Please Note: traditional Calvinism calls this "Perseverance of the saints", which basicaly means salvation is permanent. The "P" here includes that concept, but also holds much of the tradtional Calvinist "U" as well. More in X.
PREDESTINATION is Insurance of Freedom, NOT -- repeat, NOT -- Restriction.Predestination, like Election, is a "decision" in God's eternity-past DECREE: that doctrine (DECREE contents) will be written up under the "S", once I have the time. Core to Predestination: you don't exist, you don't have any ability to do or get anything without God insuring it, since He is the Creator and sustainer of all things, not man or angels. And, since the Son paid for Everyone, and God the Father TOTALLY loves the Son; and, since we saw from John 3:16 that He "so loves the world", just what motive do you think is behind Predestination? Love. Freedom.
Due to Christ's universal Payment, EVERYONE, but EVERYONE is a potential "heir". The Mediator is THE ONLY ONE "elected" and "predestined", aka "the Seed". [(Some key passages: Heb 1, Col 1:16-17, Gal3:16 (English might call it "Offspring").] He is the Inheritor of all the Father is and has (too many passages on this to quote them). All "call" and "elect" verses in the Bible are underneath His, and DUE to His. See, it's Christ, not man. So no man is too good, none too bad. No handicap is too great, and no one has a reason to boast. Galatians 3 is the flagship passage on the SOURCE of our election, though Hebrews 1-10:14 is also centered on His primacy. Christ is God's heir, and we are potential or actual heirs of Christ. You might want to review His John 17 prayer and Hebrews 9:14-28 to see how it's Christ's will-and-testament which is the source of our election and inheritance. (There are MANY other passages too: check out all verses with "footstool" in them, for example.)
So, what did you do to become a potential heir? You got born, a "work" you could not influence or prevent or cause. That's all.
Anyone who believes in Him not merely receives a permanent vacation from Hell, but, such a person becomes a "son", an "heir", a "child of God". So, every human being has been given a right to "elect against the will" (a legal term..see an attorney) of God. You "elect against" that Will by NEVER believing in Christ. If you do believe in Him, you become "predestined" to an inheritance beyond comprehension. You will be thus repeatedly asked, in essence, "Do you want this inheritance? Do you want this inheritance? Do you want this inheritance?"
See, with every bit of grace extended to you, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are saying to Christ, "I love you." So, every such repetition honors CHRIST, because the inheritance you'll get under Him is designed by the FATHER to honor Christ (Eph 1:1-14). It is not due to your merit, but due to Christ's. He chose to pay for you. You had no say in that matter. You weren't even BORN yet. You can only choose to say "no" each time...all the way to your grave.
So the "call" of the Gospel is a legal issue, and like ALL legal issues, your CONSENT must be freely obtained! You are being told you have an inheritance prepared by God in Christ, do you want it or not? The Holy Spirit acts as the sole legal agent of this most-important legal notice, the Sole Executive of it, no matter who He Wills (through His sense of humor, maybe) to "pass it on" to you. You'll hear human voice, maybe; you'll read human words, maybe..but make no mistake, the Holy Spirit is talking to you DIRECTLY to notify you of this inheritance, with every accurate word going into your ear or eye!
With this much at stake, God will do EVERYTHING short of coercion, to maximally encourage you to believe in His Son. For the Love of His Son He will do this. Your sins, your good deeds, your personality or attractiveness, are all inconsequential. But you yourself...you matter! again, because of Christ. You couldn't have a more-secure promise that no unbeliever anywhere, anytime, will die before having maximally said no to the God. You couldn't have a more-secure promise that, because of Christ, God is totally interested in your welfare!
In fact, the next time you feel pain, ask yourself, "Am I saying 'no' to God in some way?" Because, God is so vitally interested in your getting your inheritance..due to His Love for Christ..that He spares no expense, even down to providing maximum suffering all the way through and in dying..so to completely and utterly maximize your opportunity to make that one, weak, "yes" to the Gospel!
The main theme of Ephesians concerns the content of our predestined blessings in Christ. There are many levels of inheritance. They all begin with a permanent salvation. In short, not only is your consent necessarily solicited concerning salvation per se, but ALSO the level of inheritance. God provided in eternity-past "every spiritual blessing", but you might not want all God chose on your behalf.
Again, it's a legal issue. Do you want ALL that God wants for you, or only some of what He laid up for you before creation? The "yes" to the Gospel is a consent to be permanently saved. But salvation, though permanent, is only the "floor", the beginning; to receive the additional layers requires spiritual growth via Bible Doctrine, which trains you to have the capacity to enjoy your inheritance. After all, it's not fair for God to grant to you what HE wants, if you'd not enjoy it. It's never fair to give a gift to someone who hasn't learned enough to enjoy the gift given. God will not coerce..again, out of Love for Christ. Again, it's not your merit, but Christ's which is the cause of this unimaginable inheritance...which is TOTAL (Eph 3:19 summarizes it shockingly)..if you want it all.
Predestination is God's Integrity, saying, "I back you, in your freedom, I will make good on your freedom, even as I am Free. I will build you in my Son, to the extent you consent to the Holy Spirit teaching you, by giving you KNOWLEDGE of Him" (see Eph 3). It is a promise, a guarantee. ('Not a way for some believers to say I'm-better-than-you-are, nyaahh nyaah!)
Calvinists note well: GOD IS SETTING THE CONDITIONS HE CHOOSES. If He chooses to make conditions of freedom, free will, they are STILL HIS CONDITIONS HE CHOSE. (Whoever came up with the goofy idea that man's having free will would impinge on God's Sovereignty, that person needs ..um.."help". Then again, Total Depravity frequently makes such insane conclusions...)
To "get" what Predestination means, then, 3 concepts need further explanation.
Because Sovereignty chose for free will to be free, Christ's free-will substitionary spiritual death is acceptable, and efficacious. The fact that He paid, though, is an act of His Free Will, not yours. Thus, the legal requirement for your consent. His payment DID pay for you to be born the FIRST time (physically), and is sufficient for you to BE born the second time (spiritually, see John 3)...but now that you ARE born the first time, you HAVE choice. And you won't get what God chose for you absent your agreement to the Mediator He chose (see the "L"). Once you've said "yes" to the Gospel (believed in Christ, no more is needed), then Christ's OWN Will for you applies: that is how you become an actual heir, and that is the ONLY way you can become one. No works, no tears of repentance, no walking down aisles, no "inviting Christ into the heart" and all that other emotional folderol. Just Christ. Just believe in Christ. God CHOSE this as the only method, and will do everything it takes to make sure you understand this is the option you have...except coerce you to believe in His Son.
Why do you think the Son mandated killing so many people in the Old Testament (and even will kill many Himself directly at the 2nd Advent, i.e., see Isa 63:1-6)? So to maximally give those poor folks enough objectivity to reverse their life-long negativity to the Gospel! After all, He was going to later take on Humanity and pay for them all..He would do everything short of coercing their wills, even to the point of slow or painful dying, to make them able to choose past their self-imposed barriers of negative volition. It's an awesome God, Who goes to so much trouble..who "hardened" Pharoah simply by giving him judgment-miracle after miracle after miracle, chance after chance after chance, to respond positively to the Gospel.
As we saw in both "U" and "L" above, there are two groups choosing: God, and us. So, obviously He must have decided in advance how He wanted to respond to our choices in time. That's what Predestination and Election are about, conceptually: God's choices in light of the ones He foreknows will be ours.
Foreknowledge does NOT mean God's Free will is somehow "conditioned" on or affected by our choices. Nor does it mean we are forced to make choices. Foreknowledge does mean God is ABSOLUTE INTEGRITY. He is so Scrupulous about His Integrity that He insists on making His Choices only from the REALITY (truth) He foreknows will occur. Foreknowledge means God did NOT..repeat, NOT..gerrymander reality, i.e., interfere with your free will. No stronger statement of His Integrity can be made, but the statement that He chooses based on what He foreknows reality (versus nonreality) will be. That's why it says, "those whom He foreknew, He also predestined", and "those whom he predestined, he also called". (Rom 8:29-30)
SECOND CONCEPT: God's "Election" and "Predestination" components of what theologians call the "Decree" are His CHOICES, based on the foreknown facts
Foreknowledge does NOT mean God's Free will is somehow "conditioned" on or affected by our choices. Nor does it mean we are forced to make choices. Foreknowledge does mean God is ABSOLUTE INTEGRITY. He is so Scrupulous about His Integrity that He insists on making His Choices only from the REALITY (truth) He foreknows will occur. Foreknowledge means God did NOT..repeat, NOT..gerrymander reality, i.e., interfere with your free will. No stronger statement of His Integrity can be made, but the statement that He chooses based on what He foreknows reality (versus nonreality) will be. That's why it says, "those whom He foreknew, He also predestined", and "those whom he predestined, he also called". (Rom 8:29-30)Folks have trouble grasping "foreknowledge". Here's an illustration of it. You're the parent of an adult son, who no longer lives under your care. In conversation with him he tells you he's going to take a certain job (or girlfriend) you know will be a "bad" experience. You could force him to not do it (pretend), but you DON'T -- because you don't want to restrict his freedom of choice. You COULD force him: but you of your OWN free will choose not to. Your choice is thus NOT conditioned upon your son's choice, even though YOU choose to choose in light of the foreknown facts. AGAIN NOTE WELL: YOU are setting the conditions YOU choose. YOU choose to LET your son make his choice and reap the consequences. So..
SECOND CONCEPT: God's "Election" and "Predestination" components of what theologians call the "Decree" are His CHOICES, based on the foreknown facts(here, creature choices). He chooses to base His choices on the facts, because He is Veracity. In a sense, He creates those facts, because nothing would exist unless He Himself says "yes" to it. The facts He creates are what would be reality: which He knows from Omniscience and Veracity, IN ADVANCE. It would be against Veracity to gerrymander reality, and against Righteousness -- so, creature choices are truly free.
[Election is not "conditional" simply because some goofy person insanely assigns man's free will a power equal to God's ('required, in order to be capable of affecting Divine Sovereignty..think about it). This class of total-depravity thinking is the classic black/white error: if man has a choice, God must have "lost" His. 'Like saying, if it's not a cat, it MUST be a dog!]
[In any period of time, whether pre- or post- Cross, "saved" is always the same method: faith in Christ (the "L", here). "Election" means you are "chosen" by God to have a relationship with Him, forever (permanently -- you can't lose salvation). He was known by many other names in the Old Testament, even as He is given many additional names from His Birth onward. "Nicks" don't alter salvation method. Some folks just haven't learned this fact yet, so there is some false teaching out there that somehow salvation is different, in different "ages" of historical time.]
Predestination means, basically, that you have an inheritance, which over time you can start to receive even while still in this body. The particular benefits of salvation vary in one's lifetime and afterwards, based upon the age in which one lives, and how one progresses in spiritual growth. This variance is partly due to the fact that there are interrelated "covenants" which apply to given groups at given times -- and, in eternity. ("Dispensation" is a Bible word which identifies a covenanted group with its particular "age", generally speaking.) And, even within each covenant, one must first develop the spiritual capacity to ENJOY the inheritance, prior to receiving it. (Example: money is a terrible thing to have, if you don't know how to use it!) Ergo, much of the promised benefits occur AFTER death, because you need to be in a perfect body, to get full enjoyment out of those benefits! So, your own predestination assets are thus ALSO tailored to you personally. You are potentially EXTREMELY rich.
The Biblical term "in Christ" is the flagship legal term, the basis of your inheritance position. (Theologians used to call this position "positional sanctification." More on the three types of sanctification will be discussed in V, as I have time to write it up.) Other Biblical terms are many: "heir", "adult son", "child", son, "saint", part of "Bride of Christ", even "priest". (Remember, priests are priests forever, because He is the King-Priest forever, as Heb 5 - 7 explain. See also 1Pet2:5,9, Rev 1:6.) There are many similiar-meaning words, verses. "Inheritance" is a favorite term in Hebrews, and of the apostle Paul's. (A full list of the terminology way long to list.)
In any event, as even the verses containing these few terms attest: you are forever saved. A person can't become unborn, once born! ["Inheritance" is one of many ways the Bible teaches the permanence of salvation. If you don't know what the word means, ask an attorney. "Inheritance" is a legal term. Legally, a "son" remains a "son" even if dead. True, inheritances are often conditional (and so is God's, in Christ), but sons ALWAYS have some legal rights under law, simply by virtue of being BORN (or adopted) as sons. So also, under God's law. (1Cor3:12-15 is a good summary; verse 15 makes it clear even the worst believer remains saved). You'd have to NEVER have become a son, to have no rights. Ergo your sonship status is permanent. More on this topic is in IV and V, passim, since the Bible has many, many different ways of explaining the permanence of salvation..always due to Christ's merit, NEVER man's action.]
Remember, it GLORIFIES Christ that you collect your inheritance; the Father awards Christ a people who are maximally attractive to Him. That is why you have the inheritance laid up for you. So, it isn't wrong to receive, or somehow selfish. God chose FIRST, remember: He is the one who CHOSE to benefit YOU. (Shouldn't Christ get beings to rule who are rich and attractive? That's the criterion, so you can relax about being rich..and be CAREFUL not to miss out on learning HOW!)
Teachers seem to agree that we will all live with Him forever, and that while still in this body we are protected by Him; a sort of "kingdom" on earth, within the "world", which Satan rules. They agree that the protection and the spiritual life accoutrements are many and RICH, and you don't have to wait until you die, to begin collecting! In fact, all the chance you have to choose how much of the inheritance you'll receive from Him...is in this lifetime, only.
There is, however, great variation among Christian teachers here concerning what on-earth and in-heaven benefits you have, how you should live/use the benefits you have, and when they are conveyed. [Example: not all teachers believe in the "exanastasis" (Greek word in Phillipians 3:11, "exit resurrection".."rapture" is taken from the Latin translation of a different verse). The much-maligned "Rapture" is in fact a warning to not neglect growing up in your "so-great salvation", never the spiritual baby's "escape" from the pain of this life!]
Which phrasing of these particulars will suit the individual reader, I don't know. Therefore, it is best the reader go to his own pastor for details. V. will cover only the commonly-accepted benefits, as I have time to write them up. (Teachers disagree on the particulars, the difference being usually stress on some things, and a glossing-over of others. VIII's "3" and "4" offer a short explanation of why-the-variance, in passing.)
THIRD CONCEPT: Those who will not believe are allowed to go to the Lake of Fire (aka "LOF"), because they do not want Him. To disallow this is to be coercive, which violates Sovereignty, Righteousness, Truth, Love, -- in short, all of His Attributes.
To force it is likewise obviously coercive -- and not His will, as many verses attest (the "not willing that any should perish" verse in Peter springs to mind, for example).
So, as with Pharoah, it gets to the point that any further dialogue with that person only succeeds in "making" the person yet MORE hostile to you. So, what do you do? You cease to have contact. So -- did you force the person to be continually hostile? Did you force the person to reject you? NO. The person kept on being irrevocably hostile to you. So, the only KIND thing you can do, is -- to cease contact.
Let's circle on this point a bit more. People who reject the Bible, and even those who don't, have a real tough time here. They look at unbelievers they know who are "nice" people. Surely, God would not let such a nice person go to Hell? (Conversely, some self-righteous people look at "nasty" behavior and say "Surely, so-and-so is not a Christian!")
The problem is, "nice" by OUR standards isn't "nice" by God's standards. And, a person who rejects such an EASY way to be saved, how "nice" is such a person, really? I mean, it's not our right to adjudge (besides, one can forget he believed in Christ, but God doesn't forget, so that alleged-unbeliever might actually be saved and "forgot").
Still, if someone rejects a gift over and over and over which is in his best interest, the rejector has some kind of a problem. Maybe it's an honest misunderstanding (we all started out as unbelievers). Maybe it's reaction to goofy Christians (who are indeed annoying). And maybe it's something else...arrogance. We just don't know. But God knows. Think it over: people who until death NEVER believe despite a boatload of offers (God, Who we remember from "I" has a total monopoly on revealing Himself, so ALONE is Responsible for making Gospel known, won't let them die until they are TOTALLY informed yet TOTALLY hostile), how "nice" are they? They must not be very nice by that point, however nice they SEEM to be to other people. After all, if the Father's Son is being rejected countless times, it's certainly not gratitude for His Payment...
Two important verses may help you see that a person ONLY goes to LOF for NEVER believing. Let's look at them: 1st one is John 16:9 "concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me" (RSV). If you'll look at it in context, even in English, it's clear Who's doing the convincing: the Holy Spirit. So, human failure to communicate is no barrier. So, the spiritual death of the unbeliever is not a barrier. Most importantly, it is NOT sin but unbelief in Christ which is the object of the Holy Spirit's "convincing". Sin is not the issue, because it was nailed for EVERYONE to the Cross.
Notice also, "do not". The Greek makes it clear that "do not" means "never"; "not-to-date", actually, meaning, "not so far". So, if by death still "not so far", then it means "never".
2nd one is even stronger: John 3:18 "is condemned already, because he HAS NOT believed in the name of the only Son of God." The context makes it clear salvation is in view. I capitalized "HAS NOT" to stress it.
Logic tells you right away that if you had EVER believed, "has not" is no longer true for you. Again, it's a "not-to-date" meaning. So, if not-to-date-of-death, then the person is an unbeliever. (The obverse meaning also is true: if "has not" is NOT true, then the person is PERMANENTLY saved. Think that one over, if you worry that salvation can be lost.)
(There are MANY other verses, but these two are pretty clear from the English.)
We can't tell who's saved, and we can't tell who isn't, but logically, it takes a LOT of arrogance to continually and KNOWINGLY reject the Gospel by the time of death. Arrogance toward God. We know such total arrogance exists, because we know Satan is like that. And who would know more about God than the highest angel ever made? Yet, this same one is also the most personable and beautiful person ever made (lots of verses on it -- ask your pastor. I don't want to get too far off-topic).
No one likes the idea of anyone going to LOF. Least of all God. Remember, He's Omniscient, and long before there was a creation HE KNEW ALL THAT PAIN, more than any creature going to be in it will EVER know. And He had His Son PAY for it all. So, don't you think, if there were a better way around it, He'd have created it? Since the pain of knowing is so infinitely greater than the pain of any one person? It's not as though God shuts His Omniscience "off", so every pain of every person ever, HE BEARS first..and it NEVER goes away, for Him. So He must love us, even when we totally reject Him forever. (Lots of folks try to say, "Yeah, therefore Hell doesn't and will not exist." I'd love to go through the verses and conclude the same, but the evidence against such a wonderful wish is too strong. There's much on the web re the existence of LOF, so I'll not try to prove it here.)
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