When websites and church buildings teach on this subject, they often put up predestination against free will (or choice) as if they are in some sort of face-off. The fact is that the Bible teaches both, and not only will I present the Scripture for these, but I'll also do my best to explain how and why they go together.
Let's start in Ephesians 1 because it contains the verses that Christians tend to debate over:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
predestinated (v): predetermined, foreordained, decreed
(See 'predestinated', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Feb 20, 2017 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
And the remnant [i.e. those who hadn't yet departed to their farms or merchandise] took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
-2 Timothy 2:25-26
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
For many are called, but few are chosen.
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
(Read "Is Repentance Part of Salvation?" & "False Converts & Eternal Security"
here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
-2 Timothy 2:3-4
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
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 thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him:
Typically, most ministries stop in Ephesians 1 at about verse 12, but let's continue to read a bit more:
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
That brings us to the heart of this controversy, and the question many people seem to be avoiding. How can you be predestined to the Kingdom of God, but have to choose it first?
The answer is very simple, and was actually addressed in the first verses of Ephesians we quoted earlier. Let's read it one more time:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
|The answer is time.|
Time is part of the creation, as stated in the first chapter of Genesis:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
eternity (n): duration or continuance without beginning or end
(See 'eternity', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Feb 20, 2017 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
|Inside time, you have a choice. Outside time, you are predestined.|
We find another correlation if we go back into Matthew 13 with the parable of the wheat and tares:
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
This is why the judgment of God comes after we die and our choices have been established in the timeline:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
This is a reason why the Lord God hates some people and loves others. For example, even before they were born, God told us that He loved Jacob and hated Esau, before they had made any choices in their lives:
I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)... As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
In eternity, we have already made the choices we're going to make tomorrow, but we are stuck in time, so we have to catch up with those events. Until tomorrow, we have decisions we can make by our free will, and so we are called to humble our wills to that of God's will:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
It should also be noted that, if we read the Bible precept upon precept and line upon line (Isa 28:10) as the Bible instructs us, the Lord God has called all men:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
-2 Peter 3:8-9
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
-2 Corinthians 7:8-9
Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.
Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
The Bible also tells us that repentance is something God gives us; that we don't come to understanding of our guilt before God on our own:
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
-2 Timothy 2:25
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
So there's false doctrine on one side that removes predestination from the equation, which defies Scripture and rejects God's divine knowledge, and the other side that removes choice, which defies Scripture and ultimately rejects God's mercy. (i.e. "not willing that any should perish") Either way, the extremely vital doctrine of repentance is being removed from the teachings of church buildings and websites around the world.
For example, this author writes the following on his ministry website:
"Most people in 'Evangelical' churches would
credit the sinner for FAITH and REPENTANCE. They do this in such a way as to credit these to the exercise of the will, making the free action by the sinner of the will be be [sic] the determining factor in heaven or hell. This shifts credit from the life and death of Christ and puts Man's will in direct competition with the glorious, perfect, finished work of Jesus Christ. God, of course, will not have that. He will never share His glory with another (a sinner especially)."
-Scott Price, "Sovereign Grace: What is it all about?" Gospel Defense, retrieved Feb 21, 2017, [gospeldefense.com/sovereign_grace.html]
He claims the modern "evangelical" churches credit someone for faith and repentance, so he starts out with a lie that can easily be disproven by visiting the average church building and witnessing for yourself the lack of Biblical teaching on repentance. Based on his writing, you can see how he would even condemn me for what I've written here so far, even though I don't teach works doctrine, nor do I teach crediting mankind with glory that belongs to God. The major problem with his teaching is that if you look at other places on his website, he believes and teaches that "repent" always means "to turn" (i.e. works) in every instance.
(See Scott Price, "The 'Lordship Salvation' Debate," Gospel Defense, retrieved Feb 21, 2017, [gospeldefense.com/lordship_salvation.html])
I'm not just picking on this one author; I'm simply using him as an example of what thousands and thousands of "ministers" do. They don't bother to go to the context and get Biblical definitions for the terms the Bible uses, but they write near endless amounts of very boring material over all sorts of terms like "Sovereign Grace" or "Lordship Salvation," and other such nonsense that the average reader doesn't understand, and I'm trying to tell Christians you don't need to learn all that worldly junk; just stick with the simple doctrines of Scripture and you'll be fine.
There are many bad teachings and false analogies out there that teach on this subject. For example, The Church of God International has an analogy they give for predestination:
"Predestination and election can be easily understood with the following illustration: Bob Smith lives in Tyler, Texas. He has been invited to attend a banquet in Shreveport, Louisiana. The host for the banquet sent Bob a ticket for a seat on a bus scheduled to leave Tyler at 9:30 a.m. on a Wednesday and arrive in Shreveport at 12:00 noon the same day-just in time for the party.
The destination of the bus has been predetermined. As soon as Bob steps onto the bus, he becomes a participant in this predetermined trip. His ticket assures him of a seat on the bus. His destination is certain. However, if Bob throws away his ticket before departure, or if he gets off the bus between Tyler and Shreveport, he will not arrive at the destination originally intended for him... The host of the banquet invited many, offering them free tickets, but many of them declined the offer. The only ones finally chosen for participation in the festivities were those who made the trip and showed up for the banquet."
-The Church of God International, "What Does The Bible Say About Predestination and Election?" retrieved Feb 21, 2017, [cgi.org/what-does-the-bible-say-about-predestination-and-election]
Wrong. It's not just the people who get on the bus or decide to get off halfway there, but as we read from the parable of Christ earlier, there are many people who will show up, but they don't take it seriously, which means they "accepted" the ticket, but were never of Christ to begin with.
This is where we run into a problem of modern new-age churchianity teaching that you just "accept Jesus" and go to heaven. They never stop to consider the Scripture we've already read in this article in which Jesus doesn't automatically accept everyone who claims to accept Him; there are conditions. If everyone who claimed to "accept Jesus" went to heaven, then most of the world go to heaven, and that's not what the Bible teaches because out of the hundreds of thousands of Jews, God said there were only 7,000 (i.e. a tiny fraction) that stood firm in their faith to Him:
But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Getting back to the analogy, the anonymous author not only doesn't understand the Biblical concept of time being the answer to the controversy between predestination and free will, but he also doesn't understand the concept of false converts. Again, I would refer people to read our teaching on "False Converts & Eternal Security" for more details on that subject. People don't just hop on and off the train; they either were of Christ to begin with, or they weren't, because repentance is the key issue that most church buildings and ministries today do not teach properly, if at all.
(Read "Is Repentance Part of Salvation?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
Also, if "
(This anonymous author uses new-age bible versions and is 501c3 incorporated, which is leaven that will blind him to the truth. Read "Why I Use The King James Bible" & "501c3: The Devil's Church" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
Another website called Essential Christianity, that relies the Catholic-approved NASB, teaches the same false doctrine, that "repent" always means "to turn," and therefore repentance is works. However, not only does this author insert that false doctrine, but he then teaches that "repentance" is man's will (not the gift of God that we read from 2Ti 2:25) that rejects God's grace:
"Some people, for whatever reason, pride, misunderstanding, ignorance due to false teaching, etc., insert man's will as the basis for God's election. However, if a person does this then
grace becomes something the human earns by making the right choice... If God demands that a person believe in order to be saved, and if this belief is the basis of why God elects/predestines a person then the person who obeys the command/law earns God's grace and favor by his obedience. "
-Keith A. Sherlin, "The Controversy Over Predestination," Essential Christianity, retrieved Feb 24, 2017, [essentialchristianity.com/pages.asp?pageid=23852]
If you continue to read his article, he defines "repent" as "obeying the law," which means he believes the common false doctrine that "repent" only means "to turn" in every instance throughout the Bible. So the author removes the key doctrine of godly sorrow and the humble heart from salvation, and is helping to lead people to hell in a false system, all the while being blinded (likely due to all his worldly degrees getting in the way) of seeing the simple answer of time explaining predestination and choice.
The leavened website Christian Answers attempts, or rather does not attempt, to answer the question about predestination and free will, but before I get to that, I couldn't help but quote the absurdity of what appeared at the top of the page as I went through their article:
"This site depends on donations to cover its expenses.
If everyone reading this gave $5, our fundraiser would be over quickly... Christian Answers is something specialó reaching about a million people per month..."
(See Christian Answers, "What does the Bible say about God's sovereignty, election, predestination, and man's free will?" retrieved Feb 24, 2017, [christiananswers.net/q-acb/acb-t008.html])
I don't know the full details of who they claim to reach, but it doesn't take much thought that they're asking for at least five million dollars. (i.e. At minimum; because the people they reached last month may not be the same they reached this month.) I could not imagine earning a fraction of that amount of money in my entire lifetime, but they're asking directly for it. The website itself is extremely poorly designed; it doesn't look like it's been updated since the late 90s, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it does not take five million dollars to produce and maintain that website.
Looking past the love of money (1Ti 6:10), the title of Christian Answers becomes incredibly ironic when we look at their response to the question: "Does the decree to save some overrule the freedom of the human will? Does God simply choose me to be saved, or do I have the freedom to choose for or against Him?" Here is this anonymous author's answer:
Much perplexity remains as to the precise way that the individual's part and God's part in salvation relate.Yet it is clear that God's influence on the unsaved must be exercised if they are ever going to turn to Him in saving faith."
-Christian Answers, "What does the Bible say about God's sovereignty, election, predestination, and man's free will?" retrieved Feb 24, 2017, [christiananswers.net/q-acb/acb-t008.html]
So how can there be free will and predestination at the same time? Christian Answers basically says, "That's a tough question. Have a nice day."
Once again, as I've done so many times, I encourage born-again Christians to sanctify themselves away from the worldly doctrines, and just stick to reading Scripture slowly and thoroughly. It's not about how many chapters you read per day; it's about how much time you spend in the Word of God (hopefully the King James Bible), and if you put your faith into the Holy Spirit for guidance as you study, you'll have your eyes opened to what many church and ministry leaders can't see through the vail over their eyes.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
-2 Timothy 2:15
Nevertheless when it [i.e. the prideful/wicked heart] shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
-2 Corinthians 3:16
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
-1 Corinthians 1:26-29