Last night I had a massive chat one of my a brothers in Christ, about a heap of things. One of the things that came up was predestination. Always a fun one. Because my mind is on it, I thought I’d put down some thoughts.
So the doctrine of Predestination is tough to deal with – God predetermines (i.e. God decides) who he will save, and by doing so, predetermines who he will not save, and subsequently who he will judge.
If you start getting caught up in it, this can seem unfair, unloving, or unlike God as we know him.
We see in the bible that God is loving, that he is powerful, that he is Just, and that everything that happens is pre-ordained by God to a) glorify him, and b) work for the good of his people (see Romans 8).
So does predestination taint these things?
Justice; I think this is the key point in grasping a working understanding (not a complete understanding, I don’t think that’s possible) of predestination. God is Just. That means every sin, every aspect of our life that falls short of God’s glory, must be atoned for. The classic way is that we would be condemned. For someone to be judged is justice – we cannot complain that God is being injust by choosing NOT to save someone.
Love; Could a loving God work with the idea of Predestination? I think so. The way that God loves his people is by sending Jesus – this allows us to be saved, because our sins are “paid off”. So in salvation, God is exhibiting love. By NOT saving some, he is not being UNLOVING, he is showing Justice. You can even go into the idea that God always redeems some while judging others. In the exodus, God destroys the Egyptians in the Red Sea. Jesus says in Matthew that all who are not with him are against him – everyone who is not on Jesus’ side is running into God’s judgement. The love of a (righteously) jealous God is so great that, when spurned, the justified wrath is terrible.
Power; God is all-powerful, and knows all things. If God knows everything that can, will, or would happen, then I don’t think there is ANY possible way for predestination not to occur. If God is all about glorifying himself, and he has the power and knowledge to make that happen in the best, greatest way possible, then he kinda has to determine how things are going to go.
So yes, predestination happens. I don’t think it violates anything else we learn of God.
So does that obliterate the idea of human responsibility? I don’t think so. It is made clear in the bible that humanity has a choice (Adam and Eve made a particular choice, Jesus preached a ministry that forced people to decide if he was Lord or not). In revelation, we see the bunch of people who have refused to engage in worship of the beast – they have chosen not to.
So there’s a disjuncture here. God causes it to happen, but we still decide.
That seems like a logical fallacy, but I think it’s the neatest, most faithful conclusion we can arrive at.
Here’s a simpler (sort of) way of looking at it; The bible says that God predestined me. But I know I made my own decision. That means that somehow, both are true.
Predestination is a tough concept, but I love it. If God didn’t make it happen, I certainly wouldn’t choose Christ myself, nor would anyone else. I’m pretty thankful that God is the power behind my salvation, at every stage. If He weren’t, I’d surely be missing a link in the chain. As it is, predestination lets me rest easy in assurance (something I often struggle with).
Some helpful links?