Does God predestine people to heaven or hell?

Author: BibleAsk Team

Some people wrongly use Romans 8:29 to teach that God does predestine people’s destinies. This verse says, “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 doctrine of Predestination teaches that all events have been willed by God and that He willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others.

Having foreknowledge of what decisions people would make is far different from predetermining it. According to the Bible, God foresaw, and thus foreknew, each generation that would live upon the earth, He added immediately to His foreknowledge the decision to predestine them all to be saved.

Divine foreknowledge and divine predestination in no way take away human freedom of choice. No Bible author teaches that the Lord does predestine some people to be saved and some others to be lost, despite their own freedom of choice. The Scriptures clearly teach that God does not predestine people but rather invites them all to be saved as seen in the following verses:

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”
 (Isaiah 45:22).

He 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).

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

The 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 appeals to Israel to make right choices. He says, “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 says: “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 men answer for their 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 teaches, “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 it. For “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14; 20:16). Salvation will not be forced upon people against their will. God respects people and their choices, even if they are contrary to His will.

The Meaning of Romans 8:29

The purpose of this verse is a practical one. Paul is simply trying to comfort the troubled children of God and affirm to them that their salvation is secure with the Lord and that it is in process of getting carried out according to His plan. Jesus Himself promises, “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,
BibleAsk Team

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