The idea that God choose some to be saved from before time comes from the Bible itself. There are those who say man has freewill to turn to God and there are those who say only those who are predestined will turn to God. Because of each mans pride in what they know, or think they know, much friction is created, along with many arguments that separate brothers.
It seems to me that both parties are correct, and a complete understanding of election comes from agreeing with both sides of the argument. This is a paradox, but both sides can be reconciled. It seems we get tunnel vision. The person who thinks we are predestined only looks at verses which say the same, and disregards or attempts to explain away those verses which say we have freewill, and the one who thinks we have freewill only looks at the verses which support freewill views. We look at this with the eyes of men, but let us try to look through the eyes of God.
God knows everything, so therefore God knows who will be saved and who will not, and He always knew. God knew even before He made me, or you, if you would turn to Him, or not turn to Him. That doesn’t mean God stops anyone from turning to Him, or makes anyone turn. Romans 8:29 says that those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. The key here is foreknew. He knew who would and will turn to Him, but He does not make anyone turn if they do not want to, but as the verse says, He predestined those who He knew would turn to Him, not to turn to Him, but to be made like His one and only Son.
Just because God knows what we will do does not mean He makes us do it. This can be tested. I am sitting in a room as I write this. There is a door leading out of the room. I have the choice of turning either to the right, or the left, after I pass through the door. God knows which way I will turn no matter what I do. Perhaps I will try to fool God. I will go through the door fake a left and quickly turn right. Will I be successful and fool God? Of course not, but I do have an unrestricted choice of what I will do: whether I turn left, right, go straight, do not even go, or what ever I think to do.
If God has a present waiting for me on the right side of the door, and I want the present, and I turn right, and receive the present, God knew I would. If you are looking through God’s eyes it was predestined that I receive the present. If I turn left and do not even look to the right I do not receive the present, but God knew before He made me which way I would turn. In this hypothetical situation the plan of God was I should turn right. He wanted me to turn right. He made the universe and everything in it, the room, me, the present and the choice, and He gave me the power to choose, but at the same time knew my choice.
Perhaps it would be easer to understand if you examine your own past. You can see your past just as God sees all of your life. Your past can not be changed, however you had many choices before your present became your past. If you decide to sin now, in your present, you can and as soon as you do, it will always be you past and can not be changed.
Sin is what separates us from God (Isa 59:2). If predestination means God chooses some and not others through no fault of the others, then God would be responsible for their choices. This would not be fair, right or just, and God is always fair, right, and just. Look at what God said to Cain (Gen 4:7 NIV) “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” If Cain did not really have the power to choose right would God have said, “You must master it”? Wouldn’t He have had to say, I will not let you master it?
This is a very difficult thing, to reconcile two seemingly opposite views. Time is one of the factors that confuse. God doesn’t exist in time. Not in the same time in which we exist. I did not turn to the Lord until I was almost forty years old. So it seems to me I was once unsaved and became saved rather late in life, but to God I was always saved, because He always knew I would turn to Him.
It is pretty obvious that I can not really see through God’s eyes. I am only a man and have a man’s eyes, so I am not trying to teach. I am only trying to reveal the view from my side of the table. It is hard for me to grasp that God feels bad when someone, who He has made, and knows they will not accept Him as Lord and Savior, does not accept Him. I think God gave me a glimpse of understanding by reminding me about my broken legs.
I am somewhat of a thrill seeker. I have managed to break my right leg twice by falling off of a motorcycle, and then both legs crashing an ultralight aircraft. I know that if you break your leg it will hurt. I remember it did hurt, but I can not feel the pain now. No matter how hard I try to remember the pain I can not really feel the pain of a broken leg. One can only feel the pain at the time of the break. You must experience the broken leg to experience the pain (I wouldn’t recommend it).
I think this understanding of pain applies to the pain God was speaking of in Genesis 6:6.
Because I understand that God knows everything that will happen even before it does, He knew He would be grieved by what men did. However when it happened His heart was filled with pain. God was experiencing the pain of rejection. He knew they would be wicked and evil even before He made them, but yet when they turned to wickedness, and would not turn to Him, at that point His heart was filled with pain. I believe God was hurt, because they didn’t have to be evil. The choice was their’s, but they would not turn to Him. The point in time when they turned to sin and away from God, was to God as the point in time that I broke my leg, was to me.
If a person has no free will of the choice to turn, or not to turn, to God, why did He send His Son to earth to pay the price which must be paid for sin? If it is God only who chooses who goes to heaven with no input from man there would be no reason for a Savior. It would not be sin that separates man from God (Isa 59:2). It would be God that separates man from God.
Looking through this man’s eyes, nothing makes any sense at all without free will, and everything makes sense with free will. I have heard it said that if there is a God why does He permit this war, or this murder, or some other terrible act by man. It seems to me the answer is simple. He gave the right to make the choice to sin, or not to sin to mankind. If God stops the sinner from his sin, then God did not really give the choice to man. It is men who sin and men who compound the sin by blaming God for their sin.
There are those who say if a man has free will to choose he is responsible for his own salvation. Really!!!? If God made everything, the universe, air, water, me, the plan of salvation, everything, and gave me the choice (I didn’t even create the choice), how could I claim any credit for my salvation?
There are some who quote the verses in Ephesians chapter one that speak of predestination as though they applied to all believers. One can see that the predestined spoken of are the “first to hope in Christ”(verse 12). That would be the Apostles as they were the first. The letter was written to the Ephesians and they were not told they were predestined. They were told that they were included in Christ when they heard the word of truth and believed it (verse 13). The Apostles were predestined to be chosen because they were part of the plan of salvation (verse 11). You and I are not predestined, but like the Ephesians, we are included in Christ when we hear the word of truth and believe it. We force our way into the Kingdom of God (Luke 16:16).
Because I see with the eyes of man I see freewill. I can understand that through the eyes of God we are predestined, but I am not God. I can not see the future. I can not see who will be saved and who will not. Those who think they are predestined are only sure of their own salvation, and that is only a feeling, as there is no verse that singles them out by name. The Israelites in the Old Testament believed in predestination. They believed they were saved because they were Abraham’s offspring. They had verses which seem to support their views and they felt secure in their belief, but they were not correct (Rom 9:8) and not all of Abraham’s natural children will live with God (Psalms 95:11, Hebrews 3:11, 4:3&5).
The man who believes in free will has many verses that reassure him of his own personal salvation. I am to much a coward to believe in predestination. No where in the Bible does it say astudent you are predestined to be saved. I like a personal assurance of my own salvation and God has given this assurance in 1 John 5:1-13.
Let me give you some of what seems to me to be good advice about predestination. When you study, or question, whether or not one is predestined for salvation, take your quest to the Bible, not to me or Calvin. I believe both of us will only confuse you.
I have to admit that I have not studied the works of Calvin, because I have spoken with those who have. If Calvin is correct God is not fair and just. I cannot even imagine God not being fair and I am afraid I become somewhat angry at the thought. One of the questions Calvinists ask is, “Can a dead man ask for salvation”. The answer is yes. Everyone is dead in his, or her sins: not dead physically, but separated from God. Calvin is correct when he speaks of the man who has suffered the first death, the death before the second death, but that man cannot even read what Calvin wrote, because he is separated from this world. If someone is alive physically and therefore can read Calvin and he, or she, has not accepted Jesus as Lord and Master, they are dead spiritually, or separated from God. Dead in their sins and yet they can ask for salvation.
I view life as a court room. I was the defendant. The Judge is God. My defense attorney was (is) Jesus Christ. The prosecuting attorney was Moses, because he brought the law, which I am guilty of violating, and my accuser is Satan. I first pled innocent, but then I realized that I was guilty and asked my Attorney to change my plea to guilty, and to ask for mercy from the court, but Jesus knew the Judge, being fair and just, would pronounce the sentence of death on me. Whereupon Jesus stepped forward and volunteered to take my punishment for me. The Judge granted His request and I was set free. Now I serve on the jury. I do not judge, because the Judge is the one who passes sentence, or condemns, but I do discern right from wrong.
There are those who apply Matthew 7:1 to others who are only discerning right from wrong. As I understand “do not judge” it means do not condemn, but not “do not discern”.
The trick to everlasting life (if it can be called a trick) is to plead guilty and beg for mercy before the trial is over and the sentence is past.
If I were teaching you a lesson about election, your assignment would be to read 1 John 5:1-13 ten times, letting God Himself speak directly to you, not through me, to you. I am just a student, not a teacher. He is the teacher and He wrote the Bible to You.
That is predestination from my side of the table. You see, I believe in free will and predestination. I am free to choose and because I did choose, predestined to be made like Jesus. Did you really think my view would be like your’s?