Predestination Verses Free Will


There are two sides to the same story telling of our relationship with God. John Calvin taught that because God is absolute sovereign, he can do anything he wants. According to this theory before some people are born God determined them to go to hell while others are determined to go to heaven. The other side of that story is attributed to Aristotle (fourth century BC) and Epictetus (1st century AD and in more recent years a man named Arminius.  The result of their Christian philosophy tells their followers that they have free will in regard to their lives and even in regard to eternity. That means the matter of heaven and hell is the strict result of human determination.

Both of these theoretical documents have positive content. Calvinism reminds us that God can do anything and is not accountable to anyone because he is the sovereign Lord of the universe. This is a remarkable concept to think that the God we serve is so all-powerful there are no restrictions to how he exercises his will. Arminianism or free will reminds us that we are responsible in this life for how we live and that there are consequences to our behavior that can affect ourselves and other people. According to this thinking, we have a God given right to think and act for ourselves.

On the surface both of these are wonderful concepts. In practical application, there are some flaws against each of them because we can become lackadaisical while declaring that since God is in charge, we do not have any responsibility. God has a plan, and we can do nothing about it. These ideas have historically led people to gain respectability while telling others that the flesh is evil and only the soul is holy. Therefore, what is done in the flesh has no consequence.

Now let us see if we can reconcile both of these teachings into practical terms. The Sovereign and Almighty God has created a plan of salvation by which some will avail themselves of heaven and some will choose darkness rather than light. (John 3:19) This means that hell is their final destination. We know by modern mental health research that some people seem not to have a soul or conscience because they have in a narcissistic way put themselves at the center of the universe without regard for any higher authority.

This is the plan by many biblical scriptures that human beings do have free will. In the same chapter of John, verse eighteen God says the condemnation of a person to go to hell is by their own choice because they choose not to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Without an element of free will, many verses of the Bible that pictures God calling men to him would be foolish because having a call is also having free will to accept the call.

Such words as elected, the election, and chosen have lost their original interpretation. Things as well as humans can be elected and chosen. The same concept applies to people that God has selected for specific purposes in a ministry. However, these are important words to help us understand that God created a means through which we can be saved. The Bible specifically teaches that God created a “program” through which people can enjoy fellowship with him. An illustration of this could be the building of a house. It has been specifically designed. It is available to anyone who wishes to come and dine in this house. God’s plan of salvation is available to everyone. (John 3:16) That means whoever comes into the house receives the blessing of fellowship with God. It also means that anyone who rejects coming into the house will lack a fellowship with God. Here is the predestination and free will coming together. Anyone in the house is predetermined to go to heaven and those not in the house are predetermined to go to hell.

Now, this is where we must be very, very careful. We have just said that a person has free will to enter into a predetermined plan of salvation. The misconception that someone could take away from this teaching is that because they have free will, they can also go in and out of the house. This is not true! God did not create a plan that is fluid. Because of his sovereignty, what he did and said is absolute. Therefore, whoever accepts Christ as personal Savior has a predetermined destination of heaven if they truly receive what he offers. We must also remember that to have the faith that is necessary for salvation, that faith is a gift given by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2) No one can say on a whim some morning that he is just going to become a Christian. There must be a solid intent on God’s part and on the believers’ part to have an eternal relationship. We do have a predestined life, that has been originated by God and created by him. Read in the Old Testament for how many times God sought after the Israelites to have a relationship with him. What he offered was a predestined environment and how they responded to that offer was because they voluntarily choose to accept him. Instead of saying environment, it might be best to say God’s Family. I say this because the Bible teaches whoever accepts Christ as Savior becomes a new creation (not creature). (2 Corinthians 5:17) Coming into the experience of salvation results in a person’s spirituality to adhere to God’s leading and blessing. So, God has a family that he pre-determined would be something that we can voluntarily be a part of. Will you accept his invitation to become a new creation like that of when he created the heavens and the earth? Will you recognize that he has a family of believers that are securely endowed with the direction toward heaven? He created it made it possible, but you must be willing to come into what he originated. Will you? The book of Ephesians speaks mightily about this subject.

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