Summary: I will continue to discuss predestination, and outline the main thoughts and truths regarding this wonderful doctrine.
Today we continue in our study of what is probably the most controversial topic in the Bible, namely the doctrine of predestination, so maybe you would like to hold onto your seats as we delve deep into the Word of God to determine exactly what this wonderful doctrine teaches us regarding our salvation and of course God’s sovereignty.
Last week I made the observation that every church and every Christian that has ever lived, has been brought to a point where they have been forced to come up with some understanding of the doctrine of predestination. I also mentioned that the reason for this was the undeniable and irrefutable evidence that Scripture gives us with regards to the reality of the doctrine of predestination.
What we are going to do today is we are going to answer the question: what is predestination? I wish I could tell you that this is a simple and easy definition, but the reality is that this definition is anything but easy, so we are going to spend some time defining what predestination is.
To begin with we are going to look at the word ‘predestination’ itself. Now remember that the Bible was not written in English, so to understand the word/s used in Scripture we need to go back and see what the Greek means.
Now in many instances where the teaching of predestination comes up, the word used is the word ‘pro-oridzo’. Let’s consider that word for a moment, and we begin with the prefix which is ‘pro’, or if you want to translate it, we speak of ‘pre’. When we speak of ‘pre’ we speak of something before. The concept the writers used when writing the Bible, carried the idea that this ‘pre’ is even before time. (Eph 1:4 clearly spells this out for us – “before the foundation of the earth”) If we continue and look at the main part of that word which is ‘oridzo’ we see that it means ‘to determine’.
So now, without getting too technical and difficult, our word in English which is predestination quite simply means ‘determined before’, and then also remember that it is determined before time! So, taking the meaning of the original language into consideration we can clearly and irrefutably say that God determined something before the foundation of the earth. The question that remains now is: what did God determine before the foundation of the world.
Before I answer that question, and as part of my answer to that question, we need to consider another Greek word, and that is the word for ‘elect’ or ‘chosen’. The Greek word is the word ‘eklektos’. This word means: ‘select’; ‘by implication favourite’; ‘picked out’; taken in preference or finally ‘chosen by God to obtain salvation through Christ’ which also gives us a hint as to the what.
So, with both the words used to describe election or predestination considered, it should be quite clear by now that God has determined before the foundation of the world to select or to choose individuals to receive His wonderful gift of salvation.
Ok, there is one more very very important word that we still need to consider, and just like predestination and election, this word is frequently found in Scripture, and it is often found in the same dialogue where predestination and election is discussed.
The word is foreknowledge. The Greek word is pro-ginosko. Once again, ‘pro’ referring to before, and ‘ginosko’, where we get our word knowledge from. So the idea is that God knows what will happen before it even happens in the finest of details. (We saw this in some detail in our series on providence).
Now once again, with all these words in our minds, I think we can all agree at some level at least if we say that God somehow, and in some way decides who will get to heaven and who will not.
The big debate comes in when we start to discuss how God will decide who goes to heaven and who does not. It is exactly here that churches and believers alike have great difficulty in understanding this doctrine.
While there are many views regarding this doctrine, time does not allow us to go into them all, but what I am going to do is discuss the two main views regarding predestination. (The other views fall far short of a clear Scriptural principal, and that is why I have basically ignored them)
The first view, and in many circles the predominant view is the view regarding foreknowledge. What this view teaches is that God, in His omniscience, has the ability to look down the corridors of time, and that He can then see, and know in advance who will respond positively to the call and Gospel of Christ, and who will not respond positively to the gospel. In other words, the gospel will be preached to man, and some people will respond to the gospel by saying ‘yes’ to Christ, and some will respond by saying ‘no’ to Christ.