Lesson #9: The Doctrine of Predestination

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1 Lesson #9: The Doctrine of Predestination What is the doctrine of Predestination and Unconditional Election? (Instead of trying to explain the doctrine of predestination to you, I am going to let someone who believes this doctrine try to tell you why they believe this way. These are excerpts taken from material written by Michael R. Finney and Rolaant I. McKenzie via website, Because of humanity's total depravity, God of necessity, in eternity past, chose certain people to be saved. There was nothing inherently better or different about the chosen people which caused God to choose them. God was totally free in His decision to show grace and mercy to some sinners who deserved nothing but His wrath. This is, in essence, the doctrine of Unconditional Election. The basis of God's election is a mystery only known to God. We may not understand how it can be that He is able to elect some while passing by others. But rest assured, everything that God has decided to do is perfect and righteous because He makes no mistakes. Some say that this paints a picture of a God that is capricious and unjust. But this view overlooks the fact that if all humanity received what is just from God, then all would be condemned to eternal death in hell. God is under no obligation to save anyone. His shows mercy by choosing to save some condemned to death. God's election is necessary because of the total depravity of human nature. Every son and daughter of Adam is an ungodly sinner; an enemy of God. None of us have within our nature the desire to choose good and reject evil. All stand guilty before God, deserving of His wrath. But God, in His infinite wisdom and grace chose to elect certain rebellious sinners to be saved. Once He elected these sinners to be saved, He then predestined them to be saved. To elect means to choose; to predestine means to decide the outcome beforehand. The difference between election and predestination is similar to the difference between choice and power. A man could elect another to be saved, but he would not have the power to carry out the results of his choice. In contrast, not only has God made the choice, but He has the power to carry out that choice. Election and predestination are two different activities of God, but they are inseparable activities. When God elects, He also predestines; when He decides something should happen, He sees to it that it will happen. Election is God's sovereign choice unto salvation. The sinner is chosen to be saved but is not yet saved. The elect person remains an ungodly sinner until the Father draws him to the Son through regeneration. So the choice of the person's salvation is made in eternity past, but the actual salvation occurs within the 1

2 lifetime of the person. This is important because it reminds us that we cannot sit back and allow election to run its course. Sinners must still be evangelized and witnessed to, and the Holy Spirit must still convert them. God has not only determined those who will be saved, but has also chosen the means. Regenerate men are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17) The gospel "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16-17) The gospel must be preached, first of all, because God commanded believers to do so (Matthew 28:19-20), and secondly, because it is the means by which God saves His elect. Election is a free and gracious gift of the Lord. A person is saved only because God chose that person to be His child. You are born again to newness of life, not according to your will, but according to God's will. Your heart should be overflowing with humility, praise, and thanksgiving to God for your salvation. Not even in the least bit can you claim any credit for your salvation. Apart from the elective and regenerative intervention of God, salvation would be impossible. We would be justly and eternally condemned for our sins. Scriptures cited: Deuteronomy 7:6-10, 15, 9:5, 29:4; Psalm 65:4; Isaiah 45:4; Mark 13:20; John 1:13, 6:44, 65, 15:16, 17:2; Acts 2:39, 9:1-18, 11:17, 16:14, 18:27; Romans 8:28-30, 9:10-26, 10:20, 11:5; Ephesians 1:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:9, 2:10, 19, 25; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 9:15; James 1:18; Jude 1. A Summary of the Doctrine of Predestination 1. Before the foundation of the world, God decided exactly which people would be saved and which would be lost. 2. Predestination is necessary because of inherited depravity. 3. Man does not have the ability to choose good and reject evil unless God calls him. 4. God is gracious and merciful because He chose to save some sinners who were undeserving of salvation. 5. No one knows or can know why God chose to save some and chose not to save others. 2

3 The Bible does teach that man cannot save himself. - Ephesians 2: When you are dead, you cannot do anything to change that. - Salvation is not of works. - But even in this passage, we see that man has to do something to be saved: by grace you have been saved through faith. - Isaiah 59:16. - Because there was no man who could save mankind, God decided to save men by Himself. The Bible teaches that man has free will and the ability to choose good and reject evil. - Consider these Old Testament Examples. - Did Adam and Eve have a choice? - Did the Israelites in the time of Moses have a choice? Deuteronomy 30:19. - Did the Israelites in the time of Joshua have a choice? Joshua 24:15. - Did the Israelites in the time of Samuel have a choice? 1 Samuel 7:3. - Consider these New Testament Examples. - Matthew 6:14-15, For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - John 8:24, Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. - 1 Corinthians 15:2, by which you are also saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you---unless you believed in vain? - Don t these passages indicate that we have a choice to serve God or not? - If these passages are not indicating that we have a choice, think about what these passages would be saying. - You need to do these things, but you really don t have a choice. If you were chosen, you will do these things; and if you weren t chosen, you won t. The Bible teaches that God wants all men to be saved. - God is loving and merciful and wants all men to be saved. - This doesn t mean that He will save everyone and won t punish anyone. - It means that He gives everyone a chance to be saved. - 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 17:30-31, Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness. - Titus 2:11, For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. - 1 Timothy 2:3-4, For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 3

4 The Bible teaches that men will be saved if they obey God. - Salvation is offered freely to all men. - In order to be saved, though, men must be obedient to God. - Mark 16:16, He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. - Hebrews 5:9, And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. - Revelations 22:14, Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. - To all who obey Him. - To be saved, you must obey Christ. - According to predestination, you have to obey Christ and hope that God chose you to be saved. The Bible teaches that God is not a respecter of persons. - The doctrine of predestination teaches that God chose before the foundation of the world exactly which people were going to be lost and exactly which people would be saved. - before these people ever lived. - God had grace on some and vengeance on others. - He favored some and disfavored others. - Then, God is guilty of favoritism. - Acts 10:34-35, Then Peter opened his mouth and said, In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. - Romans 2:11, For there is no partiality with God. - 1 Peter 1:17, And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear. The Bible teaches that God is just. - Psalm 7:11, God is a just judge. - Deuteronomy 32:4, He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. - To be just is to be fair. - I understand that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and it would be just for God to punish us all. - But is it just for God to sentence some to death and some to life before they have ever been born? - 2 Thessalonians 1:8, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. - The doctrine of predestination has God coming in flaming fire taking vengeance on those whom He did not even give a chance to obey so that they could be saved. 4

5 The Bible does teach a doctrine of predestination. - Romans 8:28-30, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. - Ephesians 1:3-5, 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 should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. - What are these passages teaching? - Some have been chosen by God to be adopted into His family. - God did this choosing before the foundation of the world. - Does this mean that the popular doctrine of predestination is correct? - No, for all of the reasons we have previously discussed. - Then what do these passages teach? - These passages teach that God chose the people whom He wanted to save. - Did He choose the specific individuals? No. - He chose the general group of people whom He was going to adopt into His family as sons. - God determined His plan to save mankind before the foundation of the world. - This plan remained a mystery until the Gospel was revealed. Eph. 3:1-7 - God chose the plan, not the man, before the foundation of the world. - God chose Christ and God chose the church. The church is composed of individuals who come into Christ by responding to the conditions of the gospel and who remain devoted to him. God did not choose the individuals unconditionally apart from their own voluntary choice to live as a part of Christ s body. God chose to save all in the class who truly comply with his will. He chose to save all who faithfully serve him in Christ. - Commentary on Ephesians, Truth Commentaries, C.G. Caldwell, pg. 19. Doctrine of Calvinism Total Hereditary depravity Unconditional Election Limited Atonement Irresistible Grace Perseverance of the Saints Every person inherits the sin of Adam and Eve when they are born into the world. God has determined beforehand who is going to heaven and hell. Jesus only died for the elect who are predestined to go to heaven. A direct operation of the Holy Spirit removes the depravity from the predestined. No one call fall away from grace. 5

6 Institutes of the Christian religion Excerpts concerning Unconditional Election The doctrine of Election and Predestination. It is useful, necessary, and most sweet. Ignorance of it impairs the glory of God, plucks up humility by the roots, begets and fosters pride. The doctrine establishes the certainty of salvation, peace of conscience, and the true origin of the church. Book Three, Chapter Twenty-One, Point One The covenant of life is not preached equally to all, and among those to whom it is preached, does not always meet with the same reception. This diversity displays the unsearchable depth of divine judgment, and is without doubt subordinate to God s purpose of eternal election. Book Three, Chapter Twenty-One, Point One If to make it appear that our salvation flows entirely from the good mercy of God, we must be carried back to the origin of election, then those who would extinguish it, wickedly do as much as in them lies to obscure what they ought most loudly to extol, and pluck up humility by the very roots. Paul clearly declares that it is only when the salvation of a remnant is ascribed to gratuitous election, we arrive at the knowledge that God saves whom he wills of his mere good pleasure, and does not pay a debt, a debt which never can be due. Book Three, Chapter Twenty-One, Point One By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death. Book Three, Chapter Twenty-One, Point Five In regard to the elect, we regard calling as the evidence of election, and justification as another symbol of its manifestation, until it is fully accomplished by the attainment of glory. But as the Lord seals his elect by calling and justification, so by excluding the reprobate either from the knowledge of his name or the sanctification of his Spirit, he by these marks in a manner discloses the judgment which awaits them. Book Three, Chapter Twenty-One, Point Seven 6

7 How might a Calvinist answer some of the passages to which we have referred? 1. Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:15 - An offer of choice implies the freedom and ability to choice. - Answer: People with "totally depraved" natures, left to themselves, choose to reject the true God because He does not appeal to them (Romans 1:18-24). When God, by His grace, changes the nature of His elect, they choose to come to Him because they now desire Him (Psalm 73:25-28) Timothy 2: God desires "all" to be saved. - Answer: "all" (Greek pas) in Scripture does not necessarily mean every person on the face of the earth. (Matthew 3:5, 10:22; John 3:26; Colossians 1:23) Paul uses the word 22 other times in 1 Timothy and in many of these references it does not refer to "all existing examples of" something but rather "all kinds of" something or some other meaning (1 Timothy 1:15, 2:1-2, 6, 8, 11, 3:4, 11, 4:4, 8-10, 15, 5:2, 10, 20, 6:1, 10, 13, 17). - Similarly "all" in 1 Timothy 2:4 does not refer to every person who has or will live. It refers to all kinds of people as opposed to only Jews (Matthew 13:47; Acts 10:34, 11:18; Revelation 5:9). - Moreover, if God wanted every person to be saved, then everyone would be saved since His will always comes to pass. (Isaiah 55:11; Psalm 33:10, 115:3, 135:6) But the Bible clearly teaches some will be damned (Matthew 25:26; Revelation 20:11-15, 21:8). 3. Titus 2:11. - "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." So God s grace is available to everyone. - Answer: Note the "For" at the beginning of the verse. This conjunction means this verse is an explanation of what has preceded. The preceding verses are injunctions to Christians on how we should live. It is only Christians who are looking forward to the Second Coming (verse 13). Thus "all men" refers to "all Christians" (see discussion on "all" for 1 Timothy 2:3-4 above) Peter 3:9. - God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." - Answer: "any" or "all" of what? Dogs? Chickens? There must be an antecedent to the pronouns. In 3:3-7, Peter is discussing "them" (i.e., unbelievers). In verse 8 he addresses the "beloved." The beloved are those to whom the epistle is addressed, "those who have obtained a like precious faith with us" (1:1). Thus, God is not willing that any of the beloved should perish. And, since God gets everything He wants, this verse becomes a proof-text for eternal security. - Moreover, the context of this passage is when the end of the world will come (3:7, 10). Peter is teaching that God will wait until "all" have a chance to repent. If "all" refers to everyone who has lived or will live, then the world would never end as new people are being born all the time! But if the reference is to all of God s people, then the world will end when the last of the elect (a large but finite number) has repented and believed. Excerpts from material by Rolaant I. McKenzie ( 7

8 BE READY TO GIVE A DEFENSE Northside Church of Christ January 22, What Kind of God do we Serve? Matthew T. Oglesby There are many different descriptions of God given in the pages of the Bible. We read that He is wise and powerful and worthy of praise. We learn that He is loving, merciful, gracious, and compassionate. On the other hand, we know that God is to be feared and He is a just and vengeful judge. It is this kind of God that we serve. The doctrine of predestination teaches that God chose exactly what individuals would be saved and exactly what individuals would be lost before the foundation of the world. Does this doctrine coincide with the Bible picture of God? What would we think of a judge that makes a decision before He hears the facts in the specific case that he is to rule on? Would we think that he is wise? Is he making proper use of the power given to him? Would he be worthy of our praise? Still more, what would we think of the judge who pronounces a man guilty before the man even commits the crime? The doctrine of predestination makes God like this judge. Is God wise and powerful and worthy of praise if He judged us and sentenced us long before we ever lived? God is loving, merciful, gracious, and compassionate. We all agree. Except, if predestination is true, is God really loving, merciful, gracious, and compassionate to all? Part of the great love of God is His willingness to pardon the sinner (all sinners who repent and come back to Him). But if it is true that God has sentenced many to hell before the world began, is God loving and merciful to them? He didn t give them a chance to repent and come to Him. This is not the God that I serve. I am thankful that I serve a God that gives all men (including me) a chance to be pardoned. God is a consuming fire. He is to be feared. But the wonderful part about God as our judge is that He is just and impartial. We can have confidence that God will judge us fairly. Is the God of predestination a just judge? Does He judge fairly? An impartial judge is one who makes his decision on the merits of the case. He does not make his decision blindly nor based upon who you are. I know that all men have sinned and it would be just for Him to punish us all, but it seems ridiculous to think that God would arbitrarily offer a free gift to some while withholding that same gift from others. What kind of God do you serve? Is He wise, powerful, and worthy of praise? Is He loving, merciful, gracious, and compassionate? Is He just? 8

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