In our last post we explored the doctrine of election, and now we will look into the doctrine of predestination.
As we to look that the spiritual blessings that belong to us who are in Christ Jesus, we read that we are predestinated to be adopted as children by Jesus Christ. The Greek word that is translated predestinated is the Greek Word that means, to mark out beforehand, to determine before, or foreordain. Other than here in Ephesians 1.5 & 11, it is found in Acts 4.28, 1 Corinthians 2.7 and Romans 8.29 & 30. It is clear from each of these passages that the word does not describe an afterthought, but a definite plan.
So what was that plan? Unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself. By regeneration, we receive a change of nature from God; by adoption, we become heirs of Christ in the family of God. Every single one of the glorious salvation terms that we find in Scripture, adoption, redemption, justification, regeneration, sanctification etc. are all in Christ Jesus (cp. 1 Cor 1.30).
Thus, the eternal and unchanging plan of God belongs only to those who are in Christ Jesus. So how on earth (no pun intended) does one get into Christ Jesus? In Romans 16.7, Paul refers to people who were in Christ before me. Huh? I thought we were all in Christ before the foundation of the world. Yes, that is true. But the fact is that nobody is born in Christ, we are all born in Adam. Thus, to get into Christ, God commands all men (how many might that be?) everywhere (where might that be?) to repent.
When the gospel is proclaimed, we are commanded to repent and believe on The Lord Jesus Christ. It is after we hear the gospel and believe that we are sealed by the Spirit (Eph 1.13,14). That is when we become sons of God and cry unto Him, Abba Father (Rom 8.15).
We saw last time in verse 3 that the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to begin this beautiful section of Scripture on election and predestination by saying blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He begins by saying that the God Who has elected us and predestined us is good. Jesus said, there is none good but One, that is God (Matt 19.17). The Psalmist would say, that He is good and His mercy endures forever. Our God is good beloved! The God Who loves us and grants us salvation is a good God.
God The Father hath blessed us, (the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus) with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Please note that all spiritual blessings that we have from God The Father are in Christ Jesus, be it wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1.30). Of Him are we in Christ Jesus.
- Thus every spiritual blessing that we are given is in Christ Jesus and only belongs to those who are in Him. Christ is the elect of God (Isa 42.1), the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13.8). Jesus is the chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded (1 Peter 2.6).
- We know that we are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, but the $64,000 question this side of eternity is how do we get in Christ on earth? The answer? We get in Christ after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1.13,14).
- We were chosen by The Father before the foundation of the world in eternity past. (4-6)
- We talked about the meaning of the word chosen and how it means that God freely and independently, unaffected by any human work, or any human choice chose us to be included in His Son Jesus Christ.
- We were chosen by The Father before the foundation of the world in eternity past. (4-6)
- We were redeemed by Jesus Christ’s atonement on the cross in our historical past. (7-12)
- We were sealed into Christ after we heard the gospel and believed in our personal past. (13,14)
- As far as Paul was concerned, the proof that the Ephesians were chosen by God was that Paul heard of their faith in The Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints (Eph 1.15). This is exactly what we read in 1 John.
- I am not saying that man makes salvation happen, because that is not what the Bible teaches. It is all God’s grace. It is God’s gospel. I am simply stating that there is no salvation recorded in Scripture in this life that is apart from the preaching of the gospel being mixed with repentance of sin and faith in the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ.
- No question about it, it is God Who gives us a new heart and gives us new life, but He doesn’t do it before we are born again. The means that He uses is the proclamation of the gospel. We are born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1.23-25).
- We stated that the reason that we are chosen to be holy. We talked about the heresy of the “gospel” message that never mentions the word sin, or the need for repentance. The reason why we are chosen is to be holy or set apart for The Masters use with the progressive evidence of sanctification in the life of the believer.
- We mentioned that our position in Christ is that we are without blame before Him.
I then mentioned the 2 main systems of theology that describe what God does and when and what man does and when as being Arminiansim and Calvinism. In between “A” and “C” is “B”, the Bible.
- I truly believe that neither system fully explains the tension that exists in Scripture between God’s divine purposes and mans responsibility in the matters of salvation.
- I’ve read both A & C books on systems of theology, and both have appendixes that “explain” passages that are difficult to understand according to their systems.
- Beloved, each system has their list of Scriptures that “prove” their position to be true and biblically sound.
- I believe that there is truth in both systems. Personally, I would never come to either full-blown conclusion that endorses either system by reading the Scripture alone.
- I embrace my precious Arminian friends and I embrace my precious Calvinist friends.
- Beloved, do not let anybody tell you that you have to be either “A” or “C” to be a Christian. Scripture does not say repent and become Presbyterian or Baptist or Koinonian!
- No religious system or system of theology in and of itself has the power to save you. Christ is the power of The Gospel. Only faith in the crucified, risen, exalted and glorified Lord Jesus Christ saves you.
- In Jesus is life, not in any “ism”. Whenever you mix Jesus with any “ism”, the “ism” becomes the focus and Jesus inevitably takes the back seat.
- One of my dear Reformed pastor friends told me over lunch that he would rather be in a live Arminian church than a dead Calvinist one.
- “I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.” Sam Storms
So now lets move on to verse 5 and 6 and the doctrine of predestination and adoption.
- It would be impossible to be a Bible-believing Christian without affirming God’s electing grace and having a doctrine of election. The same could be said about predestination, often thought of as a synonym for election.
- And it can safely be said that people’s election is God’s grace, not human achievement. Nowhere does the Bible even hint that people elect themselves. Man cannot save themselves.
- Even historical Arminianism believes that sinners receive what is known as prevenient grace.
- Prevenient grace is grace that convicts, calls, illumines, and enables a person to repent and believe on The Lord Jesus Christ.
- Christian theologians disagree about whether it is resistible or irresistible, but all evangelical theologians agree it is necessary for the first exercise of a good will toward God. Jesus is The Author and Finisher of our faith. It’s all of grace from start to finish.
Vs.5 In love, having predestinated us (for what purpose?) unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will (Who’s will?). 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in The Beloved.
Predestination – G4309. προοριζω proorizo; from 4253 and 3724; to limit in advance, i. e. (figuratively) predetermine: determine before, ordain, predestinate. This Greek word is used here in Eph 1.5 and 11. It is also found in 4 other places in Scripture:
- Acts 4.28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before G4309 to be done.
- 1 Cor 2.7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained G4309 before the world unto our glory.
- In what is known as the golden thread of redemption, we read in Romans 8.29,30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate (G4309) (why?) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate (G4309), them he also called (chosen, elected): and whom he called, them he also justified (declared right): and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Foreknowledge- Vines-proginosko (προγινωσκω, 4267), “to know before” (pro, “before,” ginosko, “to know”),
- This word is used in Scripture to describe divine knowledge, concerning (1) Christ, 1 Pet. 1:20, Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. (2) Israel as God’s earthly people, Rom. 11:2 God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew (3) believers, Rom. 8:29.
- But this word is also use to describe human knowledge, (1) of persons. In Acts 26:5, Paul talks about fellow Jews which knew me from the beginning (2) of facts, 2 Pet. 3:17
To know beforehand speaks of knowing in a special or intimate way.
It is used this way in Amos 3:2: You only have I known of all the families of the earth.
- This of course reveals how God set His electing love on the nation of Israel. This means that God knows or has a special love for the nation of Israel. This does not mean that God did not know other nations existed, it means that He knew Israel in a special way.
- On a personal level, to know someone in a special or intimate way is also used in Scripture. God told Jeremiah I knew you before you were in your mothers womb (Jer 1.5). Cp. Luke 1.15; Gal 1.15.
- Passages that talk about God’s special or intimate love for His elect, either Israel or the church, do not negate passages that talk about God’s love for the stranger or non-Israelite in the OT or His love for the world in the NT (John 3.16).
- Passages that talk about particular atonement for God’s elect do not negate passages of a Scripture that speak of Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world (2 Cor 5.19-21; 1 Tim 2.4;Heb 2.9; 1 John 2.2).
- The only people who have problems with “opposite” truths of Scripture are those who only see the passages through the lens of their “systematic proof text” lists.
- Thus, in every system of theology, words break down and fall short somewhere. Let me give you lone example.
- Such is the case with the word called used in the Golden thread of redemption passages in Romans 8.29,30, which refers to those who are predestinated, justified and glorified.
- In Matt 22.1-14 Jesus is teaching about the king (Jehovah) who prepares a wedding feast for his son (Jesus). The same Greek word that is translated called in Romans 8.30 is translated call vs.3; bidden, vs. 4,8; bid vs.9), and refers to Israel.
- Israel was called to the wedding feast, but only a few are chosen. They were as called to the wedding feast as those who are predestinated were called in Romans 8.30.
- But were all who were called to the wedding in the teaching of Jesus chosen to attend? According to Jesus, those who are chosen are not simply those who are called, they are those who embraced Him as Messiah.
- So God’s “foreknowledge” involves His electing grace, and intimate love, but this does not preclude the commandment given to men to repent and believe the gospel.
- Our Predestination is God’s Grace at work before the foundation of the world.
- Our Calling is God’s Grace confronting us.
- Our Justification is God’s Grace making us right w/Himself in the midst of history.
- Our Glorification is God’s Grace in the consummation of this age.
A word about predestination:
Predestination is never used in reference to unsaved people. God has never predestinated anybody to be lost. Predestination is not fatalism. Double predestination is not taught in the bible.
- Ezekiel 18.23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live? Ezekiel 18.32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn [yourselves], and live ye. Note God says that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He exhorts them to repent. Sound familiar?
- 2 Peter 3.9 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.
- The bible says in Matthew 25.41, depart from Me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Who was hell created for? Hell was not created for man, but multitudes of mankind end up there for all eternity. If you are eternally lost, it is because you have rejected the gospel of His dear Son as the only way of salvation.
- Yes, God created hell and He created people who will go to hell, but God did not create people to go to hell.
- Jesus tells His disciples, I go to prepare a place for you (John 14.3). Who is Jesus talking about? His disciples, those Who believe that He and He alone is The Way, The Truth and The Life.
- He that believeth (adheres to; trusts in; relies upon) on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not (to disbelieve willfully and perversely) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3.36).
- Predestination is a biblical term of absolute assurance for those who know Jesus Christ as Lord. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them (there is that word know again), and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27–28).
- Looking ahead in Ephesians 1.13-15, we will see that His sheep, are those who hear and believe the word of truth and are sealed with The Holy Spirit of promise forever. They are individuals who love Jesus Christ and all others who call upon His Name.
- I have taken some time to talk about these things because there are some people who have the idea that if I am elected and predestinated, then God will just zap me and it is going to happen. Beloved, God uses means to call people to salvation, and once you hear the gospel, you are responsible to obey or disobey.
- I believe that we can disagree without being disagreeable. I do not believe that we can disagree and be divisive. Being divisive is the flesh (Gal 5.19). The word sedition means to be dissension or division. Heresies means, dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims. This is why Paul called the Corinthians carnal when they were divided over Paul, Apollos and Cephas.
To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in The Beloved.
By God’s grace and according to His sovereign plan, we are adopted and accepted in The Beloved.
- Justitification- change of standing before God.
- Regeneration- change of nature from God.
- Repentance- change of mind about God.
- Conversion- change of life for God.
- Sanctification- change of service to God.
- Glorification- change of place with God.
- Adoption- change of family in God.
- By regeneration, we enter into the kingdom of God. By adoption, we becomes heirs of all that God has given to Jesus.
- Romans 8:14-17,23 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. 23 And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body.
- While regeneration refers to being spiritually reborn into the family of God, the concept of adoption refers to being included in a family one was not born into.
- To the praise of the glory of His grace. It is by God’s grace through Christ that we are accepted (Gr. Endued with special favor; highly honored) in The Beloved (Jesus Christ).
- The ultimate purpose of election to salvation is to the praise of the glory of His grace. In fact, the entire gospel message and the purpose of the Christian life is that we live for the glory of God.
- God’s love and grace are the originating and finishing causes of salvation. The atoning death of Jesus Christ is the meritorious cause. The Spirit of God is the efficient cause. The Word of God is the instrumental cause. Faith is the hand that reaches out to receive it. The glory of God is the final cause.
Matt 22.11 And when the king came in to see the guests, He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And He saith unto him, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13, 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. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen
RJV wedding garments…works, religion are the unacceptable garments.
The doctrine of election has been pictured in this way. Here is a vast host of people hurrying down the broad road with their minds fixed on their sins, and one person stands calling attention to a door- the entrance into the narrow way that leads to life eternal. On this door is plainly written the text, “Whosoever will, let him come.” Every man is invited, no one need hesitate. Some may say, “Well, I may not be of the elect, and so it would be useless for me to endeavor to come, for the door will not open for me.” But God’s invitation is absolutely sincere: it is addressed to every man, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). If men refuse to come, if they pursue their own godless way down to the pit, whom can they blame but themselves for their eternal judgment? The messenger addressed himself to all, the call comes to all, the door could be entered by all, but many refuse to come and perish in their sins. Such men can never blame God for their eternal destruction. The door was open, the invitation was given, they refused. God says to them sorrowfully, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” But as the invitation is extended, every minute or two someone stops and asks, “What is that?” “The way to life,” is the reply. “Ah, that I might find the way to life! I have found no satisfaction in this old world. I should like to know how to be free from my sin, how to be made fit for the presence of God.” Then he draws near and listens, and the Spirit of God impresses the message on his heart and conscience. As a result he says, “I am going inside: I will accept the invitation; I will enter that door,” and he presses his way in and it shuts behind him. As he turns about he finds written on the inside of the door the words, “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” “What?” he says, “had God His heart fixed on me before ever the world came into being?” Yes, but he could not find it out until he got inside. You see, you can pass the door if you will, you can trample the love of God beneath your feet, you can spurn His grace if you are determined to do it, but you will go down to the pit and you will be responsible for your own doom.
If people are troubled by the doctrine of predestination and worried about whether or not they are saved, they should look at the wounds of the crucified Christ. There they will see what they need to know, what God has revealed — that God loves sinners enough to die for them — and they will be comforted. – Luther
The great English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, saved in a Methodist church but a passionate Calvinist, frequently prayed a seemingly inconsistent prayer at his church’s evening prayer meetings: “God, call out your elect. And then elect some more.”
Come today, come now; repent and receive Christ as Lord.