What does the Bible say about predestination?
One of the most debated issues amongst evangelicals is the issue of predestination. A lot of debate arises from a misunderstanding of what this doctrine means.
Christian quotes about predestination
“I believe that nothing happens apart from divine determination and decree. We shall never be able to escape from the doctrine of divine predestination – the doctrine that God has foreordained certain people unto eternal life.” Charles Spurgeon
“God preordained, for His own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.” John Calvin
“We talk about predestination because the Bible talks about predestination. If we desire to build our theology on the Bible, we run head on into this concept. We soon discover that John Calvin did not invent it.” – RC Sproul
“A man may be so bold of his predestination, that he forget his conversation.” Thomas Adams
“Divine predestination, divine providence, divine power, divine purpose; divine planning does not void human responsibility.” John MacArthur
“So often when we struggle with the doctrine of predestination and election it is because our eyes are always fixed on the difficulty of resolving predestination with human freedom. The Bible, however, links them with salvation, which every Christian should find enormously comforting. Salvation is not an afterthought of God. The redemption of His people, the salvation of His church, my eternal salvation, these actions are not a postscript to the Divine activity. Instead, from the very foundation of the world, God had a sovereign plan to save a significant portion of the human race, and He moves heaven and earth to bring it to pass.” R.C. Sproul
What is predestination?
Predestination refers to God choosing who would inherit eternal life in Glory. Every professing Christian believes in predestination to some degree. The issue is when did it occur? Did predestination happen before the fall or after? Let’s take a look at the doctrine of election!
- Supralapsarianism – This viewpoint states that God’s decree, or choice of election and His decree of reprobation has to logically occur prior to His allowing the fall.
- Infralapsarianism – This view states that God allowing the fall logically happened prior to the decree to choose the election and when He passed over those whom would be reprobate.
1) “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16
2) “Knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you,” 1 Thessalonians 1:4
3) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
4) “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:12-13
5) “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.” Titus 1:1
6) “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4
God chose us
We did not choose Him. It pleased God to choose us. It was according to His kindness. God choosing us brings glory to His name because of His unfailing mercy and grace. The Bible is clear, God chose us. He personally set us apart from the rest of His created people. God chose those who would be His and passed over the rest. God alone is responsible for this process. Not man. If man had any part in this choice, then it would rob God of some of the glory.
Frequently in scripture the term “elect” is used to describe those who have been predestined. It means set apart or chosen. God didn’t have the author of these New Testament book use the term Church or Christian or Believer. He chose to use the word elect.
Again, only God can justify. Only God can bring about our salvation. God chose us before the foundation of the world, and gave us mercy so that through His grace we could accept Him as Savior.
7) “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” 2 Timothy 1:9
8) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” Ephesians 1:3
9) “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.” Galatians 1:15-16
10) “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:4
11) “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew 24:31
12) “And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?” Luke 18:6-7
13) “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” Romans 8:33
14) “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13
God’s sovereign election
Even in the Old Testament we see God sovereignly choosing His people. In the Old Testament, His people were a nation. This nation didn’t choose to serve God. God set them aside as His. He didn’t choose them because they were lovely, obedient, or special. He chose them because of His kindness.
Our salvation has nothing to do with our choosing God. It has nothing to do with our worth, our behavior, the words we say. It has absolutely nothing to do with us. Our salvation is a work of the Lord. It is a mercy of God bestowed to us.
15) “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:7
16) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44
17) “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter 1:18-20
18) “Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12
Predestination and God’s sovereignty
The chosen were selected according to the foreknowledge of God. Foreknowledge is another word for Prognosis. In Greek we see the word prognsis or proginosko. It means ‘a predetermined choice’ or ‘to know before’. It is a deliberate, considered choice.
The Monergism perspective (also known as Calvinism or the Augustinian view) says that God chose us without any outside influence. God alone determined who would have saving faith.
Synergism (also known as Arminianism, or Pelagianism) says that God chose man based on the choice that man would make in the future. Synergism says that God and man work together for salvation.
Because God is completely sovereign, He alone chose those to whom would be saved. He is completely all knowing, all powerful. If God looked through the tunnel of time and saw which men would choose Him, as the synergists claim, then God is basing His choice upon man’s decision. That is not entirely based upon the sovereignty of God. God can not set aside His sovereignty, that would be outside of His nature. That view also would imply that there was a time before God looked down the proverbial tunnel that He didn’t know who would choose Him. This is impossible if God is omniscient.
19) “To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” 1 Peter 1:1-2
20) “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” John 6:39
21) “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Acts 2:23
How can I know if I am one of the elect?
We shouldn’t worry about if we are elect or not. The real question is, do you have a personal relationship with Christ? Have you put your faith in Christ alone? God has given the elect the grace to enable them to act in obedience in repentance and faith and submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. So how do you know if you are one of the elect? Have you been saved? If so – congratulations! You are one of the elect!
There is a lot of misunderstanding about this doctrine. Some claim that predestination is when God chooses who will go to heaven – whether they want to or not. Or worse, that God will refuse someone into this elect group even if they really want to be and believe in Jesus. This simply isn’t true. If God has chosen you – you will want to get saved at some point in your life.
Many people cry out – this is not fair! Why does God choose SOME and not ALL? Then that is universalism, and it’s heretical. Why did God pass over some and actively choose others? You don’t want fair. You want mercy. It is only by His mercy that we are not all cast into hell – for we are ALL guilty of sin. Mercy is not mercy if it is forced. There is no way we can completely wrap our brain around this doctrine completely. Just like we can’t completely wrap our brain around the concept of the Trinity. And that’s ok. We can rejoice that God is indeed equally glorified by exalting His mercy just as He is His wrath.
22) “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13
23) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8
24) “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30
25) “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13
Sorry, but here you are pushing false teaching. God wishes that all man will be saved (2 Peter 3:9) – not every man will be saved, but God will give everyone a chance. He will draw all man unto himself (John 12:32). So please stop quoting Augustine, Spurgeon, Calvin and Sproul on this issue. They are teaching lies. Synergism is clearly biblical, see Deuteronomy 30 and Joshua 24. God hated Esau for his disobedience, not because he did not predestinate him to salvaiton.
God does wish all men to be saved. However, who is the all? Sometimes Scripture has two different meanings for all. For example, 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Notice that there are two different meanings for the world all. All and world sometimes refers to the elect.
Another example is, John 12:19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” The word world in this context is is not referring to everyone in the world.
Also, take a closer look at these verses.
1 Samuel. 3:14, “And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Matthew. 15:24, “But He answered and said, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Those who come to Christ are drawn by the Father.
John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
Lastly, It’s not a mystery that God hated Esau. The mystery is that God loved Jacob. God out of His grace and mercy chose Jacob. Jacob was a liar, deceiver, manipulator, and betrayer. He was selfish and he took advantage of his own brother. He was a heelcatcher. He tried to cheat his way in front of his brother, which is similar to Satan. They both were disobedient. However, God still chose Jacob. If we look closely at the story of Jacob and Esau we see God’s awesome grace and love for sinners. He shouldn’t have loved Jacob but He did.
Read Romans 9:11 “though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad…” this is speaking of Jacob and Esau and god says Jacob I loved and Esau I hated. Clearly this is not because of Esau’s disobedience because scripture states in plain terms he had not done anything bad yet.
Thank you for explaining predestination so well.
“God is in heaven and does as He pleases” (Psalm 135:6)
We can’t understand everything.
To God be the glory, amen!
I absolutely love your humble, childlike acceptance of God and His power to do as He pleases!
It shows a trust that we should all desire to have. It is very pure and clean!
Thank you for sharing that Fritz. I am agree with you 100 percent. Let me add. God does not think like us at all. God also said my ways are not your ways at all. We do know God does the election before the world was created. I believe that you will know if you are a child of God sometime during this life. God’s mystery is amazing.
Thank you for compiling a list of scriptures concerning predestination. From what I see the Bible points us to view our existence and salvation from outside our perspective in this doctrine. What is difficult for humans to understand is what true love, radical grace, and enormous mercy really mean. We do not have those characteristics. If you start looking with the idea that a God who does have those characteristics chose anyone it is miraculos! To believe that we have any rights or can make any judgments concerning how God works shows just how much pride with which we have been infused.
This is a very deep subject, and should be respectfully studied by God’s Word only. The Spirit will guide an honest, sincere heart into all truth. He is the potter and we are the clay, there are vessels for both honor and dishonor. He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. Blessings to all as we seek to please and do His will.
I have studied the word of God for 46 years being saved in 1977, I will be 70 years old this December 2021. I find that the Bible definitely teaches predestination and election, it’s clear all throughout scripture and yet there are those who will argue the point that if you agree with predestination and election is to call God a liar. I have been accused of being a Calvinist for years and I wasn’t even sure what that meant, I had no idea who Calvin was so one day I looked it up and read his biography, it just so happened that he agreed with my assessment of scripture however that does not make me a Calvinist. Today, in fact, I had a discussion with an administrator from Calvary Chapel, he accused me of the same things, that I was calling God a Liar, it’s fascinating, the spiritual vitriol some people fling at you because you refuse to be brow beat into submission.
GET BEHIND ME SATAN! The father of lies has come to steal kill and destroy. You cause division and quote verses wrong, deliberately.
John 15:6, “If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this y father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.”
John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” WE HAVE A CHOICE TO COME TO THE FATHER THROUGH THE SON. WHY ELSE WOULD HE SEND HIS SON IF WE WERE PREDESTINED TO HEAVEN OR HELL?
You’re either for God or you’re not. Who are you fighting for, really?
John 3:1 “My brothers, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” You are warned by God.
2 Peter 3:9 “ The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Acts 2:21 “ And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – WE HAVE A CHOICE! Our free will allows it, through the Grace of God because of the depth of His love which is far greater than any of us can fully understand right now.
2 Tim 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
James 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the errors of his ways will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
I’m asking you now, if you’re a brother in Christ, stop spreading lies. Stop twisting scripture and preaching what it is not. You will be judged much more harshly than others because of your willful deceit.
Thank you for commenting, but I want you to notice something. Notice that you did not bring up anything about the article. I want you to consider this, did you read the article with an open mind? Predestination is seen throughout the Bible. We always have a choice. We have free will within God’s preordained will. We can choose, but if God doesn’t intervene on our behalf, our choice will not be Him. A man will always act in accordance with his will. Unfortunately, Scriptures tells us that the unbeliever is evil, depraved, a hater of God, blinded by Satan, and an enemy of God. The question then becomes, will such a person ever choose God without God intervening? The answer is no
Notice Romans 9:11 “though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.”
Also check out, Romans 9:16 “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”
John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
I say this with all due respect, I believe that you are arguing more from an emotional standpoint than a biblical standpoint.
Thank you Ashley. The Bible overwhelmingly supports and proves that God has chosen who will believe. God elects and has predestined those who by faith, believe in Christ. Every verse that some use to support man’s involvement in salvation demonstrates their misunderstanding of God’s grace and mercy. We do not choose God, He chooses us, and has led us to salvation. People assume they play a part, they think they have to make that choice, that step of faith, but in reality it’s God who has drawn them so that they do believe. “Whosoever” comes to believe, where elected to believe and brought to belief in Christ by God, according to His sovereign will. We conclude that we made the decision, but without God electing us, we would have never come to that decision to believe. .