The topic for this discussion is “Predestination”.
Predestination is a theological doctrine that has been discussed by great theologians for centuries.
Our intention here is not to present fresh arguments.
This is only a short message presenting the doctrine of “Predestination” in simple and lucid way for laymen and beginners.

Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul.
Predestination is truly a Biblical doctrine.
The term “predestined” is found four times in two of Paul's epistles.
Romans 8: 29 & 30
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.   (NKJV)

Ephesians 1: 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  (NKJV)

The words translated “predestined” is from the Greek word pro-or-izo, which carries the meaning of “determine beforehand,” “ordain,” “to decide upon ahead of time.”
So, predestination is God determining certain things to occur ahead of time.

What did God determine ahead of time?
According to Romans 8:29 & 30, God predetermined that certain individuals would be conformed to the likeness of His Son, be called, justified, and glorified.
Predestination is the biblical doctrine that God in His sovereignty chooses certain individuals to be saved.

Westminster Confession of Faith

Before we move further, let us learn few things about the historical event known as the Westminster Confession of Faith.
In 1643, the English Parliament called upon "learned, godly and judicious Divines" of 151 theologians to meet at Westminster Abbey.
They were mostly Presbyterians and Puritans.
The intention of the meeting was to provide advice on issues of worship, doctrine, government and discipline of the Church of England.
Their meetings, over a period of five years, produced the Westminster Confession of Faith.
The Confession of Faith, became the standard of doctrine for the Church of Scotland in 1647 without amendment and many Presbyterian churches throughout the world.
But the Church of England, at first, hesitated to adopt every details of the confession, but later adopted it in 1690 by King William of Orange without any change.
Several other denominations, after that, including Baptists and Congregationalists, have used adaptations of it as a basis for their own doctrinal statements.

The Westminster Confession is always considered subordinate to the Bible.
The document addresses doctrines such as the Trinity, the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, sola scriptura, and sola fide, etc.
The Confession of Faith is considered by many to be the best statement of systematic theology ever framed by the Christian church.
As an attempt to “correctly handle the word of truth”, the Westminster Confession of Faith has stood the test of time and remains a prime doctrinal standard for Protestants and evangelicals everywhere.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III, article 3, 4 & 5 states that:

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestined and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.


The Westminster Confession of Faith is a systematic exposition of Calvinism, written from a Puritan viewpoint.

Now what is Calvinism?
John Calvin (1509 - 1564) was a French theologianpastor and reformer living in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation.
His principal contribution is the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism.

By predestination, John Calvin meant, the eternal decree of God, by which He determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man.
All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation.
Accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that human beings have been predestinated to life or to death.

The Five Points of Calvinism

Calvinism upholds Five Points.
They are easily remembered through the acronym TULIP, which stands for:

·        Total depravity;
·        Unconditional divine election;
·        Limitation of the atonement;
·        Irresistibility of divine grace; and
·        Perseverance in grace to the end.

In summary, they mean that:

·        All human beings are so corrupt that they can do nothing toward their own salvation.
·        Salvation is not open to all, but is granted only to those God elected from the foundation of the world.
·        The election of individuals is not in any way dependent upon the character or works of those elected, but is solely the result of God's sovereign will.
·        The elect are drawn to God through irresistible grace.
·        Loss of salvation is not possible.

Since these five areas are crucial to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, let's examine them one by one.

1.   Total Depravity

The “T” in TULIP is for Total Depravity.
Westminster Confession of Faith explains total depravity as follows:
Our first parents failed to the temptation of Satan and sinned in eating the forbidden fruit.
By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed.
The same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.
By this original corruption we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, wholly inclined to all evil and transgressions.

Definitely no rational person denies the existence of human depravity.
This world is permeated with sin.
Murder, rape, crimes of cruelty, lewdness, and every form of perverse behavior occur daily.

Paul teaches, in Romans 5: 12 – 21, that all people are involved in Adam’s sin and are therefore under a sentence of death because of their sin.

2.   Unconditional Divine Election

The “U” in TULIP stands for Unconditional Divine Election.
In Calvinist theology, unconditional election is considered to be one aspect of predestination in which God chooses certain individuals to be saved.
The elect were particularly chosen or marked out for salvation, long before they were born.
And God elected them unconditionally.
This means that God's effectual calling is unrelated to anything foreseen in those He particularly elects.

Calvinists insist that God did not look into the future to seek out, and elect those who would voluntarily submit to His will.
God arbitrarily chose a certain number of specific individuals.
If God's decision is ever the result of anything we think or do, He somehow loses His sovereignty, or His control over history and the lives of men.
Therefore the specific number and names of those to be saved was indelibly set before the dawn of time and no human being can change it.

This election has been called "unconditional" because his choice to save the elect does not depend on anything inherent in any chosen person, on any act that a person performs or on any belief that a person exercises.
Those elected receive mercy, while those not elected receive justice without condition.
This unconditional election hinges upon the absolute sovereignty of God over the affairs of man.
God unconditionally elects certain people even though they are sinful as an act of his saving grace apart from the shortcomings or will of man.
Those chosen have done nothing to deserve this grace.

3. Limited Atonement

The “L” in TULIP is for Limited Atonement.
Calvinism insists that the atonement of Jesus Christ is limited.
This means that it was never God's purpose to bring all men to conversion and ultimate salvation.
The redemption made possible by Christ's death and resurrection, is not, and never will be, available to all men.
Atonement applies only to the elect, who have been predestined before the foundation of the world was laid.

Here others disagree with Calvin citing John 3: 16.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   (NKJV)

The Bible clearly says that, Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.
Christ died for all human beings and God desires all to come to repentance and none to perish.

But salvation offered by the atonement of Jesus is received only by faith in Jesus.
Salvation is a legal offer to everyone, without violating the Free Will of humans, to accept or reject it.
God lovingly interacts with humans, giving each of us the ability to choose whether to accept His provisions of salvation.
God never force salvation upon anyone.

4.   Irresistible Divine Grace

The “I” in TULIP is for Irresistible Divine Grace.
Calvinists distinguish between "common grace" and "saving grace."
Common grace consist of natural blessings shared by the just and the unjust.

“Saving Grace” is reserved for the elect only and pertains to salvation.
Saving grace is the drawing power of God that causes an individual to desire and accept the gospel, and prevents him from rejecting salvation.
It is irresistible in that the person drawn by such grace is made willing and responsive, so has no choice in the matter.

Calvinists argue that, God makes sinners responsive to the Gospel.
God does not force a person to be saved; a person is made willing, not forced into something that is against his will.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  (NKJV)

It is true that, God does draw people by his grace; He enlightens and enables us, and even works out events in our lives to help us realize the necessity of repentance.
Jesus said, in John 6:44, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him”   (NKJV)

But make no mistake, the drawing power of grace can be resisted.
The recipient of grace still has the power to choose between good and evil.
This fact is brought out most clearly in the book of Hebrews:

Hebrews 6: 4 - 6
4    For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5    and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6    if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.  (NKJV)

The text informs us that some people who have been enlightened and drawn to God by His grace, are fully capable of falling away through returning to a life of sin.
That means, Grace is not irresistible; grace can be both resisted and rejected.

5.   Perseverance in Grace to the end

The last word “P” in TULIP stands for Perseverance in Grace to the end.
It means that the Saved cannot forfeit their salvation.

They whom God hath accepted, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace.
They shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
Calvinists believe that "once saved is always saved".

They may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalence of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein.
Thus they may incur God's displeasure, and grieve the Holy Spirit.
Thus they may bring temporal judgment upon themselves.

In other words, the elect can only partially and temporarily fall away; they can experience momentary lapse.
But God will never permit them to reach the point of no return, and that salvation can never be forfeited.

But scriptures clearly contradict the notion that, once saved is always saved.
What we read above from Hebrews 6: 4 - 6 plainly say that it is not possible to renew those who have fallen away into sin.
Those who wilfully return to a life of sin no longer have a sacrifice for sins.
Let me quote one another verse:

Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,  (NKJV)


If we conclude this message after thinking about Calvin only, this study will be partial and incomplete.
So let us think about Arminianism also.

What is Arminianism?
Arminianism is another system of belief that attempts to explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will, especially in relation to salvation.
It is a response and reaction to Calvinism.

Arminianism is named after Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian, who lived from 1560 to 1609.
While Calvinism emphasizes the sovereignty of God, Arminianism emphasizes the responsibility of man.
Like Calvinism, Arminianism is also broken down into five points

1. Partial Depravity

The first point of Arminianism is Partial Depravity.
Arminianism also agree that Humanity is depraved but still able to seek God.
We are fallen and tainted by sin but not to the extent that we cannot chose to come to God and accept salvation, with the help of prevenient grace from God.
Given such grace, human will is free and has the power to yield to the influence of the Spirit.
But many Arminians reject partial depravity and hold a view very close to Calvinistic total depravity.

2. Conditional Election

The second point is Conditional Election, in opposite to Calvin’s Unconditional Election.
The Arminian concept of Conditional Election is the belief that God chooses for eternal salvation those whom he foreknows will exercise their free will to respond to God's prevenient grace with faith in Christ.
God only “chooses” those whom He knows will choose to believe.
No one is predetermined for either heaven or hell.

But this argument weakens God’s sovereign authority to intervene in the life of human beings.

3. Unlimited Atonement

Jesus died for everyone, even those who are not chosen and will not believe.
Jesus’ death was for all humanity, and anyone can be saved by belief in Him.

1 John 2: 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  (NKJV)

Jesus’ salvation is available to anyone and everyone who will believe in Him.
Scripture clearly supports this view and we have quoted above another verse to support this argument.

4. Resistible Grace

The fourth point in Arminian theology is Resistible Grace.
God’s call to be saved can be resisted or rejected.
We can resist God’s pull toward salvation if we choose to.
As we said before, Grace towards salvation is a legal offer, with freedom to accept or reject.

The truth is that God does not violate our will by choosing us and redeeming us.
Rather, He changes our hearts so that our Free Will, will choose Him.
Many theologians support the view, Resistible Grace”, because it suits better to our Free Will.

5. Conditional Salvation

The fifth point of Arminianism is Conditional Salvation.
Christians can lose their salvation if they actively reject the Holy Spirit’s influence in their lives.
The maintenance of salvation is required for a Christian to retain it.
And scripture, as we have already discussed above, supports Conditional Salvation.

Types of predestination

Now let us move to the concluding part of this study.
There are three different views about divine election of saints.

Unconditional election, the view of Calvin, is the belief that God chooses whomever He will, based solely on His purposes and apart from an individual's Free Will.

The Arminian view of Conditional election is the belief that God chooses for eternal salvation those whom he foresees, will have faith in Christ.
This belief emphasizes the importance of a person's free will.

An alternative viewpoint is Corporate election, which distinguishes God's election and predestination for corporate entities such as the church.
Individuals can benefit from that community's election and predestination so long as they belong to that community.

Among these three views concerning predestination, Calvinism is more favored.
It teaches that God's predestining decision is based on the knowledge of His own will rather than a foreknowledge, concerning every particular person and event.
God continually acts with entire freedom, in order to bring about His will in completeness, but in such a way that the freedom of the creature is not violated, "but rather, established".

Foreknowledge of God

Along with the knowledge of predestination, we should have an idea about the “foreknowledge of God”.

Romans 8: 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

The Greek verb behind “to foreknow” (proginosko) generally means to know something ahead of time.
If we apply this meaning of the word, God knew that a certain person will respond positively to the gospel and believe, and on the basis of that foreknowledge God predestined him.

Certainly, since God knows everything, it would have been possible for God to base His predestination and election of individuals upon His foreknowledge of the future.
This is the Arminian view of predestination.

But the word foreknew in Romans 8:29 is not speaking of God's knowing the future.
The words “know” and “foreknow” creates a different picture in the Bible.
In Scripture God’s knowing often refers to his entering into relationship with someone.
The word know is sometimes used in the Bible to describe an intimate or personal relationship between a man and a woman.
It is a predetermined relationship in the knowledge of God whereby God brings the salvation relationship into existence by decreeing it into existence ahead of time.
Before God ever created the heavens and earth, and a long time before we were ever born, God knew His elect in a personal way and chose them to be His sheep.
This election was done not because they would someday follow Him but in order to guarantee that they would follow Him.
His knowing them and choosing them is the reason they follow Him, not the other way around.
The issue really is not whether or not God knows who will believe, but why some believe and others do not.
God chooses to have mercy on some and others He leaves in their sinful rebellion.

Free Will and Predestination

If God is choosing who is saved, doesn’t that undermine our Free Will to choose and believe in Christ?
The Bible says that we have the choice - all who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved.
The Bible never describes God rejecting anyone who believes in Him or turning away anyone who is seeking Him.
Somehow, in the mystery of God, predestination works hand-in-hand with a person being drawn by God (John 6:44) and believing unto salvation.
God predestines who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved.
Both facts are equally true. 


The most common objection to the doctrine of predestination is that it is unfair.
Why would God choose certain individuals and not others?
The important thing to remember is that no one deserves to be saved.
We have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and are all worthy of eternal punishment (Romans 6:23).
As a result, God would be perfectly just, in allowing all of us to spend eternity in hell.
However, God chooses to save some of us.
He is not being unfair to those who are not chosen, because they are receiving what they deserve.
God’s choosing to be gracious to some is not unfair to the others.
God is simply gracious to some.

There are problems with both systems, but we see Calvinism more biblically based than Arminianism.
However, both systems fail to adequately explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s Free Will.
It is impossible for a finite human mind to discern a concept only God can fully understand.

Let me cut short this message, hoping that this short study has been a blessing to you all.
Meet you again with another topic for discussion.
May God keep you sound and safe! Amen!

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