Does the Bible Teach Predestination?

 

COPYRIGHT ©2012 - James M. Frye

All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.

 

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Introduction

Does the Bible teach predestination? I have discussed this issue with many over the years and often people will tell me that they don’t believe the Bible teaches predestination. When I hear someone say that, I will often ask them about the following verses.

Eph. 1:4-5 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,

Eph. 1:11 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:

Rom. 8:29 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.

Rom. 8:30 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.

Clearly, the Bible does teach predestination. Everyone who believes the Bible must acknowledge this. A person may not yet understand “what” the Bible teaches regarding predestination, but if they are honest they must acknowledge that the Bible does teach it.

In this study, we will be looking to scripture to see what the Bible teaches regarding this subject. To those of us who are Bible-believing Christians, it will always be our goal to believe whatever the Bible teaches on a matter whether it lines up with the teachings of men (preachers, teachers, and churches) or not.

Please read this article in its entirety, as some of the most important points will not be made until much later on in the article. May God lead each of us into all truth!

What is Predestination?

Since the Bible does teach predestination, that naturally leads to our next question. What is predestination? Before we move on to see what all the scriptures teach us regarding this doctrine, there are a number of things we can learn from the passages mentioned in the introduction.

I. Predestination is something that God does. In all four of the previous verses, it is God who does the predestinating. Predestination is an act of God (not man).

II. It is people (not events) that are predestinated. Notice the pronouns used in these verses (“us”, “we”, “whom”, and “them”). It is people who have been predestinated.

III. Predestination involves God choosing certain people.

Eph. 1:4-5 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,

IV. These people were predestinated to be adopted as God’s children (saved).

Eph. 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

V. Predestination took place before the foundation of the world.

Eph. 1:4-5 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, 

Predestination involves God choosing certain people to be His children (be saved) before the foundation of the world.

VI. We must understand the meaning of the word “predestination”. The word predestination is made up of two parts. The root word “destination” refers to a place or state to be arrived at. The prefix “pre” (meaning before or beforehand) indicates that God predetermined these individuals’ destination beforehand.

That destination, as we saw above, is being adopted as a child of God (salvation).

Eph. 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

We will present a more complete definition of predestination later on, but based upon what we have learned so far, we could begin with the following preliminary definition.

Predestination is an act of God whereby He chose certain people to be adopted as His children (be saved) before the foundation of the world.

 

What Else Does the Bible Teach About Predestination?

The following is a list of things the Bible teaches which relate to the matter of predestination.

 

1. In his unregenerate, lost state, unsaved man is spiritually blind and cannot understand the things of God nor even see (perceive) things concerning the kingdom of God.

1 Cor. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The “natural man” is the unsaved man, the man who hasn’t been born again (regenerated) by the Spirit of God. What does this passage say about him? It says that he will not receive the things of the Spirit of God (including the gospel – 1 Cor. 1:18) but thinks they are foolish. It says that he can’t (is unable to) understand them. How, then, could an unregenerate person repent and believe the gospel? They can’t. Not unless God first regenerates them. 

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Once again we see that unless a man is first born again (regenerated), that person cannot even see (perceive/understand) things concerning the kingdom of God. This isn’t talking about literally seeing with physical eyes, for Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that can’t be seen with physical eyes (Luke 17:20-21). The word “see” here is used in a spiritual sense and refers to “seeing through the eyes of faith” (2 Cor. 4:18). So, according to this verse, unless a person is first regenerated by the Spirit of God, that person cannot understand the gospel and the things concerning the kingdom of God (the gospel is about the kingdom of God – Matt. 24:14).

Eph. 4:17-18 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

 

2. Unless God draws a person (savingly), no man can (has the ability) to come to Christ in salvation.

 

John 6:44 -- No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Notice, that just like two of the verses above, this verse uses the word “can”. It says that no man “can” come. It doesn’t say that no man “may” come. Most of us will remember the distinction between these two words from our school years. A student would raise their hand in class and say, “Can I go to the bathroom?” to which the teacher would sarcastically reply, “I am sure you can.” The student then realizing that they had used incorrect English would then ask, “May I go to the bathroom?”

The word “may” has to do with permission, but the word “can” has to do with ability. This verse tells us that no man can (has the ability) to come to God in salvation unless God draws him. And as we shall see in a later point, God doesn’t draw/call everyone.

It is at this point that those who reject the Bible’s teaching on predestination often begin to mischaracterize and misrepresent the teaching. They paint the picture that predestination would mean that there would be huge numbers of poor lost souls who want to be saved but can’t because God won’t let them. Nothing could be further from the truth and that is not what the Bible teaches about predestination.

The Bible not only teaches that a person cannot come to God unless God first draws them. It also teaches that these same people will not come because they don’t want to.

John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 

The above verse tells us that those who don’t come to Christ in salvation don’t come because they will not come. It is not something they are “willing” to do (more about this in point 4). As we saw from scripture earlier, in their lost state unregenerate men think that the things of the Spirit of God (including the gospel) are foolish. Because of the ignorance that is in them and the blindness of their heart, they can’t see the truth and, therefore, they willfully reject it.

John 6:65 -- And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Once again, no man can come to God in salvation unless it “were” (already, previously) given by God for him to do so. This statement would make absolutely no sense if God had given all men to come to Him savingly (as many teach). As we shall see in our next point, God doesn’t call all men savingly.

 

3. God does not call all men savingly.

 

Rom. 8:28 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.

If there are some who are “the called”, doesn’t that imply that there are others who are not called?

1 Cor. 1:26-29

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

The above passage clearly states that God doesn’t call all men savingly. Since no man can come unto God in salvation unless God does call him, this demonstrates the truthfulness of predestination.

 

 

4. God's choice in choosing/electing some unto salvation while passing over others has nothing to do with the will of man.

 

Rom. 9:15-16 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.

The context of the above passages has to do with predestination and election (Rom. 9:11). We will be looking at Romans chapter 9 more completely in point 10, but for now notice that scripture says that God’s choice in electing some to salvation and not others is not based upon the will of man.

Many in our day teach that God looked out into the future to see who would choose to believe in Him and then chose them to be saved. This passage clearly refutes such a teaching. God’s predestinating and electing some to salvation has nothing to do with the will of man. That wouldn’t be “pre-destination but post-destination. It wouldn’t be God determining people’s destination beforehand, but man determining his own destination and God simply rubber stamping the choice. That is not only contrary to the teaching of scripture, but also relegates the sovereign God of the universe to the role of a common clerk.

John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

This passage has to do with regeneration (being born again). It tells us that regeneration has nothing to do with the will of man but is the act of a sovereign God. People in our day write books or pamphlets about “How to be born again” or “What you must do to be born again”. But according to scripture, regeneration in the new birth is something that God does - not man.

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you …

According to Jesus, it is God’s choice (not man’s) that comes first. Men do indeed choose to believe in Jesus but only after Jesus had first chosen them.

 

5. The Bible says that people believe (and are saved) because they were chosen by God - NOT that they were chosen by God because they would believe.

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

They were ordained to eternal life before they believed.

John 10:26-27 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

These people did not believe because they were not His sheep. It doesn’t say they were not His sheep because they didn’t believe. The fact that they are not a sheep (one of the elect) came before, and is the reason why they did not believe.

 

 

 

6. God brings people savingly to Himself by opening their heart (thus renewing their wills) that they might believe. Thus both faith and repentance are gifts from God.

Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

Why did Lydia believe the gospel when Paul preached it unto her? This verse says that she believed because God opened her heart. This opening of the heart refers to regeneration (being born again) which we discussed earlier. God opened her heart “that” (in order that) she would believe. If God had not opened her heart, she would not have believed.

2 Tim. 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

God must give people repentance or they will not repent. Scripture teaches that both repentance and faith are gifts from God.

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Why doesn’t everyone repent and believe the gospel? Not every one repents and believes because God has not chosen to give faith and repentance to all.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

 

7. All men who are called of God will come unto Him in salvation. All of the elect will be saved and none will be lost.

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

As we saw in point number 2, no man can come unto God in salvation except those whom God has given to come to Him. This passage speaks of these same people – the elect. It is they whom the Father has given unto the son. And all of them shall come to Christ in salvation. And those who come will not be cast out.

Do you see the significance of this?

1. No one can come to God in salvation except those who were given to come.

2. God has not chosen to call everyone.

3. All those who are called shall come to Him (in salvation).

4. Those who come shall not be cast out (no one loses their salvation).

So who will become saved? – Those, and only those, who were predestinated by God unto salvation. 

Rom. 8:28 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.

Rom. 8:29 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.

Rom. 8:30 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.

Notice the unbreakable links in the above chain. There are a people referred to as “the called” (the elect). These are those whom God has chosen to call savingly before the foundation of the world.

1. All of the elect (the called) God foreknew (chose to know savingly)

2. All those whom He foreknew, He did also predestinate.

3. All those whom He did predestinate, He also called (chose to call in time).

4. All those whom He called, He also justified (chose to save in time).

5. All those whom He justified, He also glorified (determined to give an immortal resurrection body in which to dwell eternally with God).

Do you see it? Only those who are called are foreknown and predestinated. And all that are predestinated get saved and make it to glory - Them and only them. There are none who were called or foreknown except those who make it to heaven - none.

 

8. Those who don’t truly believe in Christ don’t believe because they were appointed by God to destruction.

1 Pet. 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

Why do some stumble at the word and not believe and obey it? They do so because they were appointed thereunto. God does not make them sin but rather gives them over to their own sinfulness. By choosing not to grant them repentance and faith, God appointed them to condemnation.

Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Once again, these false teachers who will be condemned were of old “ordained” (chosen) to that condemnation. There are two parts to predestination: election and reprobation. The two passages above are speaking of reprobation.

Election is “active”, but reprobation is “passive”. In election, God “actively” chose the elect to be saved. He then, actively regenerates/draws/calls them unto Himself (savingly) in time. But in reprobation, God chose to pass over the non-elect. He instead gives them over to their own blindness and hardness of heart (Rom. 1:28) thus allowing them to reject Him and go to their just condemnation.

God is not obligated to save anyone. He could have chosen to not elect and predestinate anyone to salvation, but could have justly sent everyone to hell. However, in a demonstration of his sovereign mercy, God chose to save some. 

Rom. 9:21-23 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,

We will see more about this in point 10.

 

9. Since none of these things are of man, God alone gets the glory for people's salvation.

1 Cor. 1:26-27,29 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; … That no flesh should glory in his presence.

1 Cor. 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 

10. The teaching of Romans chapter 9.

Let’s take a brief look at verses 11-24 of this chapter.

Rom. 9:11-13

11 (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;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

According to the above passage, God sovereignly chose, according to His purpose in election, to set His (saving) love upon Jacob and not upon Esau - before they were born.

Paul then anticipates man's sinful reaction to this:

Rom. 9:14-15

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

15 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.

If Paul was teaching that God chose people based upon His foreseeing they would choose Him, why does he anticipate this objection here? After all, who would accuse God of unrighteousness in doing that? No, this objection only makes sense if we correctly understand what Paul is saying here. God sovereignly chose, according to His purpose in election, to set His (saving) love upon Jacob and not upon Esau - before they were born.

And man sinfully cries out, "That would make God unrighteous!" But Paul says that God is not obligated to have mercy upon anyone but is rather free and sovereign to either have (or not have) mercy upon whomsoever He wills. And God chose (elected) to have mercy upon Jacob and not upon Esau. Some get mercy, some get justice, no one gets injustice.

Rom. 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Please read the above verse carefully. Election (God's choosing of some to salvation) has nothing to do with the will of man (as in God looking into the future to see who would “will” to choose Him). Salvation is proclaimed to whomsoever will but, left unto himself and apart from regeneration, sinful man will never choose God (Rom. 3:11).

Rom. 9:17-18

17 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.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

God has sovereignly chosen to have mercy on some, but the hearts of others He has chosen to harden (passively give them over to their own hardeness).

Rom. 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Paul once again anticipates man's sinful reaction to this. What is Paul's answer?

Rom. 9:20-21

20 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?

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Does God not have the right? Does He not have the right to take some from among the lump of lost humanity and make them vessels unto honor by shedding His grace and mercy upon them, all the while passing over others and leaving them in their sins as vessels of dishonor? Of course He does! Many today would rebelliously seek to forbid God this right, but it is His none-the-less. And why has God chosen to do this?

Rom. 9:22-24

22 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:

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

That is why He did it.

 

 

Common Objections

Despite what the scriptures say, some will object to the Bible’s teaching regarding predestination. In this section we examine a few of the more common objections.

 

Objection #1 – Some say that predestination involved God looking out into the future to see who would believe in Him and that predestination is simply God choosing those whom He knew would choose Him.

Such a view can’t be reconciled with the scriptures.

A. It is a violation of almost every scriptural teaching regarding this matter which has been set forth in this article.

In this article, we have presented ten points of doctrine regarding predestination and have backed each with scriptural proof. The incorrect belief that God looked out into the future to see who would believe in Him and then predestinated them - is contradicted by most every point. A person can’t hold to such a view without being forced to deny or explain away what scripture teaches in all these places. Not only that, they must be able to explain how all these scriptures do not mean what they clearly say.

B. Such a view is based upon a misinterpretation of how the words "foreknew" and “foreknow” are used in regard to the Bible's teaching on predestination.

Rom. 8:29 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.

What was it that God foreknew in this passage? Where does it say that God foreknew certain events would come to pass (as in which people would believe in him)? It doesn’t. Where does it speak of "foreseen faith"? It doesn't. It does not say that God foreknew future "events" at all. It says that God foreknew people (“whom He did foreknow”).

Rom. 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,

It is people that God foreknew, not events, not faith, but people. In Scripture the words "know" and "knew" often speak of a close personal intimate relationship (Gen. 4:17). When it comes to salvation and predestination, the word is used the same way. God “knows” people savingly.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Matt. 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Luke 13:25-27 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

1 John 2:3-4 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

2 Thess. 1:7-8 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

In each of the above passages the word "know" is used in a saving way. There are some whom God chose to know savingly before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). These are the elect (Rom. 8:33). These are those whom are chosen unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). These are those whom God foreknew (Rom. 8:29). The elect are those whom God chose to know savingly before the world began. These are those "whom he did foreknow". Those whom God does not know, and never knew, are the non-elect.

 

Objection #2 – Some say that God desires to, and is trying to, save everyone, therefore, predestination can’t be true.

As we have already seen, predestination is true and scripture teaches much about it. So a person who rejects the doctrine of predestination is forced to deny or explain away what the Bible teaches in many places. But what about this idea that God is trying to save everyone? Does such a view line up with the scriptures?

Scripture makes it clear that God is not trying to save everyone. Let me offer three passages of scripture as proof of this fact (there are many others).

Passage Number 1:

John 12:37-40

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,

40 He [God] hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

 

 

Doesn't this passage say?

1. Although Jesus did many miracles, certain people didn’t believe on him because the arm of the Lord had not been revealed to them.

2. Therefore, they could not believe.

3. Because God blinded their eyes.

4. God hardened their heart.

5. God did this so they would not see (the truth).

6. Nor understand (the truth).

7. God did this to prevent them from being converted (saved).

Think about it. If God were trying to save everyone, why would He ever harden a person's heart or blind a person’s eyes to the truth?

 

Passage Number 2:

Romans 11:4-8

4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I [God] have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

Doesn't this passage say?

1) God reserved 7,000 people who otherwise would have worshiped Baal (not because they didn’t worship Baal).

2) This was due to election.

3) The elect obtained (salvation).

4) The rest didn’t because they were blinded by God.

5) God gave them the spirit of slumber.

6) God gave them eyes that they should not see.

7) God gave them ears that they should not hear.

 

Passage Number 3 : Mark 4:11-12

11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

12 That [in order that] seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest [unless] at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Doesn't this passage say?

1) Jesus hid the truth from people.

2) He did it so that they would not see.

3) So they would not hear.

4) So they would not understand.

5) So they would not be converted (saved).

6) So that their sins would not be forgiven them.

Considering the three passages listed above, how can anyone suggest that it is God's plan to try and save everyone? Don't these passages say that God blinded people and hardened their hearts so that they would not believe and be saved? Yes, they do.

 

But doesn’t 2 Peter 3:9 say that Jesus is trying to save everyone?

No, it doesn’t. Let’s look at the passage.

2 Pet. 3:9 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.

First, let's notice what the passage doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that Jesus is not willing that "any man who ever lived" should perish. This passage specifically states who it is that Jesus does not will to perish. It says that the Lord is not willing for any of “us” (the elect) to perish. After all, that is who Peter is writing to:

2 Pet. 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

Peter is writing to a specific group of people (the saved).

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Peter refers to the people to whom he is writing as being “called”. As we saw earlier in this article, the called is a reference to “the elect”, those whom God has chosen to call savingly.

In his previous epistle, Peter addressed these same people as:

1 Pet. 1:2 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.

Peter was writing to the elect. It is the elect that Jesus is longsuffering toward, not willing that any of them should perish. In context, Peter is explaining why it is taking so long for Jesus to come. His answer is that He still has some people to save first (the elect), and He is not willing for any of them to perish, so He can’t come back yet (until after they are saved).

So, understanding the context, we see that this verse is talking about the elect.

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

 

But, what about 1 Tim. 2:3-4, doesn’t it say that God is trying to save everyone?

No, it doesn’t. Let’s look at the passage.

1 Tim. 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

To whom do the words "all men" refer? Some say that it refers to every single person on earth without exception. But this can’t be true, for we have already demonstrated from numerous scriptures that it is not God's plan to save everyone. 

One of the most important principals in interpreting scripture is that since all of God's word is true (Ps. 119:160), we may not interpret any scripture in such a way that would cause it to conflict with what the scriptures say elsewhere (Matt. 4:7). So, we can’t interpret 1 Tim. 2:3-4 to be saying that God is trying to save everyone when the scriptures say clearly in other places that He is not. We simply can’t interpret this verse in a way which would cause it to conflict with all of the other scriptures that have been set forth in this article (which such an interpretation would).

So, what is 1 Tim. 2:3-4 saying? Does the word "all" in scripture always refer to all men without exception? What saith the scriptures?

The following was written by a man named Tony Warren. I am reusing it with permission. Some reformatting has been done for emphasis.

Begin Tony>>>>> ------------------

The question is, does ALL always mean ALL in the bible "OR" is it qualified? Does ALL always mean every single man without exception, or is what it covers defined by Bible context and reference? The "TRUTH" is that the word "ALL" is qualified in the scriptures. for example:

Mark 1:5 "And there went out to him ALL the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem and were ALL baptized in the river Jordan"

Certainly not every single man, woman, and child (bar none) in the Land of Judea went to get baptized that day, correct? the "ALL" there is qualified.

John 8:2 "And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and ALL the people came unto him; and he sat down and taught them."

Again, the "ALL" is qualified. Even though it says "ALL" it doesn't mean that every single person came to listen to Jesus, the all is qualified.

Acts 22:15 "For thou (Paul) shalt be a witness unto ALL men of what thou hast seen or heard."

 

Matthew 10:22 "And ye shall be hated of ALL men for my name's sake."

 

John 3:26 "And they came unto John and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and ALL men came to him."

In these scriptures we see "CLEARLY" that the word all does not in these instances mean every man without exception. Either the word "ALL" is being used in a sense of a hyperbole, referring to a very large number but not everyone without exception, or it is being used to speak of ALL men without distinction. And so to say "ALL" always means all or should be understood to mean all in scripture is a misnomer.

<<<<< End Tony ----------------------------

Let take a look at the first of those passages.

Mark 1:4-5 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

If we take the word “all” in this passage to mean every single person without exception, then this passage would be saying that every single person in Jerusalem and Judaea was baptized by John the baptist. What is the problem with this? The problem is that Scripture contradicts such an interpretation elsewhere.

Luke 7:29-30 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. 

The Pharisees and lawyers (who were from Jerusalem and Judaea) were not baptized by John. But Scripture says that all in Jerusalem and Judaea were. So, “all” does not always refer to all men without exception regardless of what men may teach. In Mark 1:4-5 it is used in the sense of hyperbole, referring to “a large number of the people” from Jerusalem and Judaea. In other words, the vast majority of those people were baptized by John.

Now, let’s get back to 1 Timothy chapter 2.

If a person is going to insist that the phrase "all men" in 1 Timothy 2 refers to all men everywhere without exception, they are going to have a number of problems. First, they will have to re-interpret every passage in Scripture that uses the phrase "all men" in the same way (including the ones listed previously).

Secondly, they will have to explain how all of the verses we have seen in this article don’t actually mean what they say. For example, if 1 Tim. 2:3-4 is really saying that God is trying to save all men everywhere - Then why does God harden men's hearts so that they cannot believe and be saved? And that is just one point of scripture. There are dozens.

Thirdly, they will have to yank the verse from its very context in order to keep such a interpretation. Let me explain.

Let's look at this passage in its context.

1 Tim. 2:1-4

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

The phrase "all men" occurs twice in the passage. However we interpret the first usage of the phrase, to be consistent, we must also the second usage the same way. So what does "all men" refer to in verse one? This verse tells us that we are not only to pray for fellow believers, but also for kings, and for all those in authority. In other words we are to pray for "all types of men", not just for our fellow believers.

If "all men" in this passage doesn't refer to "all types of men" but rather refers to every single man everywhere without exception, then we had better get busy because we have a lot of praying to do. God would be commanding each of us to pray for every single individual on the earth. And not to do so, would be to a sin of disobedience to God. Such an interpretation is nonsensical.

Since "all men" in verse 1 clearly refers to "all types of men", it must refer to the same thing in verse 4. And that is consistent with the teaching of the rest of Scripture. God does indeed desire to save "all types" of men. From kings, to galley slaves, to Jews, to gentiles - God saves people from all sorts of different backgrounds. He is no respecter of persons.

 

Objection #3 – Some say that if predestination is true, then there is no reason to witness for everyone who is going to be saved will be saved anyway.

First, we are to witness because God has commanded us to do so (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; etc. etc.). To not witness is to disobey God. Not only that, it is to be ashamed of Christ and be denied by Him at His second coming (Mark 8:38; Matt. 10:33).

Why does God want us to witness and preach the gospel? God wants us to preach the gospel because He has not only ordained “that” certain men (the elect) would be saved, but He has also ordained “the method” by with they would be saved (believing the gospel).

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway 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:

God chose to save the elect “through” their believing the gospel. The second verse isn’t saying that God chose them “because” they believed the gospel (Any more than it could be saying that He chose them because they were sanctified by the Holy Spirit. They would not have had the Holy Spirit before they were saved). This verse is saying that God had, from the beginning, chosen the elect to salvation and to bring them to that salvation “through” faith (belief in the truth).

The same God who ordained the salvation of the elect also ordained the means by which that salvation would come to pass. He is sovereignly in control of the whole process from beginning to end. Since we don't know which people are of the elect and which aren't, we are to witness to everyone and leave the results to God. God can, and sometimes does turn even the hardest of hearts unto Himself (Prov. 21:1; 1 Tim. 1:15).

Will all of the elect be saved? Yes, but that is not a reason to not witness but rather the very reason for which we do.

2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

 

Summary and Conclusion

As has been demonstrated in this article, the Bible does indeed teach predestination. As a matter of fact, it has a lot to say about it. Toward the beginning of the article, we began with the following preliminary and incomplete definition of predestination.

Predestination is an act of God whereby He chose certain people to be adopted as His children (be saved) before the foundation of the world.

Based upon what we have learned from God’s word in this article, we can now offer a more complete definition of predestination.

Predestination is an act of God which took place before foundation of the world, whereby He sovereignly chose, from among the lump of lost humanity (all of whom would never come unto him and be saved), to open the hearts of some (the elect / vessels of mercy) regenerating them and giving them a new heart so that they would willingly come to him in faith to be saved. Others (the non-elect / vessels of wrath) God sovereignly chose to pass over and leave unto their own sinfulness that they might reject Him and go to their just punishment (reprobation). Some get mercy, some get justice, no one gets injustice.

We have seen that God’s choice in electing some instead of others has nothing to do with anything in man – not works (Rom. 9:11), nor foreseen faith (John 10:26), nor the will of man (Rom. 9:16). The only thing that scripture tells us as to “why” God chose some and passed over others is simply that it was His will and according to His purpose to do so.

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:11 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:

Predestination is completely and entirely the act of a sovereign God. The question of “why” God chose some and not others rests in the secret and eternal counsels of God.

 

Isaiah 46:9-11

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

His knowledge and ways are much higher than ours.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

So, we are to believe whatever God has revealed in His word (the Bible) regarding predestination. We are not free to disbelieve or reject it any more than we are free to reject or disbelieve anything else scripture teaches. The Bible is the word of God and God alone (not us) has the final say on what is truth and what is error. His word is to be the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. We dare not set ourselves up as our own “gods” setting in judgment upon God’s word deciding which parts of it we will accept (believe) and which parts of it we will not accept (not believe). As His followers, and as “believers”, we are to believe whatever God’s word teaches.

Will you believe what the Bible teaches about predestination?