by Bruce Mills
As I promised at the end of Part 2 in this series, this post will deal with the next word used in Romans 8:29-30, which is "predestined." According to these verses, God starts by foreknowing his children, and then it says that the people whom He foreordained to a relationship of loving intimacy, He predestined. It comes from the Greek word proorizw, which means “to mark out beforehand.” He marked them out ahead of time; He wrote down their names; He designated who would be the recipients of His grace and love. Those whom He predetermined to love, He “predestined…to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:5). He started out with a predetermination to love certain ones and on that basis, He marked them out.
Predestination is not synonymous with foreknowledge. Foreknowledge focuses on the distinguishing love of God whereby people are elected. Predestination points to the decision God made regarding what He intended to do with those whom He foreknew. Predestination is that act in eternity past in which God ordained or decreed that those on whom He had set His saving love would inherit eternal life. They are eternally chosen to be the beneficiaries of God's love and grace in salvation, and because God's plans are unchangeable and irrevocable, there can be no other result.
One of the major problems with Arminian theology, and much of contemporary evangelism today, is that it teaches that salvation is predicated on a person’s decision for Christ. But we are not Christians first of all because of what we decided about Christ, but because of what God decided about us before the foundations of the world. Why God would choose certain people to eternal salvation and to eternally set His affections on them and not on others whom He also created is beyond the human mind’s ability to comprehend. When people say that man’s salvation is based on his own choice to believe or not to believe, they are making man the sovereign in salvation, and grace becomes nothing more than the just and fair wages of man’s decision.
So to reject the doctrine of sovereign foreknowledge, predestination, and election is to leave man in charge of his eternal salvation and to make God a lesser god; a diminished deity who sits in heaven wringing his hands, hoping that the people He created will exercise their will to choose Christ, incapable of guaranteeing their salvation apart from their own sovereign choice over the matter. I ask you: Is that the God of the Bible? Absolutely not.
I’m not saying that there aren’t questions such as, “Why did God create unbelievers if He knew in advance that He was not going to choose them and thus, they would always reject Him and never choose to follow Him?” There most certainly are such questions, and it’s okay to ask them, so long as when we ask them, we are not questioning God’s wisdom and justice in these matters. Many people ask those questions because they don’t think it is right for God to act as He has chosen to do.
Paul deals with those issues much more in Romans 9:18-23. Paul is talking about why God chooses some but not others, and here’s what he says. Remember now, this is God speaking to us about how we are to think about these matters.
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.
What’s God’s answer? It’s basically, “Shut up. Who are you to question the infinite wisdom of the sovereign Almighty God? I did it in order to reveal My wrath and power and glory to mankind, and that’s all you need to know.”
So be very careful about your attitude and motive in asking such questions about God’s righteousness and justice in His foreknowledge, predestination, and election of individuals to salvation. Just accept what He says in His Word as true and then praise His name that He chose to foreknow, predestine, and call some to Himself rather than justly condemning all of mankind to eternal hell for their rebellion against Him.