Freewillism (3) Unconditional Predestination

The last point I wish to make in support of God’s absolute sovereignty over the will of man, is that God has unconditionally predestinated the will of man. Unconditional predestination basically teaching the God chose from before the foundation of the world, some to eternal suffering in hell, and some to eternal glory in heaven. This is an unconditional predestination, meaning man’s will plays no part in it. God has decided and therefore it will happen. Certain Arminians would agree that God has predestinated men, but say it is a conditional predestination, meaning it depends upon man’s willing one way or the other.  They will say, “man must open and accept God into his heart, in order for him to be saved.” We say, “if man has been elected, God will work in man’s heart so that he will believe, as God has predestinated his election.” Man’s will is totally depraved therefore he can never by himself, accept God into his heart.

Whatever arguments men may have, it ultimately comes down to the fact that unconditional predestination is taught in the Scriptures. Perhaps the clearest example of unconditional predestination is from the story of Jacob and Esau. This story is found in Genesis 25:21 – 23, which states this, “And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” This difference between Jacob and Esau was appointed by God and revealed to Rebekah before these two children were born. In eternity past, God had already decreed that the younger would serve the older of the twins and therefore this cannot be a matter of their own wills. Rather, it shows that predestination was not conditioned upon the choices of man. God predestinated these facts from before the foundation of the world, (Ephesians 1: 4-¬6) and no choice of man can change what the sovereign God has decreed. However, some would go as far as to argue that this was just the case in the Old Testament, but the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:11 – 13, makes it clear that this is the case in the New Testament as well. “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Before they had even done any good or evil, God had predestinated one to salvation and one to damnation. This was not based upon their own freewill, but of the will of God alone. God predestinated that one would love God and one would hate God. It was not a matter of their wills; God was completely sovereign in His predestination of these two men, and is sovereign in His predestination of the rest of the human race.

In addition, Ephesians 1:11 shows us that God has predestinated according to His own will, not man’s, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” God chose us from before the creation of the world. No will of man is able to change what God has sovereignly predestinated. God works all things after the counsel of His own will, not man’s.

The Canons of Dordt was a National Synod held from the year 1618 – 1619 in Dordrecht by the Dutch Reformed Church. It was assembled to settle a controversy over Arminianism. Thus, it has a whole head on the subject of predestination. Although it certainly does not contain the same authority as Scripture, it was written up by some of the most esteemed theologians in the 1600s. Therefore we should take this document and what it teaches seriously. It would be foolish to make a decision on predestination, without looking at what previous leaders of the church thought on the issue.

Article 7, of the first head, makes it clear that God has unconditionally predestinated the elect unto eternal salvation. “Election is the unchangeable purpose of God {it cannot be conditioned or controlled by the will of man}, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will {God’s will, not man’s}, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace.” From this statement it ought to be obvious that God’s election of some to Christ and salvation, is not dependent upon the will of man.

Also, Article 9, of the first head, clearly shows that this election is not based upon our own will, but solely upon the will of God. “This election was not founded upon foreseen faith {not based upon our own faith or Freewill}, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in man, as the pre-¬requisite, cause or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of every saving good; from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle: ‘He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love,’ Ephesians 1:4.” Thus, it is because God has predestinated us, that we are elect, not of our own freewill. In addition, God chose us not because of our faith, or our acceptance of God, rather He chose us so that we would have faith; given to us by the Holy Spirit. Thus, the kind of predestination that is taught by the Canons of Dordt is an unconditional predestination that is not based upon the will of man.

Upon reading this, we must realize that God has predestinated all men and their choices. All that men do, and all things that happen are because God has predestined them to happen. God has predestinated some men to eternal glory and fellowship with God in heaven. Yet, others he has predestinated to eternal damnation in hell. Man’s will has no power over this predestination, God’s will is sovereign. Man has no freewill, it is utterly impossible for man to have freewill. The Arminian doctrine of freewill is in complete contrast to what Scripture teaches.  Therefore, let us have no part with the error of freewill, because it is not founded upon Scripture.