The Doctrine of Predestination

The doctrine of predestination is a part of the teaching of John Calvin. John Calvin has had a profound influence on the religious world as most denominations today embrace part, if not all, of Calvinism. The doctrine of predestination is the notion that God predetermines certain individuals to be saved and go to heaven and others to be lost and go to hell even before they are born into this world. The eternal destiny of every individual is, therefore, sealed and cannot be changed.

The ramifications of this doctrine are considerable. For instance, there would be no need for the Scriptures to give us instruction in righteousness because our behavior would have no impact upon our salvation. There would have been no reason for Jesus to give the Great Commission for preaching the gospel could have no effect on the hearers. The lost couldn't go to heaven if they wanted to and those predestined by God to salvation are going to go whether they want to or not. The fact is, this doctrine makes God a respecter of persons, which He is not (Acts 10:34). Not only so, this doctrine destroys the free moral agency of man.

God has always given man free will the ability to choose to receive or reject Him and His will. For instance, Joshua said, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Notice that Elijah gave the people a similar choice, And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word (1 Kings 18:21). We still have the same choice to make today to follow and serve the Lord, or not.

But the decision to follow and serve the Lord is not a one-time thing. In fact, it involves resolve and determination to continue daily to follow and serve Him. Every day we must choose to be faithful to the Lord. The problem with some is that they have not ever truly made that commitment to the Lord. Their choice is not clear for they have not fully made up their minds to serve the Lord daily. Consequently, they continue to be willing to compromise when it gets difficult to follow and serve the Lord. Or they may attempt to evade the choice that must ultimately be made. Such is an exercise in futility, for Jesus said, He who is not with Me is against Me (Matt 12:30).

If man is not a free moral agent, there is no need for a Judgment Day, for man cannot and will not be held accountable for his actions. And yet Paul clearly states, We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10).

If the doctrine of predestination is true, man has no choices to make relevant to his salvation, for God has already decided for him. I know of no doctrine more discouraging that that of predestination, for there is no good news for those not chosen by God. But come to think of it, I have never known anyone that believed in the doctrine of predestination that was not one of God’s elect. Have you?