Summary: When discussing the biblical doctrine of predestination, there are many questions which arise. In this lesson, Pastor Foskey seeks to answer the most common among them.
Title: Common Objections to Predestination
Text: Romans 8:28-30
Upon encountering the doctrine of predestination there are many questions that come up almost immediately. Having dealt with most of these questions from my own mind, I seek here to give both the most common questions and the best answers I can to them.
If predestination is true, why do we evangelize?
If ever there was a question that most people asked when faced with the biblical doctrine of God’s sovereignty this is the one. It simply stands to reason, for most, that if God has ordained the salvation of His elect people then our evangelism efforts are really in vain.
The answer that I, and most who believe in predestination, would give is that God ordains “means” as well as the “end” in His program of salvation. Sometimes when I say this I see people’s eyes roll because they either do not understand the answer or they think it is some type of copout.
But this is a legitimate answer. In fact, it is the right answer. God has ordained the end. He doesn’t just “know” the end from the beginning, He has ordained it. Nothing happens apart from His sovereign decree. Even Satan could not touch Job apart from the sovereign decree of God. God has determined the end, and the end for the elect is eternal life. But God has also ordained the means to that end, which is evangelism.
Now let’s look at this from a purely physical perspective to give an example. Most conservative Christians believe that their physical lives come as a result of God’s decree. No one is born on accident. God is the one who formed us in our mother’s womb. It is He who planned our birth day.
But, at the same time, we weren’t born without the use of natural “means”. In history there has been only one documented case of parthenogenesis (virgin birth) in human beings. Of course I refer to Jesus Christ. Everyone else has come by the “means” of natural procreation, the union between a man and a woman. Without those means we would not be born. Yet this doesn’t mean that our birth was not ordained by God. It most certainly was.
Likewise without evangelism no one would ever be born again because that is the means God has ordained to bring about His end. No one has ever been saved apart from evangelism of some kind. It is God who gives us the ability to have faith and the preaching of the Word that gives us an object for that faith. Evangelism is a necessary “means” to the “end” of salvation of God’s elect.
Does predestination mean that I do not have a will?
This requires an understanding of the will, and how it relates to man’s desires. The ‘will’, as described by Jonathan Edwards, is simply ‘the mind making a choice’. And we all have the ability to make choices. But the issue comes when someone says that the will is ‘free’. It is here that we have a problem.
The will is ‘free’ in the sense that it always chooses according to its strongest desires in any given situation. If a person points a gun at us and says, “Give me your money or die” we don’t ‘want’ to give him our money. But ultimately we want to live more, so we give him our money. Thus the will is in action.
But where the will is not ‘free’ is that man’s desires are sinful, thus his will is bound. Something that is bound in sin, as Scripture clearly indicates of our desires, could not be considered ‘free’. It is like the illustration of a person skydiving. He has the capacity to motivate himself north, south, east and west. But ultimately he is always going down.
This relates to predestination in this way. Man, by nature, does not choose God because he does not naturally desire to do so. In fact, he is at enmity with God and instead would rather worship an idol or himself than the true God.
So, in response to the question: yes, man has a will. This will is in bondage to sin. It requires an act of God’s grace to free that will so that it may believe in Him. All true believers should rejoice that God has set them free.
Doesn’t predestination mean that God is unfair?
Again, this is a common question. We must remember, as a disclaimer, that God is under no obligation to be fair by our standards in the first place. Whatever he does is good and right, not because of a ‘higher’ standard of good and right is above Him, but because He is the standard of all that is good and right.