Good News about Predestination!

By Royce Frederick

Part 1 of 3

What would you say if someone asked, “Do you believe in predestination?”

Would you answer “Yes” or “No”? Actually, it would be helpful to ask, “What do you mean by ‘predestination’?”

Does the Bible teach “predestination”?  YES.

Does “predestination” in the Bible mean God has decided your eternal destiny without your free choice?  NO.

What is “Predestination”?

“Predestination” refers to the fact that God decided many events before they occurred. For example, He predestined Israel’s seventy-year captivity in Babylon, the decree of Cyrus for their return, the death of Jesus for our sins, His return to raise all the dead, and the judgment day (Jer. 29:10; Isa. 44:28; 45:1-4; 53; 1 Pet. 1:18-21; Acts 2:23-24; Matt. 24:36; Jn. 5:28-29; Acts 17:31). The Bible also talks about our predestination. The focus of this study is about how each person’s eternal destiny is decided

Why is Predestination Misunderstood?

Some parts of “predestination” are difficult. At the end of a discussion which included predestination, Paul wrote, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the LORD?...’” (Rom. 11:33-34; see Isa. 55:8-9).

Also, several false teachings and mistakes have caused much confusion about predestination.

Although we cannot know all of God’s mind, He has given us some information about predestination. We hope this study will help anyone who desires to understand more of what God wants us to know about this topic.

 False Teachings Arose about Grace and Predestination

“Grace” is “undeserved favor.” It is kindness toward a person who does not deserve it. By His grace, God showers us with marvelous gifts every day. Our greatest interest is in God’s gift of grace in forgiving our sins.

After God finished revealing the Bible through His prophets, several false teachings arose about grace:

(1) Powerful men eventually took control of many churches, and some of them taught the false idea that church leaders have power to grant and withhold God’s grace.

(2) Some leaders taught that a person can earn forgiveness of sins by various kinds of actions.

(3) Some leaders even taught that a person could buy forgiveness of sins with money.

(4) In the 1300’s A.D., and especially by the 1500’s, courageous “reformers” arose and opposed many of the false teachings. But some of their teachings departed from God’s word in other ways. One reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564), strongly opposed the false teachings about grace. However, his teachings about grace and predestination contain many serious mistakes. Some of his teachings are called “Calvinism.” The acronym “TULIP” is a memory tool for the main points of his teachings on grace and predestination:

Total depravity — Like some earlier men, Calvin said all babies are born with sin inherited from Adam. Also, Calvinism says all people are born totally depraved (empty) of any ability to choose righteousness, unable to accept any offer of grace through faith in Christ.

Unconditional election — Calvinism says God elected (chose) which persons He would save, with no conditions (requirements) for them to do anything before salvation. It says He chose those people and saves them based on His choice only, not based on their faith or His foreknowledge of their faith. So, Calvinism actually teaches that salvation is decided by grace only, without faith (before faith) — not like Eph. 2:8, which says salvation is by grace through faith.

Limited atonement — Calvinism says Jesus died to atone for only the sins of the people God chose. It says God predestined all other people to eternal punishment, and it says Jesus did not die for them.

Irresistible grace — Calvinism says God saves the chosen persons by overpowering them with His grace, and they cannot choose to resist it. This is sometimes called a “direct operation of the Holy Spirit.”

Perseverance of the saints — Calvinism says every chosen person (every saint on earth) will persevere (continue) with God and cannot choose to leave Him. This is sometimes called “eternal security,” “once saved, always saved,” and “the impossibility of apostasy.” 

Consider the delicate craftsmanship of Calvinism. Many of the points depend on other points. If one point fails, others fail. In fact, every point fails the test of God’s word. “Calvin’s Predestination” is false. Regarding the eternal destiny of people, God’s word shows that:

(1) “predestination based on free choice” is true.

(2) “predestination without free choice” is false.

Today, many sincere people believe Calvinism — or parts of it, with some changes. So, when someone asks if we believe in predestination, we need to ask, “Do you mean Calvin’s Predestination or Bible predestination?” We need to prayerfully examine Calvin’s teachings and “test all things” in the light of God’s word (1 Thess. 5:21). We appreciate all who seek to honor God, and we pray that this study will be helpful to you.

Good News about the word “PREDESTINED”!

“Predestined” is used four times in the New King James translation: Rom. 8:29, 8:30, Eph. 1:5, and 1:11. It combines “pre” (before) and “destined” (determined, decided). The original Greek word in those verses is “proorizo,” which combines “pro” (before) and “determine.” In Greek and in English, the meaning is “decided before.”

A Mistake: When people hear the word “predestined,” many people add an extra idea which is not part of the word. Many people automatically think: “decided before without man’s free choice.”

The word “predestined” does not include any information about God’s reasons for His decisions. It means “already decided.” It does not say “with free choice” or “without free choice.” The word “predestined” does not reveal anything about the basis for God’s decisions.

The same is true of other words in verses about predestination, such as: purposed, promised, prepared, chose (elected), appointed, preappointed, ordained, foreordained, and determined. These words do not all have the exact same meaning. But in the original Greek and in English, all of these words are alike in one way: They all contain no information about the reasons for God’s decisions regarding future events.

Sometimes God tells us the basis or reasons for some of His decisions. If we want to learn about those reasons, we must study the verse where the word occurs, the nearby verses, and other parts of the Bible.

It is good news to know that the word “predestined” does not mean, “God has decided to send some people to eternal punishment without giving them a choice.” The word “predestined” does not mean, “God has decided my eternal destiny without giving me a choice.”

Good News about FOREKNOWLEDGE! 

God’s decisions come from His divine nature. He is “love,” holy, just, omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5)!

A Mistake: When thinking about “predestination,” some people fail to consider, or fail to believe, God’s ability to “foreknow.”

The Bible is full of prophecies about events which God planned, which later occurred exactly as He had said. He foretells many future events as facts — “future history.” He “...calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Rom. 4:17), “declaring the end from the beginning…” (Isa. 46:10). “Known to God from eternity are all His works” (Acts 15:18). God foreknew His works.

Does God also foreknow all of your works and my works? We may never learn the answers to all of our questions about this. But God does tell us some things about His knowledge and foreknowledge.

God knows us. “...God knows your hearts…” (Lk. 16:15; see 1 Kgs. 8:39; Jer. 17:10; Acts 1:24). Jesus “knew all men” (Jn. 2:24); “...the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His’…” (2 Tim. 2:19). “...God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 Jn. 3:20).

God is able to foreknow us. “...Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him (Jn. 6:64); “...other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice...” (Jn. 10:16). “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew…” (Rom. 11:2). “...And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. Now the Lord spoke to Paul…‘speak, and do not keep silent...for I have many people in this city’” (Acts 18:8-10). Those verses tell us that the Lord foreknew the hearts of many other people in Corinth who would obey the gospel. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined…” (Rom. 8:28-29); “...To the pilgrims of the Dispersion...elect [chosen] according to the foreknowledge of God…” (1 Pet. 1:1-2). God is able to foreknow us.

These verses tell us that God’s foreknowledge is the basis for His decisions about “predestined” and “elect” people: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined…” (Rom. 8:29); “...elect [chosen] according to the foreknowledge of God…” (1 Pet. 1:2).

What does God foreknow? Does He foreknow all of the choices we will make in the future? We could spend a lot of time on these questions and never learn the complete answers. We should be content to know this: God knows and foreknows everything He needs to know to deliver salvation to all people who love Him and choose to obey His gospel.

Later, we will see many verses which show that God’s decisions about our eternal destiny are also based on our choices.

Another Mistake: People often think, “If God foreknew us and our choices, His foreknowledge would cause us to make those choices.” That is not true. Foreknowing does not mean fore-causing. Any foreknowledge God may have about your future choices does not mean He made your choices for you.

Consider this: Christians “foreknow” that God will destroy the earth by fire (2 Pet. 3:10-13). Peter says, “...since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall…” (2 Pet. 3:17). Does our foreknowledge cause the fire? No. Foreknowing does not mean fore-causing.

Also consider this: Before creation, God predestined Jesus to die for our sins. “...He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world...” to be our sacrifice (1 Pet. 1:20). God saves us, “...not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (2 Tim. 1:9). With complete confidence, God placed all salvation in Christ. God was so certain that Jesus would give His life for us that He refers to Jesus as “...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). In God’s mind, it was an absolute fact of the future that Jesus would die for us.

So, when the time came for Him to die, did Jesus have a choice? Yes! “...My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life...No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself...” (Jn. 10:17-18). When the mob came to arrest Jesus, He told Peter, “...Put your sword in its place…Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:52-53). Jesus did not ask for angels to rescue Him. He chose to die because He loved us and loved His Father — which meant obeying His Father. God was able to foreordain the sacrifice of Jesus, because He absolutely foreknew that Jesus would freely choose to obey and give His life for us!

God also foreknew the choices of those who would kill Jesus. “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23; see 4:28). God foreknew the choices of these people, but He was not guilty of the “lawless” deed of murdering Jesus. They were.

God is able to foreknow us. It is good news to know that His fore-knowledge does not cause our choices!

So, every time we read a verse in the Bible which mentions predestination, we need to remember:

(1) All of the decisions which God has already made are based on His knowledge and foreknowledge.

(2) God has not decided our eternal destiny without giving us a choice.

Good News! God MADE PLANS for You & Everyone!

You may hear people say, “God has a plan for your life!” Many of them mean, “God has planned every event of your life.” Then, when bad things happen, that idea leads people to say, “Why did God do this to me?”

The Bible does not teach that God causes every event in your life. He does continually help those who love Him (Rom. 8:28; Jer. 29:11). To mature us, sometimes He even sends, or allows, some of our suffering (Heb. 12:1-13). But there are many other causes of our suffering, such as: our sins and mistakes, the sins and mistakes of people around us, the sins and mistakes of people who lived before us, accidents of man and nature, and Satan (see 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Job 2:7; Eccl. 9:11; Gen. 3:16-24; Isa. 59:1-2; Gal. 6:7-8). You are not a puppet, with God pulling all the strings. God does not cause every event in your life — all of your choices, all of your actions, and all of the bad things that happen.

But in a different way, God does have a plan for your life! He reveals it in the Bible. And, when you humble your heart to obey His word, He works in marvelous ways to bless you and use you as an instrument for good!


“Before time began” (2 Tim. 1:9), God purposed to save us by His grace through the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. This was His “eternal purpose” (Eph. 3:11; see 1 Pet. 1:18-21; Rev. 13:8). This plan would allow God to remain just (righteous) by punishing sin, and allow Him to justify (make righteous) all people who seek refuge in Christ through faith (Rom. 3:21-26; 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26-29; Heb. 6:18). This was “...the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory” (1 Cor. 2:7). He planned “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs [with Jews], of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).

After creation, God began unfolding His plan. He chose Abram and said, “ you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). So, even before He made the nation of Israel, God promised to bless people of all nations, not only Jews. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s prophets foretold many parts of His plan (1 Pet. 1:10-12). Finally, at the right time, Jesus came and died for our sins (Gal. 4:4-5; Eph. 1:10).

Then Jesus arose from death and appeared “ witnesses chosen before by God...” (Acts 10:41). After Jesus returned to heaven, God fully revealed “...the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Eph. 3:11-12). Through His inspired disciples, Jesus finished revealing God’s complete plan (Jn. 16:12-13; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 3). Jesus “...has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10)!

Good News! JESUS DIED for You & Everyone!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Jesus became one of us so that “...He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone (Heb. 2:9); “...the free gift came to all men...” (Rom. 5:18). Jesus “...gave Himself a ransom for all...” (1 Tim. 2:6). He “ the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2). Jesus gave His life as the sacrifice for all people, not just for a limited number of people.

Good News! The Death of Jesus can SAVE You & Anyone!

God does not overpower anyone with His grace, forcing him to accept the sacrifice of Jesus for his sins. Each person must decide to accept it or reject it. Any sinner can have “...access by faith into this grace...” (Rom. 5:2).

God PREDESTINED the NEW BIRTH! Paul says those “...who love God...whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:28-29). “Brethren” means “sons” in the same family. God predestined a way for us to become His children, “brothers” of Jesus in God’s family! At baptism, a sinner enters into Christ spiritually through faith, and into God’s family. Paul reminded Christians, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). This is the new birth (see Jn. 3:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:23-25; Tit. 3:5).

Through obedient faith, a sinner receives the benefit of the death of Jesus at the moment of baptism. That is when he or she is “baptized into Christ Jesus...baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3).

The next verse shows that baptism is also the moment of new life! “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).

Someone may say, “You trust in your baptism.” No, baptism is the moment when we trust in God and surrender to Him. Baptism is an act of faith. The Colossians were “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). Baptism is the moment a sinner receives the gift of salvation and becomes a child of God through faith.

After we have been born into God’s family, we must continue growing spiritually — continue the process of being “transformed” into the image of Christ (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Pet. 3:17-18).

Does God “Draw” People & “Grant” Salvation by His Choice Only?

In John 6, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him...” (Jn. 6:44); “ one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (6:65). Notice two important points about these statements:

(1) Jesus did not say anything about God granting this to some people and not to others.

(2) Jesus did not say anything about God granting this to anyone without their free choice.

With the second statement, Jesus explained why He made both of the statements: “‘...The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Therefore [this is why] I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father’” (Jn. 6:63-65). Jesus made the two statements because these people refused to believe words from God.

Now, knowing that, consider more about His first statement: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (Jn. 6:44-45). Jesus was saying that a person cannot come to Him and salvation unless he allows God to teach him. These people were not willing to listen to God’s word.

Earlier, Jesus had said, “You search the Scriptures [the Old Testament], for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (Jn. 5:39-40). “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (Jn. 5:46-47; see Lk. 16:29-31; 24:27). They refused to hear, learn, and believe the Old Testament prophecies from God about Jesus. And, they refused to believe the words from God delivered by Jesus. No one can come to Jesus unless he is willing to listen to God’s word and allow God to draw him through His message of love.

Good news! Anyone who desires to do God’s will can learn it and come to Jesus. If anyone wants [desires] to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God...” (Jn. 7:17).

Good News! God Wants to DRAW You & Everyone to Christ!

Does God need to force His grace upon us to save us? Or, does His love have the power to draw us to Him and salvation in Christ? To Old Testament Israel, God said, “...I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” (Jer. 31:3).

God draws us to Jesus by His love at the cross! “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (Jn. 12:32). God’s great love does have the power to draw hearts to Jesus! He allowed Himself to be “lifted up from the earth” on the cross for us! The heart of the “gospel” is the “good news” that Jesus died for our sins, then arose; “...the gospel of the power of God to salvation…” (Rom. 1:16). Obedient faith is the response of a humble heart to God’s message of love.

“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures...But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-5). Here, the “love of God” primarily refers to the moment when God gave His Son for us. And, “through the washing of regeneration” refers to the moment of baptism, when God washes away a person’s sins by the blood of Christ. At that moment, a sinner is born again, regenerated, “born of water and the Spirit” (Jn. 3:5; see Acts 8:35-39; Gal. 3:26-27).

The cross is God’s greatest expression of love! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16)! Millions of people love God because they heard the good news of His great love for us at the cross! We love Him “...because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19)!


When talking about the unfolding of God’s plan for all people, the Bible tells about some people who were “called” for special kinds of work. For example, Jesus “...went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” (Mk. 3:13-14; see Acts 13:2; Rom. 1:1; Heb. 11:8). The apostles’ work was for all of us, but Jesus did not call all people to be His apostles.

In contrast, when talking about eternal salvation, the Bible does not say God called only some people whom He wanted, and did not call others whom He did not want. Many verses show that God wants all people to be saved, and He calls all people to Christ.

“The called” refers to every person who has responded to God’s invitation. It emphasizes that they are people whom God wanted, invited, and welcomed! It shows that every person who comes to Him is very dear and important! “The called” are not people who came without an invitation. “The called” are people who came because they had an invitation from the Creator of the universe and from His Son, the King of Kings!

Peter reminds Christians that they had chosen to obey the gospel: “ have purified your souls in obeying the truth...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God…Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:22-23, 25). Later, he tells them, “ are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Like the term “the called,” these statements declare that all people who have obeyed the gospel are very special to God!

In the New Testament, “the called” are all people who, through faith and love, have chosen to answer God’s gospel call: “...all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). “...God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel…” (2 Thess. 2:13-14). We become “...partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel (Eph. 3:6). “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:11-13). These verses show that “the called” are those who heard the gospel, believed it, loved God, and chose to trust Him for salvation. All who answer the call of the gospel are “the called”: “...the the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes...” (Rom. 1:16).

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Good News about Predestination!, Part 2 of 3