Predestination: Clarifying the Doctrine (with Predestination Scripture References)
There is much controversy over the topic of Predestination in the Bible. The most common phrase used to add color to this topic is “Once saved, always saved”. There exists a problem with this phrase, because it can be looked at in two entirely different ways. These very ways may cause a Christian a lot of confusion when trying to assess and struggle with what they really believe. Many feel if you believe in predestination, you’re automatically a Calvinist. Yet, other Christians in various different sects actually believe in predestination. The best way to understand Predestination is by referencing predestination scriptures, clarifying the doctrine, giving you some references of opposing views, and even explaining what it’s not. Here is a list of Predestination scriptures which support the doctrine. Please mark these down for your studies.
- John 1:12-13: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
- John 6:65-66: And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
- John 10:28 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
- John 13:18 “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.”
- Acts 4:28 to do whatever Your hand and purpose predestined to occur.
- Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
- Ephesians 1:5: He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
- Ephesians 1:11 Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.
- Philippians 1:29: For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for his sake.
- Romans 8:29-30: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
The question that has caused much conflict in the history of churches is, “Can I lose my salvation?” The term “Once saved, always saved” can also be mostly paralleled to the advocates of the belief, “you cannot lose your salvation”. But are the statements clear enough to make sense of if an unseasoned student falls upon the statement and it is improperly understood? To properly comprehend the subject of predestination in Reformed Theology, the following points must be understood:
Predestination Explanation & Key Points
- Upon the time that one’s name is recorded by God in the Lamb’s Book of Life, the names are permanent and cannot be removed.
- Those written in the Book of Life are known as the elect. Because God doesn’t make mistakes, and He has foreknowledge, the elect remain in a state of secure salvation.
- No man has the ability to remove himself from the Book of Life. This would give man power over God’s Sovereignty, which man is incapable of.
- For one to be of the elect class, they have a position, or part, secured in heaven. Jesus will not allow those particular people to “fall away”.
- Human beings have earthly, or fleshly free will. They have ability to make decisions on earth, but not to recreate or otherwise modify God’s plan for their salvation.
- The Holy Spirit will intervene and place the desire to stay in faith to God until their last breath. No member of the elect will go to God “fighting it”, stomping and screaming that they do not wish to go God, or to remain faithful to God.
- The person is “saved” through recognizing Christ as Lord and Savior, and even if they make decisions on earth using their own free will, resulting in punishment for those sins, he or she has been fully redeemed in Christ’s blood, and the Holy Spirit will work in that person’s life to draw the person back to God.
- If one were to claim to love Christ, yet turn away and become an unbeliever, then this person may either a) remain an unbeliever until they die, meaning they were purposed to be of the reprobate class, or, b) they will turn their hearts back to Christ at some point before earthly death. This could be done even in the final moments of life, as was seen with the sinner who hung beside Jesus on the cross.
- God provides mercy for the elect, and justice for the reprobate. God says in Romans 9: “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy”.
Will We Know Who Is Saved?
Just because someone claims to be saved, does not mean that we are to assume they are, and make a judgement call that they will be in heaven. Likewise, just because one claims they do not believe in and recognize Christ as their Lord and Savior, does not mean we are to assume that this person is headed for hellfire. We do not possess the ability to read man’s heart, or know the Lord’s plan for them right up until death.
If one follows the study of predestination, it can be profitable to not only study the specific scriptures referenced in this post, but also to read the entire books of the bible which contain these scriptures. A reading of Ephesians can be done in a brief period of time, while Romans may take a bit longer. Also, in the book of John in chapter 6, it is shown that Jesus’ foreknowledge of His elect is apparent.
Distortion of Double Predestination
This is where there is a misunderstood view of Double Predestination. The proper view of Double Predestination maintains that God has chosen some people (the elect) for heaven, and He has allowed the reprobate to be passed by for His own purpose. The distorted view of Double Predestination demonstrates that while God interjects His Holy Spirit into the lives of those He has chosen (election) in order to bring them to a regenerated (cleansed) state, He also actively intervenes in the lives of the reprobate (those not chosen to be among the elect) to consistently bring them to a state of sin, thereby “authoring” their sin and coercing them into it. This is a gross distortion of the Reformed beliefs and viewpoints on predestination. God does not encourage or coerce anyone into sin, and yet many have the misunderstanding that this is what Double Predestination means.
A Few Opposing Viewpoints:
- Lutherans have rejected the Calvinist doctrine of God predestinating the reprobate to damnation. For example the Lutheran Confession in the Epitome of the Formula of Concord refers to this teaching as “blasphemous and dreadful erroneous”.
- Universalists: Christian Universalism holds that God ordains that every soul will be saved from eternal damnation. They believe that there is no Hell, Satan, or sin that lies beyond the redeeming power of Jesus’ love and sacrifice.
- Arminianism: Protestant theology; It teaches predestination, but it understands that this pre-decision on God’s part is to save the ones who repent and believe. Thus its view is called conditional predestination, since the predetermination of the each person’s destiny is based on God’s foreknowledge of the way in which they will either freely reject Christ or freely accept him. In Arminius’s view, Christians may lose their salvation by their own free will. A scripture used to support this position is 2 Peter 1:10, “Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall,”
- Roman Catholics: Believe in predestination as God’s plan, in which freewill in included.
What about Judas?
In the case of the apostles which were handpicked by God, Jesus states directly to them, “I have chosen you”. We do use this scripture to reason that Christ chooses His followers. However, in order that the follower of Christ is to remain with Christ, this must be predestined by God. While Judas had Satan enter into him and cause him to betray Christ, it would appear to be an act of freewill by Judas. However, it was already known by Jesus that this was purposed to happen. While Judas was hand chosen by Christ to follow Him on earth, and even though Jesus had human limitations, God’s foreknowledge was fully apparent in Jesus when He prophesied that Judas would reject Him. This is apparent in the book of John when Jesus says He knows who will reject Him. God is all knowing. We as humans must not assume that we can leave it up to ourselves to choose on behalf of God. God does the choosing. We do not.
John 13:18, “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ˜He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.”
To review more, please visit the article on The Book of Life, for more scripture references and explanation on Predestination.