THE PREMISE of Predestination is true is without doubt. It is thoroughly Biblical.* But that it can be watered down by false teachers to the point of being meaningless ; or that it can find such doctrinal extremes by sincere men who want to glorify it, yet attempt such to the point of perversion is also a danger. Thus the need for our taking heed to
IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE but you will very seldom hear the truth of such Bible doctrines as “Predestination” on the radio or television. See footnote below.
SEVERAL YEARS before I was born, Charles Lindbergh made his famous solo night across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Then in 1932 the 20-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was kidnapped and murdered from the family’s new mansion in Hopewell, New Jersey.
At the time, 1932, my father was working at an air-plane factory in California. He was known as one who believed “What is to be will be.” (It seems to me the alternative would be that one must believe, “What is to be won’t be”!) At any rate, he was often ridiculed for his belief. So then when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped, some of his fellow-workers came in to make fun of him, saying, “I suppose God knew that was going to happen before it happened. My father, I think wisely, gave his answer, like “answering a fool according to his folly.” He simply said, “No. God did not know about it until it came out in this morning’s newspaper.”
OBVIOUSLY, we being finite and God being infinite, we cannot fully understand the deep mysteries of God. But He knows all things; He is all-knowing. Omniscient. As He says in Isaiah 46:9-11, “… I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country yea I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass ; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”
Jesus not only says, “I am Alpha and Omega” but explains the meaning, “the beginning and the ending.” Think about it: If God can tell His prophets what is going to happen hundreds and thousands of years before those things are done, don’t you realize that He absolutely MUST have control of all things, and the almighty POWER to overrule things? Otherwise, how could such prophecies come to pass for sure? What a mighty God!
Let us look at an example –
Here are some of God’s predestinating ways. He gave Joseph dreams that took place many years later. But note some highlights. When young Joseph related his dreams to his father and his brothers, it made his older brothers jealous. Yet God not only sees the end from the beginning, but note how He moves, rules and overrules to bring those events and His purposes to pass.
It even says in the Bible, in Psalm 76:10,”Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee : the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain!” So God has the power to allow and the power to restrain. To test Job, He allowed the devil to do many things to Job, but would not allow him to take Job’s life. Even the book of Job depicts the truth of Psalm 76:10. But let us get back to Joseph.
The older brothers being moved by jealousy, they sought to kill him. that is, all of them but Reuben, who influenced them to rather just put him in a pit. There he would have died, but Reuben planned to return to the pit after the other brothers were at other duties, and he was going to lift Joseph out of the pit so he could return home to his father. But God had other plans. In the mean time, the brothers had sold Joseph as a slave to some Midianite merchants who were passing by.
Note two major truths : God is NOT the author of evil or confusion and yet He is in full control to His own glory, Note how the wickedness was on the part of the brothers, out of their innate evil nature, but God used even that to bring GOOD to both beginning tribes of Israel!
God, without being the author of sin and evil, used the opportunity also to eventually teach the brothers of their sin and to humble them, as well as the saving of many physical lives.
In God’s purpose Joseph had to go to Egypt. He had to end up in prison for several years before coming to the attention of the mighty Pharaoh. By that means, long story short, Joseph became second in command under the Pharaoh over all Egypt. Thus saving not only the nation of Egypt from vast starvation, but saving his own family which was the beginning of national Israel. And later, after the long famine had started, and after Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, they were frightened and trembling at the thought of what he might do to take revenge for the sin they committed against him. Though God used it all, they were still guilty of the wrong-doing. So Joseph told them, “Now therefore be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither for God did send me before you to preserve life. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”(Genesis 45 : 5-7) Then many years later just after the father Jacob had died, the brothers still thought Joseph might retaliate since their father was gone, but he told them,
“Fear not for am I in the place of God? But as for you, Ye thought evil against me ; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50 : 19-20)
No part of God’s plan was haphazard or by chance. God was behind all, overruling, controlling in order to bring His higher purposes to pass. A God who could not or would not predestinate, overrule and control could not do that. He would be but a weak God of chance, dependent on the whims of men.
Now look into the New Testament. The greatest evil in all history, by all mankind, is the slaying and crucifixion of the Christ, the Anointed of God, the very Son of God, God manifest in the Flesh. Yet Paul tells us in Acts 22-23,
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracle s and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know, Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
So we see again that God used evil in men for His own overruling purposes, leaving man still guilty before Him and bringing glory to HIMSELF as His own will is accomplished. Can we fathom it? Even believers with His Spirit can only fathom it to a very small degree. Great are the mysteries of both Godliness and of Iniquity. As they say in the modern vernacular, we can’t “unpack” it, or we can’t “wrap our minds around it” fully..
THE PERVERSION OF PREDESTINATION
But then where does the PERVERSION of Predestination come in? Just here, so listen closely: Some believe and teach predestination in such a way that leads them to justify and excuse their own sins and failures. For example, if there is something that obviously should have been done but a “sin of omission” kept that person from doing what was a human duty, he might say, “Oh well, if it had been predestinated, I would have done it.” Since God is going to get glory even from the wrath of man, then my failure or even my disobedience will glorify Him just as much as my obedience would have.” This is also hiding your “sins of commission” behind a Bible doctrine, perverting it, and trying to make it a thing for which it was not designed by God. Hiding sin and failure behind predestination, as if blaming God for your sin and failure, is a false doctrine and makes a mockery of our holy God. Can you imagine Joseph’s brothers in this way excusing their sin they had suffered under?
As for the word “predestinate” itself, we find it in one place in the Bible. Romans 3:29 – “For whom He did foreknow, He also did PREDESINATE to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate them He also called and whom He called them He also justified and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”
FOOTNOTE – * Regardless of where you stand on “Predestination,”we suggest you go to the internet at http://www.moodychurch.org and click on “Watch Online.” Then click on “Archives.” Go to speaker Erwin Lutzer and the series on “The Inheritance of the Redeemed” (March 2016). The first sermon is “The Gift of Predestination.” Most excellent! (watch all the series.)
(You can also get it on YouTube, under “The Gift of Predestination.” Watch the video by Erwin Lutzer.)