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Predestination or Free Moral Agency?

Table of contents

John Calvin taught …

Does free will negate the sovereignty of God?

Does Calvin's predestination call God's righteousness into question?

Even with freewill, God has placed limits

Is salvation, conditional or preordained?

The conditions of salvation

Each of us has power to accept or reject salvation

There is no respect of persons with God

The Bible’s doctrine of predestination verses John Calvin's

A closer look at Romans 9:6-24

A closer look at Ephesians chapter 1

How can we reconcile predestination with free moral agency?

Why is the topic of predestination important?

Putting it all together

John Calvin taught …

John Calvin taught that God unconditionally predestined every person’s eternal fate before the world began. This fate is unconditional, having nothing to do with our own will or obedience. Thus, men do not have free will or free moral agency. Those who are destined to eternal life are the elect. As for the others, before creation, God decreed they will go to go to hell without considering their character, obedience or choice.

The alternative to unconditional election or predestination is that man has a freewill and free moral agency; salvation is conditional and we can freely choose whether or not we will meet the conditions for salvation.

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.  - Luke 21:36

The following five Bible passages are the ones most commonly used to teach predestination:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. - Romans 8:28-30

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, - Ephesians 1:3-5

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In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:  - Ephesians 1:11

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But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:  - 2 Thessalonians 2:13

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Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.  - 1 Peter 1:2

We will look at these verses more closely in a moment, but first let's try to understand why this is such an important study.

Does free will negate the sovereignty of God?

Many Calvinists believe the doctrine of predestination is important because if God is completely sovereign the decision must be completely His. For men to have choice is to deny the absolute sovereignty of God. 

The truth is, that it is the other way around. If God cannot grant someone the ability or authority do determine an outcome, than it is God who is limited. Thus, if God chooses to allow us decision making power, even regarding our salvation, it does not violate His sovereignty. He can decree whatever He chooses, even giving men power to choose. If you deny God this power, than it is you who is denying His absolute sovereignty. The question is not whether God is sovereign. The question is: what has the sovereign God decided to do? And what choices, if any, has he given us.

Does Calvin's predestination call God's righteousness into question?

If I have no choice or free moral agency, than it is God who is responsible for the sins I have committed. Is He just to make me suffer the eternal consequences for the sins that He determined I must commit before I was born? This is like me commanding my son not to go in the street, even warning him that if he goes I will spank him. Then carrying him into the street and spanking him for going there!

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  - James 1:13

Those who believe in predestination might argue this point with the following passage,

Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? - Romans 9:18-21

Is Paul saying that we have no choice in who God hardens? If we are not one of His chosen, should we just accept that we are going to Hell and quit whining? If this were so; why does Paul start the Epistle to the Romans with these passages,

[Refering to the men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.]Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
- Romans 1:22-24

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Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: - Romans 1:25-26

***

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; - Romans 1:28

Look closely, three times Paul said God gave them up, not before the world was created, but; after they corrupted the glory of God, after they started worshiping the creation, and after they decided not retain God in their knowledge. So, if someone has a “reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient”, it was indeed God who hardened their heart, not before the world began, but as a punishment after they sinned. Which is more like the character of God?

A father commands his son to not go in the street, warning him, that if he goes into the street, he will spank him. Then the father carries him into the street and spanks him for going there.

OR

A father commands his son to not go in the street, warning him, that if he goes into the street, he will spank him. Then his son, to test him, walks into the street. His father gives him the promised spanking saying, don't blame me, you chose to be disobedient.

If you read Romans, you will find that God does not leave the reprobates he mentioned hopeless, rather in chapter 8 Paul offers the cure for the reprobate mind. Now if you reject the cure in chapter eight, don't complain,

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? - Romans 9:19-20

Even with freewill, God has placed limits

Even those who believe in freewill or free moral agency know we are not free to do anything we want.

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,  - Romans 8:20

It is obvious that God has placed limits on us. He has chosen some individual people over others and some nations over others. He did not make me rich like Bill Gates, nor has He given every country the same natural resources or their citizens the same opportunities. The following is one of the parables Jesus taught.

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? - Matthew 20:1-15

In this parable, the householder went out several times during the day to hire laborers for his vineyard. While he paid the first laborers what he agreed to, he was more generous with the laborers hired later in the day. In the same way God is just; yet, he can be more generous to some without being obligated to do the same to others. Think for a moment; what if, on the previous evening, the owner of the vineyard decided to be more generouswith those he hired last on the next day. Then the laborers who were chosen last were predestined to receive the householder's generosity. However, that does not remove the freewill of any laborer to work in the vineyard.

Is salvation, conditional or preordained?

[God our Savior] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  - 1 Timothy 2:4

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The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  - 2 Peter 3:9

If God is absolutely sovereign (He is) and we have no free will to choose. If God sincerely wants all people to be saved and none to perish, the logical conclusion of unconditional election would be universalism! All people will be saved!

Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 
- Romans 5:18

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Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  - 1 Timothy 2:6

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But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.  - Hebrews 2:9

Yet the Scriptures plainly teach that only a few will be saved.

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.  - Matthew 7:14

Either God was not sincere when He said that He was willing to "have all men to be saved"; or else, we do have a choice.

The conditions of salvation

In line with the Scripture that God is “not willing that any should perish” He ordained that the Gospel is to be preached to the whole world. The Gospel teaches the conditions for salvation. The first condition of salvation is to believe the Gospel.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
- Mark 16:15-16

The next thing we must do is repent of our rebellion against God.

Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father.
- Luke 3:7-8a

***

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  - 2 Peter 3:9

Third thing we must do is confess Jesus.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.  - Matthew 10:32-33

Finally we must forgive others their trespasses against us.

But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.  - Mark 11:26

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Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:  - Luke 6:37

If salvation were unconditional, why did God state these conditions for salvation? 

Each of us has power to accept or reject salvation

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  - Revelation 3:5

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Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.  - Exodus 32:32-33

If God determined who would be saved before the world was created; how can people be blotted out of the Book of Life at a later time?

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!  - Matthew 23:37

God does not compel us to receive Him outside of our freewill. He wants all men to be saved, but He allows us to choose.

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. - Philippians 2:12

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Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine […] for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. - 1 Timothy 4:16

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And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. - Revelation 22:17 

The Scriptures do not teach that man is passive in his salvation.

There is no respect of persons with God

If God saves some people but not others, either the choice is based on our conduct or else God is a respecter of persons.

[God] will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.
- Romans 2:6-11

The doctrine of predestination could be likened to a king whose people are imprisoned for another man’s crime (in this case Adam’s). The King declares:

  1. I genuinely love you all. (John 3:16)
  2. I want all of you to be set free. (1 Timothy 2:4)
  3. So I extend my offer of pardon to all of you. (Romans 5:18)
  4. I even sent my son to pay the ransom so that all of you can go free. (1 Timothy 2:6)
  5. However in spite of all I have said, I am only going to open a few doors and let some of you go. I decided a long time ago that most of you will stay locked up and imprisoned forever!

Does our Lord really want all the prisoners to be set free? Does he really have love and mercy for all? Did His son pay the penalty for all? If this freedom was unconditional, why are not all his prisoners set free?

What would a just king do? First, he would punish the people for their own crimes, not their parents.

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.  - Deuteronomy 24:16

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Who will render to every man according to his deeds:  - Romans 2:6

Though he might wish to pardon all his prisoners, a truly just king would not treat the unrepentant criminal the same as the one who has repented (Compare the two thieves next to Jesus’ cross). However, he could offer conditions of pardon to all the prisoners and then judge them based on their response.

The Bible’s doctrine of predestination verses John Calvin's

For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
- Romans 11:27-29

Most of the passages on predestination speak of how God will deal with the Nations. For instance, God predestined Israel for great things.

Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! - Numbers 23:10

However, each individual Israelite will have to decide if he wants to be part of this preordained blessing.

O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  - Luke 3:7b-8

God has also predestined great things for those who believe. To illustrate this, suppose you plan a family reunion. It is only the members of your family that are invited or 'predestined'. Even so, suppose there a few relatives; one who always gets drunk, another who has a bed temper, knowing they will spoil your reunion, you do not invite them. Its the other family members who are chosen or 'the elect'. If you chose not to invite a relative because you know he will arrive drunk, as opposed to making this choice without considering their character or behavior does not take away from your sovereignty.

Some members of your family show up, some do not, they have a free will. The one who planed the reunion decides who can come, this will not negate the other family members freewill or say in the matter. What if family members do not wish to come and reply to your invitation with insults? Jesus told a similar parable in Matthew,

Then he said to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they who were invited were not worthy. - Matthew 22:8

Predestination means that God has decided the destiny of both the saints and unbelievers. It does not mean that people will be forced into the wedding or refused entrance without out any consideration of their behavior. Predestination also means that God has decided the destiny of the nations. Yet, this too is affected by both our individual and corporate behavior.

At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. - Jeremiah 18:7-10

In another example Rehab did not suffer the punishment that God predetermined for Jericho because of her behavior. Where do any passages say that we have no choice in our evil behavior? How about this one?

And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. - Exodus 7:3

If you use this verse by itself, it appears that Pharaoh had no choice but to have a hard heart. Yet there are other passages to look at.

But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. - Exodus 8:15

***

And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.
- Exodus 8:32

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And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. - Exodus 9:34

So, did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Or, did Pharaoh harden his own heart? Let’s look at a few more passages.

And the magicians of Egypt did so [turned water into blood] with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them [Arron and Moses]; as the LORD had said. - Exodus 7:22

This passage teaches that it was Pharaoh’s behavior, or occultic practices, that hardened his heart. Romans 1:21-28 teaches something similar.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [...] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness [...] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: [...] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. - Romans 1:21, 23-24a, 25-26a, 28a

It was certainly God who designed rebellion and witchcraft to harden their hearts; yet, Paul said the choice to be rebellious and practice witchcraft was their own. Now back to Pharaoh,

 [Speaking to Pharaoh] For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. - Exodus 9:15-16

***

Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? - 1 Samuel 6:6

Do these passages say that God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Or could God have picked a person who was already evil and promoted him to be the king of Egypt, “for this cause have I raised thee up”, so that He could show us his power?

A closer look at Romans 9:6-24

This is the main passage on which the doctrine of predestination rests. You can see several statements in this passage that are used to teach predestination:

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? - Romans 9:6-24

The argument for Calvin's predestination assumes that God unconditionally chooses to save, or condemn, men according to His whim. But Paul was not talking about an individual’s salvation in this passage; he was he talking about how God is dealing with Israel. The chapter starts out with:

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; - Romans 9:1-4

In fact, Romans chapters 9 through 11 are talking about how God is dealing with Israel. And even though they are Gods elect, they could be cutoff based on their behavior.

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
- Romans 11:17-23

Note that they were cut off for their behavior (unbelief), they were not preordained to unbelief. What about the passage Romans 9:11-13?

(For the children [Jacob and Esau] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. - Romans 9:11-13

Again this passage speaks to the nation of Israel and Edom, the children of Jacob and Esau. It is clear if you read the Book of Genesis, Esau himself never served his brother Jacob.  As far as God saying “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”, those words were not written before they were born, but centuries later after both of them had died. If you read that passage in Malachi, you will see that the prophet is still speaking about the two nations.

In Romans 9:15 when God says He will have mercy on whom He will, Calvin's version of predestination assumes that this means God will unconditionally send some people to heaven and others to hell. It is true that God can do whatever He wants; but reading this passage the context, does it say that this is what He wants to do?

A closer look at Ephesians chapter 1

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, - Ephesians 1:3-5

When Paul says that God has chosen us, does this mean ‘us verses them’ or did Paul say  ‘us’ because he himself and those he was writing to were both saved? When Paul said “chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” he immediately explains what that means, God predestined, “that we should be holy and without blame”. The rest of the epistle admonishes us to do just that, nowhere does Paul teach that we have no choice in the matter.

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. - Ephesians 1:11-12

The same question can be asked again a few verses later; did Paul say we are predestined, thus we have no choice in this matter? Or, did Paul say that we (those who have obtained an inheritance in Christ) were predestinated to be to the praise and glory of God? We can agree that God predestined where His saints and the unbelievers would spend eternity and that this was decided before the foundation of the world. However, these verses do not say that we have no choice on whether we will be counted among his saints or the unbelievers.

How can we reconcile predestination with free moral agency?

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. - Proverbs 16:9 

A man's heart devises his way (free moral agency), but the LORD directs his steps (the absolute sovereignty of God). While we do have freewill, we do not control our destinies.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.  - Ecclesiastes 9:11

Often, what appears to be “time and chance” is really God directing our steps.  We may choose to do something good or bad today, whether we succeed or not and what will eventually become of us, is up to our sovereign God. God has predestined the future of both saints and sinners. He can do this and still give us free moral agency.

Why is the topic of predestination important?

First, Calvin’s version of predestination discourages evangelism. Many Calvinists do not evangelize because they believe a person predestined to be saved, will be saved. And if the person was predestined to hell, evangelizing him will not make any difference anyway. Yet what saith the Scripture?

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. - Daniel 12:3

Second, it can become an excuse not to walk on the narrow path. As we go through the struggles that the apostle Paul talks about in Romans chapter 7, many may become discouraged believing that they were not predestined to be saved.

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  - Romans 7:15-16

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For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  - Romans 7:18-19

How much better it would be if the time spent teaching predestination was used to teach those who are struggling how to persevere. Those who are familiar with Calvinism know he teaches a "Perseverance of the Saints". However, he means that the saints will persevere, thus (I suppose) there is no need to teach them how. However, Paul admonished in all his letters that the need to persevere was ours.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, - 1 Thessalonians 2:11

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Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. - 2 Timothy 4:2

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But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. - Hebrews 3:13

See our study on Eternal Security for a more complete list of Scripture passages teaching the need to persevere. Calvin's doctrine "The Perseverance of the Saints" is very different as he teaches that the elect were irrevocably chosen before the foundation of the world, thus those who are saved are eternally secure. So how do Calvinists explain Christians who have backslid? Well, they were never saved. If you have ever known someone who used to love Jesus and now has turned his back on Him, you understand the dilemma. Rather than having eternal security, we have insecurity until we die as nobody can know if they are saved. Not that it makes a lot of difference, there is nothing that a Calvinist can do (if he is not one of the elect) anyway.

Putting it all together:

If you can take the time to Examine the Doctrine of Eternal Security, it will show how God expects us to persevere and like this study it will show that the choice to persevere is ours. We decide if our names will be blotted out of the Book of Life. Let us put away every excuse, we have a decision to make.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  - Joshua 24:15

If you have never made the decision to serve the Lord and you would like to know where you can spend eternity (the choice is yours) please take our Two Question Test.

To the only wise God be praise through the Lord Jesus Christ forever, amen.