“Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:30
This is a loaded scripture and people often trip up or skip right over it because of its polarising nature. Join me as I delve into it and then prayerfully consider your understanding and view of it.
TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
Allow me to briefly state two possible interpretations on the concept of predestination that you may or may not have heard before. The first school of thought says that God chooses who will be saved and so, He predestines them according to what He knows they will choose (Calvinism). The second school of thought is that everyone is predestined to be saved according to God’s will, but some will never choose Him, and thus their predestination was not taken hold of. However, God knows what everyone will end up choosing (Arminianism). There are more views on this that essentially play off the root concepts of either Calvinism or Arminianism.
To put it simply, Calvinism teaches that God chooses whom He saves. Arminianism teaches that it is each person’s choice to have faith in Jesus and take hold of their salvation.
ALL OF SCRIPTURE REVEALS TRUTH
Granted, there are good arguments and scriptural references that will count in favour of each of these views. For me, I believe that one must approach the interpretation of this topic or concept as one would any theme, doctrine, theology, section, or verse in scripture. And that is through understanding the greater context of all scripture and the character of God revealed perfectly in Christ Jesus. Instead of trying to prove your own understanding, allow scripture to reveal the truth to you.
JESUS IS TRUTH
In many ways it is not so much about what you know or believe about predestination, but rather what you know and believe about God. If Jesus is Truth, then surely all truth can be found in Him. According to Hebrews 1:3, Jesus represents God perfectly. Yes, He did choose twelve disciples to follow Him. He did choose to invest more into three out of the twelve. And there was even one who was considered to be the disciple whom Jesus loved most.
And let’s not forget about Judas, who was also chosen, but ended up making the decision to betray Jesus. In John 17:12 Jesus Himself refers to Judas as the “son of destruction”. The implication being that by serving Satan’s plans through his denial of Jesus, Judas would be a son of destruction by his own implication and not God’s predestination thereof. It had to happen, and it would have happened whether it was Judas or not, because God already knew about it. Judas just ended up being the one making himself available to the working of the devil.
WHAT PRECEDES PREDESTINATION?
You may refer to Paul’s writings in Romans 9:6-23 where it seems as if Paul is saying that God does choose, and on some occasions, He even chooses to predestine people to hell. But if you read those scriptures with the understanding that each of the individuals mentioned, who ended up on the ‘wrong side’ of God, all had a choice in their own hearts hardening, it changes everything. We choose sin and as a result, our hearts become hard. God does not harden a heart nor force a person to choose sin. In many ways, one can say that “predestination” plays out after one’s own choice, either for or against God.
FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
Now, what can we learn from this? Jesus chose people to follow Him. In fact, He asked twelve to do so. One would say that He predestined for them to be saved. But they still had the freedom of choice to follow Him or not. Note that He never denied anyone else outside of the twelve who wanted to follow Him the opportunity. Following Him until the end would mean that their final destination would be eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
As Bible-believing Christians, we cannot possibly interpret John 3:16 any other way than “the world” being all people and “whoever” meaning exactly that.
Does God know every intention and thought of our hearts? Yes. Does He know what we will choose? Yes. Does it mean that He programmed and predestined us to choose hell or heaven? No. My understanding of Romans 8 is that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is a sure sign and confirmation of God’s intent that not one person should perish. That His heart is for us and not against us. And that even while we were sinners (Romans 5:8) He chose to die for us so that we might choose Him and follow Him.
You see, every person on the face of this planet – past, present and future – was and will be created by God. Each one is predestined to be saved and live eternally with God. How can I say that? Because, from my own interpretations and prayer, the word of God says that. Jesus died for all. For all to have a fair chance at knowing Him, believing in Him. But they still must make that decision for themselves, as you and I must.
Let’s reflect on Romans 8:30 once more.
“Moreover whom He predestined,…” [that would be all of mankind] these He also called; [all of mankind is called by God] whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” [Once we respond to this call by our own choice, we are immediately justified – meaning put into right relationship with God. And then our glorification begins.]
Sure, we can go on about all of the different interpretations and debate them thoroughly. My only question would be. Does the outcome reveal the true character of God throughout scripture, or is it crafted to prove my own pre-conceived understanding of the topic?
I leave you with some final thoughts:
If the God of the universe is good, loving, gracious and kind, and created all human beings for a specific good plan and purpose… Would it be within His character to deny some the opportunity to choose to know Him?