Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Predestined: Personal or Generic? (Part II)
09/04/2005 - James WhiteBiblical Data that Teaches God Predestined Individuals
Does Scripture only teach that God predestined a plan and purpose and not individuals? Lets jump into the Biblical evidence,
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Here in the clearest of terms, Paul is telling the Thessalonians that the cause of their salvation is the action of God choosing them. Notice it says, "God chose you [individuals] to be saved." It does not say, "God chose only a plan of salvation with the hopes that one day you would be part of this plan." And yet, there are those that would want us to believe this, contrary to the plain meaning of Paul's words.
The English translation here properly reflects the underlying Greek. The personal pronoun 'you' is in the accusative case, which means it is the object of the action of the verb 'chose.' God is the subject and the 'you' is the direct object receiving the action of 'chose.'
Further, notice that salvation is 'through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.' Let me stop here a moment and explain an important truth. Paul understands that salvation involves all the work of the Spirit in regeneration, conversion, justification, sanctification, glorification, etc. Salvation or election is not equated with 'justification' (being declared righteous before God). Though justification is part of our salvation it is not the whole of our salvation.
I have heard it said, 'If God predestines people to be saved then why live a holy life?' That question demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of what election means. That is like asking, 'If God predestined us to live holy, then why live holy?' Election once again is not simply the initial work of God in justification but involves all the stages of our salvation, including sanctification.
Ephesians 1:4 teaches that he chose us 'to be holy and blameless in his sight.' And Romans 8:29 is unequivocal as well in teaching that God has predestined us unto sanctification, 'For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son'...More texts such as these could be cited. But my point is for you to understand that the predestination of our salvation is not to be equated with eternal security, or some initial part of our salvation such as justification. Certainly it includes these aspects, but for Paul election is all of our salvation---God is the sovereign Author and the Perfector of our faith.
Let us examine a couple of more Biblical texts that teach that God has predestined individuals unto salvation,
Ephesians 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.
Here we have two verses back to back that state plainly that God has predestined individuals, not simply a 'plan.' The personal pronoun 'us' is the object that is receiving the action from the verbs, 'predestined' and 'chose.' Notice also it says, 'In love he predestined.' God has a special salvific love for his elect people. Often Arminian thinking Christians characterize the Calvinistic teaching of election as a God who capriciously and arbitrarily chooses people at his own whims. We teach just the opposite! God in his love, perfect wisdom, and freedomhas set apart a people for himself. It is anything but arbitrary. Are they questioning God's perfect wisdom? As Paul argues in Romans 1, the pot (creature) has no right to question the freedom and the wisdom of the Potter (Creator).
Finally, here is the last text,
Romans 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
In this verse, we find once again that God predestined 'those,' i.e., individuals. We do not find Paul saying, "And the 'plan' he predestined...". No, God has predestined individuals. (In the Greek, the word 'those' is in the accusative case as the other examples were as well, which simply again means that it is the object of the verb's action.)