Predestination

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Predestination

Recently I made a trip with my son-in-law to Birmingham, Alabama, where he was to purchase a car. On the way back, I drove the van which got us to Birmingham. As I do when I’m on the road to various places, I started searching through the radio stations for either some Christian music or good sermons, or I listen to various sermons that I have on an MP3 player. I ran across a message by Adrian Rogers. He died a few years back, but there is still a radio ministry that broadcasts his sermons from the past. The sermon was based on Romans 8:28-29. If I recall—but as old as I am my recall mechanism doesn’t work the way it has in the past—the sermon was entitled “Why Good Things Happen to Bad People.” Now that is a catchy little title, which seems to be a take-off on a very popular book entitled “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.’

Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB) If we continue with verses 29 and 30, we see the word “predestined” in each verse.

Adrian was talking about how good God is to us and that the Christian is predestined by God for good things. He made a statement to his listeners that they probably did not understand predestination and neither did he. Now I found that odd because Adrian was a very learned minister of God. So the wheels in my mind started turning over faster and the questions started coming to me. Why did he not understand predestination? What had kept him for all his years as a pastor in Memphis, Tennessee, from developing some understanding of predestination? I’m sure that you can see why I could not find the answers to those questions. I just cannot know what goes on in the mind or heart of a person. I am not God. However I can learn and come to some understanding of “predestination”. So I believed that I needed to share some things I have learned over the past few years of my life with you, the reader. The first thing we must do is to examine the English word as to its meaning, then how that fits the Greek word and lastly to examine it in Biblical context as to it usage. Hopefully these will help us to some understanding of its meaning and use in God’s Holy Word. However, Adrian was right in some sense when he said we don’t understand. Why? Because we cannot know the mind of God. But we need to come to some understanding as He has revealed Himself through His Word.

In the English word, predestination or predestinate, we have basically two words which makes up the composite word, “predestinate”. Pre is considered a prefix meaning “before”. Destinate means to design or appoint. So what I get from the use ot this word is that something or someone has been designed or appointed in the past to a certain point in a future time line. Something was determined to take place before it was to occur. It was determined minutes, years, or ages in the past prior to its occurrence.

Now to the Greek meaning of the of the word, predistinate. If we look at a Greek dictionary such as Strong’s Greek and Hebrew dictionary we find that “predestination” or “predestined” is made up of two Greek words. The first is pro which means “in front of” “prior to” or “before”. The second is the Greek word horizo which means “to mark off in boundaries” or “determine”. Think of this word as where we get the word, “horizon”. A horizon shows us a boundary. We apply this word to viewing the sky as it is related to earth. We see the boundary between them. When these Greek words, pro and horizo, come together in our mind we get a picture of something in the past, distant or not so distant, as having been predetermined to take place at a future point in time. So in summing up, hopefully we can now know in our mind that predestination means that something in the past has been determined to occur at a future point in time. There is the boundary between the past and the future or present. Let’s now look at Romans 8:28-30 to try to get some understanding of the word “predestined” or “predestination”.

God through Paul says that those who love God have been called according to His purpose in verse 28. Note that their love did not cause His calling. His calling was based on His purpose and nothing the believer does. God’s Love was the cause of the calling. God has done the calling and those whom Paul is writing to love Him because they were predestined. Paul tells us this in Eph 1:3-6: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.(NASB) Read intently the words, “to the praise of the glory of His grace. . . “ If you read additional verses you’ll see “the paise of His glory” in verses 12 and 14. It is God who saves us. It is God who before we were born chose us and predestined us. It is God who is to get the glory. His gift to us is a most glorious thing.

In verse 29 we see a continuation of God’s thoughts expressed by Paul in that He (God) foreknew them. There we see two words. “Fore” which means before hand and “knew”. Of course “fore” means before a certain point in time and it comes from the Greek prefix, pro. “Knew” comes from a Greek word , “ginoisko”, which means to know completely or intimately. It does not mean to have data floating around in our head just to be regurgitated on cue but to know absolutely—as in an intimate relationship such as “Adam knew Eve.” The word has the thought that someone had a personal relationship by observing and being involved with another. So when we put those Greek words together we get “foreknow” or “foreknew”. We thus have God intimately being involved with those whom He called before they were born. He knew He was going to call them in their future (speaking of human time)earthly life. We get our English word, prognosis, from the Greek word and we know what prognosis means in the medical field.

We then come to the word predestined or predestinate. Based on the meaning of the Greek word, foreknew, then my understanding of “predestined” is that God in the past (before the foundation of the world) knew intimately those whom He had called and had determined that they would be conformed to the image of His Son—that they would be justified and glorified. In this way of thinking, and I believe that is the way to think about these verses with my whole heart, God performs a work in certain people so that they will love Him and glorify Him. In Isaiah 43:7 we read this: “ . . . everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yes, whom I have made.” And if we read the beautiful Psalm 139 we read about how God knows and forms every aspect of our being and that it is impossible to know God’s mind or the reasons that He does what He does. Maybe Adrian was talking about this when he said he did not understand “predestination”. If so I understand where he was coming from but if he was talking about “predestination” as to what it means in the life of a believer, then I don’t understand because it is very clear in the meaning of what God has done and does in the life of a believer. God in His absolute sovereignty, love, grace, and mercy made (created) us and He determined specifically what would take place in those whom He called. This plan was made before He created us. It is by grace that we are saved and not of ourselves. We cannot perform an act (work) to make all that God has for us or make Him do the things He does in each believer. It is Him alone who predestines, calls, justifies and glorifies.

If I try to put my feeble human mind around all of the above, I cannot understand and know the mind of God but will draw human conclusions to God’s reasoning and motivation. However in fact it is none of my business to determine God’s actions or plans or even try to figure them out other than accept them in my life as His child. He is the creator, I am the created. It is by faith that I must live and be wholly dependent on Him for my existence. Paul says in Romans that anything we do that is not done by faith is sin. Therefore I am left to this. I will accept it on faith and trust my Great God for the outcome. Spurgeon said “Look to Jesus.” There is where the answers lie—in Him who created us. See John 1:1-4.

One other thought and I’ll leave you to ponder God’s predestination. Read Romans 9:10-21 and Eph 1:3-12, my dear friends. Also read Acts 2:23 where Peter in his sermon is talking about Jesus being crucified. He uses the term, foreknowledge. It was God’s plan within His counsel that Christ Jesus be killed by the Jews. Can you find a relationship between foreknowledge as it is used in Acts 2 and foreknew as it is used in Romans 8:29?

If you love God, and I hope you do, you are blessed beyond the mind’s wildest dreams or imaginations. The joy of knowing a God we can trust in all aspects of our life is beyond words to express that joy.

Soli Deo Gloria

Dewey Wise

Aug 14, 2010

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