Mention predestination and some think of standing in a prison line, waiting to find out one’s sentence. Others feel degraded by the very mention of it – am I only a number to God? Do I have no say? Predestination is equated with the “frozen chosen,” smug saints, no evangelism, or a proud Calvinist who enjoys talking about God’s wrath but seems a stranger to God’s love. At its worst, predestination suggests the multitudes pounding on the door of Noah’s Ark before they sank into the depths, wanting to be saved, but shut out by a cold-hearted deity.
These are Satan’s caricatures to obscure a profound truth: predestination should make us rejoice, for it gives us incredible security, while humbling and inspiring us to action! For God to predestinate, means that he determines in advance what will happen. His plan is not adjusted on the fly. “Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world” (Acts 15:18). God knows the future, which the Bible calls “foreknowledge,” because he has determined the future, which the Bible calls predestination.
Closely related to predestination is election, God’s choosing us in grace to be his people. In Ephesians 1:4, the Spirit teaches that “we are chosen in Christ.” We are not chosen because we are better than some, or no worse than others. We are chosen because of God’s grace in Christ. Instead of perishing as we deserve, our Father chose us to be in Christ, represented by him, saved and secured in history by him, and in a relationship of grace and love with him. Chosen in Christ is cause for joy!
The alternative is to be left dead in sin, condemned, and with a will enslaved to sin without hope of release. The alternative is an “open universe” in which God has not “foreordained whatsoever comes to pass” but in which our decisions have no meaning. Free will and human dignity against the backdrop of pure chance (no divine sovereignty, predestination, or foreknowledge) are empty, meaningless concepts. Instead, predestination means that our destiny as believers is bound up with Jesus Christ, before the foundation of the world. Before we did anything good or bad, and seeing this fallen world in which all deserve everlasting wrath, the Father in love predestinated us to belong to Jesus Christ.
Predestination is thus revealed to us so that we stand in awe that the Father would bind us to his Beloved Son before we were born. It is revealed so that we know and feel our security in our Father’s love, regardless of what happens to us in this life. Nothing can ever separate us from Christ, for it is not our will that placed us in Christ. The Father’s gracious will was to place us in Christ, and in time he will bring all his elect to faith in his Son (Acts 13:48).
All the blessings we have are in Christ – meditated, purchased, received, and enjoyed by faith in him (Eph. 1:3). Against cold and unjust views of predestination, God chose us to be his children and to have a legal claim by his will and Christ’s blood to all the blessings of heaven. How gracious he is! How kind and merciful! He chose us not only to deliver us from hell but also to enjoy all the rights and benefits of his sons and daughters. Our Father chose us to have everything in Christ (1 Cor. 3:20).
Far from being a cold, speculative doctrine of Scripture, it is one of the warmest, transforming truths. It reveals the Father’s eternally loving heart toward us and invites us to run to his arms as blood-purchased children. He can never stop loving us, for he never began loving us but has always loved us and viewed us as being his children. The believing heart does not quibble that God did not choose everyone. It stands amazed that he would choose any. It stands humbled that he would choose me to be his child and qualify me for heaven by his grace. Standing secure in his eternal love and grace, it faces the future with confidence in his purposes, assurance of his love, and joy in his grace.