The Bible and Predestination
Speak the word "predestination" and many people will immediately think of a doctrine of predestination. The doctrine will very likely encompass the concepts of God's sovereignty, foreknowledge, election, man's free will, and salvation. There are differing views on what a doctrine of predestination is, based on an understanding of how each of these concepts play a part. A doctrine is a compilation of teachings, and is not usually found in any one place in Scripture. But the word "predestined" in itself is not a doctrine when used in Scripture; it has a limited and specific meaning.
A danger in calling a doctrine by a biblical word is reading that word in Scripture and then inserting the doctrine instead of the basic meaning of the word. Someone will say, "Predestination is found in the Bible, therefore it must be true." Well, the word is found in the Bible, but that does not mean an imagined doctrine is. The writer was using the limited meaning of the word and not inserting an entire doctrine which later readers would compile from many scriptures. It is an error to read a verse of Scripture and to insert a doctrine where a single word is used.
This article examines the meaning of the word "predestined" and its specific use in Scripture. The Greek word for "predestined" is used six places in Scripture, although the English word may be translated differently. This is a look at those six places and the message they give us.
The Greek word for "predestined" is "proorizo." Thayer's defines this as:
- To predetermine, decide beforehand
- In the NT of God decreeing from eternity
- To foreordain, appoint beforehand
The prefix in the word, "pro," means before. The main part, "orizo," means the bounds of something. Literally this means to set boundaries beforehand. It is to predetermine the scope of something. The word itself does not define what is predetermined. It also does not define if the predetermination applies to an individual, a group, an event, or a plan. It is only in the context of usage that these can be known. So the predetermination and who or what it applies to is found in the surrounding passage of Scripture where "proorizo" is used, rather than being inserted into the passage by the word itself.
In the six places in Scripture where the word is used, five things are shown to be predetermined by God. These five predeterminations are different but related. Together they complete a picture of God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. These are:
1. The first predetermination:
- God's wisdom that salvation is to be through the cross of Christ, rather than by the strength, wisdom, or resources of man.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:7-8). Here the word "ordained" is the same word that is translated "predestined" in other places. That which is predetermined is the wisdom of God. It was ordained "before the ages." Paul wrote preceding this, "However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing" (1 Cor. 2:6). A contrast is presented: the wisdom of this age and of the rulers of this age, versus the wisdom of God. Paul says the rulers of this age are coming to nothing. Their wisdom cannot benefit them. Paul disavows human wisdom in the opening verses of this chapter. He says he did not come to the Corinthians with such wisdom, and does not use it, but rather came "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4b-5). These verses are referring to what Paul wrote just previously in chapter one, where God's wisdom concerning the plan of salvation is presented.
In chapter one Paul writes, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.'" (1 Cor. 1:17-19). To "preach the gospel" is to present the "message of the cross." This is the "cross of Christ." To the wise of this world, this is foolishness. But it is foolishness "to those who are perishing." The world has its own wisdom in how to build itself up, to enrich itself. And it does not include the way of the cross. It is God's plan to destroy such wisdom. It is His plan to bring to nothing those who follow it.
Paul continues, "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:20-24). God is turning the wisdom of this world into foolishness, for human wisdom does not enable a person to know God. The world through wisdom - worldly human wisdom - did not know God. Mankind does not have it in himself to find God and save himself. So God is bypassing human wisdom. It is foolishness to God. It therefore pleases God to save "through the foolishness of the message" of the cross of Christ. The message of the cross is foolishness to the world. But Jesus Christ, and His cross, is the "power of God" and the "wisdom of God" to save. This is the wisdom of God that Paul speaks of in the next chapter that is predetermined, or predestined, before the ages.
We will look into chapter one further, as we look at the other four predeterminations.
2. The second predetermination:
- Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for sin was to be put to death by Herod, Pilate, the gentiles, and the Jews.
This is found in the book of Acts: "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done" (Acts 4:27-28). The word translated "predestined" in other scriptures is here translated "determined before." That which is predetermined is that Herod, Pilate, the gentiles, and the Jews would gather together to oppose Jesus Christ and put Him to death on the cross. This group acted by God's "hand" and according to His "purpose." The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was no spontaneous act in history, but rather one determined by God before the foundation of the world.
Jesus is said to be "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). The "lamb" refers to the Judaic sacrifices to make atonement for sin. John the Baptist said when he first saw Jesus, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). John prophesied that Jesus was to be a sacrifice for sin. Jesus knew this also. On the night before His crucifixion He prayed, "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour" (John 12:27). Jesus' sacrifice of Himself to make atonement for sin was God's purpose from the beginning, and Jesus willingly submitted to it. God's plan for mankind to gain eternal life through redemption in Christ was in place before the fall of Adam and Eve. Thus the book of Acts shows the crucifixion of Jesus was predestined by God.
Did God force Herod, Pilate, the gentiles, and the people of Israel to put Jesus to death, so that God's will would be done? Scripture shows they acted in ignorance. According to our previous passage in First Corinthians we saw that God's wisdom was ordained before the ages of "which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8). If they had known who Jesus truly was they "would not" have put Him to death. Paul shows they made a choice based on their human understanding. If they had known the position, glory, and power of Christ they would have acted otherwise. But Paul writes of the "hidden" wisdom of God. God hid it purposefully to bring His plan to pass. Otherwise those of "this age" might have exalted Christ for selfish reasons. We see this after the miracle of the multiplying of the loaves: "Jesus answered them and said, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled'" (John 6:26). God is above the choice of mankind, and uses that choice to fulfill His will. And so Jesus said from the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).
The fallen nature of mankind is self-centered. Fallen man, cut off from the fullness of God and His sufficiency, seeks self-sufficiency. Natural man in his pride is opposed to lowliness of mind, to weakness, and to reliance on others. This was the nature of those opposed to Jesus and His teaching. Paul says to the Corinthians, "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (1 Cor. 1:26). Three groups are listed that are opposed to the things of God: the wise according to the flesh, the mighty, and the noble (the rich). These are the ones who put Christ to death.
The "mighty" are those in power and who hold power over others. These are represented by Herod and Pilate. An earthy kingdom of Christ would be seen as a threat to their own rule. These included the Jewish leaders. The "wise according to the flesh" are represented by the gentiles. These are those of the world who possess their own intellectual understanding and who oppose a faith in one who is unseen. The rich are represented by "the people of Israel." These boasted of having Moses and Abraham in their ancestry, of having the Law and a place as the people of God, and of having a righteousness that the gentiles did not possess. All three groups saw Jesus as a threat and these came together to bring Jesus to the cross. The world in its natural fallen state, yet lifted up in pride, is opposed to a humbleness that would diminish itself, which Jesus represented.
The world glories in its wisdom, might, and resources. But these do not bring a person into a relationship with God, and God has determined to "bring to nothing" those who glory in such things. But as God is opposed to the things of a rebellious world, so is the world opposed to the things of God, and thus it crucified Christ.
3. The third predetermination:
- That those who enter God's kingdom are to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified" (Rom. 8:29-30). Here the word "predestined" is used twice, but it speaks of one predetermination. This concerns those "whom He foreknew." These are those whom God knew would come into His kingdom. The predetermination is not about who would come into it, but about the type of person that would come into it. God predetermined that those who come into His kingdom would have the mind of Christ. This is by being "conformed to the image of His Son."
We must look at what the image of God's Son, Jesus, is, to understand the mindset that God has determined that those He saves are to have. Paul writes of the mind of Christ: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:3-5). Jesus came with the mind and humbleness of a servant. He expressed the love that the Law was about: perfect love to God and perfect love to mankind. Paul continues, "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:6-8).
The image of the Son is one of servant hood and humility. Jesus had "lowliness of mind" and "humbled Himself." Although entitled to claiming equality with God, Jesus willingly took a lower position. In full submission to the Father, Jesus "became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." This is the image that God has predetermined that those entering His kingdom, and becoming His people, are to be conformed to. This is also an image that is opposite of that which the world exalts.
In writing to the Corinthians, Paul continues about this: "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Cor. 1:27-29). What God has chosen are "things which are despised" by the world. The world would glory in its wisdom, but "God has chosen the foolish." The world would glory in its might and power, but "God has chosen the weak." The world would glory in its possessions and resources, but God has chosen "the things which are not." God has determined that "no flesh should glory in His presence." And Jesus Christ, as a man who walked on this earth like the rest of us, is the model of one who glories in God, exalts God, and takes no glory for himself. He is the model of one who gives full obedience to God's will. He is the model of one who is willing to die to himself and give his life to God. This is the type of person that God has predetermined will enter His kingdom.
4. The fourth predetermination:
- That a relationship to God the Father is to be by adoption into His Family through Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Eph. 1:3-4). God, knowing that the fall of mankind into sin and spiritual death would occur, nevertheless decided before the foundation of the world that His people would be "holy and without blame before Him in love." He chose that the place for this to occur is in Christ. This was necessary because apart from Christ there is no hope for such a state.
Mankind in his natural state is not holy and without blame. He does not have the type of self-giving love that God requires. Scripture states, "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom 3:10), and "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). There is no one who can come to God on his own merit. There is no direct path to God, for sin stands in the way. Therefore God has chosen "before the foundation of the world" for His people to be in Christ "that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." Jesus Christ is the path through which this is possible.
Therefore the fourth predetermination: "having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph. 1:5). God has predetermined that a relationship to Him is to be through Jesus Christ. It is to be through adoption into His family through the person and work of Christ. This bypasses the merits of man. It bypasses the works of man, the righteousness of man, and the efforts and ability of man to come directly to God. All that man would glory in, his wisdom, his might, and his resources, are bypassed, in the path that God has set for mankind to reach Him. What is predestined, or predetermined, here is not who will be saved, but that the path to God is to be by adoption as sons through Christ.
There is a humbleness in coming to God solely through the merits of Christ. Mankind would seek to glory in his own righteousness, a righteousness created by his own power and effort. To come to God based on the righteousness of Christ is humbling. Mankind would glory in his own resources and possessions. To realize that one is bankrupt spiritually is humbling. To accept that one is spiritually dead and needs regeneration through Christ is to reject the pride of self. Mankind would glory in his own wisdom and understanding. To place faith in Christ is to reject one's own understanding and to trust in God's understanding. To come to God through Jesus Christ is the rejection of the pride of man which caused mankind to fall from God in the first place. This is God's solution to the Fall of Man. Mankind fell when he disobeyed God and used his own strength, wisdom, and resources to run his life. God requires a rejection of this rebellion, also called repentance, for mankind to come back into a relationship with Him.
And so Paul continues in writing to the Corinthians: "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God -- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). Jesus Christ "became for us" - those who are saved - all things. There is no part of salvation left for mankind to accomplish. Jesus is for us wisdom from God. The provision of a Savior is God's wisdom that salvation is not of man. Jesus is our "righteousness and sanctification and redemption." He is everything and there is nothing left for man to take credit in. To believe in Jesus Christ, biblically, is to trust Him for all and trust in nothing concerning oneself.
Paul further explains the adoption as sons in writing to the Galatians: "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:22-29).
5. The fifth predetermination:
- That the inheritance of God's people of a place in His Kingdom is to be in Christ to the praise of God's glory.
The fifth place where the word "predestined" is used in the Scriptures is again in the book of Ephesians: "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:11-12). Paul is continuing to write of the blessings found in Christ, and it is "in Him" that one partakes of the inheritance of God's kingdom. This is one of many blessings listed in the passage. Here, one of the things God has predetermined, or predestined, is that those receiving His many blessings "should be to the praise of His glory." The predetermination is toward those "who first trusted in Christ." It is not about who is to receive the inheritance, but about the result of those who receive it. The result is that God will be praised for His glory. The praise is to come from those "who first trusted in Christ."
This theme appears multiple times in this first chapter of Ephesians. Verse six says "to the praise of the glory of His grace." Verses twelve and fourteen both say "to the praise of His glory." Verse seven says "according to the riches of His grace." God's grace and His glory are connected. God devised a plan of salvation that is implemented through grace. It is not deserved. It is given as a gift. God's character is compassionate, loving, gracious, and giving. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world" (John 3:16a). Such an outpouring toward mankind is to be received with thankfulness and praise returned to God. God has great glory not only in His being, but also in His works toward man. Through grace He is the Redeemer. This is glorious on God's part because mankind does not deserve redemption. Yet God has reached out in love anyway.
Who did God consult with to come up with this plan? We have seen that God created His plan "before the foundation of the world." His purpose was determined before He created mankind. Therefore He "works all things according to the counsel of His will." God alone determined this. There was no one else to consult with. The determination is "that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory." God determined a plan, before the foundation of the world, which would result in "the praise of His glory."
So God's plan of salvation is set such that credit for it belongs to God. This is emphasized in the book of Romans: "Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work" (Rom. 11:5-6). Salvation is by grace and not works, and this in and through Jesus Christ. Therefore all the glory is God's. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, concludes with this thought when writing about the wisdom of God: "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God -- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption -- that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord'" (1 Cor. 1:30-31).
Paul presents an argument. Jesus Christ became for us all things regarding salvation. Therefore Paul says the result must be "that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'" Because Christ did all the work, all the glory goes to God. There is nothing left for man to glory in. In saying, "as it is written," Paul is referring to the book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah states, "Thus says the Lord: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord" (Jer. 9:23-24). This is God's call to mankind. The call is let not man glory. Mankind in his fallen state has nothing to glory in. Mankind in all his might cannot produce the righteousness that God requires. Mankind in all his wisdom cannot produce good judgment - meaning good discernment, perception, or reasoning. Mankind in all his riches, or resources, cannot produce lovingkindness. Mankind has not, and cannot, attain to these things. God says for man to not glory in what he has and what he can do.
Instead, "let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth." The only thing for mankind to glory in is in understanding and knowing who God is and what he does. God in His might works righteousness. God in His wisdom produces good judgment. God in His richness outpours lovingkindness. This passage is a call to turn from self and turn to God.
Jesus, the way to the Father
It is in Christ that God has predetermined that mankind is to have a relationship with Him. To this end Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). Through Christ the deficiency of fallen man is rectified by the fullness of God filling man. Paul the Apostle prayed concerning the Ephesians, "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:16-19).
Jesus as "the way" is God's provision for fallen man to reject glory in his own might. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). The way to the Father is not through the labor of man. It is through the work of Christ. Paul writes, "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Rom. 4:4-5). Jesus is the way for mankind to stand before God in righteousness. Man in his own might cannot produce his own righteousness, but the believer in Christ has Christ's righteousness imputed to him, and is "strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" that he might walk in righteousness. The believer is to know the power of the Spirit working in his life and to not rely on his own power. God says, "I am the Lord, exercising ... righteousness ... in the earth. For in (this) I delight." The world glories in its might and self-righteousness, but Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." Therefore the believer is to rest in Christ the Way.
Jesus as "the truth" is God's provision for fallen man to reject glory in his own wisdom. Jesus said to Pilate, "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth" (John 18:37). Jesus, as the Word of God, the Logos, is the revelation of God's wisdom and truth to mankind. The believer is to reject his own human wisdom and trust in Christ "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Again Jesus said, "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46). The light of Christ reveals truth and brings God's wisdom and understanding. God says, "I am the Lord, exercising ... judgment ... in the earth. For in (this) I delight." God is not speaking solely of a judgment concerning condemnation, but judgment in general - God's understanding of what is good and right and just. God's judgment is based on truth. The world, in its own wisdom, does not agree with the judgment of God. But "No one comes to the Father except through Me" and therefore the believer is to place faith in Christ the Truth.
Jesus as "the life" is God's provision for fallen man to reject glory in his own riches, or resources. Jesus gave an illustration to show that mankind is to have its resource in Christ: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5). Rather than draw upon his own resources, man is to rely upon Christ. The fruit that God requires of mankind is love. Jesus is the source of love because in Christ is regeneration where the Spirit indwells the believer and produces the fruit of love. Paul writes "that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may ... know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." The world glories in its riches, yet is lacking the one thing God requires mankind to give: love toward God and love toward his neighbor. God says, "I am the Lord, exercising ... lovingkindness ... in the earth. For in (this) I delight." Mankind cannot produce what only God can, so "No one comes to the Father except through Me." Therefore the believer is to live, or abide, in Christ the Life.
In Christ, the way, the truth, and the life, is found the things that come from God: "'I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord." And so in accordance with the fifth predetermination, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:31).
The message of the cross
For the fullness of God to fill man requires the "message of the cross," as Paul writes of to the Corinthians. This is a message that not only has Christ died on the cross for our sins, but that each believer must account that he has accompanied Christ to the cross and has died himself with Christ on the cross. This is the giving of one's life to God such that he has died to this world. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor" (John 12:24-26). Again, Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it" (Luke 9:23-24).
How can a person with a fallen sin nature, who is alienated from God, call on and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Paul says to the Corinthians, "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Cor. 4:3-4). Fallen man is in darkness, and Satan works to block the light of the gospel. However, Paul spoke to the people of Athens regarding God's dealing with lost mankind: "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:26-27). God has determined the time in history that each person is to live in. God has also determined the nation and social setting that each person is born into. The purpose is "so that they should seek the Lord." It takes a crisis for one to come to God. Those apart from God live in a world of sin, death, and despair with no hope. God allows fallen man to face the consequences of rebellion against God. Yet God "is not far from each one of us." He desires that lost mankind would "grope for Him and find Him." This is a picture of the lost who live in darkness, groping their way around. They are blind and cannot see, yet are reaching out for something that is missing. God is waiting for each one to call to Him in desperation ( See Psalm 107). This is something "that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble" will do. But for each one that does, Scripture says, "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13).
Lost mankind lives in a prison of darkness and sin. God breaks this bondage with two things: His Word in conjunction with the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says, "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). The light needed to believe is given by God who commands it, just as He did concerning physical light on the first day of creation. Paul says to the Ephesians, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:13). The order listed is first, hearing the word of truth, second, trusting in Christ, and third, having believed, being sealed with the Holy Spirit. Romans states, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
But it takes the power of the Spirit, along with the Word of God, to break the hold that sin and Satan have on the mind of the lost. Paul, speaking of the veil that is upon the minds of the lost, says, "Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:16-17). When the lost cry out to God, "when one turns to the Lord," it is the Holy Spirit who gives the liberty for one to believe upon Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 1:5-6). There is a window of opportunity that the Spirit opens in the heart of a person when they hear the gospel, a window for them to either receive Christ or else reject Him. To reject Christ at such a time is to harden one's heart, after which one may not hear the voice of the Spirit again.
The Apostle John writes, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13). The King James Version and some others translate the word "right" as "power." The Greek word is "exousia," meaning "power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases" according to Thayer's. God grants the power to choose. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17). The Word plus the work of the Spirit allows a person to believe upon Christ. This in itself does not regenerate a person. The power of God, acting upon one who places faith in Christ, causes a person to be born into God's kingdom. And thus such a one is "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The scriptural order is faith first, then grace from God acting through faith, with that grace regenerating a person and giving them everlasting life. Multiple times the scriptures say, "Believe ... and you will be saved."
Life in Christ
The five predeterminations of the Bible, where the word "predestined" is used, present a plan of salvation. In these five places Scripture does not indicate whether any one particular individual will be saved or not. These scriptures do show the path one must take to reach God and have eternal life. The "message of the cross" is the "power of God" to salvation. This is a path designed by God to allow a person to renounce the rebellion of the Fall, to renounce the lifting up of oneself, and to choose a life in God, through Jesus Christ, where all the fullness of God is found to be sufficient. In this place the focus and glory is toward God. This is what Paul speaks of in writing to the Galatians: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).