What is Predestination?
Biblical Predestination is a two-fold concept including both election and reprobation. Election deals with God’s choosing some people unto salvation, while reprobation deals with God choice not to save certain men but to condemn them.
This article is an introduction to a series I am doing on passages that plainly teach aspects of the Doctrines of Grace also known as Calvinism by many. It serves as an introduction to the doctrine called unconditional election for those unfamiliar with it.
Election is a concept taught in Scripture, wherein God, before the foundation of the world, chose a certain number of people whom he would save and effectually redeem from their sin. This is often referred to as predestination. The Dutch Reformed synod, The Canons of Dort accurately summarize the Biblical teaching of election:
“Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace…This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc…” (Canons of Dort 1.7–9).
The Synod accurately defines election as the choosing of man without respect to any good quality of disposition in man as a condition to their being chosen to salvation. Those who were chosen were not chosen because they were somehow by nature more deserving than others, but rather they were chosen without respect to positive conditions they might fulfill.
Those who come to believe in the true Gospel do so only because God sends preachers their way, puts forth his Spirit in their hearts, and brings them to Spiritual life. This work is often called regeneration, the process by which God takes out a man’s stony unbelieving heart, and instead puts in a heart of flesh that has true faith in God. God works in men’s hearts to raise them from the dead, and after the presentation of the Gospel, they then come to believe in him. The reason why God chooses to save one man and not another is solely due to the good pleasure of his will.
Clarification #1: All who believe will be saved.
At risk of being misunderstood, what I am not teaching is that only some of those who believe will be saved. Anyone who believes will be saved according to the Biblical teaching of John 5:24:
John 5:24 (KJV 1900) — 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Truly believing men and women are the elect of God. They are not elect because they believe, but they believe because God elected before the foundation of the world by the good pleasure of his will. God grants his elect people faith to believe the Gospel, and they will not condemned to hell, as they have passed from death to life.
Reprobation is another concept in Scripture in which God has chosen to pass over certain men in his eternal decree of election, and leave them in the misery of their sin, which they willingly plunge themselves into. He chooses not to bestow the graces of saving faith and conversation on them, but instead leaves them to be condemned in following their own fleshly desires and unbelief. He has chosen to leave them for the final judgement where they will be eternally punished and condemned forever. To this the Synod of Dort wrote:
“What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express testimony of sacred Scripture, that not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal election of God; whom God, out of his sovereign, most just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but leaving them in his just judgment to follow their own ways, at last for the declaration of his justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous judge and avenger thereof…” (Canons of Dort 1.15).
Reprobation does not make God the author of the actions by which men are judged, but instead declares the justice of God at the final judgement. God is by no means obligated to display mercy to any man, as mercy is by definition unearned. To this the Scriptures say:
Romans 9:18 (KJV 1900) — 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
The origin of man’s sin is in himself, and God rightly judges men to hell for their own sins.
In this series of articles, we will cover the Biblical evidence for the Doctrines of Grace, including evidence for predestination. Unlike my last series, this will be a positive demonstration of the Doctrines of Grace. However, if you have not already read my series called Examining Arminianism, I recommend you do so, which can be found under the lists section of my home page.