The Truth About Predestination (Part 1)
“I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
See Romans 10:20
Biblical predestination is 100% true. However, the proper interpretation of what it actually is has confused the masses. Without beating around the bush, here are the differences:
- False Predestination: God has preselected only certain individuals to believe and be saved. Some of us are predestined for heaven, some of us are predestined for hell. We don’t get to decide or participate in any way, shape, or form. Only God does.
- True Predestination: God has predestined the entire world to have the chance to believe and be saved, not just the Jewish ethnic group. Gentiles–which is everyone on the planet who isn’t Jewish–we too were predestined to be invited to join the family of God by grace through faith in Jesus. Before the foundation of the earth, God’s predestined plan was to summon both the Jew and the Gentile.
Simple enough, right? You’d think predestination would be uncomplicated, but oh my goodness, not at all. Many who obsess with Calvinism or Arminianism–as well as quite a few cults with a Christian hat on it–they’ll vehemently argue about only certain people being chosen by God. Some even have a certain number who are predestined to be saved. What a nightmare.
Calvinism says we have no choice; we’re basically preprogrammed robots destined for heaven or hell. Arminianism says we do have a choice, but after choosing we’re responsible for maintaining our salvation, as if the Father and Son’s promise to one another at the Cross wasn’t sufficient. Neither sound like good news to me, yet the gospel literally means good news. I say we drop the “isms” connected to any man’s name and focus on Jesus’ Spirit to guide us into all truth.
So where have we gotten off base? As usual, poor interpretation of Scripture study while not being led by the Spirit. The Spirit will never lead us into error, but only truth. Romans chapters 9-11 and Ephesians 1-3 are the foundational passages of predestination. Sadly, these scriptures have been contorted by demonic forces leading many to think God cherry-picks certain humans to believe and others to not believe.
Let’s do some overview stuff to make predestination simple. Romans 9-11 is basically Paul calling out his racist Jewish kinsmen, telling them God decided to invite the Gentiles to be saved too. Here’s a fictional conversation which expresses what’s happening:
“What do you mean, Paul?! You’re telling me these disgusting Gentiles who know nothing about the Law, have no respect for Moses and the Prophets, and have never sacrificed a single animal at the temple, you’re saying God wants to include them too? Well that’s not fair! We’ve worked too hard for God to let this happen!”
“Yes. God can have mercy on whomever He wants. Who are you to tell Yahweh what to decide to do with humanity? You’re simply one lump of clay in which He’ll make many vessels from.”
This conversation isn’t in the Bible, but I could easily picture it happening as Paul, a former devout Jewish man, revealed our Creator’s intention of destroying Semitic segregation to a Mosaic legalist. Their sanctimonious attitude was the reason they hung Jesus on the Cross, and now Paul was saying they crucified the Messiah who wants to include non-Jews.
Romans 9-11 is Paul explaining to his own flesh and blood that they are now without hope apart from Christ–not the Gentiles but them. They’ve been broken off and need to be rejoined by faith. Their lineage means nothing now that Christ has come. He begins by clarifying, in essence, saying, “God chose us in the past, but now He’s also chosen the Gentiles to be saved by way of the Christ who came from our bloodline.”
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring” (See Romans 9:3-6)
Would Paul actually be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers and kinsman? No. This is a figure of speech expressing his deep desire for them to repent from the Law toward Jesus. He’s telling them that just because you were born a Jew doesn’t mean you belong to God any longer. They must believe Jesus to be included with the Gentiles who have chosen faith in Him.
“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Romans 9:8)
The children of the flesh are the Jews, Israel. Not the modern geographic location of Israel because it wasn’t established until 1948 but their race. Further, Paul isn’t referring to the flesh, or sarx, as he did in Romans 7 and 8, but actual physical DNA; human lineage.
Juxtapose, the children of the promise is you and I, dear Gentile. God made a promise to Abraham before the Law, before Israel was even formed through Moses after the Hebrew Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Even deeper, God made a promise to Abraham before he had a single child. As an old man, God promised him this:
“I will make you the father of many nations.” (See Genesis 17:4)
Not just the Jewish nation but many nations. Where would those nations come from? The entire world! Asians, Indians, American Indians, Europeans, Incas, Africans, Canadians, Eskimos, Antarcticans–absolutely every nation on the planet who did not follow Moses through the Red Sea floor! God predestined us to have the chance to be saved!
We, being brought into the family of God, are the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham! We are the children of the promise! Since Jesus came, it’s no longer just about Israel, but we too were predestined to join God by way of His Son!
Unfortunately, the Jews hated Paul because he told them they would serve us, not the other way around. Why? Because Christ came through the tribe of Judah. Judah was one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
“The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (See Romans 9:12-13)
The older is the Jews. The younger is the Gentiles. His symbolism is clear.
Another epiphany Paul would reveal is that after we place our faith in Jesus, we’re no longer Jew or Gentile but a whole new creation in Christ! (See Galatians 3:28-29, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
In Romans 9:13, from above, Jacob signified the Jews, Esau signified the Gentiles. In the time of Jacob and Esau, this was before Christ came, it was God’s prerogative to choose the Jews and not choose the Gentiles to carry His oracles and Messianic bloodline. It was God’s prerogative to temporarily harden Pharaoh’s heart in order to preserve the pedigree of Judah in which the Word would become flesh.
“Who are we to tell God what to do?” was the message of Paul, yet the Jews still rejected his communication of Christ.
Even in the book of Acts, as he preached to his countrymen, they shunned his news of Jesus therefore rejecting eternal life. He first preached to them and then second he turned and preached to the Gentiles, but only after the Jews refused to believe (see Acts 13:45-48). This proves that predestination is not God foreordaining people, including Israel, to believe and leaving others without hope.
“No way, Matt! Jesus even said many are called but few are chosen!”
Yes, friend, Jesus did say that. But in context He’s referring to the copious amount of Jews first being called and still refusing to join Him. The Jews are “the many,” the Gentiles are “the few.” Those who were originally called by God through Moses rejected Him; we who are the few were then chosen because we believed. Read the entire parable, not just a single verse, to find out the truth (see Matthew 22:1-14).
“Matt, you’re so wrong! You gotta be caught up in the elect and only smart people know that! You’re wasting your time!”
Do you see how the enemy can make us angry and anxious when we think we must be part of a preselected group? Yet Christ said His yoke is easy and His burden is light (see Matthew 11:28-30). The truth is, the elect is the corporate body of Christ, not a fated group of humans. In fact, we believers are all part of a royal priesthood of saints! We’re equal because we were chosen to have the chance to believe–and we did!
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
We were chosen because Israel rejected God and He wanted to add to His family! We believed in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and instantly became a royal group of His special possession! This happened by grace through faith, not by random chance!
(Continued in Part 2)