It is often called “Predestination”- The belief that certain people have been marked or set aside, by God to receive salvation. Let’s look at it from this prospective: First off- God is Sovereign Genesis 1:1, meaning He has complete authority. Second- God is Omnipresent Psalms 139:1-12, meaning He can be everywhere at once, though He does have His “Shekinah Glory” in heaven, which is His being. Thirdly- He is Omnipotent Revelation 19:6, meaning He is all powerful, and His ability is without end. Lastly- He is Omniscient Job 37:16, meaning that He has all knowledge and without Him, no knowledge exists.
Predestination: Who are the Chosen People Of God?
So, in all the grand power of our God, it is of little wonder that He already knew from the beginning of time the individuals who would choose Him, and those He would choose. God will not be surprised about who’s going to go to heaven. He knows that some people, no matter how long suffering He was with them, that they would never choose Him. To this point, I refer to it as “pre-determination”, because it was determined that these individuals would choose their own way no matter what. Therefore, He has predestined and equipped the elect the opportunity to receive salvation and eternal life in the coming regeneration.
Predestination: Let’s look at what else the Bible has to say about it:
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are 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 brothers. Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
Predestination: What Calvin Got Right & Wrong!
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The Called Ones
Jesus Says: A few examples out of the Gospels
“No man can come to me except the Father who has sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
“no man can come to me except it were given to him by the father.” (John 6:65)
“All the Father gives to me will come to me; and him that comes I will not cast out… And this is the Fathers will that has sent me, that all that he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6: 37+39)
“You have not chosen me, But I have chosen you, and ordained you… But I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:16+19)
“Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; but for the sake of the chosen ones, whom he picked out, he shortened the days.” (Mark 13:20)
“For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15)
“As you know, we exhorted, comforted, and implored every one of you, as a father does his own children, to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own Kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
“In whom also we have been chosen to an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will,” (Ephesians 1:11)
From The Foundation Of Time
- Q) Are the people of God chosen from the very beginning time?
- A) Yes, the Bible clearly says this!
“He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;” (Matthew 25:33-34)
“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; even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him in love; having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely gave us favor in the Beloved,” (Ephesians 1:3-6)
“But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth; to which he called you through our Good News, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
Jesus’ Prayer Before His Arrest & Crucifixion:
“I pray for them. I don’t pray for the world, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” (John 17:9)
*Before we start this next section, I pray that we consider how precious it is to have been called by God, and chosen to be heirs of salvation. Let us tremble before a holy God, and remain thankful to receive such a precious gift. Consider now the fate of the lost…
Predestination: The Vessels Of Wrath Blocked From Salvation
- Q) Do you mean to say that some people can never be saved?
- A) Yes, that is exactly what the Bible says!
God Hardens Hearts To Prevent Salvation
“What then? That which Israel seeks for, that he didn’t obtain, but the chosen ones obtained it, and the rest were hardened. According as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.” David says, “Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, a stumbling block, and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see. Always keep their backs bent.” (Romans 11:7-10)
God Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart
Exodus 9:12 + 10:20 + 10:27 + 11:10 + 14:8
God Sends A Lying Spirit To Deceive The Wicked
“Yahweh said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ One spoke saying in this way, and another saying in that way. A spirit came out, stood before Yahweh, and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “Yahweh said to him, ‘How?’ “He said, ‘I will go, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ “He said, ‘You will entice him, and will prevail also. Go and do so.’ “Now therefore, behold, Yahweh has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets; and Yahweh has spoken evil concerning you.” (2 Chronicles 18:19-22)
God Hides The Truth To Prevent Salvation
He said to them, “To you is given the mystery of God’s Kingdom, but to those who are outside, all things are done in parables, that ‘seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest perhaps they should turn again, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mark 4:11-12)
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
God Blinds Their Eyes To Prevent Salvation
“But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this cause they couldn’t believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things when he saw his glory, and spoke of him.” (John 12:37-41)
“I heard the Lord’s voice, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am. Send me!” He said, “Go, and tell this people, ‘You hear indeed, but don’t understand; and you see indeed, but don’t perceive.’ Make the heart of this people fat. Make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10) [Note this is referenced in Acts 28:25-28]
“I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spoke, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” (Isaiah 66:4)
Predestination: Conclusion To God Hardening Hearts
“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be! For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires. You will say then to me, “Why does he still find fault? For who withstands his will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed ask him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” Or hasn’t the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:14-24)
Predestination: God Never Wrote Their Names In The Book Of Life
The following verses tell us that the wicked were never placed in the book of life: Predestination:
“It was given to him [The Devil] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. Authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been killed.” (Revelation 13:7-8)
“The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.” (Revelation 17:8)
*These people were never entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life. Therefore, they will be thrown into the lake of fire and burned up.
“If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
They are vessels of wrath fit for destruction.
“What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory,” (Romans 9:22-23)
Predestination: What About Free Will?
Basically, people called by God are the ones with the choice. If you are not called, you have no choice. Those called by God are given the opportunity to make their election sure.
“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 20:16) [Also Matthew 19:30 22:14] (*Please note that not all are Called.)
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (2 Peter 1:10)
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
Those who are called have to option to refuse or reject the salvation offered to them.
“Therefore, as for you, let that remain in you which you heard from the beginning. If that which you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son, and in the Father.” (1 John 2:24)
Predestination: The Elect Are In “The Book Of Life”
But They Can Be Blotted Out!
The Righteous By Faith Are Written In the Book of Life.
“Charge them with crime upon crime. Don’t let them come into your righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of life, and not be written with the righteous.” (Psalms 69:27-28)
Many people believe “once saved, always saved”, but that is just incorrect. Jesus tells us that people can be blotted out of the Book of Life.
“He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
Clearly, we see that those called can be blotted out of the Book of Life, and not enter into heaven.
So, to be blotted out means you’re going to Hell?
“If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
To be written in the Book means you will go to heaven.
“He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,… There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:10+27)
Don’t Be Blotted Out! You Have Free Will To Decide This.
Isn’t God Patient, Not Wanting Any To Perish?
Let’s take a look at this often misapplied verse:
“The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
*If we look, Peter is referring to the called or elect of the household of faith- not the entirety of humanity. As we see that in Chapter 2, (remember that this was one letter with no chapters, as they were added later) talking about falling away from the faith and returning back to sin. Also, at the start of Chapter 3 we read the following:
“This is now, beloved, the second letter that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you; that you should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior:” (2 Peter 3:1-2)
In context, this statement is a call to refrain from falling away, to come back if you have, and maintain that which remains. That God is mindful of His lost sheep and is providing opportunity for them to come home, not wanting any of them to perish.
Let’s read a portion of Chapter 2 to hammer this home:
“It would have been better that they had not know then to turn back. For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21)
What we find in scripture is that there are some vessels of wrath that are never called, and they will die in their sins. They have no choice, no free will as people like to say, and they are stuck in their lot. Then you have those called, chosen to come to God, and of these they have free will in the matter- how they respond matters, and what they do matters.
How Did God Decide Who Would Be Saved?
In this we cannot definitely say, but I do believe God provided us a clue in the following verses:
“Brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, the word of this salvation is sent out to you.” (Acts 13:26)
*To those who fear or are willing to fear God, salvation has been offered to them.
Let’s check one last one:
“Even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn’t receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Because of this, God sends them a working of error, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth; to which he called you through our Good News, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-14)
*Here we see it is the love of the truth, the willingness to be wrong and corrected in the ways of God that brings salvation. Those who will fear Him, believe what He says as correct and absolute truth, are offered salvation. Those who will not fear Him and do not love the truth are damned to hell, destined to burn for their rebellion.
Many are called, but only few will be chosen. Those called have been picked out since the foundation of the universe. They have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life since then. Those not picked, have never been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and have no hope of ever being written in. The chosen ones have the opportunity to respond in a positive manner and receive salvation by fearing God and loving the truth, which will in turn manifest through obedience to Him. If they fail in this, they will be blotted out of the Book of Life, and will be thrown into hell. It will be worse for those offered salvation, if they reject it, than for those who never had a chance.