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.

2 thoughts on “Freewillism (3) Unconditional Predestination

  1. Christianity can only be true unless predestination is false. How can one choose Christ if God has already decided who will and who will not make the choice? If we are not free to follow Jesus, but are simply predestined to do so or not, the idea of accepting Jesus cannot be true.

    On another note, if the notion of predestination were correct, that would mean that God was cruel, inhumane, and unloving. It would imply that every action, including the evil ones, were predestined by Him. It would imply that billions of people never even had a chance to get into Heaven – God had condemned them to hell for actions that He predestined them to do in the first place. It means that the entire idea of redemption is false: that only people lucky enough to be predestined by God ever had a shot at redemption. It means that God brings people into this world for the sole purpose of going to hell. All of this cannot be true.

    While some actions of men may certainly be predestined, the actions of all men cannot be while still leaving Christianity as true or God as loving. If everything was predestined, then Christianity is either false or the most hideous, repulsive, and cruel belief system to exist.

    • Thank you for your comment. However, I must strongly disagree with you for Biblical reasons. If one does not accept predestination, he does not accept what the Bible teaches. Rather he cuts out portions of the Scriptures and is guilty of not believing parts of the Bible. Thus Revelations 22:19 applies to him, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” These of course are very weighty words that require backing up. Let me explain myself.

      First you ask how is it possible to choose Christ when we are already predestinated? A completely valid question after all Joshua calls us to “choose this day whom you will serve” in Joshua 24:15. We make this choice by the grace of God working in the hearts of His elect people. We chose God because He has first chosen us (Ephesians 1:4), “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” If you confess to believe the Bible you must believe that God loved Jacob before he was born and hated Esau in the womb. Nor can you say that was simply the God of the Old Testament for God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and this predestination is taught in the New Testament by the apostle Paul in Romans 9.

      But does this not make man a robot in the hands of God? It seems like God just pushes a bunch of buttons and we do whatever He commands. But God works in such a way that man is not a robot. Man is not a machine with buttons that make him do certain things. He has a mind and will and he makes choices. Man makes choices such as when to get up in the morning, what to have for breakfast etc. This is what we refer to as free agency. Even though God has sovereignly determined and controls all things in man’s life, man lives in such a way that he is unaware of that sovereign control. We are unaware of that sovereign control, but Scripture speaks plainly of it (Mat. 10:29 – 30). Since even the hairs of our head our numbered (a relatively insignificant thing) how much more should our wills be controlled (a very significant thing)?

      Probably another way to phrase your question is: how does man retain his responsibility if he is predestinated? To answer this let us look at several examples from Scripture. First there is the example of Pharaoh in Exodus 7:3 of God hardening his heart, “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” God is the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would disobey God’s command and not let the people of Israel depart. Yet Pharaoh still remains responsible for his actions. Now we cannot completely understand how all this works, regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. But if we are to go from Scripture God has predestinated all the actions of men and yet man remains responsible. When David sins he does not accuse the Lord, but confess that he has sinned. Further the apostles declare in Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:” This speaks of Christ’s death being predetermined by the counsel of God. Even the evil actions of the betrayers and Jews were predetermined. Yet it remains their fault, “ye have taken, and by wicked hands . . . .” Man retains his responsibility.

      Nor does this make God cruel, inhumane, or unloving. God is God, He can do whatever He wants. It is man that sinned and threw away his righteousness. God could send all of us to hell and that would not be unloving, it would be just. But God in His love saves His elect people. As Romans 9:18 says of God, “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Then the Apostle asks is their unrighteousness with God for doing this? Romans 9:20 – 23 says, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,”

      I pose to you the challenge to find one passage in all of Scripture that denies the sovereignty of God and predestination. May the Lord guide you to the truth.

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