Predestination in the Bible
Has your ultimate destiny been decided for you in advance? Do all humans have a predetermined life? Is there some force or intelligence that has predetermined your very existence and future before you were born? Many people believe that individuals have absolutely no control over their destiny. Many people also feel that whatever happens in their life has been predetermined and there is nothing they can do to alter their destiny.
It is not difficult to understand what the Bible says about the subject of predestination, and why God the Father has predetermined that certain circumstances and events must come to pass in order for his plan for the salvation of humanity to be successfully accomplished. However, this understanding requires more than a casual study of the scriptures pertaining to predestination; it requires some knowledge of the freedom of choice that people have been given concerning their eternal destiny, what God does and does not know about the final decisions that people will make concerning this destiny, and how the Father's plan has been constructed to make sure every human is treated fairly concerning their opportunity to choose eternal life or eternal death.
DOES GOD KNOW EVERYTHING?
Biblical history shows that God has predicted the outcome of many individual's lives and world events and he has caused these predictions to be fulfilled. There are also many scriptures which speak of God's great knowledge, understanding and wisdom. But, does God know everything in advance? Does God know exactly what each human will do from one moment to the next?
In the Garden
After God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of Eden, a progression of events began to unfold which will eventually culminate in the creation of billions of spirit sons of God.
The first thing Adam and Eve did to set this chain of events into motion was to disobey their Creator's command not to touch the forbidden tree or eat its fruit:
"And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise; so she took the fruit and ate it, and then gave some to her husband, and he ate it. And their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves some clothing" (Gen.3:6-7 Para.).
"And they heard God calling them as he walked in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from God among the trees of the garden. And God called to Adam, Where are you? And Adam said, I heard your voice, and I was afraid, and I hid myself, because I was naked. And God said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, of which I told you not to eat?" (Gen.3:8-11 Para.).
The Creator God had given clear instructions to both Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God asks, "Who told you that you were naked?" And, "Have you eaten of the forbidden fruit?" Perhaps God already knew the answer to these two questions, and perhaps not. What is clear is that Adam and Eve were free to make a choice, and God had predetermined not to interfere with their freedom of choice.
The Days of Noah
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. And he regretted making mankind on the earth, and he was very discouraged. And said, I will destroy from the face of the earth the humans that I have created; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for I am sorry that I made them" (Gen.6:5-7 Para.).
This account shows that God learned something about the character of humans which he did not know at the time he created them. Humans were apparently more evil than God thought they would be, and he was so disappointed in his human creation that he was about to destroy them all. It is apparent that there were some things that the Creator did not know about humans until he had an opportunity to observe them for almost a thousand years.
Abraham, the Father of the Faithful
The story of Abraham and his supreme test of obedience and faith is found in Genesis, chapter 22. Because Abraham passed the test that the Creator had given him, God promised to bless Abraham's descendants and all of humanity:
"And he said, do not lay your hand upon the lad, neither do you anything to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your only son from me" (Gen.22:12 Para.).
"I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand on the sea shore; . . . And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because you have obeyed my voice" (Gen. 22:17-18 Para.).
These scriptures clearly show that the Creator did not know if Abraham would obey him until he had been put to the test.
The Agreement at Mount Sinai
"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him" (Ex.19:4-7 KJV).
One of the terms of the agreement at Mount Sinai was that the people would obey the Creator's words. And, if they did obey, they would receive a tremendous blessing. However, if all things were predetermined, why would God make an agreement which had terms and conditions attached to it?
"And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord has said will we do" (Ex.24:3; 19:8 KJV).
The Israelites had a choice to accept or reject the agreement with the Creator, and they chose to accept the agreement with all its terms and conditions.
These are just a few of the scriptural examples, which show that God does not know in advance everything humans will do or the decisions they will make. This is not to say that God does not know our thoughts if he wants to know them, because the scriptures clearly say that God knows the hearts of men.
Why Must One Overcome?
"And, behold, one came to him and said, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said to him, why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt.19: 16-17 Para.).
Why did Jesus tell this young man to keep the Commandments? Why would there be any reason for him to keep these laws if his destiny had already been determined? From what Jesus says to the young man, it is apparent that it was in his power to either obey God and gain eternal life or disobey and pay the penalty for disobedience (Rom.6:23).
Repentance, Baptism, and the Holy Spirit
"Then Peter said to them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).
A person has a choice of whether or not to be baptized. If the choice is not to repent and be baptized, the holy spirit will not be given.
"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the holy spirit, whom God has given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:32 KJV).
The holy spirit is only given to those who obey. Here is another opportunity for a person to make a choice; one can either obey or disobey. The choice is the individual's to make.
Freedom of Choice
It is very clear that God allows mankind to have freedom of choice. Humans have been given free moral agency to make a choice between good or evil and to choose to obey or disobey the ways of God. Moreover, God will not cause a person to choose one way or another.
Does God know the smallest details of everything that will ever happen in a person's life in advance and does he control and manipulate each and every event that comes to pass on earth? The answer is No. He does not know all things in advance nor does he manipulate the outcome of all things. However, this does not mean that he is not in control of all things. The scriptures clearly show that he is in control of the earth and the powers which sustain it.
If the doctrine of predestination were true, no one could have control over their destiny. If this were true, no one could alter what God sets in motion; nothing could be changed. If God knew beforehand what each person would decide and how they would behave in every circumstance, there would be no free moral agency.
The problem with the concept of predestination is that it is not consistent with what the Bible has to say about the plan of God for the salvation of humanity.
EVERY INDIVIDUAL MUST CHOOSE
The belief in predestination is very convenient for those who do not want to take responsibility for their own lives. It allows individuals to do as they please without worrying about whether or not they are pleasing God. This belief is a doctrine of no works, no effort, and no personal responsibility for one's life. People who hold this doctrine, believe that the most vile and perverted individuals will have eternal life set aside for them and no vile act or perversion on their part can change their destiny.
This may sound good to those who only want to have a casual relationship with God. However, this teaching is a distortion of God's truth and it is in direct opposition to the plan of God. Regardless of how good or evil they are, all humans will stand before the judgment seat of God and give account for what they have done with the opportunity for salvation that will be presented to them (Matt.25:1-46; Rev.20:11-15 KJV).
NATIONAL ISRAEL AND A CHOICE
After the Creator God gave the Israelites all of the laws, precepts, and principles which were to govern their physical and spiritual conduct, he gave them a warning:
"But it shall come to pass, if you will not pay attention to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day; then all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you" (Deut.28:15 KJV Para.).
If the Israelites refused to keep their agreement with God, they would not only miss out on the wonderful blessings that would come through this agreement with God; instead, they would receive terrible curses.
Deuteronomy 30:15-19 KJV
The Israelite's Creator and benefactor sums up the choices he had given them:
"See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it' (vs.15-16).
"But if your heart turn away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce to you this day, that you shall surely perish, and that you shall not prolong your days upon the land, where you pass over Jordan to go to possess it' (vs. 17-18).
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live" (v19).
All Must Give an Account
"For it is written, as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom.14:11-12 KJV Para.). See also Isa.45:22-24; Matt.12:35-36; 1.Pet.4:5.
The Creator wanted the Israelites to choose life over death. But, history shows this did not happen. Although these ancient people were given the knowledge that should have brought them wonderful blessings, the vast majority of the Israelites who participated in the exodus from Egypt made the wrong choices concerning the knowledge and opportunity which they had been given, which would have led them to physical blessings and eternal life:
"For this reason even as the holy spirit says, Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness, where your fathers tempted me, testing me, and saw my works forty years. Because of this I was angry with that generation, and said, They always go astray in their heart; and they did not know my ways; so I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. Watch, brothers, lest perhaps that there shall be in any one of you a heart of evil unbelief in falling away from the living God" (Heb.3:7-12 Para.).
The vast majority of the Israelites of the exodus from Egypt have had their opportunity for salvation, and because they made the wrong choice concerning obedience to God, they will have their existence terminated in the Lake of Fire instead of living forever in the Family and Kingdom of God. This is why the writer to the Hebrews encourages those called to salvation during the gospel age to pay attention to what the spirit of God says to them about their salvation.
God the Father sets before humanity the choice of life or death and each individual must make a choice. The existence of a choice leaves no room for predestination when it comes to salvation and eternal life. Although the result of a choice can be predetermined, the choice itself cannot be predetermined because it is a choice.
THE SAVED AND THE LOST
The Bible plainly says that Jesus Christ is the only one through whom we can be saved:
"Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12 KJV).
Despite the tremendous missionary and evangelistic efforts of the professing Christian community, the vast majority of people have never heard the name of Jesus Christ or the good news message that he brought from his Father in heaven.
What happens to these billions of people who have never or will never come in contact with God's truth before the return of Jesus Christ? Obviously, these people cannot make informed, intelligent decisions based upon God's way of life. Has the God of Love (1.Jn.4:16) predestined these billions of people to eternal death in the Lake of Fire without giving them an opportunity to choose their own destiny? Or is there some method other than through Jesus Christ that those who have never heard of Jesus Christ are allowed to enter the Kingdom of God? If so, it cannot be found in the Bible. A review of the scriptures about predestination will show that the belief in absolute predestination is based on a misunderstanding of what God does say about this subject.
TODAY IS NOT THE ONLY DAY OF SALVATION!
God was not trying to save all of humanity before the advent of Jesus Christ nor is he trying to save all humanity at this time. This is not the only day of salvation. If the Father and Jesus Christ are trying to save all of humanity now, how can we reconcile the following seemingly contradictory statements that Jesus makes about the salvation of humanity:
"For the Son of Man [Christ] is come to that which was lost [humanity]" (Matt.18:11 KJV).
"And the disciples came and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables? He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given" (Matt.13:10-11 KJV).
Jesus Christ said he came to save humanity and that he deliberately hid the knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven from the very people he had come to save.
As surprising as it may seem, the Father is not revealing the understanding of his plan for the salvation of humanity to all people at this time in history. Although the Father's good news message is being preached as a warning and witness to the world, only a very few are permitted to understand its awesome meaning.
The explanation to this seemingly contradictory situation is found in the parable of the sower and the seed (Mk.4:3-20; Matt.13:3-13). The plan of God is for everyone to have an equal opportunity to obtain salvation and become a part of the Family and Kingdom of God. In order to assure that each person will be in the circumstances that will give them the optimum opportunity for success, God will call each person at the best time for them.
God the Father and Jesus Christ love each one of us and they know exactly when to reveal the understanding of the truth about salvation to each person. The Father takes great care in selecting the time and place in which each individual can have the best possible chance to obtain eternal life. This is why so few in this age are being given an understanding of the mysteries of God pertaining to his plan of salvation.
The statements by Jesus in Matthew 18:11 and 13:10-11 cannot be reconciled if God the Father and Jesus Christ are trying to save all humanity during this age. But because they are not, these two statements can easily be understood to mean that today is not the only day of salvation. However, it is a day of salvation for those whom the Father is calling for a special purpose.
The prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul confirm that today is not the only day of salvation:
"This says the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you. . . " (Isa.49:8 Para.).
"For he says, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the [a] day of salvation, have I nourished you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the [a] day of salvation" (2.Cor.6:2 KJV).
When the proper article in front of the word 'day' is used in the translation of this scripture, its meaning becomes clear. Paul is saying that it is 'a' day of salvation, not 'the' only day of salvation.
MANY CALLED, FEW CHOSEN
God the Father personally selects those who will have an opportunity for salvation during this age:
"No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: And I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn.6:44 KJV).
"Therefore I said to you, that no man can come to me, except my Father allows him to come to me" (Jn.6:65 Para.).
The Father must call a person to salvation. This special selection does not mean that these individuals are better than the rest of humanity; it just means they have been called for a special task and responsibility during this age. The Father will not deny anyone an opportunity of salvation (1.Tim.2:4); however, today is not the time when he is calling everyone to salvation. There is no injustice with God. Everyone will have an opportunity for salvation and eternal life.
Many people have heard the gospel preached as a witness since the advent of Jesus Christ, but few have been given an understanding of what the Father's good news message truly means. Moreover, they cannot understand it because the Father's truth is spiritual knowledge, which cannot be transmitted through natural means to a mortal human mind; spiritual truth is revealed through the spirit of God. See Matt.16:17; 1.Cor.2:12-16.
If the Father and Jesus Christ were trying to save all of humanity before the Kingdom of God is established on earth, they would do it! There is no contest between the Father, Jesus Christ, and Satan for the lives of humans. The Father alone rules all that exists on earth and in heaven and he will offer salvation to each and every individual when he feels it is appropriate to do so.
"To them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise, mighty, or noble men are called" (1.Cor.1:24-26 KJV Para.).
Only some are called to salvation during the gospel age. Paul addresses only those whom God the Father has called as 'brethren', and he says that not many who are wise in this world's ways are called. Paul explains that God calls very few people of prominence to understand his truth during this age of salvation.
GOSPEL PREACHED FOR A WITNESS
Jesus says his Father's good news message would be preached only as a witness; he says nothing about saving all of humanity during this age:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come" (Matt.24:14 KJV).
The end that is spoken of is the end of human rule on this earth. With the end of human rule, a new age will begin in which the Kingdom of God will reign supreme.
Today, many people are called and exposed to the opportunity for salvation (Matt.20:16), yet the number of people who are called are very few in comparison to the earth's population. And those who are called are called to a special calling.
THE PURPOSE OF THE FATHER'S CALLING
God the Father is not trying to save the whole world today. If the vast majority of people are not yet given an opportunity for salvation, why does the Father call anyone during this age? What is the purpose for some people being given this opportunity today?
The following are the basic reasons God the Father calls people to salvation during this age:
- To proclaim a message of repentance and obedience:
"Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt.28:19-20 KJV).
- To prepare a people to help Jesus Christ rule this world after his return:
"And has made us [the elect] kings and priest to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev.5:10 Para.). See also 1.Thes.3:13; Rev.3:21; 20:4-6.
- To proclaim the Father's good news message and the soon coming Government of God:
"The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev.11:15 KJV). See also Matt.24:14; Rev.19:11-17.
ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED
A scripture that is often used in an attempt to prove that all of Israel is predestined to be saved is Romans 11:26:
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Rom.11:26 Para.).
Because this scripture says that "all Israel shall be saved", many who believe a doctrine of predestination believe that all of Israel will be saved regardless of their wishes. This scripture surely seems to prove this; however, after further research it becomes apparent that this scripture does not say this at all.
The true meaning of this scripture is found in the original Greek language. According to the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by George Rickerberry, this scripture should be translated; "So all Israel shall be saved according as it has been written."
The key to understanding this scripture are the words "as it has been written", which refer to how God says we can obtain salvation. This overall plan of God for salvation has not changed from the foundation of the world. Part of this plan is that humans must come into conformity with his laws for physical and spiritual behavior. A fundamental teaching of both the Old and the New Testaments is that an individual must stop breaking the laws and precepts of God and obey him before God will bless that individual.
Moreover, it is understood from what is written in Hebrews 3:7-12 that all Israel will not be saved, because the vast majority of those who were led out of Egypt by Moses made the wrong choice concerning their opportunity for salvation.
WHAT PREDESTINATION IS NOT
A person can search the scriptures from beginning to end and not find one text where God makes a decision for a person as to their final destiny. Nowhere can one find a scripture which says that one's final destiny has been predetermined. Nowhere can one find that a person's right to choose whether or not to follow God is taken from them. Moreover, one cannot find a scripture anywhere in the Bible which says any human is predestined to be destroyed in the Lake of Fire.
Although the Bible does address the subject of predestination, it does not say what many people assume it says. Many people assume that the scriptures say that one's destiny is sealed and that one is either predestined to be saved or predestined to be lost. The main problem with this belief is that it cannot be found within the Bible.
THE WORD PREDESTINATED
In the New Testament, the Greek word proorizo is translated into the English word predestinated. Proorizo means beforehand, to mark out beforehand, to determine before, foreordain, and determine before. The word proorizo only occurs in the following scriptures which discuss the Father's authority and control pertaining to his truth and his calling of people to salvation:
Although it is true that humans have the ability to plan and predetermine the outcome of many things and events, no human has ever had the ability to plan and predetermine things and events before their existence. However, God the Father has this ability. Because he existed before humanity and is the Sovereign of all that exists, he has the authority and power to predetermine and to bring to pass anything he desires.
When the apostle Paul spoke of the promises the Creator God gave to Abraham, he understood that God had the authority and power to bring to pass what he predetermined to be done:
"As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations, before God, whom he believed, the one who could make the dead alive, and calling the things that are not as if they were" (Rom.4:17 Para.).
Predestination Concerning Jesus
After Peter and John were questioned by the high priest and other spiritual leaders of the Jews concerning why Peter had healed a crippled man and why he and John taught salvation through Jesus Christ, they returned to their own people and reported what had happened to them. Upon hearing what they had to say, the people praised the Father:
"The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were assembled on the same day against the Lord [God the Father]; yes, against his Christ. For truly both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the nation of Israel were assembled against your holy child Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatsoever your hand and counsel determined [proorizo] before to be done" (Acts 4:26-28 KJV).
Here, there is a reference which shows that the Father had predetermined the existence of Jesus and his mission concerning the salvation of humanity. See also Lk.22:22; Acts.2:23-24; Jn.1:1-17.
1.Corinthians 2:1-8 Paraphrased
"And when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with excellency of word and wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him having been crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and fear, and in much trembling. And my word and my preaching was not in moving words of human wisdom, but in proof of the spirit and in power, that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. But we speak the wisdom among the perfect; but not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, those who are being brought to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden, which God predetermined [proorizo] before the ages of our glory" (vs.1-7).
What Paul reveals to the elect in Corinth, is not the wisdom of the human mind; it is the wisdom that comes from God the Father, which is only revealed to those who are perfect before him through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ. Notice that the mysterious hidden wisdom concerning Christ was predetermined before the world came into existence.
"Which none of the rulers of this age has known. For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (v8).
Paul clearly shows that the Father's plan for the salvation of humanity was formulated before the world and humanity were created (see Lk.11:50; Heb.4:3; 9:26; Rev.13:8). And if the people who were in authority during Jesus' lifetime had truly understood who he was and why he had come to earth, they would not have killed him, because they would have understood that he was the Creator God incarnate who had come to remove their sin and give them eternal life.
Predestined to Become Sons of God
In both Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:5,11; Paul speaks of the Father's plan to create and select certain individuals long before the existence of the world. These individuals were to be created and selected for an opportunity to become the first humans to be transformed into sons of the Father's new creation.
Romans 8:28-30 Paraphrased
"But we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and for those who are called according to a purpose" (v28).
There are many scriptures that define the reasons why some people are called to salvation before Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. The point in verse 28 is that individuals whom the Father calls to salvation during this age are called because of some specific purpose that he had in mind for them before the world was created.
"For whom he foreknew, he predestinated [proorizo] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (v29).
Paul reveals that, even before humanity was created, God the Father had predetermined that the Creator God would become the firstborn of his new creation of spirit sons.
"Moreover those he predestinated, he also called: and those he called, he also justified: and those he justified, he also glorified" (v30).
If you are one who is now called to salvation, God the Father knew you before the foundation of the earth; he knew you would exist, because he had predetermined your existence and had predetermined the time you would be born and given an opportunity for salvation. Moreover, he did this so that you would have an opportunity to become one of his firstborn sons of his new creation.
All whom the Father foreordained to be created and given an opportunity for salvation before his son returns to establish his government on earth have either been called in ages past or will be called before his son returns. If one who is called accepts the Father's offer of salvation and performs the Father's will in their life (the purpose for their calling), they will be justified before him through the sacrificial blood of his firstborn son and glorified as his son in his divine family and kingdom.
"According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated [proorizo] us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. . . in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated [proorizo] according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will, for us to be the praise of his glory, the ones who first trusted in Christ" (Eph.1:4-5, 11-12 Para.).
Before the foundation of the world, the Father determined that those whom he would create and call during this phase of his plan for humanity would become holy and blameless through the sacrifice of his firstborn Son, Jesus Christ, so that they could be adopted into his family as sons.
Verses 11 and 12 show that the Father predetermined that certain individuals would come into existence in order to perform certain responsibilities for him.
The predestination that the apostle Paul speaks of has nothing to do with a person's decision to repent or not. Moreover, it has nothing to do with one's final destiny? It has to do with the Father's predetermined plan for the salvation of specific individuals and humanity as a whole.
The Holy Calling
"Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord [Jesus Christ], nor of me [Paul], his prisoner. But suffer hardship with the gospel, according to the power of God [the Father] who has saved us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace [favor] given to us in Christ Jesus before eternal times, that is now revealed by the appearance of our Savior, Jesus Christ, making death of no effect and bringing life and incorruption to light through the gospel" (2.Tim.1:8-10 Para.).
Paul encourages Timothy and reminds him that the Father had purposed, before the existence of time, to favor some people above others with the offer of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that the Father did this for his own purpose.
The major point here is that the Father formulated a plan to create humans and offer them salvation long before this dimension of time and space came into existence. Included in this plan was a provision for the Creator God to come to earth and sacrifice his life for the salvation of humanity. Also included in this plan was the creation and calling to salvation for a certain number of humans whom the Father had already selected for a predetermined purpose.
What the Father Predestined to Occur
None of the texts where the word 'predestination' occurs say anything about a person being irrevocably predestined to suffer the second death or to inherit eternal life. Predestination has to do with the Father's preplanning for the salvation of humanity and the creation of certain individuals and their subsequent opportunity for salvation and service to him and his Son, Jesus Christ, before the establishment of his government on earth.
The Father did not decide in advance who would be saved or lost. But he did determine before the foundation of the earth who would be the first humans to be given an opportunity to become his sons and participate in the first resurrection at the return of his firstborn Son, Jesus Christ.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
The first resurrection at Christ's return is for the elect of God who are called to repentance in this life and have qualified to become the leaders in his world-ruling government.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Rev.20:4-6 KJV).
The first resurrection is for the Christians who have overcome the trials and temptations of this life:
"But that which you already have, hold fast till I come. And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Rev.2:25-26 Para.).
The first resurrection is for the ones who have a special relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ during this lifetime:
"To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev.3:21 KJV).
The first resurrection will undoubtedly be one of the most earthshaking and glorious events ever to take place. But what will happen to those who do not take part in this first resurrection? What is the meaning of Revelation 20:5:
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished."
THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
In his infinite wisdom, God the Father has designed his plan for mankind so that every person will be given an equal opportunity to have eternal life (Ezekiel, chapter 18). The vast majority of people who have lived throughout history have died never hearing or understanding God's plan. These people will be raised up to physical life after God's government has been ruling the earth for a thousand years:
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished" (Rev.20:5 KJV).
During this one thousand year period of time before the resurrection of the rest of the dead, the earth will be made ready to accommodate the billions upon billions of people who have lived and died. These people will be resurrected to a physical life in order to have an opportunity for eternal life. The resurrection of the rest of the dead is also the time spoken of in Revelation 1:7 in which every eye shall see Jesus. The prophet Ezekiel also foretold a special resurrection for all the dead Israelites as being one of the major events to occur after Christ returns. These Israelites will be raised to physical life, and King David who died over four hundred years before Ezekiel's lifetime will reign over them (Ezk.37:1-28).
The scriptures clearly show that in order to live forever, a person must understand and obey the Father's way of life (Matt.19:16-17;28:20). But how can people understand or obey if they have never heard the Word of God? The obvious answer is that they cannot unless they are taught what his ways are (Rom.10:13-15).
IS GOD FAIR?
Somehow, many have the impression that God is unfair and that he gets pleasure from the suffering and death of humans. Nothing could be further from the truth (Ezk.18:23-32; 33:11). This misunderstanding comes from a lack of knowledge of God's overall plan for mankind.
God the Father and his son Jesus Christ are the personification of love and kindness. John 3:16-17 shows the enormous love that both the Father and Christ have for humanity. In Ezekiel 18:1-25, the Creator God emphatically states that he deals with humanity in a fair and equitable way. In Ezekiel 18:32, he says that he has no pleasure in the death of humans. It is clearly the Father's and Christ's earnest wish for all of humanity to have eternal life:
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1.Tim.2:3-4 KJV). See also 2.Pet.3:9; Psa.136:1-16.
Would the Father be fair or just if he predetermined people to eternal life or death without them first having an opportunity to decide what they want to do with their lives? Of course not! Why would he create beings with the ability to think and reason, but not allow them to choose their own destiny? If the Father wanted automatons, he would have created humans with instinct and predictable responses to stimuli as he did with the rest of the physical creation.
But the Father does not want automatons in his family. He wants to share eternity with beings who have the capacity to think and reason and have righteous character and pleasing personalities. The Father is so concerned for mankind that he sent his only Son to this earth centuries ago to give his life for the salvation of humanity. He truly wants each and every human to have eternal life (1.Tim.2:4; 2.Pet.3:9). This is the reason for the resurrection of the rest of the dead after Christ's one thousand year reign. Everyone who has not known the Father and his Son nor had an opportunity to qualify for eternal life will have this opportunity through another physical life under the peaceful and just government of God.
NO SECOND CHANCE
Even after a person is called to salvation and given an understanding into spiritual things, a person can lose out on eternal life if they make the wrong choices. According to Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says that the unprofitable servant would be cast out, if not found to be righteous. This and many other statements of Jesus Christ clearly show that, after a person is called to salvation, their eternal destiny is in their own hands.
The writer to the Hebrews warns of the danger of forsaking God's way of life. Once a person has been enlightened to the truth of God concerning salvation and has been given the holy spirit, there can be no return to one's former life without dire consequences:
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the holy spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft upon it, and brings forth herbs fit for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh to cursing; whose end is to be burned" (Heb.6:4-8 KJV).
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy by the testimony of two or three witnesses: How much greater punishment, do you suppose that he shall be thought worthy of who has stomped on the son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, through which he was sanctified, as an unholy thing, and has despised the spirit of grace? For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, says the Lord. And again, the Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb.10:26-31 Para.).
If one has truly been called by the Father to salvation, has had their mind opened to spiritual knowledge, and then sins willfully, deliberately, intentionally, and will not seek God's forgiveness, the opportunity for salvation has been lost. It has not been lost because the Father took it away, but because the one called to salvation will not be obedient to the Father's way of life. The Father will not give eternal life to individuals who refuse to live in obedience to his way of life. There is no second chance to obtain salvation.
THE RESURRECTION TO DEATH
Only after every person who has ever lived has had an opportunity to understand the Father's plan for their salvation and made a choice of whether or not to become obedient to his way of life will there be a resurrection to the second death in the Lake of Fire.
The Incorrigibly Wicked
Those who are incorrigibly wicked and will not repent and follow the laws and ways of God will not receive eternal life. They will participate in a resurrection for the spiritually dead (Jn.5:25-29), which is the second death spoken of in Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8. These people will have their life-force terminated in the Lake of Fire and cease to exist. They will be burned up and become ashes under the feet of the saints (Mal.4:1-3). This is the event Jesus speaks of in Matthew 10:28 and Luke 16:20-31. These people will be denied eternal life and will cease to exist in any form.
Some might think that God the Father is harsh and unfair in his dealings with the incorrigibly wicked, but he is not (Ezk.18:1-32). The Father will give people every opportunity to repent and learn his perfect way, which leads to eternal happiness and joy. However, he will not allow the incorrigibly wicked to have eternal life and become a disruptive force to the joy, peace, and happiness of other spirit-beings in his Family and Kingdom. And he will not give them eternal life apart from his Family and Kingdom.
Predestination in the biblical sense has to do with the Father's preplanning for his great work of creating sons to be a part of his spiritual Family and Kingdom. At some point in eternity, God the Father decided to increase his family, and create immortal and eternal beings just like himself to share in his spiritual existence. This great undertaking required planning and organization on a scale that is beyond the comprehension of mortal humans. Much of the Father's plan to create his sons depended on exact timing, which involved the Creator God becoming human and sacrificing himself for humanity. Additionally, this plan involved creating certain humans who would participate in fulfilling his plan throughout history until his great work was successfully accomplished.
The scriptures clearly show that God the Father personally calls each and every individual who is given the opportunity to serve him and his Son and participate in the first resurrection. The scriptures also show that, if you are one whom the Father has called to salvation during this gospel age, your calling is not a chance occurrence; it was predetermined before the foundation of the earth.
Because certain individuals were foreordained for creation and a call to salvation, God the Father and the Creator God who became Jesus Christ and their heavenly host of angelic beings have guided and manipulated people's lives and historical events in order for these individuals to be born into this world at a specific time in history under specific circumstances. All of this planning was done so that those to whom God predestinated to offer salvation would have the opportunity to fulfill the purpose for their creation and calling.
A Choice to Make
"See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land whither you go to possess it" (Deut.30:15-16 KJV).
The choices are no different for God the Father's earthly children today than they were for the ancient Israelites who were called out of Egypt to an opportunity for salvation. One must obey God in order to obtain eternal life.
"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-35 KJV).
"And behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Rev.22:12-14 KJV).
Individuals who seize the opportunity during this age and correctly perform the purpose for their predetermined creation and calling will be granted immortality and eternal life as the Father's firstborn sons in his Family and Kingdom:
"But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor.2:9 KJV).
Although the opportunity and method by which a person may obtain immortality and eternal life was predetermined before the foundation of the world, whether one decides to choose eternal life or eternal destruction is entirely up to each individual. Neither the Father nor Jesus Christ will interfere with an individual's freedom of choice. The choices are yours to make. Choose death or choose life.
By B.L. Cocherell b7w8