The Question/Argument: The Bible talks about predestination and predetermination. Has God predestined those he will save? How can a good God predetermine who gets saved and who doesn’t?
This is an interesting topic, and I’m not sure there is any ‘correct’ answers because it’s a little bit difficult to pin down what ‘predestination’ or ‘predetermination’ actually means when referred to in Biblical context..
So, to extrapolate on that, when people make the argument that: “God isn’t a good God because he already decided who gets saved and who doesn’t, it’s not even really up to the actual people.”, what they are saying is that according to their understanding of various verses in the Bible that talk about predestination or predetermination (Ephesians 1:4-5, Romans 8:29-30, John 6:44, Acts 13:48, Ephesians 1:11-12, Revelation 13:8, Proverbs 16:4, Matthew 22:14, etc.), God is the one who ‘calls’ and ‘elects’ people to be saved, and He has predestined or predetermined their salvation already. So that means it doesn’t really matter how you live your life or what you do, if God is going to ‘save’ you, it will happen regardless…
This sort of makes sense if you are looking at things from a human perspective of time, however if you take into account that God exists outside of time, that starts to put some holes in this type of logic.
If we are looking at this as someone who believes there is a God, and that the Bible is true, then we believe that God is all knowing (knows past, present and future) and that He doesn’t lie. 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-4 say that God wants everyone to come to repentance, not just a ‘few’ that He chooses. No where in the Bible does it say that God sent Jesus to sacrifice himself for ‘certain’ people. It says He sent Jesus for ALL people (John 3:17 for example).
So how then can God have ‘predetermined’ or ‘predestined’ those that are saved? Well considering He already knows everything past, present and future it’s certainly not difficult to imagine as He knows and has known for all eternity who would and would not accept the gift he offered us and be ‘saved’ as it were.
If a husband and wife are having a baby, and they have had the appropriate tests and scans done to discover the sex of the baby, is it ‘predetermination’ or ‘predestination’ for them to buy items and toys generally suited to a male baby if they know they are having a boy?
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this; is it ‘predetermination’ or ‘predestination’ for God to ‘call’ those He already knows will and have answered Him?
To me this concept seems fairly straightforward, but the whole topic is something people seem to get really hung up on and struggle to come to terms with. The bottom line here though is, as with most things related to God and believing in Him, you have to trust that God knows better than you do, and that your understanding may be lacking.
In my mind its the human concept or understanding of predetermination or predestination that is the issue here. God planning and orchestrating things on this earth and in our lives when He already knows the future is hard to wrap your head around but it has to be taken into consideration. If God knows who will accept Him and who won’t, is it really that He ‘decides’ who gets saved regardless of whether or not He ‘calls’ them? I would definitely say no, I would say it most certainly is us that makes and has made the choice to believe and follow Him.
Something else to consider is that God does not do things without purpose or at random. Why would God ‘call’ a person to Him who he knows/knew would not accept Him? It doesn’t exactly make sense to me (although I’m not claiming to be able to understand God in any way), and would seem to lack purpose. So if you look at it that way, it’s not predetermination in the sense that God is deciding who gets saved and who doesn’t, it’s simply God calling those to Him who he already knows will and have accepted Him.
You can see why I said it’s a bit of a tricky subject, as there are a number of ways you can look at it and I’m not sure if any of them are correct.
Again though, regardless of how well we can try and reason it out or comprehend things, the bottom line is you either trust in God or you do not. One of the greatest things about believing in God (at least for me) is the peace that comes from not having to be concerned with the things of this world, including understanding and knowledge. It doesn’t really bother me that I may not know the correct answer to some difficult questions; God knows and I know that He has my best interests at heart.