Since the earliest days of our religious experience we have derived much comfort and consolation from the doctrine of predestination. This sweet doctrine was not perfectly formed in our understanding at the first; far from it. But, there never was a time that we could seriously doubt that the all-wise God of creation was also the God of perfect and entire execution. By that we mean that the great Creator had a will and an all-encompassing plan for the whole of His creation, with no exceptions either in heaven or on earth. If not deceived, we have held this view because of our experience, from reading the Word of God, and from observation, and it is really the firm foundation of all our comfort.
Someone may hasten to criticize this position by saying that our Lord and Saviour is the only firm foundation for poor sinners, and we would readily agree. Yet, is not the Saviour's entire redemptive work grounded in the firm foundation of the will of God? The will of God and the work of His Son cannot be separated. "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God (Heb. 10.7)." Two things here, we believe, enforce our contention.
First, Christ came into the world according to the prophecies of the Bible. Surely all sane people accept that He fulfilled these prophecies to the fullest, for if it were otherwise, the Bible would be little better than the random speculations of ancient writers that may or may not transpire. Read, especially in the Gospel account of Matthew, the oft repeated expressions, such as: "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken in the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene (Matt. 2.23)." In reading the context it will be found that the action taken was that of Joseph when God warned him in a dream. Thus, Joseph too must have his actions comport with the inspired prophecies. So then some thirty years later we find the following: "And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the seacoast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephtalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying...(Matt. 4.13, 14)." Note carefully the expression, "That it might be fulfilled." These prophesies were fulfilled to the jot and tittle, thus establishing their certainty. We need not multiply examples, though they would be useful and interesting. The entire life and earthly existence of the Saviour was a fulfilling of the prophecies of the Scriptures. A final word on the prophecy we cited from Matt 2.23: Had Joseph been free from the predestination of God to do as he pleased he might well have never gone to Nazareth in the first place. Hence, Jesus could never have fulfilled the prophecy in Matt. 4.13,14.
Second, He came to finish, to do, and to execute the will of God, which establishes beyond dispute that God has a will. "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work (John 4.34)." "I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me (John 5.30)." "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me (John 6.38)." See also verses 39 and 40. The idea that the Saviour ever, at any time, acted outside of the will of God would completely negate the scriptures we just cited. Every motion, breath and thought was completely subservient to the eternal will of God. Thus, the course of His majestic life, death, and ascension was in perfect harmony with the eternal will, or plan of God. The servant Son of God came, lived, and returned to the Father according to a purpose that is as eternal as God Himself. And that is predestination, absolute and sure, if the word has any meaning at all.
Opponents of the absolute predestination of all things will sometimes consent to what we have said thus far, but deny that the purpose, or predestination of God goes beyond the Lord's appointed life. Other matters, they say, are left to free will. Let us see. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain (Acts 2.23):" If it is admitted that God did, with eternal certainty, determine in His counsel that His darling Son would be crucified, then where is chance, contingencies, free will, or peradventures as they relate to this text? What an absurd notion it is, that the great event by which God ordained the salvation of the elect, it (the death of Christ) being as certain as God's counsel, and yet, for lack of control over the wicked actions of men, it (the death of Christ) might never come to pass. If Pilate had been free to do as he willed he might have turned Jesus loose instead of sentencing Him to death. Without the predestination of God, Judas might have felt ashamed at his nefarious plot and not sold his Master. These and a thousand other variables might or might not have transpired at that dreadful moment had God not decreed the actions of all the participants in the death of Christ. The sum of the parts are always equal to the whole, and had even one part of the train of events bringing Jesus to the cross been left to human volition there would be no certainty of salvation. Death and damnation might well have reigned instead of redemption.
Whatever others may believe, we are fully satisfied that the determinate council of God is the same as His predetermining work; it is predestination, pure and simple. And if something is foreknown, it must also be foreordained, else the foreknowledge would be reduced to "foremaybe". Without dispute then, if God predetermined, or predestinated the crucifixion, then all actions, great or small, relating however remotely or directly to our Lord's death, must as well be made certain by the absolute predestination of God. "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand (Prov.19.21)."
It would be impossible to conceive of a more wicked act of man than the murder of the innocent Son of God. Never since the dawn of time has the wanton malice of man exceeded the deeds that culminated in the murder of the Lamb of God. This must surely be the apex of the vile conduct perpetrated by the sons of Adam. If then such afoul crime as this, one that cannot be exceeded in enormity, be determined by the counsel of God (predestinated, meaning the same thing), why would it be thought incredible that lesser sins would be also preordained? If viewed with the wisdom of God in mind it is comforting to the heirs of heaven to see the predestination of all things as the governing system, not only of this event, but of all events for all time. This is the doctrine of the Bible.
God, who is pure, holy, and undefiled, declared the end from the beginning (Isa. 46.10). He is sufficient also, in power and authority to administer the whole of the expansive affairs of the universe, from the leaping of a babe in the womb to the traitorous selling of His Son by Judas. These are, as are all other motions of mankind, governed by His wise decrees, and brought to pass at the time appointed.
What pleasant times they are when we are blessed to contemplate the flight of the sparrow in its ordained journey, and observe that it soars on securely by the unerring guidance of God's purpose for all of His creation. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Matt. 10.29,31)." Lost someone think that sparrows and other creatures were governed by God's will, but insignificant things were not, we were told also in the above text that God has made an exact accounting of every hair on our heads. What terrible work this statement would make for free-willers and assorted other Arminians, should they attempt to explain it. The heirs of grace, however, cannot stumble here, for as their Lord had said before them, they too exclaim, "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight (Matt. 11.25)."
Until recently we had believed that there were only three positions taken on the subject of predestination. First, that nothing is predestinated; second, that some things are predestinated; and third, that all things are predestinated. We recognize that among the adherents of these three positions there are a variety of secondary, or incidental points made, but these cover the broad spectrum of theological opinion. The first view, that nothing is predestinated, is the common view of those that have little or no regard for the Word of God. The second, by far the most commonly held view, is the position of the daughters of Babylon, Arminians, and assorted other free-willers and fools. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God...(Psa.14.1)." The third view is the exclusive property of the election of grace; those babes born of the Spirit. "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matt. 1125)." Now, it has come to our attention that there is another view being passed around as gospel currency. It is as follows in two paragraphs culled from an article we received in the mail:
"God's conditionally-predestinated end for men is expressed in other words and concepts in Scripture. It is essential to grasp these associations in order to perceive the totally non fatalistic sense of the word 'predestinated' in scriptural usage."
"To each of the above promises and prospects a condition is attached in Scripture. That demonstrates clearly that participation in these predestinated purposes of God is conditional, as contemplated on the individual level."
We would be hard pressed to find a more blatant abuse of plain English. It is to be expected that those given over to a reprobate mind will believe a lie, but to pawn off a mangled meaning of plain language is another matter altogether. "Conditionally-predestinated!" We fully believe that if Satan could blush, this would come as near to causing it as anything we have ever read. But enough of this strange assertion. We cited it only to show the animosity held against the sweet doctrine of God's universal government, known to us as absolute predestination. May the God of all grace and mercy enable us to continue in the Old Paths. May it be our lot to journey on among those that fellowship in the will of God in all things. Predestination has been a sure article in the faith of God's elect since the first sinner was saved by grace, and we are persuaded it will be until the end of time.
July - August 1992