This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.
The Bible refers to some people as “predestined.” What does that mean? How does predestination fit into God’s work of redemption? And if the Bible presents a fatalistic view of predestination, is there any room for human freedom?
As we search the Scriptures for answers, it’s good to remember that, for followers of Jesus, it is biblically faithful to say, “I am predestined.”
Predestination is God’s plan from eternity past to complete the work of redemption in every saint, fully conforming us to the image of His Son.
The Greek word proorizo and its variations, found six times in the New Testament, carry the meaning of “predestine,” “limit or mark out beforehand,” “design definitely beforehand,” or “ordain ahead of time.” Proorizo comes from two Greek words: pro, which means “before” or “ahead of,” and horizo, which means “to appoint, decide, or determine.”
Rev. 13:8 – All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered. (HCSB)
The sovereignty of God and the freedom of human beings are two seemingly irreconcilable biblical truths. Just as Satan acts freely to empower a beast who acts freely, those who worship these evil beings act freely as well. They make choices for which they are held accountable, and unbelievers will join Satan, the beast and the false prophet in the lake of fire. At the same time, their deeds are known to God and always have been known by Him, just as the willful acts of believers always have been in God’s view.
While some argue that God merely foresees the faith of the righteous and the rebellion of the unrighteous, and others contend that God has determined all things (without becoming the Author of sin or the Creator of a fixed game), it appears the ways of God are beyond human understanding. If God can allow Satan and his minions to slaughter countless Christians for no other reason than their staunch faith in His Son, and through these sinful acts enable believers to conquer the dragon by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, can He not also allow unbelievers to worship a false Messiah and vindicate Himself in their judgment?
We do God a disservice when we accuse Him either of dispassionate sovereignty or spineless foreknowledge. He is sovereign. He knows all things. He has all power and authority. And in the midst of this mind-boggling transcendence, He created people in His image and entrusted them with the ability to make choices for which they are held responsible. Though the beast-worshiping unbelievers of Revelation 13 are excluded from the Lamb’s book of life, they would never have signed their names anyway – even if the Son of God opened the pages Himself and offered them a pen.