Bible Basics: What Is Predestination?

By Earl Robertson

Anyone familiar with the writings of Augustine, fully utilized by John Calvin in his Institutes of The Christian Religion, and parroted by many denominational preachers and some of our own brethren, knows something about the doctrine of predestination. Calvin wrote, “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death. This God has testified, not only in the case of single individuals; he has also given a specimen of it in the whole posterity of Abraham, to make it plain that the future condition of each nation was entirely at his disposal” (Institutes, Book III, Chapter 21).

The doctrine says God did eternally beforehand fix the individual destinies of each person. Some he predestined to heaven and others to hell and neither can do anything about it to change it. Who can believe such? One Baptist preacher recently wrote, “First, the word predestination means prearranged destiny” (The Christian Baptist, February, 1978, p. 4). He further wrote, “Predestination does not mean part of the way, but all the way to heaven.” This predestination is, they say, “unconditional election.” One wrote, “. . . if any are saved God must choose out those who shall be the objects of His grace” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, p. 95). Frank B. Beck wrote, “There is this great difference in the election of the saved and the rejection of the rest of men. In electing the saved God encounters them and regenerates them according to His own sovereign will (John 1:13; Jas. 1:18), apart from their will (Rom. 9:16-18). A Divine interference!” (The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 21).

So according to this doctrine one’s salvation is “unconditional”; it is “apart from his own will” and is “according to God’s own sovereign will.” “Divine interference” indeed! This would entirely remove man from the realm of choice, and God gives man the power to choose (John 5:39, 40; Matt. 11:28-30). Man chooses his own destiny; God does not arbitrarily fix the individual destinies of men. If He did there would be no reason to preach the gospel (God’s power to save the believer, Rom. 1:16) to anyone; yet, Christ commanded it preached to all and promised to save each one who believes it and is baptized (Mark 16:15, 16). The creeds of men propogating the doctrine that God did eternally decree some individuals to eternal life and some to eternal damnation and that nothing can be done to alter the decree, does indeed circumvent the power of choice vested in each responsible individual by the Lord. According to their doctrine it will do no good to preach the gospel of Christ to anyone. S. T. Tolley, Editor of The Christian Baptist, recently wrote, “I certainly agree with the evangelist (Billy Graham, EER) that there are many from among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples who will be saved from their sins-even those who have never heard him, or any other man try to preach the gospel of Christ,-but it won’t be because any of the poor sinners said ‘yes.’ Because Christ paid the debt sinners owed and couldn’t pay, and..,because God the Father accepted the payment Christ made as full and complete redemption for the sins of His people.” He further wrote, “Primitive Baptist. have always believed that it was unnecessary for the gospel of Christ to be preached in order that sinners be saved from hell” (January, 1978, p. 12).

So it is a “prearranged destiny”; “a divine interference” of the sovereign will arbitrarily acting upon the sinner in his “unconditional election”! This number is “so certain and definite, that it cannot be either-increased or diminished” says the Philadelphia Confession Of Faith.

Since it is not God’s will that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9), and this creedal system says that God has from eternity decreed some to hell, we must conclude that both God and man can not be right on this matter! Who is telling the truth? Friend, you do have a choice right here! Since man teaches one thing and God another on the subject of predestination, it becomes a question as. to whether you want your trust in God or man.

God says, “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 . . .” (Rom. 8:28, 29). God’s “purpose” (prothesin) is His placing men before His mind so as to distinctly see then. God ‘did not have to foreordain what a man’s destiny, would be in order to foresee . it; He could foresee the destiny of a free agent just as freely as He could foresee the end of one without volition. All things involved in man’s redemption were set before God, and’ among these was that man should be called by the iospel. The Bible says, “Whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). Such “obtaining of.glory” is because one has been “conformed to the image of his Son.” God foresaw that He would save this way.. He foresaw all that would accept salvation thus offered.

Truth Magazine XXII: 22, pp. 360-361
June 1, 1978