In my last post, I asked readers to respond to John Calvin’s comments on predestination. So far, there have been no comments. Maybe this is a subject people don’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole! If there are any brave souls out there, feel free to comment on this post or the last one. I would still love to hear your thoughts on this subject. At any rate, I promised to give my two cents on the subject, so here goes.
The Bible is not about us, first and foremost. It is about Christ. A great many distortions arise when we make ourselves the subject of scripture instead of Jesus. This interpretive mistake affects our understanding of predestination.
Ephesians 1:4 says, “For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world….” We hear this verse saying, “He chose us to be in Him,” meaning that before creation God selected some to be in Christ and not others. But the verse doesn’t say “He chose us to be in Him.” It says, “He chose us in Him.” God chose Christ before the foundation of the world. Those in Christ share in His choosing. Inasmuch as Christ was chosen, we were chosen—in Him. We miss this because we make ourselves the subject of this verse when the subject is “in Him.”
Let’s consider Romans 8:29—“For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the first among many brothers.” This verse says nothing about some being predestined to be in Christ. It does say those in Christ have a predestined end—we will be conformed to the image of His Son. Those in Adam also have a predestined end. They conform to their sinful nature. All in Christ share His image and indestructible life. All in Adam share his image and will suffer destruction. I heard it put this way once: Adam and Christ are like trains with predetermined destinations. Life is our opportunity to get on one train or the other.
Calvin also brings up passages about Israel, God’s chosen people under the old covenant: “Yet the Lord was devoted to your fathers and loved them. He chose their descendants after them—He chose you out of all the peoples, as it is today” (Deut. 10:15). Calvin sees passages like this as evidence that God chooses some people to be His and to be saved. I would submit that Israel was a picture of Christ, the New Man, and all those in Him. Consider Exodus 4:22-23 in this light: “This is what Yahweh says: Israel is My firstborn son. I told you: Let My son go so that he may worship Me….” Passages about God choosing Israel underscore what I said about Ephesians 1:4—God chose Christ. When we are included in Christ by faith, we share in that choosing.
Predestination is a complex subject. I don’t expect to settle a centuries-old debate with a post of a few hundred words. But I hope I have introduced another perspective; one in which we view predestination and the whole of scripture through Christ instead of ourselves.
- Predestined Controversy (thevoiceofone.org)