Predestination vs. Freewill. I believe God is all powerful and all mighty and can do anything… no boundaries. But I also believe that he gives us the choice to choose which path we take. I also believe that when we call upon him, he helps us make the right decision. Many believe that our life is laid out before us like a road map, from beginning to end. If this theory is correct, and some are designed for hell and others destined for heaven, why pray…or worship.. or learn. Because if life is “laid out” nothing matters. Am I way off base??
I am going to enclose an earlier question which answers much of yours.
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CAN THE OTHERS BECOME CHRISTIANS?
Hello, it is me again. I have another question. at a summer retreat this year, I got into a discussion about like how God knew us before we were born, and that he picked out those who would be Christians before they were born. But that doesn’t make sense to me because if God loved the world so much, why would he pick out only a select few to be Christians, and does that mean that those he didn’t pick aren’t ever going to get the chance to be Christians and go to heaven? thanks,
Thanks for your question. Many people have the same confusion over this matter, but it is really very clear when you look at the Scriptures.
First, God knows everything ahead of time – including who will respond to Him, and who will not. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: HIS UNDERSTANDING IS INFINITE” (Holy Bible, Psalm 147:5). We call this “foreknowledge.”
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Holy Bible, Romans 8:29). That verse is simply saying, “Those people that He knew ahead of time would respond to Him and be saved — those people He predestinated to be conformed to His image — to be like Christ.” That means it is God’s plan that those who are truly born again show the evidence of it in their lives. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold; all things are become new” (Holy Bible, II Corinthians 5:17).
Second, what about the passage that talks about Pharaoh? “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth” (Holy Bible, Romans 9:17). Does this mean that Pharaoh never had a chance to be saved? Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he could not have gotten saved, even if he had wanted to do so? “And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou DO ALL THESE WONDERS BEFORE PHARAOH, which I have put in thine hand: BUT I WILL HARDEN HIS HEART, that he shall not let the people go” (Holy Bible, Exodus 4:21). Look at those verses carefully. Why did God raise up Pharaoh (Romans 9:17)? To show His POWER against him as a testimony to be declared throughout the whole earth. What about (Exodus 9:17)? Moses was to do WONDERS before Pharaoh, which would then harden his heart.
God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but how? BY SHOWING HIS MIGHTY POWER BEFORE A MIGHTY KING. It is like this, if you were known to be very tough and strong, and someone came up to you and challenged you to arm wrestle, what would you do? You would wrestle with him to defend your reputation. And you would really have to be whipped to ever quit trying to get the best of your new challenger. Even so it was with Pharaoh. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart by showing Pharaoh His mighty power. That stirred up Pharaoh to resist Him, because Pharaoh thought that he himself was the greatest. Notice that even when Pharaoh was whipped and asked for mercy; once it was over, he immediately went back to resisting. It is no different than sporting events where one person is beaten solidly, but the next day is talking to the media about how he is going to beat his opponent the next time. Pharaoh could have submitted himself to God at any time, but he chose not to do so because of his own pride.
God knows ahead of time who will submit to Him and repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. He wants all people to be saved, and they can be saved, if they will just repent and believe. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME” (Holy Bible, John 12:32). “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE” (Holy Bible, II Peter 3:9). “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; WHO WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (Holy Bible, I Timothy 2:3,4).
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The Bible teaches both the foreknowledge of God, and the free will of man. Nothing ever takes God by surprise, because He knows the end from the beginning. Acts 15:18 says, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
The names in the Book of Life were placed there at the foundation of the world — not because God predestined some people to hell, and others to heaven — but simply because He knew who would respond to the gospel and get saved, and who would not. Revelation 17:8 says, “…and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world…”
We must remember that God knows everything before it happens. Nothing ever catches God by surprise. Psalm 139:2-6 says, “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”
Hebrews 4:2,3 says, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: ALTHOUGH THE WORKS WERE FINISHED FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” Jesus’ work on the cross for our salvation was considered “finished” from the foundation of the world. Why? Because God knew it was going to be fulfilled. God knew exactly what would happen: that Jesus would be born of the virgin Mary; that He would live a perfect life; and that He would die on the cross for man’s sin; and that He would rise victorious from the dead.
Man has a free will to reject salvation, or reject the will of the Lord. Remember the rich young man that came to Jesus? Mark 10:21-24 says, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” God was calling the rich young man, but the young man chose his own will, instead of God’s will.
God knew ahead of time that Judas would betray Jesus, because God knows how everyone will respond to everything that they face in life. But Jesus still gave Judas a chance to repent before committing such a terrible thing. Luke 22:47,48 says, “And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Jesus was giving Judas another chance to think about what he was doing, and turn back, but Judas went ahead and betrayed Jesus. Judas exercised his own free will, and sinned.
God does want us to seek His face for wisdom in our lives. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” God does want us to read His Word for direction to find His perfect will for our lives. Romans 12:1,2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, THAT YE MAY PROVE WHAT IS THAT GOOD, AND ACCEPTABLE, AND PERFECT, WILL OF GOD.”