I want to state at the start that the Bible is clear that all religions do not lead to God or heaven. Jesus declared “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
Of course a person can choose not to believe the Bible is true and the Word of God and that Jesus died for their sins. That is a person’s “freewill” decision.
Clearly man has the ability to choose and to reject. Nonetheless that does not mean a man’s will can countermand God’s Sovereign will.
What God Knows
Does God know what will happen before it happens? If so, is that because He can see into the future or does God control events? Or is it both . . . or neither?
What God Did
Intriguing questions to be sure, so necessarily a good starting point is to examine God’s Word as did the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11)[i].
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt. 25:34).
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. . . . If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:16-19).
For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:2-3).
For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur (Acts 4: 27-28).
Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from [the] presence of the Lord, and he may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, . . . (Acts 3:19-20; Darby).
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. . . . (Romans 8:29-30).
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. (1 Peter 1:1-2)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, . . . (1 Peter 1:1-3).
. . . but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God . . . (1 Peter 1:19-21).
. . . we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory . . . (1 Cor. 2:7).
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4-6).
In Him [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, . . . (Eph. 1:11).
All who dwell on the earth will worship Him [Christ], everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain (Rev. 13:8).
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come (Rev. 17:8-9).
There are many more verses throughout the Gospels the Epistles which speak of “the elect” of God. So what the Bible clearly teaches is God has predestined those who would trust Christ for their salvation in this life and eternity.
Why Are Some Men Lost
Why are some men saved and why other men lost? The reason “according to Augustine is that God predestined some men to eternal life . . . they do so on God’s choice—not their own.”[ii]
God could have chosen to save no one. Thus the salvation of even one person is due to the mystery of God’s sovereign grace. This is the doctrine of double predestination.
Paul wrote to the church at Rome:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways . . . For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (11:33-36).
But what of man’s will? Is man then just an automaton? Empirically that is not the case because many, many reject Christ’s free salvific gift.
I believe it is the case that man’s freewill is not mutually exclusive of predestination. “God’s predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices. God predestines in and through our choices because God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows what we will do because he knows all things. He cannot not know all things. So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known. But his knowing doesn’t mean you don’t freely choose.”[iii]
The human mind is finite and God’s mind is infinite so it is no wonder there is much in the Bible that is a mystery to us. Nevertheless it is critical to accept the plain meaning and truth of God’s Word and not allegorize it or twist it to mean something its author did not.
“Mysteries are forced upon us by the facts of God’s Word; we are not inventing them ourselves. Since His written revelation teaches concepts that appear to be mutually exclusive, we must realize that with God both truths are friends, not enemies. In God’s higher rationality, things that we think must be either-or can in reality be both-and [emphasis mine].”[iv]
[i] All Scripture taken from the NASB version unless noted.
[ii] Erwin Lutzer, The Doctrines That Divide (Grandrapids: Kregel Publications, 1998), 158.
[iii] Matt Slick, “If Predestination Is True, Then How Can There Be Free Will?” Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM); https://carm.org/if-predestination-true-then-how-can-there-be-free-will
[iv] Ken Boa, “Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Responsibility,” Bible.org: https://bible.org/article/divine-sovereignty-vs-human-responsibility