Scripture Studies

Is Your Life ‘Predestined’ to be Lost?

pre lost(What is Life Series- 5)

If someone tells you that your life is doomed to fail, would you be concerned? Would it matter to you knowing that others are “pre-chosen” to be a success in life? What if it’s all about the choices we make that will determine or define who you are or what you will become-will it make a difference?

Most religions teach a very defining and formulaic teaching called “Predestination”.

There are various ways in which this doctrine is taught, but the most common in Christianity is the idea that God, even before the time began has already set or “predetermined” every choice and detail of every person’s life, including whether he/she would be saved or lost.

A 16th century Protestant theologian named John Calvin popularised this idea (though originally it came from the teachings of a Catholic bishop, Augustine of Hippo). This doctrine is now known as “Calvinism” and embraced by most Evangelicals today.

Based on its “five-point” principle using the acronym Tulip, the concept was primarily focused on God’s sovereignty, power and foreknowledge. Accordingly, nothing can ever happen that God did not, before all time and space, design and decide to happen. God knew all along before everyone was born, who would be saved and who would be lost because He has the power to predetermine it. That’s why it is also called “double-predestination.”

That everything is already laid out, no matter what you do or make in life, seems to appeal to modern theologians, but is this teaching really grounded on the Bible?

Among the most quoted passages in Scriptures widely viewed as supporting this doctrine are as follows,

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 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.”(NKJV, all throughout unless noted) 

Ephesians 1: 4-5,11,13-14; 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...In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,... In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Based on the above texts, the word “predestined” comes from the Greek προορίζω, or “prooridzo.”  It basically carries the meaning of “determine beforehand,” or “ordain”. It carries the sense of establishing a boundary, usually in the sense of predetermining a future condition. The word occurs six times in six verses in the New Testament (see also in Acts 4:28 and 1 Corinthians 2:7).

By cursory reading of these verses, one may readily conclude that predestination is indeed a biblical idea, but an in depth look will also reveal an important key to understanding it: When is the term “predestined” used/applied? And if it was used, to whom does it apply?

Interestingly, and without textual bias, the two main passages above showed us a very complementing text on the biblical theme of Salvation. Therefore, whenever predestination or “predestined” was used, it was in the context of those whom God “foreknew” (Gk. proginosko, “to know beforehand”) and “called” (from Gk. kaleo, “to call, summon, invite”) to be “predestined to be conformed to the image of His son” (Romans 8:29).  Notice, that nothing was mentioned here about an individual being predestined to reject the Son, or even denied by the Son (unless of course, the individual freely chooses). Thus, to whom God “predestined”, accordingly He, “justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (verse 30). The context was essentially applies to our calling, what it entails for our future. Thus, the preceding verse gave the intended benefits when God called and foreknew us, it declares, “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” (verse 28)!  

On the other hand, God has an eternal purpose called  a plan for all His creation. This was the context of Paul in Ephesians 1 when he wrote, “having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11). Paul was referencing the purpose of our calling, which was based on a plan set “before the foundation of the world” (verse 4). Our choosing to adoption (verse 5) was thus based on an indomitable or resolute will of God that nothing can prevent or frustrate His purposes or plan. Even the “Holy Spirit of promise”, guarantees this inheritance which is yet future (verse 14). Those now being called, were foreknown, and pre-destinated to adoption as sons or daughters of God through Jesus Christ.  Predestination has everything to do with being called to salvation, and not being lost.

Harmonizing these two key verses in its proper context, will help us understand why God was consistent and persistent in His warnings and admonitions for ancient Israel and today for everyone to “choose” life.

“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today.” - Deuteronomy 11:26-27

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” - Deuteronomy 30:19

And “If you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.” - Deuteronomy 28:1 ESV

Obviously, God didn’t predetermine the outcome to the children of Israel. They had a choice.

Adam and Eve were given the free moral agency to choose right from the beginning. Even God provided them with an important caveat.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).So it was not as if Eve was preconditioned to believe a lie by the Serpent (Genesis 3).

Through prophet Ezekiel, God underscores the individual’s responsibility for his actions:

“Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).Every individual is accountable for his/her own choices.

Prophet Jeremiah laid out the grand vision of why we must consciously seek and follow God,

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”- Jeremiah 29:11

That’s why it is even more important to emphasize this call today. God extends an invitation for everyone unto Salvation. That this is a matter of our choice.

Thus, we have our option,

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” - Acts 17:30

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” - John 3:16

God can even extend His patience to anyone,

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” - 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” - Romans 10:13 ESV

As emphasized fully by our Savior Jesus Christ, he said, “For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36).

Let us make our calling and election sure, as apostle Peter intimated,

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”- 2 Peter 1:10-11

So the choices you make today will help define you and your future, and eternal life [or death] in God’s coming kingdom. It’s your choice!

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