Election - Predestination

God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility

Did God create some to be lost, or does His Word teach that He knew some or certain ones would be lost when He gave them life, or did God give certain ones life knowing that they would be lost?

It is no doubt appropriate to look into this subject. However, let us be careful to confine our questions to the Word of God and not be led off into inferences that may lead us far astray.

God's absolute sovereignty is clearly taught in the Word of God, and just as clearly taught is man's responsibility. The difficulty comes when we try to "harmonize" these two doctrines. Such a task seems to be beyond the power of the human mind. Let us believe all that God has said on the subject and be content to wait for further light as to the harmony between the two. We may depend upon it that – "the Judge of all the earth" will "do what is right." Let us preach to men as if everything depended upon them, and then let us pray to God for them as if everything depended upon God.

Election and Foreknowledge

What is the difference between election and foreknowledge?

The meaning of election is "choice." And foreknowledge is simply "to know beforehand." The relation between these two doctrines is clearly stated by Dr. Scofield in his Reference Bible:

The divine order is foreknowledge, election, predestination. That foreknowledge determines the election or choice is clear from 1 Peter 1:2,

(Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied)

and predestination is the bringing to pass the election. Election looks back to foreknowledge; predestination forward to the destiny."

However, Scripture nowhere declares what it is in the divine foreknowledge which determines the divine election and predestination. The foreknown are elected, and the elect are predestined, and this election is certain to every believer by the mere fact that he believes (1 Thess. 1: 4,5),

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

Election and Free Grace

How can Romans 9:15-18 and 1 Peter 3: 9 be reconciled?

(God's Sovereignty) Rom. 9:15-18 - For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he will harden.

(Human Responsibility) 1 Peter 3:9 - Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

The relation between God's sovereignty and elective purpose on the one hand and free grace and human responsibility on the other has perplexed commentators throughout the ages. The best course is to believe all that God says and wait for Him to make it plain. God insists upon His sovereignty and man's responsibility. Believe both and preach both, leaving the task of harmonizing with God.


The subject of predestination came up in a Sunday School class and later the pastor said from the pulpit that his God was not One who would predestine people. There are different things that God has done for His people which the minister said He has not done and would not do.  

It is folly, to say nothing worse, to deny that there is such a doctrine in the New Testament.  The pastor's attention needed to be directed to Romans 8: 29, 30 and Eph. 1:5, 11.

Romans 8: 29, 30 - For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Ephesians 1:5 - Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, Ephesians 1:11 - In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:

It would be far more honest for the pastor to say that he does not understand the doctrine than to deny that there is such doctrine. Predestination is that active exercise of the will of God by which He brings to pass certain results determined beforehand to be done. There is a great mystery about it, but that gives us no reason for denying that such a thing is taught in the Word of God.


We have become involved in a discussion on the subject of predestination, that is, as to whether our lives are mapped out for us from the beginning, or whether we are responsible for things that happen in the course of our lives.

The whole question of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man is one which has perplexed theologians throughout the history of the Church. It is enough to say that while these two doctrines are taught in the Bible, we are nowhere taught how to find the harmony between them. 

Perhaps it is too great for our minds to grasp. At any rate, it is good to remember that faith does not walk by sight, and can only function in the dark. Faith does not ask to know all about God, but faith believes all that God has said. There is no question as to the fact of God's elective plan. In 1 Peter 1:2 it is declared that God's election is according to His foreknowledge, but Scripture nowhere tells us what it is in God's foreknowledge that determines His divine choice.

(1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.)

The relation between His foreknowledge and His electing grace is an unrevealed relation.

Deut. 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. 

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