God foreordaining from eternity whatever comes to pass and/or who gets saved.
(as a doctrine in Christian theology) the divine foreordaining of all that will happen, especially with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo and of Calvin.
1: the act of predestinating: the state of being predestinated.
2: the doctrine that God in consequence of his foreknowledge of all events infallibly guides those who are destined for salvation.
an act of predestinating or predestining.
the state of being predestinated or predestined.
1) the action of God in foreordaining from eternity whatever comes to pass.
2) the decree of God by which certain souls are foreordained to salvation.
Each of the above is a definition from a different source or dictionary online. I will focus primarily on the fourth set of definitions.
So, there are actually only three questions that have to be answered:
1) Has God planned out every little detail that has, is, or will happen?
2) If God has already selected all those people who He is going to save, then why should we concern ourselves with sharing the Gospel?
3) Can we somehow convince Him to choose our loved ones?
What I will do is take each of these in order. Plus, you and I know that there are a bunch of other questions that will come up, and we will deal with them as they do.
THE FIRST QUESTION
Has god planned out every little detail that has, is, or will happen?
Isaiah 46:9–10 (NASB95) “… For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB95) “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Psalm 33:11 (NASB95) “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.”
Isaiah 14: 26-27 “This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
THE PURPOSED WILL OF GOD: God’s eternal decree
THE PREFERENTIAL WILL OF GOD: God’s desire
THE PRESCRIPTIVE WILL OF GOD: God’s standards for men
THE PERMISSIVE WILL OF GOD: God’s overriding will
The “purposed will of God” refers to God’s eternal decree, the plan which will surely come to pass. It encompasses all of the other “wills.”
The “preferential will of God” refers to that which gives God pleasure or displeasure. Our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals that the cross of Calvary was not our Lord’s desire, but it was His purpose. “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). In spite of this desire, God has purposed that some will be eternally saved, while others will be eternally damned (see Romans 9). Just as we may spank a disobedient child when it is not our desire or delight, God’s decree includes some things in which he does not delight, like the punishment of the wicked.
The “prescriptive will of God” is God’s will, expressed as a standard for man’s conduct. It is God’s will set down in the Scriptures as commands, standards, or principles which govern what we do or do not do. It is God’s prescriptive will that we do not steal, lie, or worship idols. It is likewise His (prescriptive) will that we love Him and love our neighbor.
God’s “permissive will” includes those events or actions of men which are, in and of themselves, sinful. They are contrary to God’s preference and to His prescriptive will. Nevertheless, God uses sin to accomplish His will. God used the sinful actions of Joseph’s brothers to bring the entire family of Jacob (Israel) to Egypt, thus fulfilling His will (see Genesis 15:12-16). He used the opposition of the scribes and Pharisees, the treachery of Judas, and the political cowardice of Herod and Pilate to bring about the sacrificial death of our Lord: “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-- this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:22-24).
What is the goal of God’s plan?
The most successful plans are those that have a clear understanding of the goal. What is it that God wants to accomplish with this extravagant plan that crosses across all human history? What must be the goal for God to start His plan even before He had created the heavens and the earth? What does He want to happen? That is the question that we all need to ask so that we can get a better chance at figuring out the purpose behind God’s plan.
I have always enjoyed visiting San Antonio, Texas. But, the first time I ever decided to visit there, I had to pull out a map and draw a line from Dallas to San Antonio and figure out the time it would take for me to get there. I had decided my destination, but I was smart enough to know that I still had several unanswered questions to resolve before I would dare to undertake the journey.
1) How would I get there? (My car, someone else’s vehicle, Greyhound, or fly)
2) Was I going alone? (that quickly brought up images of expense money)
3) How long was I going to be there? (motel, stay with someone, what?)
4) What did I need to take with me? (Change of clothes, how much money, and more)
5) How about my return trip (my car, wait on someone else, bus, train, fly?)
As you can see, once I decided that I would be going to San Antonio, that meant I would have to make sure many other things would work out the way I needed them to so I could make sure things would turn out the way I wanted them to do so. God had many of the same issues to deal with but on a much grander level. Everything in history needed to work out a such a special and specific way as to result in the final goal, His purpose, that God needs to be actively involved in His grand plan.
The question is what is the plan? What is His purpose? To get to that knowledge, we must first look at the results. At the end, when everything is over and done, what is it that is supposed to happen? Well, If I understand the Scriptures correctly, God’s aim is that we (whom He has chosen for salvation) will be with Him in Eternity for eternity. That is to say, that all those people that God chose in Himself before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4 “…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world …”), would end up in heaven with Him, in the end. Now, if that is truly God’s ultimate goal for His plan, then the next question is, “How will He accomplish that?” Fortunately, we have the answer for that as well, through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:13 “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise”).
Therefore, if we want to see God’s plan work out throughout the Bible and in history, we must look to Jesus as well. Everything that happened before His birth led us to that day, and everything since His death points us back to what happened on the third day after His death on the cross; His resurrection. This, of course, raises several other questions. Why did it have to be that way? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross, of all things? Wasn’t there another way? Let’s start at the beginning and look at some specific things.
Think about this. For Jesus to have to die on the cross for our sins, we first had to sin. For us (humans) to sin, we had to be introduced to sin, to begin with. So, where did sin come from? How did it show up on the scene? And what is sin anyway?
James 4:17 (NASB95), says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” So, if I do not know the “right thing to do” and I fail to do it, I have not sinned because I did not know it was the “right thing to do.” In that case, the word “sin” actually means that someone failed or refused to do something that they knew was the “right thing to do.” The way we would know that something is the “right thing to do” is that someone would have to tell us. In our case today, as humans, what tells us what the “right thing to do” is, is the Bible. It is in the Bible that we learn what God says is the “right thing to do.” So, now if we do not do what God has told us we must do, then we are either refusing to do what He wants, or we are making the effort to do what He wants, but we are failing to do so.
Let’s look at Adam and Eve (whom the Bible teaches were the responsible people for “sin” infecting the rest of us), and see what happened with them. God tells Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Genesis 2:16–17 (NASB95) “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’” Question, “If God did not truly want Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, why did He put it there?" The obvious truth is that He did intend that they would eat from the tree. No, I do not say that God, sinned (did not do the right thing), or that he made them sin (to make them choose not to do the right thing; God did not make them eat from the tree), but I do say that God knew that they would eat from the tree and that He needed them to do so.
To prove my point, let’s look at Four Basic Characteristics that must be true of God if He truly is God.
1. God is Omnipotent (all-powerful – He can do anything He chooses and there is nothing He cannot do). Just remember this caveat, just because God can do something that does not mean He has to do it.
2. God is Omniscient (all-knowing – He knows everything. There is nothing that God does not know. He is aware of every action, decision, and choice of every person who has lived, is alive, and will live.) Just remember this caveat, just because God is already aware of what you are going to do, that does not mean He is making you do it. The point is that whether you choose to do or not do something, God is already aware of which choice you will make, but it is you who are making the choice.
3. God is Omnipresent (all-existing – He is and can be anywhere and everywhere that He choose to be, in one place or everywhere all at the same time). Just remember this caveat – Just because God can be everywhere all at the same time does not mean that He is everywhere all at the same time. Where He is or is not, is all up to Him.
4. God is Perfect (The word “perfect” here, in relation to God, means that He is incapable of error, failure, or defect, in other words, He always does the “right thing,” [does not “sin”] because He is the one who decides what the “right thing” is). Just remember this caveat, the word “perfect” is used in the Bible at several places with a different meaning from this one. Those definitions may not apply to God.
The reason it was important that we understand the basic characteristics is that they prove certain points.
1. God foreknew that Adam and Eve would eat of the tree (He is Omniscient).
2. He planted the tree in the Garden for the specific purpose of having Adam and Eve eat from it (if they did not, then there would be no need for Jesus to be born and die on the cross).
3. To ensure that they would eat from the tree He created the serpent and gave it the ability to speak so that it would deceive Eve (Colossians 1:16 (NASB95) “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him”).
4. To make sure that the serpent would be filled with the enemy, God created Lucifer (who was “perfect” when created) and then allowed “sin” to enter him, so that he would turn against God and be able to then use the serpent to fool Eve.
5. God knew (He is Omniscient) that Lucifer would turn against Him even before He created the Angel. In fact, God needed Lucifer to “sin” so that He could use him throughout history to accomplish much of His purpose and to ensure that certain things would turn out as they have and will.
The bible says this about Lucifer in the NASB95, Ezekiel 28:15, “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.” The King James Version says, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” Notice that word, “perfect?” Question, how can a “perfect” being “sin?” Well, that will depend on how you define “perfect” and “sin.” For our study we will need to define these words so that we can understand other things.
If Lucifer was “perfect” or even “blameless” when he was created, what happened? How could a blameless creation of God even consider doing anything other than what God wants? The answer again is obvious. The option to “sin” (to choose not to do “the right thing”) has to be built into the creature at its creation. Therefore, if the creature already has an inclination to “sin,” all that has to be done is to provide the circumstances which should lead the creation choosing not to do “the right thing.” What could that be? Selfishness. The creature would need to have at least a minimum amount of selfishness already existing in itself at its creation. That selfishness in the created being will be enough to arouse in them the desire to satisfy the desire and not obey God. That is why it is so important and wonderful to God when one of His creations, who has the ability and motivation to do what they want, instead choose to do “the right thing,” which is to obey Him.
So, has God planned out every detail?
So, has God planned out every detail? No, and yes. As we can see, with just this small amount of research, there are many things that God must have work out in a specific manner, at a specific time, and including specific people, but, on the other hand, we recognize that throughout the Bible itself, we see many individuals who disobey God. Have you ever disobeyed God? Of course, you have, we all have. When we did, we did what we wanted, not the “right thing,” which was to obey God. That alone is proof that we have free will. So, does God plan out for you to sin (to do something that is not what He wants), “No!” God will never do anything against His own will. Remember Ephesians 1:11 (NASB95), “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” It is God’s will that you have “free will,” unless you intend to do something that could alter His overall grand plan; in that case, He will intervene.
THE SECOND QUESTION
If God has already selected all those people who He is going to save, then why should we concern ourselves with sharing the Gospel?
Well, that will depend on whether you are more concerned with your self will or obeying God. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’” - Mark 16:15 (NASB95). The reason why we must “share” the Gospel is that God said so. Nothing else. But, if you need another reason or more motivation for obeying God, here is this. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” – John 6:44. How do you know that God won’t use you to “draw” someone to Jesus? If there is no other reason, that one is more than enough reason.
We, those who believe in God and His Son, our Lord, Christ Jesus, and who choose to obey Him over our desire to do what our self-will wants, know that we must preach the word because the are so many who have not yet heard the Gospel. Notice this verse, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” - Romans 10:14-15.
It is not about whether or not God has selected this person and maybe not that person. If we truly are believers of this majestic and wonderful God, then His will must always trump over our own self-will. What He wants must always take preference over what we want. And, we must always obey Him, whether we do, or do not, like the commands. In any case, we must realize that winning souls for God is in itself a great blessing for our lives. Proverbs 11:30, says it like this, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.” See that? He, or she, who is wise. Are you wise, or are you a fool? A fool continues to disobey God. One definition stands out to me, “Foolishness is characterized by thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, or judgments that lack sense, prudence, and discretion. Foolish behavior may be immoral or dangerous and is often used for self-destructive tendencies. Foolishness stands in contrast to wisdom, prudence, and sound judgment.” Proverbs 1:7 says it quite clearly, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Fools don’t like to be told what to do. True believers are not fools; they are the instruments that God uses to reach all those that He has chosen for salvation.
THE THIRD QUESTION
Can we somehow convince Him to choose our loved ones?
The very idea of God choosing one person and not another seems unfair to a human being. The problem is that we are then judging God according to human standards. In other words, from our point of view, it may feel wrong for a loving, merciful, and compassionate God to decide not to choose someone to be saved. We might imagine crowds of people longing and desiring to accept Christ as their Savior and then God rejecting their pleas. If something like that were to actually happen, to humans that would be such a terrible thing. Especially when we might imagine that it could be someone that we love. Some person who right now is not living a good life, living the “sinful” life. We imagine that God would be unfair not to give them a chance to go to heaven with the rest of us. All of this feels so unfair.
But, is that what happens for real? Does God actually refuse someone who truly wants to be saved? Does God say “No” to people who plead for His forgiveness of their sins? Would God send your loved one to hell even though your loved one wants to be saved, just because God did not choose him or her from before the foundation of the world? Is that possible?
Even though we know that the Bible shows that God is in charge of who will or will not be drawn to Jesus, the Word goes further than that. John 3:16 (NASB95), states that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Did you pay attention? The Word tells us that “whosoever believes in Him,” yes, “whosoever.” This implies that the opportunity to believe is available to “whosoever.” This is not a limiting word. It does not say “only to those who.” As far as you and I are concerned, every human being on this planet falls under the category of “whosoever.” As far as you and I are concerned, that is where our minds and hearts need to be, we have the wonderful gift from God of being able to lead someone to salvation. The real question for you and me should be “Can I still lead people to the Lord with my witness and testimony?" Why? Because the answer is “YES!”
So, can you and I somehow convince God that He should choose this person or that? How do you know that He hasn’t chosen that person? Are you making that judgment on how that loved one is living; on what kind of person they happen to be? If that is the way you are thinking, then you have little trust in God to be able to change people. Remember, He is Omnipotent (all-powerful – He can do anything He chooses and there is nothing He cannot do). The question is not will God choose my loved one, or can I convince God to choose that person. The point is that God already made that choice before the creation of the earth. It is done. The selecting is over.
What you and I should focus on is that He has chosen us. We did not deserve for Him to choose us. None of us did anything that convinced God that we should be chosen. He chose you and me just because He made that decision. That’s all. Can’t you see how big that is? Of the billions and billions of people who have lived, are now living, and will be born, God chose you and Me if we truly believe in His Son, our Lord, Christ Jesus.