Summary: A simple study that shows that people are free moral agents who choose their eternal destiny rather than the Calvinist Predestination that God has predetermined by decree from eternity past who specifically will be saved and who will be condemned
Predestination is a Biblical subject but many readers of the New Testament find the doctrine of predestination confusing. Differing views as to what is meant by predestination began as early as the 5th Century as can be gleaned from the debates between Augustine and Pelagius. Most modern church denominations hold to viewpoints on predestination derived from either the theology of John Calvin or Jacobus Arminius. John Calvin (relying heavily upon the Reformed Creeds and Confessions) asserted that the doctrine of predestination teaches that God, before the world was created, had already decided who will be saved and who will be lost and that nothing and nobody can alter God's sovereign decision. Each individual's destiny – Heaven or Hell – has been predetermined by God's decree before Creation. Jacobus Arminius (who relied heavily upon the Scriptures and the writings of the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers) asserted that predestination is not the predetermination of who will go to Heaven or Hell but, to the contrary, the individual has free will to decide whether they will accept God's offer of salvation or refuse to accept God's offer of salvation. God has predetermined or predestined that every individual who chooses to believe and obey the Gospel will receive adoption and a future inheritance.
Let us first identity the Greek term and meaning of the word translated as “predestination” and “predestined” in the New Testament. The Greek term is proorizo and its meaning is “to foreordain, appoint beforehand.”
Let us now examine the six passages where proorizo is found and consider its meaning within the context it is used:
Acts 4:27-28, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”
What was "predestined” to happen? The death of Jesus! This death had been prophesied as a part of God's plan (Luke 22:21-22; Acts 2:22-23). Both the Gentiles and the Jews did not realize that they were fulfilling God's plan of His Son to be abused and put to death. God used the evil inclinations and intents of the various players that led to Christ's death. God did not force Herod, Pilate, the Priests and the ungodly people to kill Christ Jesus; they all were accountable for their own actions.
1 Corinthians 2:7, “but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”
What was “predestined”? The mysterious hidden wisdom of God. The Apostle Paul states, in Ephesians 3:3-6, 11, “by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel...This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” From before the world, God's plan of reconciliation included not just the Jews but also the Gentiles. The Gentiles could partake of the same offer of salvation through Christ Jesus as the Jews.
Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
Who is under consideration here? First, they are "those who love God". Secondly, they are those “called according to His purpose." We are “called” by the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). And, those who hear, believe and respond in obedience to the Gospel are referred to as "the called" (Galatians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9). God's purpose or plan, which He predestined, is that all who love God and respond to His Gospel Call would become conformed to the image or character of His Son. God foreknew from eternity that there would be those who, out of love, would answer the Gospel Call. He predestined or predetermined that the called would be justified and glorified. God has not predetermine who would be saved but predetermined the way they would be saved in this life and the life to come.
Ephesians 1:3-7, 10-11, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses...In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”