Union Life Ministry Center

The Doctrine of Predestination 
"The Heart of the Gospel"
Written by  Michael Nevins
October 1st, 1997


A Hard Reality of Truth
Free Will vs. Predestination
A Common Message
The Blindness of the Ungodly
Scriptural Witness of this Great Doctrine
Jesus clearly teaches Predestination
Recommended Reading

Predestination - A Hard Reality of Truth

"They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 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 willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." Rom 9:8-16 (KJV)

Romans chapters 9-11 is one of the most avoided and unread passages of scripture in the Bible; especially this particular passage which is quoted. Theologians try to position themselves on four different fronts, so as to avoid giving us a strait answer. The evangelicals will not talk about it. The reformed church apologizes for it.  And the majority of Christian's today have not heard about it.  However, this is one of the most profound truths in all of scripture. During one of the few times that it was brought up in a bible study that the writer attended there were accusations of hatred and Hyper-Calvinism; when all that took place was a simple reading of the passage and a few direct comments as to its obvious and clear meaning.

"No doctrine stimulates more negative reaction and consternation than this one. Some degree of such reaction is probably inevitable, for it flies in the face of our own common perception of both human freedom and God's justice"(Moo,1996)   

Martin Luther in his commentary on Romans states;

"This is written in order that divine grace might be magnified and the arrogant boasting of human merit might be utterly destroyed.....This is a hard saying for the proud and prudent.  But it is sweet to the lowly and humble who despair of themselves."

If you have read the current online article on the sovereignty of God, or studied the sovereignty of God in any degree you can see why this passage in Romans 9 is crucial to understanding that the power of our salvation is of God and not of ourselves. 

Peter wrote in 2 Pet 3:16 regarding Paul's teaching;

"Speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

This hard teaching that Peter was talking about is the same truth that we are now proclaiming to you. 

Free Will vs. Predestination

What has brought about so much reaction to this wonderful doctrine is the overwhelming focus on the devil's lie that man has a "free will".  It is the pride of man's base reasoning, in extenuating and lessening both the guilt and filth of that original sin that took place in the Garden which claims that man can be man without God.  He has placed his choices and reaction to the spirit's moving in his heart as omnipotent and claims that it ties the hands of an all-powerful God. 

"It is not of him that willeth:" Salvation is not caused by man's will or any volitional power of the man. "It is not of him that runneth." Salvation is not caused by man's works.  These things are the workings of God in the man, the outward manifestations, they are not the Power or Cause behind the manifestations.  Salvation is by the power of God alone; He is the Cause. 

The claim that man is free and independent was considered heretical for centuries (even by many in the early church.) The Pelagians of old were the instruments of such foolishness and then later the arrogant claims of James Arminius (whose name birthed Arminianism) bellowed it about as well as self acclaimed evangilist, attorney Charles Finney.  Even John Wesley watered it down to the point of personal interpretation.  However, the lie has been around since the fall of man and as Martin Luther vivaciously claimed;

"it is the heart of original sin."

Hence Dr. Leighton calls Arminianism;

"the Pope's Benjamin, the last and greatest monster of the man of sin; the elixir of Anti- Christianism; the mystery of the mystery of iniquity; the Pope's cabinet; the very quintessence of equivocation."

Alike hereunto Mr. Rous (Master of Eton College) addeth, saying;

"Arminianism is the spawn of Popery, which the warmth of favour may easily turn into frogs of the bottomless pit." And what are the new Arminians but the varnished offspring of the old Pelagians, that makes the grace of God to lackey it at the foot, or rather, the will of man? that makes the sheep to keep the shepherd? that puts God into the same extremity with Darius, who would gladly have saved Daniel but could not (Dan 6:14)?"

"Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (Rom 9:20-21 KJV)

So when we claim that the scripture clearly teaches predestination it then must follow that it clearly teaches "double predestination".  You can not embrace one without the other. Since God elects one this then means he does not elect another.   Yet, most Christian's today do not even know that such clear truth exists within the pages of Holy Writ.  So the hardening that Paul portrays in this passage in his letter to the Romans is a sovereign act of God that is not caused by anything in those individuals who are hardened.

Douglas Moo, a well noted theologian, has plummeted the mainstream consensus with his latest commentary on Romans and states;

"It seems then that this text, in its context, provides important exegetical support for the controversial doctrine of "double predestination": just as God decides, on the basis of nothing but his own sovereign pleasure, to bestow his grace and so save some individuals, so he also decides, on the basis of nothing but his own sovereign pleasure, to pass over others."

"What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" (Rom 9:22-24 RSV)

We will make brief comment here regarding the destination of the wicked and bring to your attention that it states that the "vessels of wrath were made for destruction." The word destruction in the Greek means total annihilation, or cessation to a state of non-existence.

(See "Destruction of the ungodly")

Martin Luther stated that;

"Salvation is not of our own strength or counsel, but depends entirely on the working of God alone; so does it not obviously follow that when God is not present to work in us, all is evil, and of necessity we act in a way that contributes nothing towards our salvation? For if it is not we, but God alone, who works salvation in us, it follows that, willy-nilly, nothing we do has any saving significance prior to His working in us and all that is done after our salvation is His working in us as well."

Although the church opposed Luther's teaching outwardly, his opponent Erasmus admitted privately that Luther was right in his doctrine.  If it were not for the offense and unpopularity of the message of "double predestination vs. free will" Luther would most likely have been like every other popular but double minded evangelical.

At the "Counsel of Orange" Luther was given his opportunity to portray the rich truths that we are sharing with you now.  He was received with an overwhelming ovation until this particular issue was raised before the floor.  It was then that they refused him and rejected this profound truth.  Luther continues;

"God is the only independent agent that there is. And if we believe it to be true, that God fore-knows and fore-ordains all things; that He can be neither deceived nor hindered in His Prescience and Predestination; and that nothing can take place but according to His Will; then, even according to the testimony of reason herself, there can be no "Free-will"-in man,--in angel,--or any creature!"

A Common Message

The doctrine of Predestination was once the heart of many a message.  In the early 1700's during what was known as the "Great Awakening" the message that stirred the hearts of thousands of listeners was this great doctrine.  Before George Washington was famous, George Whitefield was the most popular man in America.  He was one of many who would bring this message to those abroad and also to the new world. 

"To the end of his days Whitefield did not change his belief concerning predestination" (Henry, 1956). 

Whitefield, even though opposed at times, continued to preach the doctrine of election with a great dramatic and emotional fervor.  His message would draw great moaning and pleas from the vast crowds who would travel for miles to hear him preach.  One eager New Englander, who rode twelve miles in less than an hour, so he could hear the renowned preacher, had little doubt about the focus of Whitefield's theology.

He wailed: "my old foundation was broken up & i saw that my righteousness would not save me then i was convinced of ye doctrine of Election & went right to quarreling with god about it because all that i could do would not save me & he had decreed from Eternity who should be saved & who not i began to think i was not Elected & that god made some for heaven & me for hell" (Henry, 1956).

Whitefield had preached many a sermon that would have driven a man to despair. Many who heard him felt their blood run cold and believed they were helplessly lost. One time within the space of two weeks he received over two hundred letters from his listeners, who exclaimed there hearts were moved and changed unto salvation. Yet he knew that he was not to preach to disturb those who listened and then leave, but his mission was to bring them into the kingdom.

There are many men whom God has preserved that have not bowed their knee to Baal which are still claiming this great truth today.

J.I. Packer wrote in the forward of his translation of Martin Luther's greatest work "The Bondage of the Will" and stated;

"Do we not stand in urgent need of such teaching as Luther here gives us--teaching which humbles man, strengthens faith, and glorifies God?"

Dr. Abraham Kuyper, of Holland in recent years, has given us some valuable thought in the following statement;

"The determination of the existence of all things to be created, of our own persons, whether one is to be born as boy or girl, rich or poor, dull or clever, white or colored is the most tremendous predestination conceivable in heaven or on earth; and still we see it taking place before our vary eyes every day. We ourselves are subject to it in our position in life being intirely dependent on it.  Scripture has from the time of the prophets expounded to us this all-dominating principal of election."

Just as Job of old stated we state now, that what ever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all things, the omnipotent God the Lord of all things. From all eternity God has purposed to do exactly what He is doing. He is the sovereign Ruler of the Universe. And never has his plan to make known His kingdom been altered or changed.  This, His universe, has never and will never be out of order to those who are pure of heart and have had there eyes opened to the heart of the gospel message.

Walter Lanyon so wonderfully states it thus;

"All is well, because God can and does run his universe and certainly anyone who acknowledges the fact that there is a God will likewise grant him the intelligence to run his universe without any prompting, and also will allow that it is reasonable to believe that no amount of begging or beseeching is going to make him alter his plans."

There is no such thing as chance, or fortune. There is no such thing as an accident or random acts of kindness;  for all things turn out according to divine predestination; not only the works we do outwardly, but even the thoughts we think inwardly.

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him. To Him be glory forever! Amen" (Rom 11:36 Amp)

Many a writing of countless saints of old have embraced this clear teaching of Paul.  You will find many of the words and statements within this article familiar, if you have had any exposure to this great truth. And so along with the many teachers and leaders of the reformation both past and present we declare again this truth:

That since the universe has its origin in God and depends on Him for its continued existence it must be, in all its parts and at all times, subject to His control so that nothing can come to pass contrary to what He expressly decrees. The eternal manifestation of His Person has been brought into time through an act of sovereign predestination; and since God is not held by time or space, it has been so from eternity to eternity and unconditioned by no subsequent fact or change. Call it Divine determinism if you will, but if it be not by divine determinism then there would be a altering and determining power loose in the universe unknown by God and outside of His control.  And because that which is known must come from that source by which it is known, it then follows that all that takes place is not only predestined, but absolutely and perfectly necessary in every detail and occurrence; And since the Agent responsible for the existence of all beings and manifestations must possess the knowledge and order of such, it would naturally follow that all things, which are in their own right necessary, must be good and working according to their own law of necessity. Thus the events and acts (or choices) themselves are not the cause, as the foolish would have us believe, but they are the natural workings and effects of "The Cause" in history at any given point in time.  If man were not making choices there would be no such thing as consciousness, however it is not the choices or actions that determine mans destiny, but God's sovereign working of each choice in the man, according to the degree of faith apportioned to him by God. (Romans 3:12)

Martin Luther stated;

"So man's will is like a beast standing between two riders. If God rides, it wills and goes where God wills: as the Psalm says, 'I am become as a beast before thee, and I am ever with thee' (Ps. 73:22-23). If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it will run, or which it will seek; but the riders themselves fight to decide who shall have and hold it."

The Blindness of the Ungodly

The man that operates by site says he has the power of salvation. The man that operates by faith says it is God who works within by the sweet power of the Holy Spirit. Confusion comes into the picture because we do not understand that God has veiled His sovereign power within creation so that a man in the flesh can not see God's omnipotent power.  The focus really is a questioning of the power of God and has nothing to do with freedom.  When one promotes free choice he promotes himself and his own ability, which is diametrically opposed to humility.

"Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;" (2 Cor 4:6-7 ASV)

God gives the light; He shines it on our hearts and gives the knowledge of himself to us as the desire for Him is watered into birth by the spirit.

So those of faith see that it is not by site and the actions of man from which we judge, but by faith alone;
"the evidence of things which are not seen."  To hard to see?  Yes it is; that is exactly why it is called faith, it takes the faith of God in us to see.  You will never see faith in the flesh, because it is the foolishness of man that judges by the outward appearances.

"for God {sees} not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16:7 NAS)

God has said that He has blinded the ungodly who will not and can not come to Him, so that their knowledge is, in and of itself, a derivation of deception and arrogance. They will never desire Lordship of another and are unaffected by the message of truth, because they can not see it in the flesh.  This knowledge in them is darkened by the spirit of ignorance that dwells within them;

"they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart;" (Eph 4:18 RSV)

As we can clearly see, it is the hardness of the heart that is the cause of their ignorance and their blindness. This hardness is the very seed of Satan himself dwelling within these vessels of wrath; and unless a merciful God would change that heart, it is left to itself and its destruction. This new heart that would be placed in the man is declared as a gift from God.  He is the one who does Holy surgery on man.  He takes away the stony heart from within and replaces it with a new heart of tenderness and love.  He places His spirit within the man and is the cause of his walking in the Spirit for which the result will surely be the keeping of His judgments. (Ezk 36:23-28)  He is the cause and the affect of all things forever. 

"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezek 36:26-27 KJV)

Calvin, the brilliant and systematic theologian, put the matter thus;

"Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which he has determined in Himself, what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all-created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some and eternal death for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say he is predestinated either to life or to death."

So we see that the elect of God are made by God and called by His name and for his Glory;

"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Heb 2:10 KJV)

"Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isa 43:7 KJV)


Man has difficulty with this doctrine because it flies in the face of that original sin, which says that man is the maker of his own kingdom.  It is the heart of sin to put faith in one's choices as the instrument and power of salvation.  This type of teaching does nothing more than place man back under the bondage of the old covenant law which says;

"come now to the tree of self-will and eat of its fruit; you can know the difference between good and evil." 

The heart of deception and distrust in God is to promote self-will. 

This "doctrine of man" gets its source from the current theologies and orthodoxy's of the current human institutions which man has placed his trust in, instead of the clear preaching of Christ.  It is man placing God in his biology lab and attempting to dissect him without knowledge and wisdom as to His ways.

The world as a whole, and in all its parts, movements and changes are brought into unity and ONENESS by the governing activity of the one Divine Will.  Its purpose is to manifest the divine glory (by the son of God). This doctrine of predetermination which is at the heart of salvation is what is ordering the whole course of history to the veriest detail, and the purpose of this ordering is to bring about the salvation of those who are now the sons of God and to those elect who are yet unborn.

The tendency today is to exalt man and to give God an honorable mention, a limited part in the affairs of the world. As Dr. A.A. Hodge has said;

"The new theology, asserting the narrowness of the old, is discarding the fore ordination of Jehovah as a worn-out figment of the schools, discredited by the advanced culture of today. This is not the first time that the owls, mistaking the shadow of a passing eclipse for their native night, have prematurely hooted at the eagles, convinced that what is invisible to them cannot possibly exist."

A small sampling of the Scriptural Witness of this Great Doctrine:

Eph 1:4-6 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (KJV)

Eph 1:11 in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; (ASV)

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (KJV)

Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (KJV)

Acts 4:27-28 for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass. (ASV)

Acts 13:48  And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (KJV)

Rom 8:29-30  For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained (to be) conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (ASV)

Rom 9:23 and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory, (ASV)

1 Cor 2:7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, (even) the (wisdom) that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory: (ASV)

Ps 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; and in Your book all the days of my life were written before ever they took shape when as yet there was none of them. (Amplified)

Jesus clearly teaches Predestination

We preach the truth to all but only the elect have ears to hear.
Matt 22:14  For many are called, but few are chosen.  (KJV)

Every one that hath ears to hear will come.  These are the elect of God.
John 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (KJV)

All that come will never be lost.
John 6:39  And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.  (KJV)

No man has the power to come to god. It is the Father who draws the elect in lovingkindness. (Jer 31:3)
John 6:44-45  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man (the elect) therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.  (KJV)

The flesh (man) has no power it is the spirit of God that quickeneth.
John 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (KJV)

This is the heart of the gospel; no man will come except it were given.  The lost will depart at this teaching.
John 6:65-66 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (KJV) Also see I John 2:19

Jesus declares double predestination of both the elect and the lost.
John 6:70 "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (KJV)

Blindness and a hardened heart is the cause of unbelief in the lost.  God has held them in unbelief.
John 12:39-40 "For this cause they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, "He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them." (NAS)

No one chooses God unless he is first chosen.
John 15:16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go forth and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain(KJV)

We were chosen by the power of God out from the world.
John 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  (KJV)

Those that receive God do so by his power working in them, not by their free will choice.
John 1:12-13  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD.   (KJV)

The gospel is:

The preaching of the predetermined absolute sovereign power of God in all things.  Every other belief is a hodge-podge of religious humanism, deception and bondage.
Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is God's power unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Recommended Reading:

One Gospel

The Gospel is the Power of God

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Lorriane Boettner