[Editor’s note: This is a follow-up question to one posted just yesterday from the same gentleman.  The second question was actually dozens of questions–so much that I informed him I will only answer one of them for now, which is the one below.  However, one book recommendation and one scripture reference in my answer only makes sense if you realize there were several other questions.]


In the last sentence of paragraph 4 [of the previous posted question and answer] you state that “predestination in NOT biblical. If so, how do you explain Ephesians 1: 5-6 “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” This is just one of many bible verses that speaks to this topic. Unfortunately, it’s never discussed (as long as I’ve been attending church ) because Christians can’t seem to agree. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why there are between 36,000 and 42,000 different denominations of Christianity.


I strongly suggest you read the book by Paul Copan, “Is God a Moral Monster?”   He addresses nearly all of your criticisms below.  I hate to “duck” questions, but there really are very reasonable answers to all of your questions below.    OK, so here we go on the one question:

If you read my response, what I actually said is that I do not believe in the kind of predestination as proposed by John Calvin.  You took my words somewhat out of context.   I did a class a few years ago for a church conference titled “Predestination.”  At the beginning of the class (which was packed, by the way), I asked, “Who here believes in predestination?”  I was literally the only one in the room who raised my hand.  I told the audience, “How can you read Romans 8-9 and not believe in predestination?”  By the way, I certainly could have added Ephesians 1:5-6.   Here is how I understand this topic.  The primary truth is that we have free will.  God have made us in his image and we are sovereign beings.  God only intervenes in our lives VERY rarely, and when he does, it is always for our benefit.  God does not change red lights to green.  He does not place thoughts in our mind, or if he does it is only VERY rare, if at all.

However, there certainly is a biblical teaching on predestination.  Here is what God has predestined.  He has predestined that we humans have an opportunity for salvation and to have a relationship with him despite the fact that we are sinners who deserve judgment.  As far as I know, all of God’s interferences (technically, this is not a word!) in history (for example at the Red Sea and even 2 Samuel 12:11, as well as with Judas and with the 30 pieces of silver paid to him) were for a specific purpose, which was to prepare the way for God’s plan to save us.  God intervenes in history only VERY rarely, just like he intervenes in our lives VERY rarely.  Why?  Because he gives us choice.  The fact that he gives us choice does not make impossible that he has predestined for all of us the possibility of salvation.  God is way smarter and more powerful than you or I.  I believe that he intervenes just enough to achieve his purpose, for example, by putting prophecies in the mind of the prophets, or by creating circumstances which foreshadow events in the life of Jesus.  All of God’s interventions, I believe, are so that he can offer us salvation.  He intervened in Pharaoh’s life, but Pharaoh still could have repented in the end.  He intervened with Judas, but Judas could have repented in the end as well.  In both cases, he intervened, but he did so in a person who was inclined to some extent to act that way already.

What I absolutely reject is Calvinism, which teaches that God chooses who will be saved and who will be lost.  It makes God the author of both good and evil, which is not biblical.  This is never taught in the Bible (although these people, I will admit, have their verses that they like to use).  It is God’s sovereign will that we have our own sovereign will.  My favorite passage on the topic is Romans 8:29-30.  Actually, your Ephesians passage is my second favorite, but the Romans passage gives us more specific information.  What we are taught is that God does indeed “foreknow” those who will be saved.  This can give us a headache if we think about it, but God sits outside of time, as I understand him.  What Romans 8:29-30 says is that for those whom God foreknew, he predestined their calling, justifying and glorification.  In other words, God has prepared a destiny for everyone (not just for those who choose his offer) that they can be saved, but for those who say yes, the path of their calling, justification and glorification is prepared–predestined.  But God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4).  True, but not all choose to accept his offer.

So, God’s predestination, as I understand it, is so that we would be saved, if we are willing to accept his offer.  I believe that this can be applied to the Ephesians 1 passage you mention.

If you want a good reference on predestination, I suggest “Life in the Son” by Robert Shank.  It is really good.

John Oakes

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