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Election and Predestination:
My understanding

By Bruce W. Robida

 

 

Before the beginning of time, God, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, unfolded His plan for creation (Before Genesis 1:1).  In a single instance, He could see His entire plan for creation, from beginning to end.  My life and the life of every human who ever existed and those who have yet to be born, are in that plan which is constantly unfolding as God has already determined.  What I do today, God had already seen before time began.  This is true for every part of His creation. Although God’s plan is in a constant state of unfolding (from our perspective), from God’s perspective, it has already taken place since He already saw it from beginning to end.

God chose all humans for salvation, before time began despite His knowledge that not all humans would choose Him. All humans were created despite the fact that some would be created for destruction, and some would be created for salvation (election). Those who were created for destruction, choose their own fate by rejecting God, Who saw their choice before time began. They too were incorporated into God’s plan.

Because of God’s foreknowledge of all things, it has been said that because He knows all things in advance of our doing anything, that He is also the cause of all things.  I cannot accept that statement as fact. First, God cannot be the cause of evil. Second, I don’t believe God causes humans to act.

The argument that God causes evil goes something like this: Since God created all things (e.g. Satan), then it follows that God caused Satan to do evil.

If it is true that God causes (forces) His creation to act, then the statement that God created evil would be true since a person who acts by force (acts outside of his own will) to do anything cannot be held responsible for the consequences of that action. It is the one who does the forcing who is held responsible. But we know that God holds His creation responsible for our own actions.

God cannot contradict His own nature, which is good. He cannot even look upon evil, how is it then that He could have created it?

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Hab. 1:13

The confusion lays in the mistaken idea that God forces mankind to act and to follow the plan that He created since before time began.  It is true that everything God saw before time began will take place. And it is also true that everything that God saw before time began has already taken place. There is nothing we can do to alter that reality. God has already seen my entire life from beginning to end. I will do everything that He saw me do. But does that mean God caused me to do anything? Some people say that I have no choice because God already set my life in motion. Everything that I do, good or bad, was part of His plan before time began. I have no choice but to follow His plan exactly as He laid it out. I cannot change what I have already done (from God's perspective). From my perspective, I have not done everything that I am destined to do (since I am still living). I cannot change what God already saw me do. It will happen. It has already happened.

As I wrote earlier, before the beginning of time, God unfolded His plan for creation.  In a single instance, He could see His entire plan for creation, from beginning to end.  I don’t think anyone will dispute these statements. But what if God, during the unfolding process, adapted His plan based on what we choose on our own to do? For example, when we pray God already knows every prayer that we have ever said. What if He also answered those prayers before time began, incorporating them into His plan? What if He took every choice we ever made in our lives and incorporated those choices into His plan? Is it inconceivable to think that God, who knows all things, might be able to accomplish His plan despite giving His human creation free will? Since it isn’t possible for God to be the cause of evil, there must be a reasonable explanation as to the ultimate cause of evil. It is true that God created Satan. It cannot be true that God created evil. Therefore, Satan’s own free choice to do evil must have been the first cause of evil. Likewise, when Eve was tempted in the Garden of Eden, her choice to disobey God must have been the first cause of human evil. If God created mankind to have the freedom to do what we want to do, then evil is a result of that free will and not God. Evil is the creation of Satan, because he was endowed with the gift of free will.

Inevitably, someone will ask, “But what about Isaiah 45:7”?

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” ISA 45:7 KJV

Now look at the same verse from a different Bible version.

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. ISA 45:7 NIV

It depends on the translation. Unfortunately, the King James Version chose to use the word, evil while the New International Version uses the word, disaster. Other translations use other words such as “disaster” (NIV, HCSB), “calamity” (NKJV, NAS, ESV), and “woe” (NRSV). For an more indepth discussion of this verse, see the article, “Why does Isaiah 45:7 say that God created evil?” http://www.gotquestions.org/Isaiah-45-7.html

If God did not create evil, then either evil created itself (impossible), or someone else created it. If someone else created evil, it had to be a free choice to do so. God cannot compel anyone to do evil!

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. JAS 1:13-15

The Bible is clear that it is our own evil desires that do us in. We can’t even say, “The Devil made me do it.” God certainly can’t be held responsible for giving us evil desires. The only logical answer is that He did give us free will. I believe that God created a plan before time began, incorporating our free will. That is the reason He has perfect foreknowledge and that is the reason we have no choice but to follow His plan as He has already determined. We will do everything as He saw it would happen. This is predestination.

Every human is subject to predestination, based on the choices they make, which God saw before the beginning of time. For some, they were created for salvation, based on their choosing God (after He chose them first). This is election. For others, they were created for destruction, also based on the choices they make, which God saw before the beginning of time. Here is another misunderstanding. That God chooses does not mean everyone accepts His choosing. This is called, irresistible grace. Irresistible means that once God chooses you, you have no choice. I believe God chose all people since before time began, but He saw those who would accept His gift of Salvation, and those who would reject Him. Our election is based on His foreknowledge of our choice to accept Him.

There is one more problem that needs to be addressed. The study of predestination and election must include the following verses.

“’I have loved you,’” says the LORD. But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' ‘Was not Esau Jacob's brother?’ the LORD says. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.’” Mal 1:2-3

“Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”  Rom 9:10-13

The question then arises, does God actually hate Esau? Was Jacob created for salvation (election) and Esau created for destruction? Hardly.

When studying the Bible, it is critically important to always study the context of a particular Bible verse or passage. In these instances, the Prophet Malachi and the Apostle Paul are using the name “Esau” to refer to the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob (whom He later renamed Israel) to be the father of His chosen people, the Israelites. God rejected Esau (who was also called Edom), and did not choose him to be the father of His chosen people. Esau’s and his descendants, the Edomites, were in many ways blessed by God (Genesis 33:9; Genesis chapter 36).

So, considering the context, God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. It has everything to do with God choosing one man and his descendants and rejecting another man and his descendants. God chose Abraham out of all the men in the world. The Bible very well could say, “Abraham I loved, and every other man I hated.” God choose Abraham’s son Isaac instead of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The Bible very well could say, “Isaac I loved, and Ishmael I hated.” Romans chapter 9 makes it abundantly clear that loving Jacob and hating Esau was entirely related to which of them God chose. Hundreds of years after Jacob and Esau had died, the Israelites and Edomites became bitter enemies. The Edomites often aided Israel’s enemies in attacks on Israel. Esau’s descendants brought God’s curse upon themselves. Genesis 27:29 tells us, “May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” http://www.gotquestions.org/Jacob-Esau-love-hate.html

There is a balanced view of election and predestination. Some Calvinists teach a more extreme view and they are called, hyper-Calvinist. I consider myself to lean heavily to the Calvinist side, although some people might say that my more liberal thought process is Armenian. Hyper Calvinists and Armenians have two very extreme views in my opinion. For a middle ground, I strongly recommend a book by Dr. Norman Geisler, Chosen But Free: A Balanced View of Divine Election.

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