There are many different Christian denominations: from Southern Baptist, to Primitive Baptist, to Roman Catholic, to Methodist, to Pentecostal, to Presbyterian and all points in between, it seems. All of these different denominations came about because of differences in interpreting the Scriptures. Some of the most common differences of opinion and interpretation occur on doctrines about baptisms, eternal security, and the concept of free will, or man’s choice in the matter of his own salvation. This matter of free will gets directly to the subject of predestination, and the issue of whether God chooses who will be brought to faith in Christ, or whether each man chooses for himself whether he wants to believe in Christ and be saved.
The doctrine of predestination is one of the most controversial and divisive doctrines among Christians. Believers who earnestly desire to know the truth about predestination should be willing to thoroughly and carefully examine the biblical teachings on this subject in order to determine what the word of God teaches us about our salvation in Jesus Christ, and to what extent our own will or decision is involved in our salvation.
All Christians can agree from reading the Bible that there is a Heaven and a Hell, and that those who have not come to faith in Christ during their lifetimes here on earth will spend an eternity in Hell separated from God.
Jesus taught His disciples that relatively few will be saved, and that most will in fact spend eternity separated from God (Matthew 7:13-14). The disagreements begin when we begin to discuss whether man has a say in determining his own salvation, or whether God Himself determines who will be saved and who will be left in their sins.
During our study on predestination, we will look at “both sides of the coin” so to speak. We will consider Scriptures used by those who say the
Bible teaches that man’s own decision either to accept Christ or reject Him is the determining factor in his salvation. And we will also consider
Scriptures used by those who say that God decides who will ultimately come to faith in Christ, and who will be hardened and left in their sins with no hope of salvation.
In our endeavor to determine just what the word of God teaches us on this difficult subject, we will interpret the Scriptures considering the context of the passages in which they appear. We will also consider who is being addressed in these passages, and we will interpret these Scriptures in the light of all the rest of the Scriptures as a whole. When we derive an
interpretation of God’s word that is not contradicted by other passages of Scripture, then we can be confident that we have derived a correct interpretation, and that we have correctly handled the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Later in this book, we will also consider what the Bible teaches about the sovereignty of God in the lives of all men, and in the events that transpire in His creation. We will examine Scriptures that speak of the sovereignty of God in determining the paths that men take during the course of their lives, whether they are believers or unbelievers. We will also see from the Scriptures how God works in the lives of His people to motivate them, sometimes even forcefully overcoming their own wills, in order to make them will and act according to His sovereign will and purpose for His creation.
The Apostle Paul prayed that we as God’s people would grow in our knowledge and understanding of the things of God. Paul wrote: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9). And again Paul wrote: “…we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
Therefore, let us now look diligently into the Scriptures to see what God’s word teaches, so that we may fully understand what God has done for us as recipients of His saving grace.