what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:29-30:
“For whom He foreknew (all nations or all mankind), He also predestined (through our acceptance of Jesus) to be conformed to the image of His Son……Moreover whom He predestined (all nations), He called (to accept Jesus); whom He called, these He also justified (though the blood of Jesus).
Thus, predestination does not work completely independent of free-will but in conjunction with it. Based on what we know from scriptures, we can conclude the following:
- God predestined man to live in perpetual and perfect fellowship with Him when He created the world (God’s choice)
- Man chose to break that fellowship through sin (Man’s choice)
- God predestined (called) man to be saved from separation through Christ’s sacrifice (God’s choice)
- Man can neglect the call to salvation and justification (Man’s choice)
- God predestined man to enjoy the benefits of accepting His call to salvation through the Holy Spirit (God’s choice)
- Man can choose not to walk in the Spirit although they have already accepted Christ unto unnecessary suffering (Man’s choice)
Light-bulb moment: Predestination is not the problem – what God predestines is good. Rather, the problem is our choice – for some reason we like choosing death instead of life. Adam was predestined to live a sweet life, but his choice made him live a “not so sweet” life!
Food for Thought: When we choose love (God), we are predestined to live a blessed life