by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 10 March 18, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
1901 ASV Translation:
29 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:
30 and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
I. Predestination Continued.
A. The question of just what is predetermined.
1. There is no definitive statement in the Bible that can be used to establish absolute fatalism. Nor is there any indication in the Bible that choices are made and pursued apart from causes that are determinative outside of the "will". Without such definitive statements, we must conclude that the Bible does not teach absolute fatalism nor absolute freedom.
2. If it is true that created persons make choices that are constrained by what is within them, but not what is without, we have a kind of "limited" freedom within a context of divine purpose that cannot move forward without absolute constraint at some points.
3. If, then, there is a "foreknowledge" that determines and an omniscience that does not determine, the question arises: Just what does the Bible say is "predestined"?
a. In our current text, what is "predestined" is that the "called according to purpose" will be conformed to the image of Christ so that He will be "the firstborn among many brethren."
b. In Acts 2:23, what was "predestined" was the "delivering up" of Jesus of Nazareth.
c. In Acts 13:48, what was "predestined" was those who would "believe unto eternal life".
d. In Acts 4:28, what was "predestined" was the actions taken by Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel against Jesus.
e. In 1 Corinthians 2:7, what was "predestined" was the "mystery" wisdom of God that was to result in "our glory" -- a wisdom that, had the rulers of this world known of it, would have kept them from crucifying the Lord of Glory.
f. In Ephesians 1:5, what was "predestined" was those whom He was to "adopt as sons".
g. In Ephesians 1:11, what was "predestined" was those of us who are to fit into the purpose of Him Who works all things after the counsel of His will.
h. In Romans 9:17, what was "predestined" was Pharoah's rule over Egypt at the time when God demanded that Israel be allowed to leave (note Exodus 9:16) and that purpose was actually enforced by God Himself as He "hardened Pharoah's heart".
i. Perhaps the most interesting text in this regard is Matthew. 19:28. In that place Jesus responded to Peter's question of what his abandonment of all to follow Jesus would bring him. He said, among other things, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." On the face of it, Jesus promised The Twelve that they would sit upon twelve thrones in judgment over Israel. But, in another place, Jesus clearly identified Judas Iscariot as being a "devil" (John 6:70). And in Acts 1 Peter led the disciples into a selection of a replacement for him under the Scriptural injunction "his office let another take". Does this mean that Jesus' words "fail" because that "devil", Judas, lost his "office" and "obtained a field [of blood] with the reward of his iniquity"? Or is Judas actually a "saved" man whose service to Jesus before his betrayal was sufficient to permit his ultimate placement upon a throne over a tribe of Israel? If Jesus had wanted to leave the door "open", He could have said, "...ye which have followed me ... shall sit upon thrones also in judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel." This would have left some "wiggle room". It seems impossible for Jesus to have declared Judas to be a "devil" and Judas still be able to fulfill the requirement for sitting upon one of the thrones -- "ye who have followed Me." Peter claimed more than was true when he said, "we have forsaken all", because it is clearly not true that Judas had done that in any form other than the merely external. John 12:6 pointedly identifies him as a "thief" who did not care for the poor. This is not one who "has followed" Jesus in any way beyond the literal, physical sense. There is another possibility. Jesus could have been referring to the "twelve thrones" as a twelve-part entity of one issue: rule over Israel in the regeneration. If this be the case, Jesus' reference was not to "one man, one throne" but to "followers who will rule over Israel" in a context of twelve tribes being ruled by twelve rulers whose rule will be "one" over the nation. What is clear from this text is that Jesus' promise to those whom He had chosen was of a specific place of service in the Kingdom to come. This is "predestination", but there is no permission here of any kind of abuse of grace.
4. Then we must ask the question: why did God "predestinate"? The answer is given in Ephesians 1:6 and 1:12: to make "grace" clear. The only way to absolutely clarify the meaning of "grace" is to simply take human initiative out of the picture.