Choose, Elect, and Predestine
In the New Testament and mostly in the writings Paul, we find references to the words choose/chosen (Matthew 22:14; John 15:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:13), elect/election (Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; Romans 8:33), and Predestine (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4,5,11,12).
Some have wrongly interpreted these words to mean that God does predestine some people to life and some to death. The doctrine of “Predestination” means that all events have been willed by God and that He willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others. One of the main verses that is often used to support the doctrine of predestination is found in Romans 8:28-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestine to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The word “Foreknow (Greek proginōskō) means “to know beforehand” (Acts 26:5; Romans 11:2; 1 Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:17). God foreknows because He is omniscient, that is, He knows all things. Having foreknowledge of what decisions people would make is far different from predetermining it.
God does predestine every person that has ever been born, to have eternal life. God gives people the freedom to choose to be saved or lost. He, being all-knowing, knows what people will choose. But He does not interfere with their decisions and predestines their lives. People make their own choices.
What Do the Scriptures Teach?
No Bible author teaches that the Lord does predestine some people to be saved and some other people to be lost, despite their own freedom of choice in the matter. On the contrary, the Scriptures clearly teach:
For God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
“Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other”
God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11).
“Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
“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” (John 3:16).
Christ Himself said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Human Freedom of Choice
The doctrine that God predestines humans rejects a fundamental teaching of the Bible—that people have freedom of choice and that God holds them accountable for the choices they make. In the Old Testament, God appealed to Israel to make right choices and then held them accountable for the choices they made. “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
And in the New Testament, we see the same principle of accountability to choices, Christ said: “For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36). God will have us answer for our actions. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Also, Paul says, “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10).
While Salvation is offered freely to all, sadly, not all accept the gospel invitation. Jesus says: “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14; 20:16). Salvation will not be forced upon people against their will. For God respects people and their decisions.
What Does Romans 8:29 Mean?
The purpose of this verse is a practical one. Paul simply tries to comfort the troubled children of God and affirms to them that their salvation is secure with the Lord and that it is in the process of being fulfilled according to His plan. Jesus Himself promised, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
In His service,