G1. Predestination Part 1: Introduction



Predestination defined … Predestination is different than foreknowledge. … Predestination is controversial among theologians. … Scientific materialism leads directly to predestination, and to the result that free will is just an illusion … the power of Christ saves from a materialistic dead end.

Predestination defined

An event is predestined if it is determined beforehand that it will take place.

For Christians, the word predestination is used with theological meanings that can be either narrow or broad. Predestination in the narrow sense is the doctrine that God has foreordained some people to receive eternal salvation, and other people not to receive salvation. Predestination in the broader sense holds that God has a preordained plan for individual lives, for nations of people, and for all of history.

Predestination is not the same as foreknowledge

There are some who mistakenly think that predestination means God has foreknowledge of everything that will happen, therefore he can predict the future and know in advance who is going to be saved. It is true that God has foreknowledge, but foreknowledge is not the same as foreordaining. Predestination speaks not just of foreknowledge, but of foreordaining. It is God saying, “This must happen because this is the way I want it to happen, and this is my plan for how it will come about.”

Predestination is controversial

Predestination is a controversial subject in the Christian community. Christians may ask, for example, “Did God predestine only some people to receive salvation, so that we have no choice about whether we will be saved from an eternity in hell?” And: “Has God predestined the events of history and the daily events of our lives, so that we have no free will in deciding what happens to us?” The implication is that if God were like that, he would be an unjust tyrant; and since we know God is just, it means predestination cannot be true.

Predestination is an issue for unbelievers

Whether they know it or not, non-Christians as well as Christians must face the issue of predestination. All school kids nowadays are exposed to scientific materialism – a kind of pseudo-religion which says that the universe can be explained without invoking God or anything in the spiritual realm. Scientific materialism is now the prevailing alternative to the Biblical view of creation. What is not generally mentioned is that when students accept the materialistic view, they also accept the idea of a predestined universe in which there is no such thing as free will.

When I was a freshman in college, a psychology professor startled me by saying he believed that physical, cause-and-effect laws accounted for everything, even our thoughts and emotions. Everything we experience, he maintained, could be reduced to molecules bumping into each other in endless chain reactions. At the time, I thought this thinking was rather extreme and unbelievable, but I now see he was making an important point: The logical result of scientific materialism is the conclusion that everything in the universe – every physical object and every living thing – has been completely predetermined by the physical laws established at the time of the big band. What this means is that for a scientific materialist, there is no such thing as free will; any sense of free will we may have is just an illusion. What we call “free will” is itself a predestined result of the laws of physics.

Christians have a message to bring

I bring this up to make the point that Christians have a message to bring to the world, and it is a message which is usually overlooked by Christian preachers. When we get to Part 2 of this series and study predestination in the Bible, we will see that it is through faith in Christ that one obtains free will. The Bible tells us that scientific materialists have come to the right conclusion – but for the wrong reasons – when they realize that they are without free will. Their view of the universe leads to a deterministic dead end. But if their eyes are opened to the Christian gospel, they will discover a way out of their deterministic dead end. They will discover a Savior who sets them free from that dead end and gives them a living hope. So let’s read on and get to the heart of what the Bible says about predestination.