Monday, January 25, 2021

Some Thoughts on Predestination

"Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by Him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger” (Romans 9:11–12).

The classic passage in the New Testament on election and predestination is the ninth chapter of Romans. The emphasis in Romans 9 is on God’s purpose. Romans 9:11–12 tells us that the reason why the decision was made before Jacob and Esau were born, before they had done anything good or evil, is so that God’s purpose might stand. This statement is totally opposed to any kind of “foreknowledge” view of predestination, the notion that God based His choice on His foresight of man’s decisions. It is all due to God’s good pleasure.

Not only had Jacob and Esau not done anything good or evil in space and time when God made His choice, but by implication they had not “done good or evil” even in the mind of God. In other words, from God’s perspective there is no personal good or evil activity that is taken into account here. His choice was made without regard to the goodness or wickedness of the two boys.

Is this unfair? Obviously not. In the background of God’s choice, all human beings are so corrupt, even in their nature, that none ever does anything truly good (Romans 3:12). If God made His choice by looking into the future to see who was going to be good, He would choose no one because there would be no one worthy to be chosen. As it is written, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

The foreknowledge view also fails because it makes God’s election based on humanity’s good works. The semi-Pelagians argue that God elects those to be saved based on foreseen faith, but what is faith if it is not the greatest of human actions? The supreme good work is to place one’s trust in Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent” (John 6:29). In the semi-Pelagian or Arminian view the final decision for our salvation ultimately rests upon a human choice, not upon a divine act.

Characteristically, people say the Augustinian view of predestination is unjust. Nobody ever says that the semi-Pelagian view is unjust. But in Romans 9, Paul’s objectors accused him of advocating an unjust view (9:14, 19).

The doctrine of divine election is revealed for our comfort. Take some time today and make a list of all the comforting aspects of this doctrine you can think of. If you need help, read the eighth chapter of Romans and consider all the benefits that are guaranteed you by a sovereign, gracious God.