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Predestination

 

How many of you have felt since childhood that God was favoring you? Some have. Not that they were better than others. Only that for some reason God had them on a path of His own. It didnít separate them from others, but others werenít experiencing that guidance. Some have felt that, even though they made major mistakes in their life, that God was keeping those mistakes from detouring them permanently from a path God seemed to have planned for them. Is this evidence of predestination?

 

Today I would like to discuss the subject of predestination.

 

First of all, predestination means preordination or determined before. Strongís G4309.

John Calvin is often credited with originating the theory of predestination. In the 1500s, Calvin promoted the thought that we are predestined to either hell or heaven. This philosophy was followed by both the Presbyterians and Methodists. In todayís watered-down religion, this belief has also been watered down by these denominations.

But Calvin was certainly not the originator of this idea. It seems to have started way back even before the days of Augustine. Augustine lived in about 400 AD. The early church fathers of the first through third century seem to be the first proponents of predestination but Augustine picked up the theory and made it the foundation of his justification for special grace.

In the middle ages, others such as Lombard and Aquinas, followed Augustineís views. But it was Calvin who made it a basic plank in his platform of Reformed Theology. It was Calvinís view that every individual was preassigned by our Father to either heaven or hell.

 

What does the Bible say? Are we preassigned to either heaven or hell? There seem to be at least a half dozen places in the Bible where predestination is mentioned. One of the most poignant to the loser, yet rewarding to the winner was the story of Jacob and Esau. Letís begin our study of what the Bible says by reading the relevant scriptures about Jacob and Esau.

(Gen 25:19-34 NKJV) This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham's son. Abraham begot Isaac. {20} Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. {21} Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. {22} But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If all is well, why am I like this?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. {23} And the LORD said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger." {24} So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. {25} And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. [Esau comes from the Hebrew word Esav, meaning "completely formed, that is, having hair already."] {26} Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob. [Jacob comes from the Hebrew name Yaíakov, meaning "He catches by the heel; he supplants or supersedes."] Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. {27} So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. {28} And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. {29} Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. {30} And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom. [Edom means red.] {31} But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." {32} And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" {33} Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. {34} And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Letís continue the story in Chapter 27:

(Gen 27 NKJV) Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, "My son." And he answered him, "Here I am." {2} Then he said, "Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. {3} "Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. {4} "And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die." {5} Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt game and to bring it. {6} So Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, "Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying, {7} 'Bring me game and make savory food for me, that I may eat it and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.' {8} "Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you. {9} "Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves. {10} "Then you shall take it to your father, that he may eat it, and that he may bless you before his death." {11} And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. {12} "Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing." {13} But his mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me." {14} And he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved. {15} Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. {16} And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. {17} Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. {18} So he went to his father and said, "My father.' And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" {19} Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me." {20} But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" And he said, "Because the LORD your God brought it to me." {21} Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not." {22} So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." {23} And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands; so he blessed him. {24} Then he said, "Are you really my son Esau?" He said, "I am." {25} He said, "Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's game, so that my soul may bless you." So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. {26} Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near now and kiss me, my son." {27} And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: "Surely, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field Which the LORD has blessed. {28} Therefore may God give you Of the dew of heaven, Of the fatness of the earth, And plenty of grain and wine. {29} Let peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, And let your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, And blessed be those who bless you!" {30} Now it happened, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. {31} He also had made savory food, and brought it to his father, and said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that your soul may bless me." {32} And his father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" So he said, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." {33} Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, "Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him; and indeed he shall be blessed." {34} When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me; me also, O my father!" {35} But he said, "Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing." {36} And Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!" And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" {37} Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?" {38} And Esau said to his father, "Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me; me also, O my father!" And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. {39} Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, And of the dew of heaven from above. {40} By your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, That you shall break his yoke from your neck." {41} So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob." {42} And the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said to him, "Surely your brother Esau comforts himself concerning you by intending to kill you. {43} "Now therefore, my son, obey my voice: arise, flee to my brother Laban in Haran. {44} "And stay with him a few days, until your brother's fury turns away, {45} "until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereaved also of you both in one day?" {46} And Rebekah said to Isaac, "I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these who are the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?"

(Gen 28:1-9 NKJV) Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. {2} "Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. {3} "May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; {4} And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham." {5} So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Padan Aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau. {6} Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan," {7} and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. {8} Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. {9} So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

A sad story for Esau indeed.

Malachi mentions this story too.

(Mal 1:1-5 NKJV) The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. {2} "I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved; {3} But Esau I have hated ["rejected" per Tanakh], And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness." {4} Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places," Thus says the LORD of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever. {5} Your eyes shall see, And you shall say, 'The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.'

The New Testament gives us further insight into the meaning of this story about Jacob and Esau by comparing it with the current situation of the Jews. Letís read what Paul has to say about this in Romans 9.

(Rom 9 NKJV) I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, {2} that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. {3} For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, {4} who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; {5} of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. {6} But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, {7} nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." {8} That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. {9} For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son." {10} And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac {11} (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), {12} it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." {13} As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." {14} What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! {15} For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." {16} So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. {17} For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." {18} Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. {19} You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" {20} But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" {21} Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? {22} What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering [i.e. patience] the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, {23} and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, {24} even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? {25} As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." {26} "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." {27} Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. {28} For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth." {29} And as Isaiah said before: "Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah." {30} What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; {31} but Israel [the Jews], pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. {32} Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. {33} As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone [Christ] and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

(Rom 10 NKJV) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. {2} For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. {3} For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. {4} For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. {5} For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them." {6} But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down from above) {7} or, " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). {8} But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): {9} that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. {10} For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. {11} For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." {12} For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. {13} For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." {14} How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? {15} And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" {16} But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" {17} So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. {18} But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world." {19} But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation." {20} But Isaiah is very bold and says: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me." {21} But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people."

What is the bottom line of what we have read so far? The bottom line is that God chooses whom he will. God chose Jacob over Esau. God would have worked it out His own way but Jacob jumped the gun by deceiving his father to gain Isaacís blessings. Nevertheless, Godís purpose was fulfilled. And because of Jacobís devious ways, the Jews even today are hated by the descendants of Esau.

But there is another lesson for us in what we have read from Paul. God has reached out His hand to the Jews for as long as that nation has existed but they have rejected Him. Not just in crucifying our Lord, but in rejecting His Messiahship and His message. And early on, in the days of Paul, God began replacing most of them with gentiles as the inheritors of Abrahamís blessings. They are not permanently cut off, however. If you read chapter 11 of Romans, you will see how they will eventually be grafted back into the root of Abraham. But as of today, gentiles are still inheriting the spiritual blessings of Abraham through Christ. This is a form of predestination. Letís read some more scriptures about how God has selected and favored His Christian sons and daughters, in fact since before creation.

(Eph 1:3-6 NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, {4} just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, {5} having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, {6} to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

(Verses 11-14 NKJV) In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, {12} that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. {13} In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, {14} who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

(Rom 8:27-30 NKJV) Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. {28} And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. {29} For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. {30} Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

He also justified and glorified. What is Paul talking about here? He is talking about being judged acceptable and thereby remaining in the Book of Life and becoming a King and Priest in Godís Kingdom. Letís look at some scriptures which imply that.

(Rev 13:8 NKJV) All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

(Rev 17:8 NKJV) "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Notice that those who dwell on the earth at this time, whose names are NOT written in the Book of Life, will be surprised at what they are seeing. Both verses state that the Book of Life, which contain the names of the Saints, was written from the foundation of the world; that is at creation.

(1 Cor 2:4-9 NKJV) And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, {5} that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. {6} However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. {7} But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained [G4309 -- predestined] before the ages for our glory, {8} which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. {9} But as it is written:

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

God has a long history of predestination. One example we often overlook is in the eleventh chapter of Romans. Letís look at it.

(Rom 11:1-12 KJV) I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. {2} God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not [donít you know] what the scripture saith of Elijah? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, {3} Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. {4} But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. {5} Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. {6} And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. {7} What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded {8} Just as it is written [in Isa 6:9]:

"God has given them a spirit of stupor,

Eyes that they should not see

And ears that they should not hear,

To this very day."

{9} And David saith:

"Let their table become a snare and a trap,

A stumbling block and a recompense to them.

{10} Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. {11} I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. {12} Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

What have we learned here? First of all, in verses 3 and 4, we find that, unknown to Elijah, God had reserved seven thousand men. How did they qualify for Godís protection? By not bowing before the pagan god Baal. God preordained them to safety. Secondly, Paul expounds on the fact that the Jews, whom God preordained via Abraham and the Patriarchs, were being set aside for the gentiles who were to join the ranks of the saints. As shown later in the chapter, the Jews will later be given an opportunity for sainthood too, but God is here directing who will be given opportunities and who will not. Is this not predestination?

Of course, the fact that the Father has selected His Son to rule over the nations of the world is uncontested. The predestination of our Lord is not a surprise, but because it is a predestination, letís look at a scripture in Psalms which shows that.

(Psa 2:1-10 KJV) Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? {2} The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, {3} Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. {4} He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. {5} Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. {6} Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. {7} I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. {8} Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. {9} Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.{10} Be wise now therefore, O kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth.

The references in Revelation 1:6 and 5:10, showing that the Saints will become Kings and Priests, indicates that the Saints are also foreordained, predestined to rule the nations under our Elder Brother.

(Rev 1:5-6 NKJV) .......... To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, {6} and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

(Rev 5:9-10 NKJV) And they sang a new song, saying:

"You are worthy to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For You were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

{10} And have made us kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth."

Peter also addressed some people of what is now Turkey as the Fatherís predestinated Elect.

(1 Peter 1:1-2 NKJV) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, {2} elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

What does predestination mean?

FIRST: It does not mean anyone can be predestined to be lost. God is love. He is not a cruel God.

(2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward [patient with] us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

We know from Revelation 20 and other scriptures that those not chosen for the first resurrection will be resurrected after the millennium. Letís look at some to see what they tell us.

(Rev 20:4-6 NKJV) And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. {5} But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. {6} Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

We see here that there are two resurrections. The first one is for those who are holy and blessed by living and reigning with Christ as Kings and Priests for a thousand years. Notice that they not only had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads and hands, but they also had been beheaded for their witness to Christ and for the word of God. Beheaded? Is it possible this is referring to a form of execution commanded by Islam? Food for thought.

The second resurrection is for those who are not holy and blessed. They will have to wait for the completion of the thousand years of Christís Kingdom. But they will be resurrected. Which is the better resurrection? The answer is obvious but Hebrews 11:35 describes what people are willing to suffer to be in the first resurrection, the better resurrection.

(Heb 11:35-40 NKJV) Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. {36} Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. {37} They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; {38} of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. {39} And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, {40} God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

John 5:29 also refers to the two resurrections. Letís look at it.

(John 5:28-29 NKJV) "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice {29} "and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

The word "condemnation" is from Strongsí number 2920 and really means a tribunal or judgment. Why did Christ refer to them as the resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment? Because those not resurrected to life in the first resurrection will have to wait a thousand years, then be taught the right way of living for a hundred years, then be judged. Those then judged acceptable will be added to the book of Life. Those not judged acceptable after theyíve been taught the truth will be burned up and cease to exist. We can read more of that in Rev 20:11-15.

(Rev 20:11-15 NKJV) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. {12} And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. {13} The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. {14} Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. {15} And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

This is what is called the Great White Throne Judgment. That in fact is what we will be commemorating on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a day when every human being who ever lived is given an opportunity to be fairly judged by their works. Those who are accepted will be written in the Book of Life. Those who are not accepted will be cast into the lake of fire and burned up, cease to exist.

No one is predestined to be lost. Everyone will be resurrected eventually; some at the first resurrection, the rest at the second. Judaism believes that there are three groups: those whose names are in the Book of Life, the incorrigibly wicked whose names are written in the Book of Death, and the intermediates who are given more time to repent before being judged by God. I will not get into the details of these three groups other than to say that, if this tradition is true, it may be described in Revelation 20, although Revelation 20 describes their fate as occurring at different times and conditions. The bottom line is still, no one is predestined to be lost.

SECOND: Predestination means God knew long ago who He would call.

(2 Tim 1:8-11 NKJV) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, {9} who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, {10} but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, {11} to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

THIRD: This predestination doesnít mean we have a free ticket to Sainthood. We can fall away and not make it.

(1 Cor 9:26-27 NKJV) Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. {27} But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Yes, even Paul was afraid he might fail. And if Paul was susceptible, how much more so are we? But Paul did win his fight to qualify. Letís read of it in 2 Tim 4:6-8.

(2 Tim 4:6-8 NKJV) For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. {7} I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. {8} Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Yes, Paul successfully hung in there through all the adversities of his life and kept the faith. But Paul wasnít the only one who had to prove himself to God. Abraham also had to do that. Letís look in Genesis 22 for that example where Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac.

(Gen 22:12 NKJV) And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

Continuing in verse 15:

Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, {16} and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son-- {17} blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. {18} In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Yes, even Abraham was tested to see if he was qualified. Even Abraham was not foreordained, though he was obviously called. But God knew after Abraham had been willing to sacrifice his only son by his wife Sarah, whom they had miraculously received in their very old age, that Abraham was qualified to be His servant and receive His reward of a huge family as numerous as the sand by the seashore.

God knows beforehand that those whom He has called will have to make a decision as to whether they will follow God, but God puts that decision into their minds to make.

(Matt 24:13 NKJV) But he who endures to the end, shall be saved.

None of us, even though we were known by God since before the earth existed, will automatically make it into sainthood. Only if we endure to the end, will we be saved. Now I know that doesnít sit well with those folks who believe they are saved now, but thatís what scripture says, isnít it?

Before I close, let me leave some scriptures with you which may answer the statements of those who believe that once you are "saved," you are always "saved."

The scripture we just read, a statement by Christ himself, clearly shows that we are not "saved" until our judgment. We can, of course, be called by God long before that.

(2 Cor 7:9-10 NKJV) Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. {10} For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

This verse shows that salvation requires repentance. We are not through sinning until we die.

(Matt 19:17 NKJV) So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

As long as we callously break the commandments, we can not be given eternal life.

(Heb 5:9 NKJV) And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

We can only receive eternal life if we obey the Eternal.

(Rom 5:10 NKJV) For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

We are saved by Christís sacrifice and intervention on our behalf. Isa 59:2 states that our iniquities have separated us from our God, our sins have come between God and us so that He will not hear us.

(John 6:44-45 NKJV) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

We will be raised up at the last day after we have been judged and accepted, not some day during our life when we are supposedly "saved." But this scripture also strongly supports predestination in that the Father is drawing those He has chosen to call.

(John 10:9 NKJV) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Notice that Christ is promising that we will be saved, not that we are saved already.

(Matt 10:22 NKJV) And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

We have to endure to the end to be saved. We cannot be saved at mid-life sometime. Remember how Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, stated at the end of his life that he had finished the race and kept the faith.

(Eph 2:8-9 NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, {9} not of works, lest anyone should boast.

We are saved by the grace of God. Grace is unmerited pardon. We can not earn grace, it is a gift. That is not to say that God will not reward us for our obedience and faith. James 2:14 states that we are saved by works as well as faith. Perhaps a good analogy would be that of a prisoner receiving a pardon from the Governor. The Governor can grant a pardon or not, depending on how he views the prisoner. But if the prisoner has a history of good works, the Governor is more likely to grant a pardon, especially when recommended by a trusted, righteous Judge.

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These scriptures and their comments on "being saved", while supportive of the concept of predestination, are provided to provide you with a more accurate perspective on the view by many that once they are "saved", they are always saved.

 

So what should predestination mean to us? Predestination is the greatest opportunity anyone could ever hope for. Strive (i.e. fight the good fight), persevere, and keep the faith to the end, as Paul did, to take advantage of this gigantic opportunity. Remember Christís statement of Mat 22:14:

(Mat 22:14 NKJV) "For many are called, but few are chosen."

Do everything you can to be one of the chosen.

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

1 October 2011

 

 

Copyright 2011, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

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