“Blessed (be) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly (places) in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:3 – 7)
I regularly receive criticism and even hate mail from those who prefer not to read about predestination. Astoundingly, these people say I am ignorant and they demand to know where in scripture I find such a notion as God’s election and predestination!
The actual word ‘predestination’ only appears twice in the whole of scripture (but in other allied forms in other biblical texts): here in Ephesians 1 verse 5 and again in verse 11 - both in the New Testament. Yet, predestination and election go hand in hand, so if you want to find one, then find the other!
Critics are, invariably, Arminian. Many are charismatics. Some are ecumenists. Others are cultists. They have an hatred for the texts (and, by implication, an hatred for God) that speak of God’s grace, their own wicked state, and their own inability to alter their state before God. The texts themselves are not the real concern for these people, for they are driven by their own humanistic, sinful desire to ‘be like gods’, whether they admit to it, or not.
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:” (Ephesians 1:11)
How is it possible for men and women to deny the existence of predestination, when it is clearly written in scripture by God’s own word? Even if they argue that the word only appears twice, this does not mean it is not found elsewhere, for its concept is found throughout both Old and New Testaments in abundance!
The teaching is everywhere: that men cannot alter their state before God. Only God can do this, by His will and mercy. We can have no part in our own salvation, or in our worthiness before a pure and Holy God. This is because God cannot tolerate sin in His presence.
As fallen creatures we are full of sin and are a blight in His eyes, to be placed in hell after we die. We could not get near God, in any way, unless He first changes us. Such a change is not complete, for it is only an ‘earnest’ or down-payment. We are, then, accepted by God on the promise of Himself, that all who belong to Jesus Christ will be justified by Him.
We are accepted not in our own name, but in the Name of Jesus Christ. Why? Because only Jesus was pure and unadulterated by sin. Only He could walk before His Father with freedom from the penalty of sin. Only He could die in our place, because He was the only ‘spotless Lamb of God’. Our salvation is possible because Jesus Christ died for us, thus buying us for Himself.
Because we belong to Jesus, God accepts us. Not for who we are, but because of Who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. God only sees us through Jesus. Just like a man who cannot be touched by harmful radiation if he is in a lead box, so we cannot be harmed by God’s wrath when we are in the ‘safe-house’ of Jesus Christ.
God’s wrath for human sin was expended on His Son on the cross. Therefore, His Son deserves praise and honour from those who are saved, and God also honours Him by keeping us safe in Jesus. In the very beginning the Spirit of God hovered protectively as a mother bird around the unformed earth; at the end, He will again cover us with His wings of love, taking us in to heaven under His protection, in Christ.
Where does this protection really come from? It comes from the state of predestination so cursed by critics of election! What do the texts above tell us about predestination? Look closer, especially at very small words: ’in’, ‘by’, ‘to’, ‘his’, ‘him’, ‘made’ and ‘through’.
The thrust of the two texts above is that every blessing – particularly that of salvation – is ‘in Him’. Nowhere do we read that we have anything to do with it. It does not matter what ‘good thing’ we receive from God; it is all of ‘grace’, freely given.
In verse 3 we find that we are blessed with salvation ‘in’ Christ. This text obviously refers to salvation because there is no other state that can procure for us any blessing ‘in heavenly places’, unless we are first saved. Note that this blessing of salvation is ‘in’ Christ, not in our own merits or will.
In verse 4 we read ‘According as he hath chosen us in him’. That is, the blessing of salvation spoken of in the preceding verse, is due to God choosing us in Jesus Christ. ‘According’ can be translated as ‘even as’ or ‘seeing that’ or ‘after that’. In other words, we can put it this way: ‘We are saved after God chose us’ or ‘Seeing as God has chosen us, we are therefore saved’.
So, God has ‘chosen’ us; eklegomai. This means to make a choice, to pick out for one’s own self, to choose out of many and to set apart for His own purposes. God did this before He made the world, before mankind ever existed. Let us not flinch from the obvious deduction that follows this fact, that if He chose some to be saved, then He also chose some (many, according to scripture) not to be saved. Or, to be even more blunt, He chose some to destruction in hell.
Many who accept the fact of predestination nevertheless prefer to mute, or tone down, what this means. They can just about accept a God Who ‘allows’ people to enter hell, for this is passive. But, they refuse to accept a God who deliberately chooses people to enter hell, for this is active. These folk are playing semantics! God can never be passive. He either chooses and creates everything, or He does not. Which is it, friends? Scripture tells us that God actively chooses men and women to destruction. Passages in the Old Testament are filled with examples of this. And the fact is repeated in the New Testament.
We are chosen, before the making of the world, to be saved, to be ‘holy and without blame before him in love’. That is, ‘in’ Jesus. The word ‘having’ at the start of verse 5, is vital, for it means ‘after firstly’. After He firstly did what? After He ‘predestinated us’! He predestinated us; proorizo. It means to determine beforehand, to ordain (or choose). That is, God decided to do something before the world was made. He appointed something to happen, ‘from eternity’.
God’s choices are all founded in eternity. His choices or determinations cannot be altered and are fixed, for He cannot change His mind. Thus, if He chose who would be saved, then it means the people who are saved in their own lifetimes were ordained to be saved before they were born. It is an eternal choice. This being so, it is painfully and factually the case, that no man or woman can ever choose to be saved! They cannot, by human will or choice, choose Christ or choose His salvation, for their salvation was ordained before the world was made!
Please, do not fight on this issue, for you have just read this fact in scripture! Jesus adopted us ‘to himself’ to be His children, a royal priesthood (verse 5), ‘according to’ or ‘because of’ ‘his will’.
‘His will’ is the will of His Father, as Jesus maintained before men whilst He was on this earth. And what was the will of His Father? His will was to save those who were already ordained by Himself to be saved, as John 3:16 properly signifies. God chooses whom He will, because it is an outworking of ‘the good pleasure of his will.’ (verse 5). No other reason is given for God choosing some to be saved and some to destruction, other than He wished to do it. We cannot fight this or change it. God is the Creator and He owns everything He made. He can do whatever He wishes with His creatures. This is another fact that squeamish Christians (and others) prefer to forget or alter.
Yet, everything He does is to the ‘praise of the glory of his grace’. Salvation is not given because God feels sorry for us. It is made a gift simply because God wishes to do it. It brings Him glory; that we enjoy an eternity of bliss is only of secondary importance to God, for just as He made us in the first place, so He ‘made us accepted in the beloved.’ ‘Made’, or charitoo, means to be highly favoured and to make accepted; an act done by someone else other than ourselves. It is to ‘honour with blessings’. As sinful beings there is no way we can produce this state of acceptedness. That is why God had to give us the blessings of salvation freely.
It is in Jesus Christ, ‘In whom’, we ‘have redemption through his blood’. It is only ‘in Him’ that we can have ‘forgiveness of sins’ and the ‘riches of his grace.’ How can people who say they are Believers reject the concept and fact of predestination, when it is so clearly taught? They can only do so either because they are badly taught, or rebellious, or they have never been saved in the first place.
I cannot pretend predestination does not exist just to pacify these rebels. Nor can I accept their views as an ‘alternative’, or as equal. Their views are heretical and foolish, and may not be accepted by any true Believer. It is up to the rebel to cut loose his sin and to repent. It is not up to those of us who accept predestination to waver or to bend to their demands. Scripture teaches predestination. This cannot be denied, because we have just read it for ourselves. Nor may we give the texts a different interpretation, for they provide their own meanings. Such are not my opinion; they are Biblical fact and I will not, then, move on the matter.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate (to be) conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: And whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, then he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29, 30)
Here we are told that those who would be ‘conformed to the image of his son’ (an allusion to salvation), were predestinated and foreknown of God. Again, ’predestinate’ is proorizo; chosen beforehand. And ‘foreknow’ is proginosko is virtually the same thing: to predestinate, as well as to know in advance.
Both ‘foreknow’ and ‘predestinate’ have two root words each. They share the same one for half of their meaning. Thus, ‘foreknow’ is proginosko; the roots are pro, meaning before, ago, and ginosko, meaning to know, perceive, understand, or to have knowledge of. The two together therefore indicate ‘knowledge before’.
‘Predestinate’ also has two root words, one of them being pro, and the other being horizo, meaning determine, ordain, ‘as it was determined’, decree, appoint. Thus the two words, foreknow and predestinate, both point to a pre-existing state of knowledge, whilst ‘predestinate’ tells us that the action taken (conforming to the image of Christ, or salvation) involved a deliberate choice beforehand.
In other words, though both words share one root word meaning ‘beforehand’, both words are separate. They are not essentially the same word, as many Christians try to say. Their reason for saying this is that they want to ‘soften’ the idea of God deliberately choosing people for salvation, because it implies a deliberate choice of people to hell. But, we cannot alter the words just to accommodate people’s feelings. The two words are separate and distinct. Both tell us that God knew who would be saved, and, that He chose who would be saved.
Almost pre-empting the problem this might give to some, verse 30 tells us that those who God predestined were ‘also called’, or kaleo. This can indeed mean ‘to invite’, but it can also mean to call out with a loud voice, or to call out by name, which is similar to keleuo, meaning to command or to bid.
Now, if the word can mean ‘to invite’, the Arminians might have cause to complain about the interpretations used in this article. But, when ‘predestinate’ and ‘called’ are used in the same context, the stronger meaning must prevail – and that is ‘the deliberate choice’ of a man or woman, ‘beforehand’. As such a choice is a foregone conclusion, it is simply not possible to make ‘called’ mean ‘invited’ in this context!
In this text, you will notice that ‘being predestinated’, we have ‘obtained an inheritance’. This means, to allot a possession to another, to choose by lot. If we look at its root word, we find ‘an allotted portion’ which refers to the part one has in salvation, or, the salvation assigned to the one to be saved. The text is constructed in such a way as to tell us that we obtain this inheritance because we are predestinated.
In this there is no possibility of personal choice by men at any time in their earthly lifetimes. Rather, we are told, categorically, that those who are saved, are saved because they were known by God, and chosen by Him to be saved, before the world was made. The only time that an ‘invitation’ is detected in salvation, is the general ‘calling’ or kletos found in preaching. That is, all men are ‘invited’ to hear the Gospel, but only a small number are chosen, as we read in Matthew 20:16.
Preachers preach to all whom God has identified. That is, in principle, we must preach to everyone; ’everyone’ can be defined as those to whom we are called to preach at any particular time. Preachers are not called to speak willy-nilly; we must only preach when called to do so, and to those identified by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that if people in a place did not accept the preaching, they were to shake the dust from their feet and go elsewhere, never to return to the rejecting people. Paul never went to preach anywhere unless he knew the Holy Spirit was telling him to preach to the people in a particular locality.
Very clearly, we are told that many are called but few are chosen, or eklektos. This word is even stronger than the others, for it means to be ‘picked out’ or ‘chosen by God’ to obtain salvation. Added to the texts on predestination, we have a very lucid statement: that God chooses or picks out beforehand those who are to be saved.
Jesus said, again very clearly: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you...” (John 15:16). In verse 19, He says: “I have chosen you out of the world”, and this is repeated in such texts as Acts 22:14: “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee”, and Ephesians 1:4: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” I find it difficult to understand how some can give ‘alternative’ meanings to these words!
In 2 Thessalonians 2:13, we have: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation...” In this text ‘chosen’ is haireomai, meaning to take for one’s self, to prefer. “they that are with him (are) called, and chosen...” (Revelation 17:14).
The idea that Man may choose his own salvation runs counter to everything we know about God and His nature. Throughout scripture we read of men who received God’s wrath for their wrongdoings, mainly because they disobeyed God’s commands. God demands and we must obey. That is the order of things.
Do you think God would leave such an important matter as salvation to our own flawed, sinful, personal choice? Hardly! No, God chose those who would be saved, in advance of their birth and the making of the world.
So, the inescapable logic is this: those who claim to choose salvation and Christ of their own will and accord are deluded and are not saved at all. What other conclusion can we arrive at? This is not being partisan to a particular theory – it is being true to scripture, wherein we find the clearest teaching, that God chose beforehand those who are saved. Any other teaching is heresy.
© February 2001
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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