What About Predestination?
One of the doctrines American Christians struggle with the most is predestination. This is sometimes called the doctrine of election. It is the Bible’s teaching that God looks down upon a dark world of sin and rebellion and chooses to save some and not others. This is a tough one for Americans who put choice and freedom at the top of our values list. Yet, the Bible teaches divine election in passage after passage. Not only God’s election of Israel, but God’s predestination of individuals. Romans 9:18 says, “Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens who He wants to harden.” In other words, God is not an equal opportunity convicter. He chooses to open the blinded eyes of some sinners, and not others. Considering our rebellion and wickedness, the real question is why does God elect anyone?
While the Bible teaches predestination, at the same time, the Bible also clearly teaches that all people are fully accountable for their choices to God. Human responsibility is clearly taught throughout the Bible. In D.A. Carson’s excellent book, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (an abridged version of his doctoral dissertation at Cambridge), he reminds us that God’s total sovereignty is clearly taught in the Scriptures, and so is full human accountability and responsibility.
But saying that we are accountable for our choices is different from saying that sinful human beings have a “free will”. The Bible never teaches that the fallen human will is “free”. What it does teach is that the human will is in bondage to sin and wickedness. We are born slaves to sin. That’s why God must override a sinner’s innate depravity if they are going to have the ability to repent and believe. As with all doctrines, whether we like them or not, may we all listen to the text of Scripture to the best of our ability. This is our calling as believers in Jesus. Another great book on this subject is R.C. Sproul’s book, Chosen by God.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor