Predestination & Free-will

There has always been a controversy between predestination and free-will. Which one is true? They are both in the Bible. The truth is that there really is no controversy between the two. The problem lies in the interpretation and understanding of Romans 8:29-30. The conclusion by many is that these verses negate the action of free-will when it comes to salvation. The truth is that it does not.

Dictionary Definition of Predestination

This doctrine stems from the theology of John Calvin who lived in the 1500’s. After studying Romans 8:29-30, he developed a theology that stated that God alone determines what is going to happen. This thought extended to the idea that even our own salvation does not depend upon us, but rather on the whim of God. In other words, God chooses who is saved and who is not. It is actually from his works that the modern definition of predestination is drawn. The dictionary says predestination is: “The act of decreeing or foreordaining events; fate; destiny.” Then it adds “from Theology: the doctrine that God has from eternity determined whatever comes to pass; the decree that God has preordained men to everlasting happiness or damnation.” It is this theological definition that causes us problems, because it does not agree with the complete message of the Bible. However, the primary definition of predestination is what we need to understand and keep in mind as we discover what Romans 8:29-20 actually says.

The Bible Does Not Contradict Itself

If the Bible is the Word of God, and we all know that it is, then there can be no contradictions in it. Everything in it must be true. What this means is that if something seems to contradict something else, it must mean that we simply do not understand what it is saying. Thus, since predestination and free-will seem to contradict each other, then one must be true and the other is not true. However, since the Bible cannot contradict itself, they both must be true. Thus, there must be another explanation, and there is.

Salvation Is A Free Gift

Over and over the Bible says that salvation is determined by what we do, by what we choose. Look at just a few verses Matthew 18:3: “And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” John 1:12: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Every one of these verses point to the fact that it is the free choice that we make, not a predetermination by God, that determines our salvation. Since the Bible emphatically states that the choice is ours, not God’s, what does Romans 8:29-30 really mean?

Study The Context Of The Passage

The previous verse says: Romans 8:28 (NIV) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Since love is something that cannot be commanded or forced from a person, it means that God works for the good of those who freely choose to love Him. It continues to say “who have been called.” You only call to someone who has the freedom to respond or not respond to the call. Thus, the context starts with the concept of free-will. Next, notice the first phrase in Romans 8:29: “For those God foreknew…” The Greek word translated “foreknew” is “proginosko.” It stems from two other Greek words. The first is “pro” that means “in front of” or “beforehand.” The second word is “ginosko” that means a very deep and intimate knowledge of a thing (or person). In other words, this passage is referring to people that God has a very intimate knowledge about. He knew everything that could be known about them. And God has this very intimate knowledge about everyone of us. What is this special knowledge that would allow Him to predestine us to be conformed to the image of His Son? The answer is simple. He knew beforehand that when they were called, they were going to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In other words, God made the determination that everyone that would respond to the call and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior would be saved. This is what predestination refers to. God does not predetermine who will be saved, but rather whatit is that will save a person. God predetermined that those who respond to His call, will receive eternal life.

God Calls Those He Knows Will Respond

This may be a little hard for us to understand, but remember, God is outside of time. He knows everything that has happened, as well as, everything that will happen. This does not mean that He dictates what will happen, just that He knows ahead of time what will happen. There is a big difference between the two. Why call someone that you know will not respond? We do, because we still have hope that the person will respond. But we do not know the future, God does. So God only calls those whom He knows will respond to His call. God does not have to hope that someone will respond to His call. God is all-knowing. He knows what is going to happen. He knows who will respond and who will not.

We Must Be Willing To Respond To God’s Call

The choice is still ours. God does not determine whether you will respond to His call or not. He only knows ifyou will respond or not. Your destiny is still up to you. You are free to choose your own destiny. Do not blame God if you do not receive salvation, it is not up to Him.

God Predestined Your Future According To Your Choice

These verses are saying that God has predestined your future according to the choice that you make. He predestined salvation to all those that He knew would choose to follow Jesus and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. The choice of your future is still yours. God has just predetermined what your future will be according to the choice that you make. I cannot emphasize that enough. Don’t be lulled into the lie that you have no choice in the matter. There are way too many Bible verses that say that you can and must choose your own future.  S




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