Clayton Fertick is a student at Lander University, and a student leader at Grace Chapel. He blogs at www.theodysseyonline.com
Free will is a topic that is often stressed in the Church. People make the choice to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. God doesn't force us to, we choose it on our own. But what if we don't? What if our God (who supposedly gives us the choice) didn't really give us that choice at all? Of all of the topics that divide God's people, this has always been the most fascinating to me personally. So I want to talk about predestination - what is it, is it biblical, and does the infallible Word of the Almighty God contradict itself?
God is omnipotent. That is the belief of the vast majority of Christians. He sees all, hears all, knows all. The world is His creation and He has direct, constant control over it. Therefore, He knows the outcome of everything from the beginning of time to the end. And our God is always correct. He has never made a mistake and everything goes according to His plan. So then, he knows who will come to have a personal relationship with Jesus, right? If He knows who will be saved and He can't be wrong, then the question is if we actually have a choice in the matter. Are we independent thinkers who make our own decisions about building that relationship, or are we puppets in the hands of a God who would purposefully keep certain people out of Heaven, separated from Him for all eternity? But before you decide, you need to know if this concept of predetermination is actually biblical.
The short answer is, yes. There is biblical evidence to make an argument in favor of predetermination.
Even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will. (Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV)
Also in Romans 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified."
There are plenty of topics in the Word of God that can be difficult to wrap our heads around. (The Trinity comes to mind.) The Bible is the perfect truth, and I believe it doesn't contradict itself. Clearly, man is supposed to make a decision regarding it's salvation. But God knows the outcome and it is destined to happen. These ideas may coincide. It makes sense that we're supposed to decide for ourselves because that makes our relationship with the Almighty all the more meaningful. But God is omnipotent and knows what we will do in the end.