NOTE: All scriptural refrences are from the RNV unless otherwise noted.
This is a subject that has caused much controversy and division among the so-called "Christian" faiths in the past and is still doing so today. There appears to be two extremes to the belief, or non-belief, as the case may be. One extreme is the claim that predestination is the only way salvation occurs. They say that whether you are "saved" and going to "heaven" or "hell" was arbitrarily determined before the creation and so it makes no difference what you do, believe, or say now. You were "selected" for life or death before the world began and there is nothing you can do now about the choice that Yahuwah made then. So you are either "saved" or you or not "saved." This doctrine is often called Selective Salvation, but in its purest form is in fact Fatalism which says that everything is set. Period! Nothing that anyone can do will change anything that they may experience. It is predestination in its purest form.
The other extreme is the claim that any form of predestination is totally impossible because mankind has complete free will, our Creator does not interfere in the lives of His creation, and that man’s free will puts him in charge of everything that happens. This doctrine is often called, erroneously, Arminianism. In fact, this extreme is really more properly titled Pelagianism, after the monk who was thought to have originated the idea. Pelagianism makes no room for original sin nor for the necessity of divine grace (man’s will is what does all the work)
There are many sources of refutation of this pernicious and untrue Selective Salvation doctrine to be found all over the web. I do go into some detail below, but for me to list all of it would require a file of many gigabytes and would be a duplication of the work of others. Let it suffice that a simple web search on the word "predestination" will produce all of the evidences you may want to see, both pro and con. Some of what you see will be as confusing as what you hear from the preachers and commentators who preach this doctrine, but some can be clear and concise enough to present some firm evidence and get you started on the path of understanding what scripture really says about it.
One of the best refutations of the doctrine of Selective Salvation that I have seen on the web (with a lot of good scriptural references) will be found at http//www.biblehelp.org (download files dl-7a.zip or dl-7b.zip). This web site is operated by a Baptist named Mike Bronson. Since the Baptist denomination is one of the largest supporters of Calvinism I was a little surprised to find such an article written by one of their adherents, but he really does an excellent job on it. He does make the standard errors of names, titles, and certain other doctrines such as are common to the Baptist faith, such as polytheism in following the Roman Catholic produced doctrine of the "Holy Trinity," which according to them but contrary to scripture, says that three persons makes up the "godhead" (See Dabariym [Deuteronomy] 6:4, Markos [Mark] 12:29). Since he attends a Baptist "church" he also follows the Roman Catholic Church in their change of the everlasting covenant (Shemot [Exodus] 31:16, YashaYahuw [Isaiah] 24:5), meaning that he observes the pagan day of Sunday as the day of worship instead of following scripture and keeping the seventh day. (He admits, as do many Baptists, that he knows about this but does it anyway.) He still has done an excellent job of placing the scriptural tenets on the subject out where they can be readily seen and I recommend reading the article in its entirety.
Selective Salvation is today often called hyper-Calvinism, in the sense that the believers of this doctrine have taken one of Calvin’s doctrinal teachings and made it the foundation of their faith. Actually, these people are much closer to the doctrines taught by John Calvin than are the so-called Calvinists that you will find in many modern "churches." This doctrine of Selective Salvation is found in most Protestant denominations in one form or another and in varying degrees of application and authority and often mixed with some form of Arminianism.
There are some groups (for instance the Presbyterian group) that have selected this Selective Salvation as the main focus of their doctrine, while others claim to believe and accept it but do not in practice fully support it (most Protestant groups). What all of these people are doing is searching scripture for passages that support their denomination’s doctrinal position (such as the trinity and keeping Sunday) while ignoring all the passages that refute it.
I usually refer to that type of person that does that as a "Cafeteria Christian" because they pick and choose only what they WANT to fill them full, and never have a clue as to what they really NEED to fulfill them. By doing this they overlook or ignore some of the most important passages of scripture concerning not only their salvation but most other facets of true Christianity also.
A friend of mine once wrote a piece that gives some very good insight into what I mean. He said in essence that all of the modern denominations (meaning "Christian faiths") exist because of little groups of people who found a small tributary of the Main River of Scripture and then stressed the belief that this is THE ONLY RIVER to the exclusion of all other information and evidence that is available. Kind of sounds like the blind men and the elephant, doesn't it? Or not being able to see the forest for the trees. By doing this they overlook and reject so many important doctrines and truths that they are not really in the practice or belief of true followers of the Anointed (real Christians).
This doctrine makes the statement that all men are dead in trespasses and sins and therefore are absolutely incapable of spontaneously originating any good desire or effort toward salvation. Yet it also holds the idea that Yahuwah gives the same grace to all men and He makes the difference between the believer and the unbeliever to lie in the fact that the former co-operates, and thus renders the grace in his case effectual, and the other fails to co-operate with it, and thus renders it ineffectual.
There are several variations on this theme. Two of the most popular are Lutheranism and Calvinism.
Lutheranism maintains that men are in such sense so dead in sin that they are utterly unable to co-operate with grace before they have been themselves quickened to life by grace. It makes the difference between the believer and the unbeliever to consist in the fact, that while no man can co-operate with grace previous to regeneration, every man is free to resist it. With the Lutheran, therefore, the believer is the non-resistant and the unbeliever is the resistant subject of a common universal grace.
Calvinism magnifies the free and sovereign grace of Yahuwah by attributing to it alone all the efficaciousness in granting salvation to the obedient. It is Yahuwah’s grace that makes the believer all he is. He "feels" this and of this he is absolutely sure. He is nothing more than a poor wandering sheep. The Good Shepherd has sought him out, found him, and carried him back on his breast. In himself and of himself in his entire history he is no better than his fellowmen who are lost. It is only Yahuwah’s free grace, therefore, which has made the difference. The faith he has cannot have been the precondition of Yahuwah’s choice, but Yahuwah’s choice must have been the precedent cause of his faith (origin of the once saved always saved doctrine).
The most prominent source of Arminian influence in the United States was John Wesley. A large fraction of the Protestant churches outside the Lutheran and Reformed tradition have Wesleyan roots.
Carl Bangs in his book "Arminius: a study in the Dutch Reformation," page 313, summarizes Arminianism thusly:
"Man in sin is unable to exercise his will to do any good at all except he be regenerated and continually aided by grace. The grace of God is a gratuitous affection, infusion of the gifts of the Spirit, and perpetual assistance which is "the commencement, the continuance, and the consummation of all good," but it is not an "irresistible force.""
So you can see that Arminianism is in direct conflict with the Selective Salvation doctrine.
With all these various doctrines available, it is no wonder that many people are very confused and unsure about any of them. Many of these people also are under the impression that they have to select one or the other to believe. Therefore they will either be Calvinists or they will be Arminianists. This is an unhappy situation to be in because scripture is true and man constantly makes a mess of what is there. Of course Satan is helping people stay confused all the time. After all, he is the author of confusion and the father of lies. The truth is that if you read, study, and follow scripture, that you will in fact find elements of predestination and free will throughout. Yet none of what you see will lead you to accept in toto any of the doctrines spoken of above.
Is Predestination a Fact?
The doctrine of selective salvation that has passed for scriptural predestination since the so-called Reformation (beginning with Martin Luther and his 95 theses) cannot be found in scripture. Yes, predestination, or the foreknowledge and selection of persons for certain services, and sometimes even for salvation, is a fact and is talked about in many passages of scripture. Some of these passages seem to support the Calvinists position when they are taken alone and by ignoring the passages that teach free will. But it has nothing to do with the Selective Salvation doctrine of the Calvinists.
That Yahuwah is omnipotent, all-knowing, knows the future from the past, etc., is without doubt and irresistibly true. If He was not, He would not be the Eloah of scripture. All of these attributes are consistent with His character. But if He did in fact arbitrarily select who was to have salvation and who would not as those who believe Selective Salvation say, then He would not be the loving Father and Creator of scripture. It cannot be both ways.
Furthermore, Yahushua would have had no reason to make the sacrifice that He made if all people who were going to be "saved" were already appointed and regardless of anything they did or did not do in this lifetime. There would be no reason for the creation, for any of the subsequent actions taken by our Creator or anything else. We would have no need to believe, repent, be immersed, etc., because our final destination would have been fixed ages ago. Obedience to His will would mean nothing. The entire scripture would be a lie and we may as well just do as we pleased without regard to anyone or anything else. Eat drink and be merry because it doesn’t matter if tomorrow we die.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if we are to be called by His name, we have to be in obedience to Him. (Yahuchanan [John] 14:15, 1 Yahuchanan 2:3-6). This in itself is a refutation of Selective Salvation. If Selective Salvation were true, then obedience or disobedience again would make no difference.
The followers of the Selective Salvation doctrine also put those who are referred to as the "elect" into the arbitrarily chosen group. They equate them with those who scripture does say were "chosen" before the age began. You will see as you read and study scripture that the word "elect" means "chosen" and these people about whom it is talking were in fact chosen for some service or event in scripture. They were NOT necessarily chosen for eternal life. Yahudah, the man of the city (Judas Iscariot), is a prime example. He was "elect," but his "election" was as the betrayer of the Anointed (the Christ). Just this one example is sufficient to produce the "fatal flaw" in that belief. There are many other examples that could be cited, such as the Par’oh (Pharaoh) of the exodus, Kowresh (Cyrus) of Babel (Babylon), etc.
If we are going to say we are the children of our Elohiym, whose name is Yahuwah, and that we believe what the Scriptures say, then we must believe ALL that it says, and not attempt to pick and choose. If we only believe the parts we like and discard the parts with which we aren't quite comfortable, then we are on the way to preaching a different gospel (good news), or supporting an already existing divergence from the gospel, and not that which was preached by the delegates (delegate, messenger) in the first century after Yahushua (See Galates [Galatians] 1:6-10)
If Selective Salvation is not True, Do We Really Have Free Will? Most certainly, or there would be no reasons for us to be alive. If there is no free will then everything we do and are was determined at the creation and what we do in this life makes absolutely no difference to anything.
The several degrees of free will theories are shown above. Some of them actually approach humanism in their beliefs.
Now let us take a look at scripture and see what evidence we can find there for both circumstances.
SOME SCRIPTURAL PASSAGES – Please understand that these listed passages are but a fraction of those that deal with this subject in scripture. This is not nor is it intended to be a full listing.
Rhomaios (Romans) 8:28-30 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love Yahuwah, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predetermined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 Moreover whom He predetermined, these He also called. Whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also magnified.
Ephesios (Ephesians) 1:3-6 Blessed be the Eloah and Father of our Master, Yahushua the Anointed, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the celestial realm in the Anointed, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be sacred and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Yahushua the Anointed to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the splendor of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
1 Keph (Peter) 1:1-2 Keph, a delegate of Yahushua the Anointed, to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontos, Galatikos, Kappadokia, Asia, and Bithunia, 2 chosen according to the foreknowledge of Yahuwah the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Yahushua the Anointed, grace to you and peace be multiplied.
1 Keph 1:17-21 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay in fear 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver or gold, from your aimless conduct of tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of the Anointed, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in Yahuwah, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him splendor, so that your faith and hope are in Yahuwah.
NOTE: Read the whole first chapter of Ephesios and you will get a good overall view of the idea of predestination in the real scriptural sense. This chapter shows some evidence not only for predestination, but also the reasons for it.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill, but time and chance happen to them all.
Shemot (Exodus) 33:19 Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you and I will proclaim the name of Yahuwah before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Rhomaios (Romans) 9:15-18 For He says to Mosheh, "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 Yahuwah who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Par'oh, "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 pleases, and whom He pleases He hardens.
NOTE: All of the following passages show choices being presented and therefore free will in its simplest form. This free will continues throughout the teachings of our Savior and His delegates.
Yahushua (Joshua) 24:14-15 Now therefore, fear Yahuwah, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the elohiym that your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Mitsrayim. Serve Yahuwah! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve Yahuwah, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the elohiym that your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the eloah of the Emoriy, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve Yahuwah."
Dabariym (Deuteronomy) 11:26-28 Behold! I set before you today a blessing and a curse. 27 The blessing, if you obey the commandments of Yahuwah your Eloah that I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of Yahuwah your Elohiym, but turn aside from the way that I command you today to go after other elohiym that you have not known.
Dabariym 30:19 I call sky and earth as witnesses today against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life that both you and your descendants may live,
YirmeYahuw (Jeremiah) 21:8 Now you shall say to this people, 'Thus says Yahuwah, "Behold! I set before you the way of life and the way of death.
YirmeYahuw 26:4 And you shall say to them, 'Thus says Yahuwah, "If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law that I have set before you,
2 Shemuw’el (Samuel) 24:12 "Go and tell Dawiyd, 'Thus says Yahuwah, "I offer you three things. Choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you."'"
So now you can see that tenets of both predestination and free will are taught in scripture. You should also be able to see that neither is the correct doctrine in and of itself. There are elements of both in everyone’s life and we will find out more about that when Yahushua returns.
There is much that we (mankind) do not know and understand about scripture. That will remain the case until Yahushua returns. As long as we are in these bodies of flesh we cannot grasp most of what Yahuwah is really about. That is why He has provided us with the scripture, so that we have a true source of necessary information. By reading and studying that scripture with the sincere desire and intent to know Him, we can learn all we need to know about how to return to Him and truly become His children.
One of the least understood doctrines found in scripture is that of reincarnation. Many faiths utterly reject it even though the scriptural evidence for it is strong (see my article on this page, Reincarnation). The Calvinists reject it out of hand and even include reference to that rejection in some of their commentaries, such as:
"A baby never desires or decides to be born. He never contributes an iota toward his own birth. In the whole process from conception through birth, he is completely passive and totally unable to control his birth." (Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 17)
If the above is true, then reincarnation is not, and scripture is a lie.
Understand that I am not talking about reincarnation in the sense that most Eastern religions present it, but the mere fact that a spirit, produced, guided, and placed by Yahuwah, can inhabit successive or different human bodies. There should be nothing any more amazing about that idea than the idea that a spirit can inhabit the body in which you are currently incarnate. You are a spirit and by the divine will you incarnated into your current body sometime between conception and birth.
Also demon possession is clearly a spirit, albeit an undesirable one, inhabiting, or reincarnating into, a living body in which it does not belong and in which the original and intended inhabitant also currently resides. Yahushua said that an unclean spirit (demon in today’s terminology) can return to the body it left and even bring more with it (Mt 12:44; Lk 11:25).
Understanding reincarnation can lead to a much fuller understanding of all scriptural tenets and especially the tenet of preselection, or predestination. ALL spirits have existed from before time and have been continually "recycling" into bodies according to the will, purpose, and direction of Yahuwah. Is it any wonder that some were of such fidelity that they were then "predestined" for salvation or that some were of such wickedness that they were "predestined" for destruction?
Happily for most of us, we did not fall into the destruction bound group but through our Yahuwah-given free will still have the opportunity to turn to Him in truth and spirit, become His children, and attain to the promise of eternal life with Him.
The scripture is the "Operations and Maintenance Manual" for humankind. I think it's time we started looking to the Manufacturer for answers as to what's wrong with the vehicle, instead of to all these shade tree mechanics running around trying to tell us what they think is wrong.