PREDESTINATION OF AN INDIVIDUAL TO ETERNAL LIFE
While it is true that the Bible speaks of predestination, it never speaks if any person being predestinated to heaven or hell. But this fact does not dissuade some from being extremely dogmatic and teaching that it is in the Bible that God predestines individuals. There are only five instances in the Scripture where the word "predestined" is used. Let's take a look.
Predestine means to mark out beforehand, or to for-ordain that something will happen. The term is erroneously used by many to mean- God, by an eternal decree, has resolved (predestined) from all eternity to save a portion of mankind and to damn all others apart from anything within themselves, to include any foreknowledge of any future faith or obedience. But this is what people say that they think it means. The only thing that really matters is, "does the Bible say these things"?
Upon an unbiased observation of Scripture, we can see that there is not a singular instance where the word "predestination" is used in the context of the salvation of any individual. Now this strange fact may bust the bubble of a few theories, but our objective is to clarify what the Bible has to say about it.
Rom. 8:29-30, states clearly what is predestined; it is that those that are called (a term referring to those who receive the gracious offer of God to salvation) are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, which is sanctification, holiness of character, and not salvation.
In Ephesians 1:5 we are told that from all eternity God "predestined us (believers, Saints (holy ones), see verse one for context) to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself." Notice that this predestined adoption is not to individuals but to a class of people, the "Church," (Us). The means of this adoption is also clear. It is not by some preexistent fatalistic decree, but through Jesus Christ that we are predestined to gain this adoption. Verse 4 clarifies this statement by showing what the plan of God before all time was, " just as He chose us (believers) in Him (Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless (sanctification) before Him in love." Before the foundation of the world, God determined (predestinated, for-ordained) that we would be "chosen" on the basis of faith in the work of Jesus Christ for salvation, resulting in a change of character, from sin to holiness. Verse 11 uses the term "predestination" once again, but is ambiguous as to what the subject of this predestination is. "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will." What is predestined? The individual, or the obtaining of an inheritance? The context of the following two verses lead us to the idea that this purpose is that we should be to the praise of his glory (holiness?) by trusting in Jesus Christ. Ver. 12, 13.
1 Corinthians 2:7 states, "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory." Notice that it is God's wisdom that is predestined to those that believe, and not the predestination that they would believe the wisdom.
Acts 4:28 is the last occurrence of the term in the Holy Scriptures. This passage is simply a statement that that the death of Christ was predestined and did not happen because of the determination of the will of man.
Consider that without a single passage that states clearly that God predestines a single individual to election and reprobation, to heaven or hell, but for every individual to be reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. When it comes to appending ideas on the meaning of words, are we not better served in honoring the consistency of the Scriptures to say that it is the plan of God that we receive salvation (our inheritance) through trusting in Jesus Christ, which is what is predestined for the believers?
A term that only has five occurrences within the Scripture cannot possibly be the cornerstone of the plan and mystery of God concerning salvation, especially when there is not a singular statement that any individual has ever been predestined by God to salvation. With the same facts, it is also apparent that it would be a great error to build an entire theology based upon the predestination of individuals, since by drawing on this unbiblical assumption, one cannot possibly arrive at the truth, and that is Biblical.