“In Love He Predestined us” (Ephesians 1: 4b-5a)

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Imagine a long procession of people. It is a mile long celebration of music, dancing and joy. It is not proceeding down a long straight road but through a series of winding corners and avenues where, at times it seems that the procession actually has turned in the opposite direction from when it started. To take the picture parable even further, none of those taking part in the procession have ever walked down the streets of the processional route before. It is all new to them. The creator and sponsor of the procession, however, is hovering above the walkers in a helicopter. From that height he can see every street planned for the route, every turn between the starting point of the procession and the finishing line. He can see where the road narrows and where it broadens; he can see where the crowds of spectators are too thick to allow some of the processional floats to pass. He can see the entire thing from beginning to end continually. By his radio mike he can send messages to turn, pause or even rearrange the marching order because of the narrow roads and the crushing spectators. He can plainly see what is coming and causing addenda’s to the plan. He can see ahead what is happening before the people in the procession have a clue. He can see things happening that some have not yet seen. He can give instructions by radio to stop, move faster, or even change route, and the people in the procession would not even have a clue as to the whys or wherefores of the procession creators mind. To the man on the street receiving instructions he may even think, at times, that the organiser has lost the plot and giving completely arbitrary instructions. From the helicopter he is out of the ground level sense of time and timing, he is visually present at the end and completion of the procession as the end of the group are just starting.

This a crude parable picturing God who lives outside of time and how He knows the beginning from the end of all things.  It is only a partial illustration as the organiser in the helicopter is still in our time and space world. It also falls down on the concept of God being present in the time space world with each person. But it does open our eyes to the beginning of the picture of how God knows beforehand what is happening, and yet at the same time allows us to live and breathe and move in our own free will. Follow me as I conclude from my parabolic picture that:

  1. With God all time is current and the vast expanse of past, present and future is “Now!” This is because He is outside of time looking in.
  2. Therefore all God’s plans and purposes that seem so long in being fulfilled, having been in the process of being worked out from the moment time started and not being completed until time ends, are actually with Him contemporaneously conceived and fulfilled in eternity.
  3. The Divine plan and purpose to sum up the entire procession of creation in Jesus Christ is therefore known to Him fully even before the procession begins. The plan and the purpose was created in eternity, put into a linear development in the time space world, and then is ultimately completed back in the realms of eternity.
  4. Outside of time, yet looking in on time, God can see all other forces outside of the procession of life and the human existence. Some are working both to support the procession and to make the walkers experience closer to the procession creators master plan for us all.
  5. Others, of course are plotting and planning to not only mess up the procession but to get it to flow down the wrong streets at the wrong corners, and even to get some people out of the procession before their time. But the procession creator sees it all and plans and speaks ahead of obstacles happening.
  6. Those things that seem sequential and in a linear order of occurrence are actually seen by God in one plane of eternity.
  7. As the plan was conceived outside of time in eternity past, and will come to complete fulfilment after time in eternity future, God sees the whole thing as processed and done, and deals with us accordingly in our experience of our personal incomplete process.
  8. The parable above, of course, means that his forces have been made privy to some of the outcomes of personal situations and are ministering to those who are heirs of a full and successful processional walk to ensure that the fulfilment is on target. (Hebrews 1:14)
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Therefore knowing beforehand every single solitary decision made by every human being in advance of it being even thought of never mind being made, God predestines the heavenly homes and mansions prepared for the successful processionists. It’s a done deal. Heavenly Father knows the end from the beginning, that is why there are mansions already prepared for those who have not yet even joined the procession.

For these reasons, if God had chosen us before time began, and He did, it is logical that Paul now refers to us as “predestined.” In fact, “chosen before time began” is a straight forward euphemism for “predestined.” But the apostle has further revelation to share with us on the subject of being predestined.

  1. The whole process of predestinating us was God’s action springing from His great and boundless love.
  2. As well as being predestined by being chosen, blessed  and purposed to be holy and without blame, God has actually taken great steps to legally adopt every believer, making us part of His family through the Lord Jesus Christ.
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Predestination is a complex issue to get hold of, and this writer concedes that he has sat in many and participated (in his early days) in a few debates on the subject, and only properly understood about ten percent of the material discussed in them. One cannot argue with the concept of the believer being predestined, but it is the qualifying thoughts around the issue that tend to complicate and confuse.

We must firstly rest solidly on the fact that neither our being predestined as part of the elect, nor God knowing all things before they happen interfere with man’s life of free choice. That is vital to the understanding and the very self evident ground of any discussion on predestination and election. As Berkhof succinctly puts it: “Foreknowledge and election are not inconsistent with free agency.” The fact that God knows and has therefore chosen some does not in the slightest interfere with a person’s free choice, and neither does it mean that He has flatly or wilfully rejected any. The scripture plainly tells us that God is not willing that any should perish but that all may come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Each true believer was chosen to eternal life, that election was based upon the foreknowledge that God gained when He saw that in the perfect exercise of human freedom of choice, they would be induced to repent and choose to put their faith in Christ.

Without the above paragraph being understood and noted as a precursor to being “predestined before the foundation of the world,” the concept could be held as if God chose some and rejected others without reference to their own series of choices by free will. From that misunderstanding many misinterpret the dreaded “P” word in the Bible and then project untrue statements from that basic fault line of understanding. Supposing that Predestination and Election suggests that the elect will be saved no matter how evil they are in heart no matter what they choose to believe is ridiculous. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to salvation via repentance.

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It is because bible teachers do not always lay these principals of understanding out  when predestination is first mentioned that the biblical teaching on Predestination switches Christians off forming their own solid opinion. I have met Christians, young in the faith, who, having heard a few random statements from the pulpit on the subject of Election, start to believe from the “teaching” that there is absolutely no chance or possibility of  the salvation of the non-elect, omitting to stop at the fact that God knows who the elect and non-elect are – but we obviously do not. I have even heard in my time from some Christians the belief that  teaching “predestination” is an encouragement to the elect to live in sin, knowing that their salvation was sure, and vica versa that non-elected people would be driven to desperation, on the ground that for them to make efforts to be saved would be of no avail. But if we do not know the names and numbers of the elect, how could any such thing be true. The ridiculousness of some statements that people make to prove Calvin or Arminius to be right or wrong are breathtaking. It’s a creation of a severe mental mind field if the whole picture is not presented to the Christian who is young in the faith. Just to be clear, in case there is anybody reading these lines who has never entered into the discussion  concerning where God’s sovereignty and man’s free choice meet: The predestination of the elect to salvation could not, and never will convert the predestined elect irrespective of their character, nor does it put the slightest obstacle in the way of the salvation of those not predestined.

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There is no fatalism in the bible teaching of predestination or election. Islam has convictions concerning inscrutable Allah. Neither Jew nor Christian believes in an inscrutable Yahweh. God has laid His will and purpose down in scripture. As we plough on through Ephesians it will be crystal clear that God has revealed the intricacies of his purposes and plans for mankind. There is no inscrutability in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The biblical statements on election are grounds for all of mankind to give thanks. It is no use fighting with God over something that is not understood if one believes they are rejected from God’s embrace of love. God says to everyone, “Repent!”  One cannot have issues with God concerning something that is left for you to choose. If all of humanity were lost, God would be still forever be just. Why? Because He has made the way to salvation plain to all.

I believe it was Charles Finney in his remarkable sermon entitled “Moral Insanity,” who declared how people’s general argumentative response to Election exhibited the madness of the human heart, and its utter opposition to the terms of salvation. The fact that God foreknows all things, and has designs in regard to every event that has ever taken place on the planet, large and small, is never turned into an excuse for remaining passively in wait for God to save us.  Passivity in the realm of the spirit is never correct. Many people just want excuses to falsely justify disobeying God.

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I want to tell the whole world plainly that the question of whether you are to be saved or not is totally left to your own personal decision. You are left to your own devices and choices and to the exercise of your own freedom, as if God neither knew nor designed anything in regard to you, even though it is quite the opposite that is true. When one hears the Gospel declaration to repent and believe in Christ, one is free to believe or otherwise. What will you choose? That is the issue that one’s heart needs to deal with, not, “Am I predestined?”

It was Charles Haddon Spurgeon who said that when God starts bringing people to birth with a large letter “E” on their back (E for Elected) he would thereafter preach only to the elect; until that happens he would preach to everyman with all his might in the assurance that the elect would believe.

God is right and true and just in all things. The Lord is good and everything He does is good. Being predestined and planned for by God Himself is an inspirational and exciting truth of scripture. Every attribute of demands that predestination of the elect is true.

If age is one of the attributes of a human being then eternity must be an attribute of God.  God grows no older, and was never younger than He now is. He was the same age now as He was before time began. There is every probability that if ever, when ever in the ages to come, we leave time and enter into eternity, we will discover that eternity has its own attributes that reduce talking of time and age to nonsense. However, God has put eternity in our hearts and he Himself lives in eternity, therefore he must know all things before they happen.

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God knows all things. He has always known everything. His infinite capacity for knowledge is filled with the knowledge of all things to be known. Omniscience is a plain and straight forward attribute of God. He has eternally possessed this infinite knowledge. Every thing that ever was, is, or is to be known has been known by God from eternity to eternity. It has always been known to God. If anything has not been known to Him God would be neither infinite nor omniscient. So it is plainly reasonable that He knows who would be saved and who would not, before the foundations of the world.

We also need to see that God exercises a universal hand of providence over all events that have, are, or will ever occur in worlds seen and unseen, past present or future and in any other dimension. There are things and events that come about by His direct intervention and will. There are other happenings in all worlds that take place contrary to His own will or active participation. These are events that are under his providential patience, in so far as He permits or suffers them to take place. God leaves humanity to its free choice in most of these occurrences and does not intervene, interrupt or prevent them.  In the end we will see that all bad things, shocking things, atrocious things will in God’s plan and purpose be seen to somehow bring goodness and virtue. Even the repentant dying thief on the cross next to Jesus had the worst possible situation anybody could have, in which the most positive thing happened. Having lived a life that would have proved to many that he clearly was not one of the elect, he comes to faith only minutes before passing into eternity. The observations of man cannot prove or disprove who the elect are.

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All who are converted, sanctified and saved, are made so by God’s own direct agency; that is, God saves them by securing, by his own agency, their personal and individual holiness. All of Adam’s race who are or ever will be saved, were from eternity chosen by God to eternal salvation, through the sanctification of their hearts by faith in Christ. In other words, they are chosen to salvation by means of sanctification. Their salvation is the end and their sanctification is the means. Both the end and the means are elected, appointed, chosen; the means as really as the end, and for the sake of the end.

The subject of the predestined elect, whether understood properly or not, is plainly implicit in the teaching of the Bible as well as explicit. To deny it involves a denial of the attributes of God. Even if it were not mentioned so clearly in the Bible, the fact of predestination would still be ungainsayable and inferred from the vary attributes of God Himself.  (Matt 20:16. Matthew 24:22. John 13:18. John 15:16 and 19. Romans 8:28-29. Romans 9:10-15. Romans 11:5 and 7. Ephesians 1:4 and 11. 1 Thessalonians 1:4. 1 Thessalonians 5:9. 2 Thessalonians 2:13. 1 Peter 1:2. Revelation 17:8.

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Because of God’s infinite goodness and love it follows, that He must have chosen the best end of all things, and the best means of achieving those ends. He is God after all. The fundamental reason for the predestination of the elect is therefore an integral part of the greatest good of the universe. This has all been planned, systematised so as to be effective in a linear time and space world, and effected by the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence and loving wisdom and graciousness of the eternal God. It follows, that the highest good demanded it.

So, we are to bless God for having blessed us with everything heaven has to bless us with, just as He has chosen us in Christ to be Holy and blameless before Him, because He lovingly predestinated us. The long sentence from Ephesians 1:3 through to verse 14 gets broader and fuller of meaning as we read on. It simply oozes with revelations of the Invisible.

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