Predestination & Free Will
Since God has knowledge of everything, He knows the future. Omniscience in the omnipotent God requires the existence of predetermination, or in other words, predestination. To reject predetermination is to refuse to believe in an omniscient omnipotent God. And without omniscience or omnipotence, God could not be trusted to bring about a fulfillment of all that He has promised through his prophets. He would not be the almighty God of the Bible. Through the prophet Isaiah God declares that He knows the future. (Isa 42:9; 46:10; 48:5)
Suppose hypothetically there is no predestination, and suppose that God cannot foretell the free will choices of man. Then when God chooses (foreordains) a man for a specific assignment, He cannot be certain that when the time comes the man will actually do it. Under these circumstances, if He were to foretell through a prophet that a certain person will accomplish a certain task (as sometimes contained in prophecy), neither God nor we can be confident that the prophecy will come true. In effect the form of prophecy would be “a certain action may be completed by a certain individual as long as he chooses to use his free will to do so.” Such prophecy is of little value because the prophet would only be saying that it might happen, or it could happen, or at best it will probably happen. But he certainly would not be saying that it will happen. Such hypothetical condition of prophecy contradicts the Bible, which states,You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
The expression "be afraid" is translated from the Hebrew word guwr in the original language of the text. According to Strong’s Hebrew dictionary this word means "to turn aside from the road (for a lodging or any other purpose)." In other words the scripture above is telling us don’t "turn away from the path you are on or change direction" because of this prophet or in other words don’t "follow" this prophet because he has not spoken true prophecy. Thus, true prophecy comes true. Anything that does not come true is not true prophecy. It is not from God, and the one who speaks it is not a true prophet.
So our original hypothesis that “there is no predestination” cannot be true.
The idea that God only foreordains people to do things, but must have backup alternatives in the event that
they don't follow through, doesn't work when you take a little time to carefully think about it. Consider the following
episode near the end the first mission of Jesus on earth:
Jesus knows before hand who will betray him and who will follow him among all of us even though each of us has the free will to make that decision: Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. (John 6:64)
Foreordination (Greek proginosko) means that God has assigned someone to a task or responsibility
ahead of time, and God occasionally foreordains. (1 Peter 1:20) But God didn't want Judas to turn Jesus over to
killers, and He certainly didn't assign Judas to that task. The apostle Peter tells us that God doesn't want anyone
to fail. (2 Peter 3:9) We think with sadness about an innocent Man dying on the cross on behalf of others - on
our behalf. But I think that God is also sad about the infinite misery that Judas caused himself. I think that
He wishes with all his heart that Judas didn't have to go through what he went through
- misery that drove him to suicide. But God has the wisdom
to know with certainty at the beginning of creation that Judas would do exactly what he did. (Acts 2:23) And God
did not prevent it because free will is irrevocable - otherwise it wouldn't be free will. Thus, Judas' act is predetermined,
or in other words predestined, simply because God has the infinite wisdom to know for certainty that it would happen.
Furthermore, God made use of Judas' betrayal to achieve his purpose, which is redemption and eternal life for those
who would accept the gift of the atonement of his Son.
God is omniscient and omnipotent, and the Bible refers to predestination in Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:5&11. These references are translated correctly. The original Greek word in each case is próorízo, which comes from the words pró, meaning before, and horízo, meaning to determine. So, these original words written by the Apostle Paul meant that God predetermined, or predestined. (See note on 1 Cor 2:7 below.)
Yet, without free will people cannot be accountable for their own choices and actions. It is the will of our Heavenly Father that no one should perish (Matthew 18:14). On the other hand Jesus taught that most people would perish, and would do so because of their own choices (Matthew 7:13-14). Thus it is clear from the Bible that God created people with free will, that is the ability to freely choose between obedience to God and rebellion against God. Saving faith comes from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3), but people can use their free will to accept or reject the influence of the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19).
The Bible paints a picture of reality that seems contradictory in our frame of reference. On the one hand it
indicates that God is omniscient and that He knows the future. On the other hand it indicates that He can change
His mind, that He responds to prayer, that He reacts emotionally to earthly events, and that He has created us
with the capacity to make choices and to be responsible for those choices. So it is difficult for the mortal mind
to accept that both are true.
In conclusion, I don't presume to understand how predestination and free will coexist, but the logic that demands
their mutual exclusivity is incomplete and thus inconclusive. As long as we are in the paradigm of mortal existence
we cannot change our position on the dimension of time at will. As mortals, we cannot comprehend functioning beyond
the dimension of time. But God exists beyond this paradigm, indeed beyond time itself. C.S. Lewis wrote, "Almost
certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are
praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty.
Ten-thirty - and every other moment from the beginning of the world - is always the Present for Him." (Mere
Christianity by C. S. Lewis, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1943, book IV, chapter 3) Thus God is not restricted
to the same limited thinking that we are. To claim that God cannot have certain knowledge of the future without
taking away the free will of mankind is to claim to comprehend God, that is to claim infinite comprehension, which
is in contradiction to the scriptures:
I would like to make a very import distinction at this point. I am not saying that even though the coexistence of predestination and free will is irrational (that is impossible according to known laws) we should nonetheless accept it as reality because the powers of God are beyond our comprehension. To the contrary, I have shown that such coexistence is rational and that it does not defy any known laws provided we realize that such coexistence spans more than one frame of reference. A belief system that asks adherents to believe in things that contradict known laws is irrational and thus unacceptable superstition. (See Healthy Skepticism.) I am only saying, given that the coexistence of predestination and free will defies no laws, there is no obligation on the part of a rational believer explain how they coexist. Simply establishing that it is not impossible is enough to justify the belief that it is possible within the domain of the omniscient God.
The apostle John opens his testimony of the gospel with, Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12) It does not say "those whom he received", but "those who received him". It is our decision to either receive him or reject him.
Note on 1 Cor 2:7:
The NIV translation states, "We speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." The KJV translation states, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world into our glory:" The KJV contains the word ordained where the NIV contains the word destined in this verse. In the original Greek the word is próorízo, which literally means "determined before" or "predestined". So, it is incorrect to say that the KJV translators inappropriately used predestined where the original writing used foreordained. Actually the opposite is true: it is correct to say that the KJV translators occasionally used the word ordained where the original Greek contained the word predestined. So, there are actually more appearances of predestined in the original Greek language of the New Testament than appear in the KJV English translation.
The Greek word for foreordained is proginosko, as used in 1 Peter 1:20, which means to call or assign someone ahead of time to a task.
© 2013 William C. Hamer