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The Topic of Predestination

has been a stumbling block to many
and a nightmare as well.
How can God possibly predestine to Hell
without option to escape?
The answer is simple. The question is misconceived.

by Rev. Dr. Robert E. Donaldson

M.A. (Honours), B.A., BD., Dip. Ed.


Preparation in Purity

The misconceptions that work mischief in many need ruling out, and the truth needs ruling in, so that the realities do justice to the majesty of God. Calvin was one of the great theologians; yes his great mistake was an anti-Biblical application of the term "horrible decree" to what is a mass of God's judgements.

This corrects that; and it does so from the Bible.

Ignominious Ignorance

Is there really such an ignominious ignorance of the pivots of destiny as this? Is there really a night train to Hell in the midst of mist and darkness, with no ‘stop the train’ cord available? Even Nominalists had the luxury of a superficial relationship with the Lord, from a worldly point of view. No, this is not so, if we follow the plain and therefore Biblical method of investigation.

The Plain and Therefore Biblical Method of Investigation

If we want to find out what the Bible has to say we have to read it, look into it, and align with it. Therefore we have to go at once to Colossians 1:19-20, and engage in a textual analysis, let us look at it.

“For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

The Trip to and from Hell - An Imaginary Exposition

Jesus spoke in His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ of people who were all show, pretending a real relationship with a God they didn't really know. “I never knew you!” He asseverates of His word to them due on their judgment day. But these people in our night train to hell which we are imagining - because of a theologian called Calvin - may have been lethargic in spiritual enterprise during their lives, but not merely nominal. Astounded, they look

for a ‘stop the train’ cord. It isn't there. In this theologian’s work, they have to go on, to use that analogy. As they approach the gates of Hell, some of them cry out (not the really evil ones): ‘I demand to return to base!’, those persons quote Colossians 1:19, which guarantees God’s attitude - that He wants all people reconciled.

To whom? To Himself!

‘‘By Him!”, the cry repeats. How? By the blood of Christ. He explicitly says so. ‘Back to base!’, is the call that echoes in the train. And fast! How? Why by a spiritual aeroplane, which will be there in no time. Back to base they go - Colossians 1:19 is quoted and honoured, the Principle of Divine Morality is sustained.

Now how ridiculous!

As if the Almighty Omniscience didn't know. It failed to realise that these people - those of them who really were not contrary to Christ, were so…were of this spiritually healthy kind…that is a Contradiction in Terms. It couldn't happen.

It is also what in logic is called a Reductio ad Absurdum

- it has been verbalised to illustrate this fact through a teaching sort of parable.

God is immeasurably determined to make His love known beyond all bounds; and known it is and will be; no one is forgotten. No one who could be found, will be lost. Matthew 23:37 ff., Luke 19:42 ff., I Timothy 4:10 confirm the same; and consider the attitude, the poignancy in the Luke passage, and the tenderness in the Matthew passage.

What it amounts to is this:

People are incensed very often by the thought of predestination being their shepherd, but is this really so? The Scripture says the exact opposite. He wants everybody, He uses repetition ‘by Him’, He uses extension, “whether things on earth or things in heaven”. He brings it to the level of what the cross of Christ covers, in its atoning outreach.

Mix-up of Models

Some people become almost savage about this. The word of Calvin is wrong they say. What is that word, we

ask? It was this that evoked the ‘dark train to hell’ concept.

He declares that there are Biblical texts (like Ephesians 2 and 4 and Romans 1:17 ff.) that leave us with people who cannot accept the Gospel offer. Look at I Corinthians 2. Having defined Biblical Inspiration as infallible and complete, in Colossians 2:9 ff., it says that to the unconverted person, spiritual things are foolishness. How then, can anyone ever be converted? It isn't, at first, necessary for people to hear, judge and decide. In fact, that is not the way it works, except in an eventual result.

First of all, God makes the choice concerning destiny; it is not man who does this, originally and decisively. Once again, turn to the Bible, it tells us in Ephesians 1:4, that we were CHOSEN IN CHRIST. It tells us when - “before the foundation of the world.” That means before we existed in any individual sense whatever - only in God's mind did we do so. At that phase of development, there was no time, no space, no personality, nothing, in an individual sense at all. We were divine mental significations of what had yet to become actual. It was at that phase that God chose us, and remember, the Bible states it is God who did it, not man.

But how did God do it? It is not the work of Biblical Christian Apologetics to determine how the mind of God works. That would be presumptuous, misguided, and thoughtless. Our work is not least to show that all that God says is harmonious with itself, and that we have done.

Incidentally, what Calvin conceived was a “horrible decree”, he found it appallingly awful that if a man was dead to spiritual things, and thought them foolish, he could find no escape. So the analogy of the unstoppable trains to hell is not unjust or unfair to his work. He loathes the situation, but stands by it with misguided rigour.

In reality, God chooses and not man, ultimately it is so; but God chooses while honouring certain principles and one of these is this: in attitude, He would have ALL PEOPLE, through the blood of Christ, reconciled to HIMSELF. We therefore simply avoid this mix-up of models and rule out this falsification. Indeed so robust is the love of God, bowing before nothing that He even sought after a wicked king of Israel called Manasseh when he was in an enemy prison and rescued his heart from hell. Bound in body, he was yet free in spirit. Indeed you cannot express spiritual love without spiritual liberty, and Manasseh had that. How could ‘yes’ mean anything fundamental, if you couldn't say ‘no!’.

As for those chosen in Christ, these tend to live as in the presence of the things of Christ, and to apply them as apt and required or as constrained by Christ (Colossians 3:12-17).

As far as the predestination of Israel, the nation, is concerned, as long as the earth lasts, so will the land that’s promised to Abraham (Genesis 17:7-8) be assigned to and for Israel which, when converted (as in Zechariah 12:10 ff.), will become a significant component of the Christian Church (Psalms 2, 72; Jeremiah 31:34-37 and 33 to the end of the chapter!).

A corollary: if God desires to use Israel as a mandated territory for His action, that is, parallel with His creation, His affair. He used it for the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, and it is a site for His earthly operations.

The Loveliness of Love

In Isaiah 48:16 ff., you see a profound grief of God at the failure of Israel to have been an obedient child of God. This is a confirmation and correlative of His attitude.

‘Oh that you had heeded my commandments’, He cries, ‘your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea’. From Jeremiah, it appears that His inclination flutters, just as the heart of Israel fluttered towards idols, but His desire moves protectively to be faithful, and His will so resolves and He so acts. Law assigns severance (Isaiah 59:1 ff.), yet so powerful was the thrust that He deleted the deletion in order to save them, at this juncture, as so often (cf. Psalm 78).

Indeed Jeremiah 31:28 shows two cycles - one to destroy for their sustained sin, followed by another unshakeable resolve to restore the chastened nation. It reminds us of Romans 3:25 where we learn that He “passed over” the sin of their ignorance for so long. Moreover, in Isaiah 9:5-7, you see an even greater jubilation at the Lord’s coming return as their divine Ruler and Almighty Shepherd and King. In fact, that prophet resounds with the central prediction of this universal eternal divine dominion “by Him!” (cf. Isaiah 42:6 ff., 49:6 ff., 51:6, 54:10; Chs. 60, 66; Psalm 72).

There is a Distinction

We need now to make a distinction. It is one thing to stay to principle, to declare it; it is another to present it, to impart it. How God imparted the Gospel to those who never heard, before the day of judgment, we neither know nor need to know. That He did so, we see in texts like Jeremiah 1 and in the book of Daniel; but also in the clear statement of Colossians 1:19. He missed nothing.

That's the way of omniscience. In the Second World War, there was a situation that was fairly common. It was covered by the acronym SNAFU - it meant ‘Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.’ With omniscience, it would not only be ‘situation abnormal’, but it would be unique. Do you realise that the beating of the wings of a hummingbird is 8-80 times a second. And the precision, timing, aerodynamics, and control to keep its body immobile with beak unquivering? Do you realise? This involved a degree of precision not available to man, and never seen as a feat being performed in nature. Vast are the domains of cumulative, co-operative creation, mutually crafted and simultaneously composed to match the requirements of going to work in an unmatching world.

To proceed on the glorious wonders of design and DNA

- the latter drafted with a systematic scenario in the field of meaning, one of its own, is a feat past the brain of man, beyond his mind. And this is just one example of the fact that labour is needed for results when you wish to impose your mind on nature. What a fiesta, what a feast, what a divine security! You can be sure no one will ever get less than justice from God and indeed, the whole Christian flock lives by and in grace, and through the realities now revealed by faith, and to be imparted in their time, by power. Thank God, He did not make us as psychic mechano sets but living souls (cf. Matthew 23:37, Jeremiah 31:18-20).

The Knowledge of Omniscience.

Within the barrier that is here in Bible Christian apologetics, we avoid the principle of declaring that this is how predestination was actually made, since the individual Being of God is infinite. Rather we exhibit the harmony that exists between the Biblically revealed aspects. Some of these remain to be verbalised.

First, it was as if there were two primary divine viewing and reviewing stations: the mobility and the stability. In the former, it is as if in a motion picture, events in all their fresh and lively nature leap into vision, while in the

latter, entire conclusion and its procedures and profiles are to be seen.

Yet such aspects are only envisaged here in this figure. There is no limit to the interchange or mobility in the spiritual Being Himself. It is as if either station may be used for the divine will. But then even this is surpassed, since the outcome is illimitable in the dealings of eternity (2 Timothy 1:8-14, 2 Corinthians 4:17-5:5).

God chooses what suits eternity and be sure eternity will suit it. Heaven is the haven and joy is the jubilation intense in the place made for the children of God, as in John 14: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

For more: see Bulletins and Predestination and Freewill thesis