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)
9 Comments Add yours
The word predestined means “to set boundaries in advance”. You are correct, the entire problem with this “controversy”, is that we have considered it from a self-centered perspective. Predestination means that God, before the foundation of the world, determined and set the specific boundaries in which His eternal intention, will, and pleasure would be found. He determined that those boundaries to be IN HIS SON. Therefore, those in the Son are only predestined because they are found in the place predetermined of the Father. The place in which He even chose from Himself: His Son. Should we not simply rejoice that the “lines” have fallen to us in such a pleasant place?
Very well said, Rabon. Thank you for that comment. I wasn’t sure I made my thoughts clear enough. If folks read your comment, it will help them follow what I’m saying.
Love the focus on Christ and not us! Great way to readjust our mindset. (I need that from time to time…. 🙂 ) I love that I am not a judge but a witness of Christ and His love and power to redeem anyone and that I have a ministry of reconciliation.
Amen, Micah. Thanks for your comment 🙂
what about 1 peter 2:8?
I think my comments on Romans 8:29 also speak to 1 Peter 2:8.
In context, Peter is talking about believers & unbelievers (1 Peter 2:7). So I think he is speaking to the fact that they have different destinies. I don’t think he is saying some are destined to be believers while others are destined to be unbelievers.
Thanks for your comment, & I hope I’ve addressed what you were asking 🙂
This topic always reminds me of one of my favorite verses – especially the first phrase of Revelation 22:17 (ESV), The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” It should be evident that those “in Christ” are the Bride speaking from eternity into time. It is a fait accompli; something that has been done and cannot be changed. And yet in time, and from our perspective, we really do choose, but as has been said above, we choose within a predetermined boundary.
Interesting take, Cam. I’ve never thought of the bride in Revelation speaking from eternity into time but I can see there’s a case for that in the context of Revelation 21 & 22. Another reader commented on FB that all major Christian doctrines involve impossible paradoxes–Christ is God & man for instance. Your comment reminds me of that: we are chosen, yet choose. Thanks for addingto the discussion 🙂