The very word "predestination" can be a conversation stopper. It is a truth that is like "smelling salts" and it often provokes a sharp reaction, especially from those who are opposed to the very idea that Almighty God rules over all. In the light of the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort next year, the word "predestination" is coming to the surface again and this is helpful and necessary.
One's view about predestination often reveals our individual understanding of the Scripture, of the character of God, of salvation and of our needed thankfulness for the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. So, what is your understanding of predestination?
The Greek word is found six times in the New Testament and we will summarise now each occurrence and give a brief explanation.
1). 1 Corinthians 2:7 "But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed [predestined] before the ages for our glory". Here the word is translated as decreed, but elsewhere in the NT it is treated as the word predestined [proorizō). It means to "determine beforehand" and here in 1 Cor 2:7 it is reference to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus by the rulers of that age. The death of Jesus was no mere accident of history. Surely no serious evangelical Christian would disagree with that.
2). We find the same truth and idea in Acts 4:28 but let's also hear the verse before to understand the context: "... for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place".
Again, the purpose of God was planned before hand, indeed it was in eternity that the Son of God was decided by the Father, to be the lamb slain (Revelation 13:8).
3). Romans 8:29 "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". This verse begins what William Perkins called the Golden Chain of salvation. Note the first link is whom he foreknew, he then predestined, therefore the very act of the Lord's predestination took place in eternity, before time and before the Creation.
4). Romans 8:30 "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified".
Predestination means to simply decide beforehand the future eternal destination of every individual person in eternity. Some are predestined to be saved, by grace, and some are left in their sins. Here comes the offence for some people then. If it is God who chooses people to be saved and not us, then people get angry about the free will of man, but at heart that idea, is to then rebel against the teaching of Holy Scripture, and therefore to rebel against God himself.
5). "In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will" Ephesians 1:5.
Again, this reference is in relation to the church and who constitutes the true church. It is those who are predestined for eternal life.
6). "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" Ephesians 1:11.
So, this little, but powerful word called "predestined" is a central spoke in the wheel of biblical revelation. Let's start discussing predestination with one another again and to rejoice in this liberating truth.