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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 21 2023

Does the Bible teach predestination?

Many Christian religions teach some form of predestination, which is the belief God has predetermined our lives, including whether we are saved or condemned. What is not taken into account is that this approach denies a fundamental teaching of the Bible, namely that we all have freedom of choice and God holds us accountable for the decisions we make.

United Church of God

This becomes clear when we review how God has worked with His people down through the ages. God instructed Israel, urging them to make right choices, and then holding them accountable for the choices that they made: "...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Once we have been called by God we must choose whether to respond and continue to be faithful. God holds us responsible for our actions (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Matthew 12:36 ). We are all to appear before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ to give an account of our decisions and the way we have lived our life.

Scripture makes it clear God did not predetermine everyone's course of action or everyone's salvation. There are some who believe God knows in advance what choice people will make. Just as a parent has an idea what choices his children will make in a given situation, God has a good idea what we will do, but having an idea about what choice a person will make is very different from predetermining it. God has granted mankind freedom of choice. He does not know what individual choices a person will make until that person finally decides.

God predetermined He would call humans to salvation, which involves a conversion process, beginning with their calling. The individual God is calling then chooses whether or not he or she will repent and strive to live God’s way of life. Repentance is then followed by baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit and living a life in submission to God, which concludes when God changes true Christians to immortal spirit sons and daughters in His family.

God predetermined He would call a select few to salvation before Christ's return (Matthew 22:14; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27). These are referred to as firstfruits in the Bible. He also predetermined that He will give everyone a chance at salvation—which means that most will have to be brought back to life to receive not a second chance, but their only chance for salvation.(See Bible Insights issue 243 “Eternal Life Offered To All”) There were rare instances where God predestined or chose certain individuals for specific responsibilities prior to birth—Jacob, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, but that had nothing to do with their salvation. They still had to choose whether or not to respond.

God didn't predetermine the existence of every person, for that would take all free choice away from the conception of every life from Cain and Abel on down. Nor does it mean God guarantees everyone He calls to salvation will be in His Kingdom. Once God extends His invitation or calling to a person, that person must choose whether to respond, and continue to be faithful. God does not force His Spirit on anyone. Each Christian continues to exercise free choice, making decisions on a daily basis to resist temptation and live by God's way of life. If a Christian makes poor choices or drifts away from God, he or she can lose salvation (Hebrews 6:4-6).