Quick Thoughts on "Predestination"

There's a hot-button word in many churches. This word can cause quite a stir because it's been loaded down with extra baggage through the centuries.

The word is: predestined.

It's not a bad word. It's a good word that is often misunderstood. The word is used in the Bible to describe the people of God.

So what's with all the fuss over this word?

Well, some people take the word and apply it directly (almost exclusively) to God's choice to "save" some people and not others. In other words, God decided before time began who would be "in" and who would be "out" (as it relates to eternal destiny).

But then there are other people who just avoid the altogether. They ignore the term and simply act like it's not there in the Bible.

To figure out which group you're affiliated with, ask yourself this question: When was the last time I heard a sermon, lesson, Bible study topic, or whatever on "predestination" (or, much less even heard someone use the word)?

Let me just say up front that I don't think either of those groups are on the right track, as it relates to being "predestined." I acknowledge that the word puts people in the passive role and God in the active role. If something has been predestined, then there must be someone who has done it. That "someone" is not you, it's not me, and it's not us...it's God. God is the "predestiner," people are "predestined."

Also, the word can be broken down into it's two parts:
"Pre" is a prefix that means "before."
"Destined" is an adjective that conveys movement from one situation/place to another.

Just saying that much at least acknowledges the word in the text of the Bible.

But what is the nature of the "predestination?" Is it about people being "saved" and people being "damned?"
I don't think so. Instead, I would say that God predestined that there would be a family of God without predestining which individuals would become part of his family.

So we read in Ephesians 1:4-5, "God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world," [that's the "pre" part] "to be holy and blameless before him" [that's the "destined" part]. These two come together as the verses continue, "In his love, God predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ..."

The text does not say that individuals were predestined to be "in Christ" or not "in Christ." The text merely tells us that something has already been determined: whoever is "in Christ" will be holy and blameless, adopted into the family of God.

Once again, God predestined that there would be a family of God without predestining which individuals would become part of his family.

In the verses in the Ephesians letter, if you are "in Christ" (if you've entered the family of God), then what has been predestined for all who are "in Christ" is predestined for you. That's also why the Apostle Paul makes his "More than Conquerors" remarks (see Romans 8:31-39), just after he laid down the foundation of "predestination" (see Romans 8:28-29).

This certainly doesn't solve everything as it relates to predestination/free-will debates, but it does move beyond the sterile positions mentioned above.

Related Posts:
From the Beginning
What's the Difference Between Love & Charity in the New Testament


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