1. Theol. the doctrine that a) God foreordained everything that would happen b) God predestines certain souls to salvation and, esp. in Calvinism, others to damnation 2. a predestinating or being predestinated; destiny; fate Webster's New World Dictionary Second College Edition. 1984.
It should be amply clear from the above definition that the Bible alone must be our final standard for understanding the meaning of Bible words. Webster, like others not acquainted with the truth, assigns predestination an equality with fate. Those having even a casual understanding of the two words recognize that predestination and fate are opposites. Predestination is the determination of all things by God, and fate is the determination of nothing.
Since the words, predestinate, and predestinated are found in the Bible, (Romans 8.29,30; Ephesians 1.5,11) we can then unmistakably conclude that predestination is a Bible topic, no matter what form the word takes. Other words like will, purpose, decree, and counsel, when used of God's government, all mean substantially the same.
We are, however, not so much concerned with putting these specific words to use as we are with determining the overall message of the Bible to us regarding the magnitude of God's government. For instance, does the Bible teach that God rules all, without exception, or is He in some matters a passive spectator, more or less? By "rule all," we mean that the Scriptures say God totally superintends every event in such a manner that they all, without deviation, come to pass precisely in correspondence with His will, purpose, counsel, and predestination. If heaven is His throne, and earth is His footstool, will He allow other forces to shape their destiny? The events in time are not staged somehow like a chess match, with men and devils making their move, and then God reacting. Rather, as we believe, all things fall out exactly as God would have them to fall out without either assistance or hindrance. Assuming God has always had a plan, the scope of which covers all things, both now and forever, can there be anything that might possibly frustrate it in the least9 If God, or His plan, could in the least be frustrated, would He really be worthy of our worship and adoration as the supreme ruler?
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
God is worthy of His Title, and cannot be frustrated either in His will or the accomplishment of it, nor can there possibly be anything unknown to Him. Neither can the matters that seem the least important to man escape His eternal scrutiny simply because they appear insignificant to us. We submit that God has perfectly, and that from eternity, known all things knowable, yea, even all things we might describe as unknowable. It matters not the importance or value man places on certain matters; they are all alike perfectly known by God, simply because He is God. His wisdom is boundless, limitless, all encompassing, and possesses the fullest capacity for total cognizance. He views the tiny sparrow, and the groveling worm prior to its existence; nor is man's going hid from Him. All creatures alike, from the least form of life to the greatest beast, is open and naked before Him. This immense wisdom, we learn from the Bible, from experience, and revelation, is the knowledge of God. It is a purely wonderful, blessed knowledge, and sweet to His little children to contemplate, though they scarcely know the thousandth part of it. "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it (Psalm 139.3-6)." We are persuaded from our brief contemplation of this sublime subject then, that God's knowledge does embrace all, in time and eternity, without the possibility of any exceptions, just as David described it in Psalm 139 and elsewhere. Otherwise, God could not be said to know all things. At best He would be only wiser to some degree than others, if it could be possible that He did not know all things, both now and forever.
It must be noted as well that if God did not know all things from eternity, and that there were some things He did not know until they "chanced into existence" then He would be said to be wiser after learning them than before. Hence the great God that told us that He changed not actually would change in the degree of His understanding and wisdom, if it were possible for Him to learn things during or after the fact.
Since God then does know all things, at all times, we must conclude all things are certain to transpire just as He knows them, or His knowledge would be deficient, at least to the degree that He failed to know something. Since all things transpire just as God knows them, then He is certainly willing for them to be just as they are. If God were unwilling for anything to be what it was, then what force gave existence to that which occurred outside His will? If, for instance, God saw from all eternity that the rivers would run into the seas, can there be a power to nullify His view of the river's certain path? Moreover, what set in motion the path of the river in the first place? Was it the will and purpose of God, or did it just chance to go where it did? No! Simply put, those things which God from all eternity saw, from the twists and turns of a river bed to the salvation of poor sinner, are decreed to be just as He saw them. We may well say too that He saw the bend in the river and the deliverance of His elect just as He decreed them. Or again, we can say He pre-ordained their course. This is predestination, and is fully commensurate to that which God, in His unerring wisdom, knows. Anything less than the predestination of all things renders God's knowledge to be cogitation or guesswork; the course of a creek, and the redemption of His children included. If the things which God from all eternity knew were not based on the certainty of predestination, then they could not with certainty be known. How could they be certainly known if they may, or may not, fall out as He knew them? They cannot be certainly known if not predicated on something! That something is predestination. If not predestination, by what then are they made certain? We would assert in summary that if God did not decree the certainty of the flow of water in a river, every last drop of it, then the end of His little flock is equally uncertain.
Predestination is a compound word. pre, mean-before hand, and destination, meaning the end result. Should there be anything, a person or event, that does not have its destination determined before it occurs, then it cannot be certain to come to pass; hence its prospects of taking place are left to vagaries or chance. From cover to cover, the Bible is replete with topical pronouncements showing how God's predestination embraces all, and thus makes it certain. If the Lord wills, we shall show from every book in the Bible, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation, examples of God's predestination. We will not examine those often used texts, but rather some of those scriptures that might, when first read, be considered more ordinary.
"And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins (Genesis 35.11)."
God told Jacob to be fruitful and multiply. Was God simply engaging in casual conversation with Jacob, or was it His determinate will that a nation and a company of nations would issue from his bowels? If this was mere conversation, then Jacob may or may not beget seed. Hence, Judah, and all others in the royal line from which Jesus the Christ came might just as well not be born. But Jacob was not advised to get fruitful, but rather to be fruitful. To us, and we believe to all others that see God as supreme, God directed Jacob to be just what He eternally determined for him to be, and Jacob could fail just as quickly as God could change His mind in the matter. Jacob was just as sure to be fruitful and begat nations as God was sure He purposed him to do so. The force of God's directive compels us to believe that there never was a time when God had not purposed for this multiplication of nations to transpire. And God always knew what He would instruct Jacob to do; hence it was always His will. It was predestinated.
It must be recognized as well, that everything that could possibly be associated with Jacob fulfilling this directive must as well be governed by God's eternal purpose. Otherwise, something, or someone, might hinder Jacob in doing as God directed. For instance, Esau would certainly kill his brother Jacob if circumstances allowed; thus he must be hindered from carrying out his evil intentions. This hindering must as well be predestinated or else it too might just as well fail as succeed. God did impede him, and Jacob was secure from this impending danger, though he knew it not. Suppose too that Jacob had by chance fathered thirteen daughters instead of twelve sons and one daughter. According to the Arminian method of reckoning things the odds were fifty-fifty. Then what would have become of the twelve tribes? The Levites to serve the tabernacle? Joseph to deliver the family from the great famine? Judah to continue the line to Christ? And so, on and on we might go. The Soft-shell suggests that God foreknew how things would be and providentially ruled and over-ruled. But...if God foreknew the way it would be, why would He have to do any over-ruling since it must be as He foreknew it? And we would remind those that prefer to pass off God's government on the expression "providence" that the word is used only once in the Bible, and then it is used by Tertullus, an Arminian orator, to butter up Felix (Acts 24.2). The simple facts are that God foreknew Jacob would bring forth nations because He had before determined the issue.
Genesis 35.11 can only be understood in the context of the predestination of all things.
"For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in (Exodus 14.3)."
We must first say of this text that it could have no possible validity whatsoever if the text in Genesis 35.11 was not made certain by God's predestination. Had not Jacob sired twelve sons there would be no Israelites in the land of Egypt for Pharaoh to boast over with such contemptuous terms. Each text in the Bible, from Genesis 1.1 to Revelation 22.21 must be certain for all others to have a corresponding certainty. How else could Pharaoh express what God said he would if something could have altered circumstances in such a way as to make his statement impossible?
God told Moses, "For Pharaoh will say..." To us, it seems a certainty that every thought, opinion, circumstance, and anything else directly or remotely associated with bringing Pharaoh to say what he would, must be exactly fitted to prompt him to speak. And to speak just what God said he would. Anything else would falsify either in part or in whole, the word of God to Moses as it is recorded in Exodus 14.3. We believe the universe could crash into rubble sooner than the word of God could fail, here or elsewhere. We know of nothing other than predestination possessing sufficient certainty to make this pronouncement inevitable.
The occasion of the directive God gave Moses was the departure of Israel out of the land of Egypt. They had fled, bag and baggage, after the great event of the Lord passing through the land to destroy the firstborn of the Egyptians. Point by point, all that God had shown and told Moses was being fulfilled. Who could reasonably expect then that what God had said here concerning Pharaoh's speech might have even a slight possibility of failing? As sure as God is true, Pharaoh would say exactly what was foretold for him to say. Could this be anything then, other than the predestination of God in execution?
"They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in." Pharaoh was no bumbling idiot. He was wise enough to rule the greatest nation on earth at that time. However, he was totally mistaken, both in his perception of what was transpiring and this pronouncement. First, he obviously believed he was in control of events, despite the constant series of plagues God had thwarted him with, and second, he misread the consequences of the Israelite's departure. Like all others born with an Arminian nature, he was, after repeated evidences, still blind to the power and purpose of God. His conclusions were naturally erroneous: "I've got them now; there is no way they can escape." We remind the reader, this was just what God has prophesied for him to say, even though it was not a correct summary of the situation. What else can be determined than God deluded him into saying this? If we were to do something like that we would be called a deceiver, and be accused of exerting false influence over another, but not so with God. "With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his (Job 12.16)." God had sent him a strong delusion that he should believe a lie (II Thessalonians 2.11). Did Pharaoh have a legitimate right to complain, "Why hast thou made me thus (Romans 9.20)?" Neither does the workmongers of today, though complain they will.
If the Lord wills, we shall continue this subject in our next issue.
J. F. Poole
Volume 8, No. 2