WE ARE PREDESTINED
NOTE: This is the text of a recorded message. You may find the video here. (38 minutes)
Have you ever said to someone, “You can’t tell me what to do!”? Maybe you said that to your parents when you were about ready to fly the coop, to test your own abilities. Maybe you have had a child say that to you.
Our individual sense of and desire for freedom feels that if someone tells us what to do, then our freedom is being challenged. We simply do not like to be controlled.
Then we come face-to-face with the biblical doctrine of predestination, and all sorts of problems arise in our thinking.
“Whaddya mean ‘predestination?’” I’m not a puppet! I have free will!
Well, let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about that.
We have been looking at the passage from Ephesians 1:3-14. In that passage, we found eight blessings that have been given to us in Christ.
We have looked at the first two that we have been given—every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, and that we are chosen in Christ. We saw that the heavenly places mentioned in v.3 have more to do with what goes on in our mind than any of the other meanings of heavenly places. For those of you just tuning into this series these can be found on my Youtube channel at dalehill47.
Last week we looked into the second of the eight blessings, which is we are chosen. We saw that we were chosen in Christ before the earth was ever created. We were chosen simply because God wanted us on His team. It has nothing to do with what we will or won’t do once we landed on planet Earth. God chose us …according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, [Eph 1:11b ESV]
This verse also contains the third blessing—PREDESTINATION—, which is also contained in v.5 — [Eph 1:5 ESV] he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
These concepts of being chosen before hand and being predestined usually challenge our minds in various ways, one of which I have already mentioned. They can bring up questions. I believe that questions are a good thing. It shows that we are thinking.
While questions may reveal a certain level of doubt, I do not think that doubt is a bad thing. I believe it reveals a growing faith, a faith that is not stagnant. For instance, last week someone asked a question about being chosen. They saw that essentially, God has chosen everyone to be saved, but not all necessarily respond to that call.
I am sure that the concept of predestination will also bring up questions for us. Please ask them. For those of you viewing this online, whether live or the recording or the article, ask your question in the comments.
So, let’s take look at predestination—what it means, what it involves, how it affects us.
PREDESTINATION—determined in advance by divine will or fate.
In Christian theology, predestination is the doctrine that some or all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul.
There are those who believe that ALL events have been pre-determined by God. Since predestination is mainly promoted by Calvinists, the idea that ALL events are predestined is usually called hyper-Calvinism. The hyper-Calvinist falls down the steps as he is leaving church. He gets up, brushes himself off and says, “I’m glad that’s over with.”
I am not going to get into the process they use for making the claim of every event being predetermined by God, but, much like I showed you last week about God’s foreknowledge, it is derived mainly from man’s logic.
However, there is no denying that predestination is in fact a biblical doctrine. The word is used 6x in the Greek NT. In the ESV that I use, it is translated as predestined 5x and “decreed” once.
The first occurrence is found in Acts 4:28 — to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
This is in the account of Peter and John being arrested by the Sanhedrin for healing the lame beggar at the temple. They then returned to the gathering of believers, told their story, and this was a part of their prayer.
It is in reference to Pilate and Herod turning Jesus over to be crucified. So the apostles believed that the crucifixion was predetermined by God to happen just the way it did.
However, they did not extend this idea of predestination to themselves, for in the next verse we read [Act 4:29 ESV] And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,
If they had believed that EVERYTHING was predetermined by God, they would not have asked for God to grant boldness, but would have thanked God for it already being given.
Again, however, the scriptures are fairly plain as to the purpose of Gods’ plan for us. It does not appear that everything in your life is predetermined to happen. At least, I cannot find any indication in the Bible that such is true.
Explanations of predestination often seek to address the “paradox of free will”, whereby God’s omniscience seems incompatible with human free will. In other words, we accept the doctrine of God’s omniscience—the fact that He knows everything about all things that have ever happened or ever will happen. The logic seems to follow that if He knows everything, and He is all-powerful, then what He knows is what He has determined.
This takes us into philosophical discussions about God’s omniscience. Does His knowledge guarantee the event? If man has free will, can the event be changed? These are great conversation starters, but I cannot find a way to end the conversation. We are dealing with an unrevealed mystery about which we can only speculate. So, whichever side you fall out on, that is probably the correct one.
For me, I feel safest when I stay within the parameters outlined within the Bible and not venture too far beyond that. So, what does the scripture say? Let’s look again at our verse from Eph. 1:5 — he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
When we use the word adoption, we think of an orphan child being adopted by a mother and father, and given the family name. While that is somewhat the concept here, the main thought is that of the “placing of a son,” which comes from the Greek word translated adoption.
In modern terms, the placing of a son, or adoption if you will, is seen in the Jewish celebration of the bar-mitzvah. The bar- and bat-mitzvah are the ceremonial recognition of the coming of age of the Jewish boy or girl. That coming-of-age recognition entitles them to the recognition of adults in the synagogue. They were already a son or daughter of the family, but this is a special recognition.
Therefore, for us, our adoption as sons and daughters is the full recognition of our placement in the family of God. This thought is brought out more fully in Gal 4:1-5 (ESV) 1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
So, to make sure we don’t get confused with this and what has been shared in previous weeks, let me try to state it plainly.
As I showed you a few weeks ago, we are all children of God, but we may not know it or act like it. However, God’s predetermined plan is for you and me to be full heirs of His kingdom. Therefore, we were predestined to be adopted to Himself, as we saw earlier in our verse for the day, Eph. 1:5 — he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Our adoption, our being placed as sons of God, is a part of God’s plan for the ages. However, the full plan has not yet been revealed as John says in his first epistle—Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. [1Jo 3:2 ESV]
In this verse, the word “children” is different from the word for adoption as sons, or even just the word sons. It is the Greek word “teknon” which means “technically speaking.” But, then John goes on to explain how that is all going to change.
He says we are not able to see all of it yet, but when Jesus appears, we will be like Him. We will be able to see Him as He is. (Just as a side note—that word “appears” could take us into things most of us have not yet even considered or thought about. There is some fascinating stuff in the Bible about Jesus when He appears.)
Let’s consider for a moment, though, the thought that we shall see Him as He is. HOW is He? At this moment of time, what does He look like? We don’t know the physical characteristics such as the color of hair or eyes, or how tall or short of frame, and I don’t think that is the point.
The point is that the physical body of Jesus was changed after the resurrection. Remember? He was able to appear and disappear at will. He walked through walls. He ascended into heaven in bodily form while the disciples watched from the ground below.
So, whatever form His other-worldly physical body is now, it is the same form in which we will find ourselves. That is the only way we will be able to see Him.
Paul tells us that our mortal bodies, which are now subject to disease and decay, will be changed to be like the body of Jesus. (Jesus) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. [Phil 3:21 ESV]
We are all familiar with the passage in 1 Corinthians that says we will become immortal — For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. [1Co 15:53 ESV]
Paul puts this all together in his letter to the Romans where he explains what our full adoption entails — [Rom 8:23 ESV] …we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
The comma after “sons” shows that the phrase following is an explanation. The KJV ads the words “to wit” meaning it is a definition. The NLT makes the meaning very plain — [Rom 8:23 NLT] … for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
So, it is when we receive our resurrected bodies that our full adoption takes place. Until then we are in the process of this adoption taking place. It is a process as intimated in Rom. 8:29 — For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Have you ever thought of that? Did you know that Jesus is your older brother? And you are being conformed by the predetermined plan and purpose of God to the image of Jesus. Everything about your life is a part of the process to bring you into His likeness.
Yes. I said EVERYTHING. Everything about your life—the good, the bad and the ugly. Your victories and your failures. Your successes and your sins. Your good times and your bad times. EVERYTHING. Maybe everything, all events in your life have not been predestined by God; but all events are being worked out for your good.
And how do I know that? The same way I know that Jesus loves the little children—the Bible tells me so — And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Rom 8:28 NLT]
So, YES. You have been predestined for good things in God’s kingdom. That hasn’t made you a puppet. It has not taken away your freedom of choice, your free will.
You were chosen to be a part of His family, and predestined to inherit all things. You have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness, including every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Because of this, you should have no problem in giving thanks and praise to Almighty God.