Two views of predestination are prominent among church groups today. One view holds that God offers irresistible grace to those whom he elects to save. The other view insists that God's grace is the source of redemption but that it can be resisted by man through his free choice. In the first, God chooses the believer; in the latter, the believer chooses God. By studying Godís word we can realize the correct view to hold.
Certain verses in Godís word mention predestination and may for some be hard to understand. One such verse is in Romans (8:29-30).
29 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.
The foreknown by God are those whose hearts are righteous and who want to serve God. God knew from the beginning of creation that there would be some whose hearts would be good and who would seek Him. He knew also that He would send His son to give us an understanding of His ways and to be our sacrifice for sins. God intended for the people to conform to the image of His son. To conform, they would have to obey and live the teachings that Jesus gave when He was on earth. The Ďpredestinedí were called through the gospel. Those called are justified because Jesus has paid for their sins. They are glorified because they are now children of God, just like His son. Predestination here was that God had a plan for the salvation of man. However, His plan does not force anyone to become a believer. He calls us through His word; then, we make the choice.
Ephesians 1:4-5,11 is another predestination passage:
4 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
God knew before the foundation of the world that some would come to Him through Jesus. God predetermined the roadway of forgiveness, sanctification, and reward for anyone whose heart would seek Him. Through Jesus we would be made holy and forgiven. Through Jesus we would become sons of God just as Jesus is. Our inheritance would be eternal life, predestined according to the purpose of God.
Another verse of predestination is Acts 13:48:
48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
At this time during the growth of the church, the gospel was spreading to the Gentile nations. Among the Gentiles there were many who were good people. These were they who were appointed to eternal life because from the beginning their hearts were good. Some even knew of God but just did not know how to find Him. Jesus foretold the acceptance of the Gentiles in John 10:16; "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.Ē God called the Gentiles through the gospel and the scriptures. Many believed and became His children, having the hope of eternal life. Some chose not to believe.
Another passage to look at is in II Thessalonians 2:13,15:
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
This passage should clear up any misconception of predestination as will several other verses concerning a steadfast walk in Christ and with God. In verse 13 we see that God has chosen us for salvation through two ways, sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth. We must remember that Paul is writing to those who are followers of Christ. These followers had to first believe in the gospel, understanding the forgiveness that comes through Jesus, then be willing to change their lives through Godís Spirit. Godís Spirit would sanctify them through His word. Paul was a main writer of the New Testament. His letters and the words he spoke to the people were specific instructions on godly living. They were the guides to sanctification, to help us become strong and pure. Sanctification of our souls is the will God (II Thess. 4:3). It is a condition of salvation. Thus, this is the reason Paul tells the church to stand fast and hold the traditions they were taught. There are many other verses that one can reference concerning sanctification and steadfastness. What we need to understand here though is this; if God has already chosen who will be saved, then why does Paul warn these followers of Christ to be steadfast. If we are predestined for salvation then why worry about living pleasing to God? Why not let just live care free?
Finally, the passage in Romans 9:14-24 seems to state that God made vessels of dishonor to show His power and make it known throughout the world. However, by the Spirit we can understand this. Just as God knew there would be good people in the world who would seek Him. He also knew there would be bad people in the world who would not seek Him. They are the vessels of dishonor. These vessels God used to show His power. They could have come to know God but did not want to. God harden them by not being with them. He let things happen to them, permitting their anger and pride to become great. He used their anger and pride to accomplish His will.
To conclude, thinking that man has no choice of his own concerning where he will spend eternity is absurd. Predestination does exist to the extent that God did have a plan of salvation. He did know there would be some who would seek Him and come to know His son. He did preplan a way of forgiveness through His son. And, He foreknew the reward or inheritance He would give to those who would follow Him. However, nowhere in Godís word does it show that He took away manís own choice to follow Him. Manís own choice is the most important act of love toward God that he can do.