Romans 8: 29
Predestination is the summary of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Predestination in the Bible is always good news.
Predestination to life and freedom is sheer grace.
In trying to understand predestination, we must focus our attention on the main part of the word, "destination."
We know what is meant by the word, "destination."
It is "where we are coming out" -- the place or point to where we are going.
The word, "predestination," always points forward to the future.
Predestination is a word that belongs to every believer.
The word, "predestination," is never used about an unbeliever.
The key to understanding the purpose of God is Jesus Christ.
"For He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will,
according to the purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,
to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth."
(Ephesians 1: 9, 10)
And according to Ephesians 3: 11:
"This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord."
God makes this decision in Jesus Christ.
So God "destined" us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ
"according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace
which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1: 5, 6)
"Before the foundation of the world" God determined His purpose of election
and that it is Christ who is elected and predestinated
so that all in Christ are elected and predestinated with Him.
So, the destiny of those who abide in Christ have His destiny.
His destiny is our destiny.
He is the predestinated One, and we, as believers, are predestinated in Him. (cf. Acts 2: 23; 4: 28)
As we have seen in the Scriptures, we are predestinated in Christ for He is the purpose of God.
He is the predestinated One, and we are in Him.
(Start wrong, and end with wrong conclusions.)
With that in mind, we can see that predestination is not as some would view it.
It is not the view that God has elected from beginning some to life and salvation
and some to death and hell.
Paul does not say a word in these texts about men being predestined by God to eternal damnation.
It does not point to joy and terror, salvation and damnation, to a "Yes" of God and a "No".
"For the Son of God, Jesus Christ... was not Yes and No; but in Him it was always Yes."
(2 Corinthians 1: 19)
Nowhere are we taught to separate His justice and His love,
so that we may think He is loving to some people, and only just to other people.
Such a separation in God's dealing with men would mean an unbiblical division in God Himself,
and the denial of His oneness and unchangeableness.
Despite some statements which seem to point in that direction,
the Bible never speaks of an eternal negative decree
by which from beginning to end some are rejected or left out.
While we must not forget God's wrath and judgment and the continuing threat of eternal punishment
of those who are without Christ as Lord and Saviour,
our primary emphasis, if we follow the Biblical pattern, must be positive.
So the Bible never speaks of a plan of God before the foundation of the world
in which some men are to be left out or rejected.
It does speak of a plan "to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth."
(Ephesians 1: 10)
What Paul does say is this -- the Gospels comes to all men challenging all to the decision of faith.
And we must also say -- that God wills to save us as sinners is His pure grace.
And that He does will to do so, He tells us in Christ.
And if we refuse, we run the risk of perishing forever.
Knowing that predestination is in Christ we can also say that predestination is not as some say
-- that everyone is included, and that He chooses all and rejects no one.
This view would relate to a scripture passage such as:
1 Tim. 2: 4; which states that God "desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth."
Other verses they would point to are John 3: 17; 2 Peter 3: 9 and 1 Corinthians 15: 22.
They would conclude that these and other such verses prove that God wants all men for Himself.
And they would conclude -- how can Almighty God not have what He desires.
So, the first view has justice without love (for the rejected, at least).
This second view has love without justice.
Jesus always gave gracious invitations and promise of new life to sinful outsiders,
and also gave serious warning and threat of judgment against complacent insiders.
Remember the warning about the separation of the sheep and goats.
So, this view is one-sided in that it assumes that everyone
will automatically turn out to be a sheep and no one a goat.
We can also see that predestination is not the view that claims that it is up to you.
This view says basically that God chooses those who choose Him.
This view says -- if we turn to God, then He will turn to us.
That you just have to try harder!
You can believe if you really want too.
All you have to do is to make up your mind and turn to God, and then He will turn to you and help you.
But you have to make the first move.
In the last analysis, this view puts men in control of God.
We say this openly when we speak of "letting God be God"
or "making Christ the Lord of our lives."
As if God could be God only by our permission.
As if the risen, triumphant Christ could be Lord only if He gets the majority of our votes.
This view also makes questionable the love of God.
What kind of love is it that says, "I will love you if you first love me?"
According to Jesus, that is not real love, even among men:
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" (Matthew 5: 48)
How could we ever be sure that God loves any of us, if we thought that His love
depended on the certainty of our faith, or the consistency of our seeking Him,
or the completeness of our obedience?
With its, "If you do so and so, I will love you and receive you."
This view turns the Good News of God's love for unworthy, undeserving sinners
(such as all of us are) into a mechanical business deal.
In all of Biblical and human history, it is God, not man, Who does the seeking
and initiates the saving events of the exodus from Egypt,
and the coming and victory of Christ.
He is always the One seeking and loving -- first and always.
The more a Christian thinks of his experience,
the more he becomes convinced that he had nothing to do with it, and that all is of God.
Jesus Christ came into this world; He lived; He went to the cross; He died; He rose again.
We did nothing to bring that about; that is all God's work.
We heard the sweet story of this wonderful love.
We did not make the story; we only heard the story.
The Holy Spirit quickened love and life within our hearts; the conviction of sin came;
and with it, there came the experience of forgiveness and salvation.
We did not achieve that -- we only received it!
All is of God!
It is the free gift of God!
Finally, this 3rd view, that it is up to you, is based on confidence in the free will of men.
It assumes that men are free either to believe in, love, trust, depend on, turn to, serve God or not.
Now, we are free only in a superficial, human sense.
We might like to think that we are free, but are we really?
Is not this the most agonizing problem of our lives?
How can we, who are not free, become truly free -- free for God, free in Christ.
Now, that we have to admit that men are not and cannot be free in themselves -- not in the Biblical sense.
The Bible tells us that we are "slaves" of sin (Romans 6: 17),
free neither to love God nor others nor even to love ourselves properly.
Paul says in Galatians 4: 8-9:
"Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods;
but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God,
how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits,
whose slaves you want to be once more?"
The blunt, brutal fact of the matter is that we are not free outside of Christ.
And we desperately need to be made free, and that is what predestination is all about.
The truth that God desires us to know is Christ, and He is the truth that makes men free.
(John 8:31, 36)
The sovereign plan of God is not a threat to to the freedom of men;
it is the source of men's freedom.
Predestinated in Christ brings true freedom.
Once we see predestination in the light of God's Word,
then the Christian doctrine of predestination becomes sheer Good News.
Now each of the three views above has legitimate insides into what the Bible tells us
about God's eternal purpose, but not one of them can be called the doctrine of predestination.
Nor can all three be reconciled and combined into a neat system,
which could be called the one true Christian doctrine.
But we are taught by God's Word that predestination always points forward to the future.
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself."
That is the future of all who are in Christ. His destiny is our destiny, and that is Good News!
Predestination in the Bible is always Good News.
Remember "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ... was not Yes and No; but in Him, it was always Yes."
(2 Corinthians 1: 19)
The Good News is that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,
not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.
We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5: 19-20)
His grace is for us who are undeserving of His love, and who deserve only judgment and condemnation.
This is the Good News of the gospel.
And the Good News exposes our sinful rebellion, and not only offers us the grace of God in Jesus Christ,
but also calls us to repent.
It is in the very love and grace of God that His holiness and justice are exposed
to make us aware of our sinfulness and the costlness of God's love exhibited in the cross.
All are called to receive the love, and to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
And we are ambassadors for Christ, and we must beseech those outside of Christ
on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.
This is missionary and evangelistic to the core,
and this is the point of view in Romans 8: 29f and Ephesians 1: 5.
Anyone may come, and can be in Him, for the blessing of life is in Christ.
"Before the foundation of the world," says that this was the eternal plan of God.
God always had in mind the plan and purpose that whosoever was in Christ should have the blessing of eternal life.
We, who are in Christ, are called to, and chosen to this end,
to be destined to share the same destiny as Christ.
Wow, that is incredible!
Because predestination is seen only in Christ, we cannot speculate about how God should
or must treat outsiders according to our ideas of sovereignty, justice or love.
And if, we look at non-Christians in the light of God's plan for men in Christ,
we are permitted, and we are required to assume that God is for them,
and loves them, and sent Jesus to die for them, and will save them and make them truly free.
While we're not permitted to judge for ourselves those who are non-Christians,
there is one clear responsibility we do have to non-Christians.
That responsibility is to tell them the Good News of the almighty God
Who desires that they, too, should be saved, and has planned and has willed in Christ
that, they too, should receive the gift of freedom in Christ to salvation and life.
So, we are sent to the world with that Good News,
and the Holy Spirit works through our proclamation to bring people to salvation.
How the Spirit of God uses our witness to bring people out of their sin
and into new life is a wonderful mystery.
We must neither distort the good news of God's love by our words of judgment,
and neither must we never act as though the Good News is so evident
that our witness is not needed.
We need to be reminded that we are not called upon to spread Christianity,
but to proclaim the gospel.
We are to bear witness to everyone of the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all who will receive Him.
"Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from every spot and stain,
Heaven with Him I enter in.
Saying it o'er... and o'er again;
Christ receiveth sinful men;
Make the message clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org