Are our lives predestined?

Question: “Does God choose me or do I choose God? Are our lives on earth predestined for eternity?”

Bible Answers

A debate over the practical and actual application of predestination has been ongoing since the first century.

Predetermines maintain that God has selected who will go to heaven and who will not go to heaven and that faith, love, actions, and merit have no consideration.

If predestination rules, then God created Adam and Eve to fail and they had no choice.  The pro-choicer's believe that God loved Adam and Eve so much that He gave them free-will to make a choice.  A choice to obey what God had told them or to turn from God and disobey.

The pro-choice group maintains that God loves each individual and wants all mankind to come to Him. That each of us has an opportunity to accept or reject Jesus’ salvation. That God has not made little robots, but rather has given each of us a free will to determine our eternal destiny.

The word predestination means, foreordained, decree beforehand, ordain beforehand, to predetermine that God will bring to pass.

The theology of both groups can be supported by scripture as man may determine the meaning of scripture. While there is little argument over the meaning of the word predestination, there is a lack of clarity to what God’s intend and application is in regard to what predestination applies to. Some maintain that predestination applies primarily to God’s actual plan of salvation while others maintain that it applies to all that exists and occurs on earth including individual salvation. There are few verses that provide a clear picture to the application of predestination. In fact there are many different groups and splinter groups who have differing and contradictory theories of predestination such as Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and Double Predestinates. The King James Bible only has four occurrences of the word predestinate. White it has hundreds of occurrences of choose, chose, chosen, and choice and in most cases, the meaning of choice is quite clear offering no confusion or contradictions.

Predestination Verses

The following verses containing the word predestined and are the primary verses used to support the doctrine of predestination.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:29-30).

…he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Ephesians 1:5).

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11).

Review of Predestination scripture

The following is a review of the above four predestination verses.

Romans 8:29-30 says For those whom he foreknew he also predestined … he also called … he also justified … and he also glorified. This is used as proof of predestination – of God selecting who will be saved.  But what does this verse start with? It starts with, For those who God foreknew. One could claim God foreknew everyone and that would be true but not applicable as God does not justify and glorify everyone, so it must only apply to Christians.  That God foreknew who would accept Jesus. For God foreknew who would come to Him and these are the ones He predestine, determine, call, justify, and glorify.

The verses in Ephesians 1:5 and 11 need to be read with Ephesians 1:13  And you also were included in Christ when you hear the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Verses 5 and 11 are referring to God’s predestinated will. Since the beginning of time, God’s predestined will and plan has been for us to lovingly know Him. Verse 13 clearly tells us that this occurs when we hear and accept our salvation.

First Peter 1:2 does a great job of further clarifying that God predestines those He foreknows will come to accept Jesus Christ as Lord. who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Those who are destined for salvation where “chosen” according to God’s “foreknowledge”, whom He knew before time, since the very beginning, those who would accept Jesus as their Lord and savior.  God is not playing favoritism, but choosing those He knew by His foreknowledge. For The Lord knows those who are his (2 Timothy 2:19).

The two Ephesians verses end with “God’s will”.  God, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4), but all are not saved because God’s permissive will does not force all to receive Jesus, but rather in love he calls, knowing who will and who will not accept the call.

So what conditions are required for salvation?  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).  It is through faith that we accept (or reject) God’s gift.

Problems with predestination theory

Believing in predestination forces a person to believe in other theories and beliefs that may be contrary to the Word of God. For example:

We do see examples were God extended His will to individuals.  He predestined Jesus’ time on earth and crucifixion (1 Peter 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Acts 2:23). He predestined Moses and Pharaoh king of Egypt to demonstrate His glory (Romans 9:17).  He predestined a blind man to demonstrate His glory through Jesus (John 9:1-4). Clearly we can find examples of God exerting the predestination of His will, but salvation does not appear to be one of those areas. Apparently God wants man to come to Him by choice and not by force.

Free will

Free will is the doctrine that God repeatedly called us to salvation and gives each individual an opportunity to either accept or reject God’s loving gift of salvation. It is God’s will that everyone would accept His gift of salvation, but He also knows who will and who won’t.

God has predestined His “plan” for salvation through Jesus Christ for those who choose to accept it.  If you accept that Jesus died for your sins and you have accepted Him as the Lord of your life, then you are a part of God’s predestined plan of salvation that Jesus paid for 2,000 years ago.

What is God’s desire for each of us? The Lord … not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). If God wants all to reach repentance and if predestination is true, then wouldn’t God predestine all to receive repentance?

The following verses are just a few of the hundreds of verses that indicate that you have a free will to choose.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35).

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

For by grace you have been saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life…Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:16, 18).

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe (John 6:35-36).

These verses all offered the unsaved a choice. God offers salvation to all men. For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11).

One could accuse God of being unfair if He arbitrarily selected some for heaven and others for hell, but God certainly has the right to do what He wants with His creation and God has declares that it is His will to call all mankind to salvation. God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4) and He treats all men fairly by the same standard. For God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11). God does not predestine who will be saved, but He does pre-know who will choose to be saved.  

The entire basis of Christianity is love.  Predestination means we are only little robots with no free will of our own, but God’s Word is clear that He loves us and wants us to come to Him because we love Him, by our free will, because we want to be with Him and return His love. God will never force a person to love Him but gives each a choice. When Satan and his angels revolted against God, He could have forced them to love Him, but He gave them free will to choose.  Likely God permitted Satan to deceive Adam and Eve in the garden so that an opposing force would be present that offers all mankind an opportunity to choose to follow Satan’s world or Jesus Christ. A forced love is no love.  God is looking for a sincere genuine love that is freely given.

Does this now raise a conflict between different verses of the Bible? If yes, then we have a real problem with the Bible, but I would submit that God’s Word is flawless and the problem is how some interpret the Word of God. With many different doctrines man uses scripture to support their theologies rather than forming their theologies from scripture. Predestination is one of those subjects that require an open mind to what the complete Word of God says.  

Complete Predestination

While some predestinationist believe that predestination applies only to salvation, many believe that predestination applies to everything in our life. That every thought and action has been predestined for us. Everything would include evil. That God has predestined all evil in our lives and the world.  If God is the creator of all evil, then God is not a God of love, we have been falsely accusing the devil and much of the Bible is wrong.

I am sorry, but I cannot accept that all evil is from God. My God is a God of love and His Word is flawless. This theory is not supported by scripture.  God knowing all future advents does not mean He has predestined them.

Possible answer

While this article will not settle a 2,000 year old argument, I believe it may help answer the question.

While both sides argue that they are the ones correctly interpreting the Word of God, I believe they are both partly right in their assertions. First of all, God predestined His plan to forgive, cleans, and save mankind through the blood of Jesus from before time.  Second, God loves all of mankind and wants to have a relationship with all mankind, but God does not force anyone to accept Jesus. He may encourage, but He does not force. His predestined “plan” provides us a path to salvation through the blood of Jesus as a free will offering to God. His predestination is His plan for mankind and applied to those who choose to accept Jesus. His foreknowledge knows who will come to Him and who will not. It is God who draws a person.  It requires God’s call to break the power of sin and deception in a person’s life so they can accept Jesus.

He patiently calls and calls, but only those who come will be saved. God predestined His “plan” of salvation, not an individual’s salvation. Before time began, God predestined a plan to save those who would come when He calls.

The question is not does predestination exist as it clearly does, but rather what areas God has selected by His will to be and not to be controlled by His predestinated will.


In making a decision as to which theory to believe, I have used the following to draw a conclusion:

1. Predestination theorists are divided as to what predestination actually applies to, splintering predestination into a number of theories that contradict each other.  Pro-choice does not have this problem.

2.The theory of predestination is based on only a few scriptures and they make a weak argument, while the belief of free choice is supported by hundred of verses that provide a clear and compelling picture.

3. With about seven verses suggesting once saved always saved and over seventy verses saying that a person can lose their salvation, once saved always saved is clearly false. Click for verses. If a person can lose their salvation, then they could not have been predestined for salvation and predestination must be a false doctrine.

Scripture makes it clear that God chooses us for salvation with foreknowledge. And scripture makes it clear that we must choose God to receive salvation.  It is not one or the other, but both. God has chosen us and we need to chose God. John 1:12 is a perfect example. But to all who did receive [chose] him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

An associated subject would be - Can Salvation be lost?

Next Section - Why are we told to fear God?

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