Summary: There is great debate regarding the subject of predestination, most of which focuses on what it means for God to "foreknow" someone. In this lesson, Pastor Keith examines this important word.
Lesson: The Golden Chain of Redemption
Text: Romans 8:28-30
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
~Romans 8:28-30, ESV~
The doctrine of predestination causes many to cringe even just by hearing the subject uttered. But, as should be noted by the opening passage, predestination is not a word that is foreign to the Bible. In fact, in these three verses, you will note it was mentioned two times. Based upon this, we can immediately understand that if a person says, “I don’t believe in predestination at all” then that means that he or she does not believe the Bible.
But this is where things get a little more complicated. Most bible-believing Christians do not deny that predestination is taught in the Bible. What is denied is the METHOD God uses to predestine. And, historically, there have been two basic views.
Calvinism - God has, before the foundation of the world, set his affection upon a remnant of humanity, referred to as the elect, and these will be saved because God will irresistibly draw them to Himself.
Arminianism - God, before the foundation of the world, looked down the corridor of time and saw the decisions that people would make, and based upon those decisions, God predestined them for heaven or hell.
These names are given after two theologians from the time of the Reformation. John Calvin, who is most famous for writing his Institutes of Christian Religion, taught that God is sovereign in all areas, including man’s will. Jacobus Arminias, whose doctrines were opposed to the teachings of Calvin, especially regarding his views of predestination. Arminius was a student of Theodore Beza, John Calvin’s hand-picked successor.
Of these two views, Arminianism is the majority report in American evangelical churches. In fact, this is the only view that many are ever exposed to. The scenario of exposure usually goes something like this: A person is studying his bible, and he arrives at a passage that uses the language of predestination. He is intrigued. So he goes to his pastor and his pastor says, “Well, what is really meant there is that God foresaw what you would do, and based on that He chose you”. No more discussion, that is just the answer. And for many folks, this answer is satisfactory. It is satisfactory because it does not challenge the very prevalent tradition that salvation is the result of man’s decision. As one famous preacher put it: God votes for you, the devil votes against you. You break the tie. Because of this response, that satisfies man’s desire for salvation to be contingent upon his own decisions, many who ask this question never dig deeper to see if such an explanation is actually consistent with what the Bible teaches.
But is this the biblical view?
Is it true that God’s predestination is based upon Him looking down the corridor of time, seeing our faith, and responding to it? And, what Biblically, if anything, is such a belief based upon?
This doctrine (called PRESCIENCE) is based upon the verse of Scripture that was given in the opening section of this work (Romans 8:28-30). Arminius, and his followers, looked at the word “FOREKNEW” and saw there the answer to their theological questions regarding predestination. They believed that this word was the key to unlocking the mystery of predestination. And for them, there was no mystery. God didn’t choose according to His will, but rather according to the choices of man which He foresaw.
But, again the question must be asked: Is the arminian view the right understanding of this word, “foreknew”, or of this entire passage? I submit to you, it is NOT. In fact, I submit that the fundamental flaw of Arminianism is the misinterpretation of these verses.
The purpose of this booklet is to outline at least four reasons to reject the Arminian/Prescience view of predestination.
The Object of the Verb “Foreknew”
One must immediately see, when reading ROmans 8:29, that the context is that God ‘foreknew’ the person. It does not say that God “foresaw” faith in this person. Some may say, this is ‘implied’ in the passage. But, where is this implied? The text simply says, “whom he foreknew”. The object of the verb is the person, as an individual, chosen by God. Notice that there are ‘five’ verbs used (foreknew; predestined; called; justified; glorified), and all of these are words that denote actions on God’s part.