Does God choose who is going to be saved? What about the concept of "election"? Is there a plan for life and we're just along for the ride? Everything has already been planned out?
Predestination in the Scriptures (Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11) speaks of God's predestined promises of those who believe in Jesus Christ. The Greek word in the New Testament means, "to limit in advance."
God has marked out and decreed ahead of time what is to take place in salvation history; in other words, the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Repentance and Judgement, Glorification, and Eternal Blessing. Predestination refers to God appointing the manner in which salvation will be metted out on His terms, all bounded by His loving will. It does not refer to God choosing whom He will save and those whom He will condemn.
Further, God has predestined those who are faithful to the work of His Son to receive "the adoption as son...and heirs." The promises and blessings of faith are predestined for the faithful, such as access to God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the privilege of prayer, and the security of an eternal inheritance.
God also predestines the boundaries by which His love can be known. However, He has granted humanity the free-will to resist His grace and His commands. People can choose not to receive the predestined benefits of the promises of God. Likewise, we can choose His love through Christ Jesus. Why else would so many of Christ's parables and teachings have an invitation to "follow," "abide," "repent,” or "come"? God is certainly the author of salvation and He has given humankind the free will to receive or reject it.
"Election" is God’s initiative and purposeful grace in humankind’s salvation. Election is the Father’s choice of man for salvation prior to man’s choice of God to be saved. Salvation is the possibility that has been opened to humanity because of God’s love announced and demonstrated in Christ. The Scriptures reveal the Father as a seeking God. God does elect, He calls, but He does so without force or coersion. In His divine economy, God gives to man the freedom to answer.
Also, the New Testament defines the Christian life as a "calling," a call to Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:18; 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1-2; 2 Peter 1:10). The calling is understood, once again, that God is the initiant. God is the One who acts first in salvation.
If God chooses who will be saved and condemned, then for what purpose did Christ die and for what purpose was He raised? Why would the Christian Church be so enthusiastic about making the exceptional news of God's accepting love through repentance and belief in the Resurrection of Christ known (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 17:22-34)? Why would Jesus tell His disciples to go and make disciples if God had already decided who would and wouldn't be saved? Why would Paul draw so much attention to man’s guilt and such great concern about his need of repentance? Better yet, why did our Lord’s first message start with “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17)
Predestination is about promised blessings to be received now while in an abiding relationship with the Spirit of Christ and to be received in eternity. The concept of His “foreknowledge” is that He had determined the “mechanics,” if you will, of redemption. It is not a teaching about the will of God superceding the will of man. We are not puppets on a string. Not one of us. We choose to receive God's love through repentance (a personal decision in itself) and we choose to follow the Lord. We are not made to. To deny this concept is to deny the invitational nature and wooing character of God toward humanity. He desires to connect and demonstrates this desire in the predetermined sacrifice of His Son. We all have to make a choice in order to receive the predestined blessings and promises of God's love.
It should also be noted that the Lord “calls” people to certain specific tasks or mission purposes. Not everyone receives these calls or commissionings. Special and specific gifts are given to those who, according to God’s view, have the spiritual maturity, human situations, behavorial styles or some other triat that God can use to self-reveal Himself to people groups, churches, cities, or some other venue. His purpose in redemption is bringing man to Himself, and His desire is that “no one should perish” (Matthew 18:14; 2 Peter 3:9). With these things in mind, God chooses to reward those who choose His love through faith rather than choosing who will be redeemed and by default, who will be damned.
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