Is Predestination a Biblical Doctrine?

Ephesians 1:4

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
February 2013

One of the mostly hotly debated topics among Christians is predestination.  Believers from different denominations hold very different views on predestination and passionately defend those views.  The problem is that those who hold one view of predestination often have a very poor understanding of any other view.  It is difficult to have any kind of dialogue on this topic among many Christians, since emotions tend to run high.

The goal of this lesson is to give an introduction to the topic from Scripture, interacting with arguments from both sides.  Many come to this issue from a different framework than I do. I would ask them to do three things.  One, read it all of the post, not just part of it.  Two, read it with an open mind.  Three, compare everything in it to Scripture. I will begin with several basic observations about the topic.

An Advanced Topic

This is a very deep topic. The Bible talks about the milk and meat of the word. Most people think of milk as simple truths of the Bible. This doctrine is part of the meat of the Word. Sermons on predestination are rare. The topic is often ignored in the pulpit. As a result, many Christians know very little about this topic and what they know is often inaccurate.  This is an advanced topic.  Many of the issues involves are complex and some of the post will be semi-technical.

A Misunderstood Doctrine

Many have grossly misunderstood this doctrine. It has been misunderstood by many unbelievers. It has also been misunderstood by some Christians. There are many myths about election. Many think predestination is unloving.  The opposite is actually true.  The Apostle Paul said, “IN LOVE he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).  Predestination is an act of love.  Election is God’s secret weapon for saving people, as Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say, “without it, no one would get to heaven.”

Election is a good thing, not a bad thing.  Predestinatoin is one of the reasons that Paul praised God from his prison cell in Rome.  He wrote in Ephesians 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” The first spiritual blessing that he mentions is election in the very next verse. However, election is a very misunderstood doctrine. There are many myths about election.

Myths about Predestination

One myth about predestination is that it was started in the sixteenth century by the French Protestant reformer John Calvin. That is simply not true. Calvin was not the first theologian in the church to believe in predestination.  St. Augustine in the fifth century believed in unconditional election.  He wrote a book entitled A Treatise on the Predestination of the Saints[2]

Many think that predestination is the same thing as fatalism.  That is incorrect.  Others are absolutely convinced that if predestination is true, there is no need to accept Christ as Savior or even evangelize the lost.  They believe that predestination eliminates human responsibility.  If election to salvation is true, then man has no free will of his own.  He must do as he is programmed to do.  That is also not true.

The problem with this is that the Bible teaches both predestination and free will.  Jesus’ death was decreed before the world began and yet the people who put him to death did so voluntarily. The sin of Adam and Eve was also planned before the world began and yet they sinned of their own free will. No one forced them to sin.

Another myth about election is that it is about us choosing God.  There is a reason many believe this.  Joshua 24:15 says, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord

However, biblical election is done by God, not man.  In fact, when it took place, there were not even any people around.  It took place before the world began, as we will see.

Election in the Bible involves God choosing people. John Piper said, “Your salvation did not begin with your choice to believe in Christ—a choice which was real and necessary. Your salvation began before the creation of the universe when God planned the history of redemption, ordained the death and the resurrection of his Son, and chose you to be his own through Christ[3]

An Unpopular Doctrine

The doctrine of election is very unpopular in the Church. It is perhaps the most hated doctrine of the Bible. The doctrine of election is very unpopular in the Church. It is perhaps the most hated doctrine of the Bible. It is a doctrine hated even by many Christians.  Whole denominations of Christians do not like this doctrine.

John Wesley in his famous sermon entitled “Free Grace” even called predestination “blasphemy.”  Wesley said on April 29, 1739, “Such blasphemy this, as one would think might make the ears of a Christian to tingle! …This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! …On this I join issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust…This is the blasphemy for which (however I love the persons who assert it) I abhor the doctrine of predestination[1]

The question is not whether it is popular or unpopular. The question is whether it is biblical. The doctrine of Hell is also unpopular with the world but it is biblical.  Even Jesus spoke of Jesus speaks of hell.  He described it as “eternal fire,” “unquenchable fire” and “a furnace of fire.”

A Controversial Topic

Entire denominations are split on this topic.  There are good people who disagree on this topic.  Christians are divided into two different categories  (Arminians and Calvinists).  Both believe that their system is completely biblical.  Entire denominations are split on this issue.  Presbyterian and Reformed Churches are Calvinistic.  Other churches (such as the Roman Catholic Church, Methodists, Wesleyans, Church of the Nazarene, Church of Christ, Pentecostal Church, Assemblies of God, Mennonites) are Arminian.

Some denominations are divided on this issue.  There are Free Will Baptist Churches (which are Arminian) and Reformed Baptist Churches (which are Calvinistic).  Some very famous Baptists were Calvinists (John Bunyan, C.H. Spurgeon and William Carey), while other Baptists are Arminian on most of the five points, except for one or two (John R. Rice, Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Norman Geisler) .  The Southern Baptist Convention has had some presidents who were Calvinists (e.g., Albert Mohler) and presidents who were Arminian (e.g., Frank Page).

Historically, Calvinism came first.  Arminianism was a response to Calvinism.  John Calvin never summarized his system of belief into five points. That was done by people after him and then the Puritans later put those five points into an acronym (TULIP).

Calvinists and Arminians see election very differently.  While both groups would say that they believe in election, they have radically different views of what election involves.



Election is collective Election is individual
Election is done by man Election is done by God
Election is for believers Election is for unbelievers
Election is conditional Election is unconditional
Election is based on merit Election is based on grace
Election is the result of faith Faith is the result of election
Election is for service, not salvation Election is for salvation and service

A Biblical Doctrine

Some Christians say that they do not believe in predestination. The problem with this argument is that if you do not believe in predestination, then you do not believe the Bible. The word “predestinate” is in the Bible.  It is a biblical term.  Election, predestination and the sovereignty of God are not a man-made doctrines, as some think. They are not something that someone just thought up.

They did not originate with John Calvin or St. Augustine. They are not Calvinistic doctrines. They are biblical doctrines (cf. Ephesians 1:3-6, 11). Predestination may not be a popular doctrine or one that is easy to understand but it is biblical.

The word itself does not come from Greek but from Latin but it is definitely a biblical concept.  In fact, there are several different Greek words used to describe it.  The NT uses three different verbs and two nouns to describe election.

Greek Words for Predestination in the NT

1. The NT uses the Greek verb for to choose or select (έκλέγομαι).

It is used of people choosing certain things.  “Mary has CHOSEN what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).  “When he noticed how the guests PICKED the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable” (Luke 14:7).

This proposal pleased the whole group. They CHOSE Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5).  The word is also used of God choosing people in a soteriological sense in Ephesians 1:4 (“Just as he CHOSE us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love” [NRSV]).

2.  The NT uses another Greek verb for choose (αίρέομαι)

This word is used three times in the NT.  It is used of both man and God. This word is used of Paul choosing whether he will continue to live in this body (Philippians 1:22).  It is used of Moses choosing “to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). The word is also used in a soteriological sense of God choosing people for salvation (II Thessalonians 2:13).  This word  is used of people choosing things and God choosing things.  It is used in a human and a divine sense.

3. The NT uses the Greek verb for “predestinate” (προορίζω) six times in the NT.

The word προορίζω is a combination of two words – προ (before) and όρίζομαι (to appoint or determine).  The word προορίζω means to predetermine or to predestinate.  Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also PREDESTINED to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Ephesians 1 says, “He PREDESTINED us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (1:5). “In him we were also chosen, having been PREDESTINED according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (1:11).

4. The NT uses the Greek noun  for “election” (έκλογή).

This word refers to refers to the process of God choosing or selecting people. Romans 9:10-11 says, “Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in ELECTION might stand”.  II Peter 1:10 says, “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and ELECTION sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall.”

5. The NT uses the Greek noun for “elect” (έκλεκτός).

That is the term for the term for the group of people who are chosen by God.  Matthew 24:22 says, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of THE ELECT those days will be shortened.”  Matthew 24:31 says, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

The Apostle Paul said in II Timothy 2:10,  “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of THE ELECT, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

The Doctrine of Predestination in Ephesians

One of the strongest passages in the Bible on the topic of election is found in Ephesians 1.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 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— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves…. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12)

The Source of Election

The source of election is God.  Ephesians 1:4-5 says, 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.” It speaks of God choosing us, NOT us choosing God. We are not doing any choosing in that passage. God is the one doing the choosing. He chose us. He picked us. It sounds similar to John 15:16 (“You have not chosen Me but I have chosen you“).


Many do NOT believe that God chooses people. They only believe that we choose him but God is the one who does the electing in Ephesians 1:4. God the Father is the source of election. Does this mean that God plays favorites? Did God play favorites when he chose the nation of Israel? God could have chosen any nation. He could have chosen to make a covenant with the United States.

Instead, he chose to make a covenant with the nation of Israel. He could have made the Chinese the chosen people.  Instead, he made the Jews the chosen people.  He chose the Jews “out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6).  The Bible says that God set his affection on the ancestors of the Jews and loved them, and chose them and their descendants, above all the nations (Deuteronomy 10:15). It does not prove that God has favorites.  It does prove that God is sovereign.

On what basis did God make his decision to choose us?  Were we chosen randomly?  Was his decision completely arbitrary? According to Ephesians 1, we were chosen solely based on the good pleasure of God. We were chosen based on the free, sovereign grace of God. Ephesians 1:3 says, “In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS PLEASURE AND WILL” (Ephesians 1:5).

Ephesians 1:11 says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PURPOSE OF HIS WILL.”  The decision was not random.  God never does anything without a reason.  He simply has not revealed what that reason was.  Everything God does is fair and righteous.

The Nature of Election

Many see election as collective and corporate.  According to this view, God did not choose individuals before the world began.  He chose a people for himself, the church. He chose the body of Christ corporately.  Election in the OT was primarily corporate. It was national. God chose the Jews as a nation. The Jews are the Chosen People. That did not mean that everyone in the nation was saved.

The standard Arminian interpretation is that Paul is talking about class election in Ephesians 1:4 and not individual election.

Is Election in the New Testament Corporate?

While election in the Bible is often corporate, especially in the OT, several things should be pointed out about election in Scripture.

1. There are clear examples of individual election, even in the Old Testament.

Romans 9 gives three of examples of individual election and they all come from the OT.  God chose Isaac, not Ishmael (Romans 9:6-9); Jacob, not Esau (Romans 9:10-13); and Moses, not Pharaoh (Romans 9:14-18).

2. Election of the NT church is slightly different from the election in the OT.

The church is not a nation but is made up of people from every nation and race.  To say that we are chosen is very different from talking about the chosen people in the OT.

3. Many passages have to refer to individual election and cannot refer to corporate election.

Romans 8:29 also deals with individuals, rather than groups being elected.  The passage says, “For THOSE God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Acts 13:48 CANNOT refer to corporate election. It has to refer to individual election in the context.  “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” 

Paul was talking about Gentiles who came to faith when the Jews rejected the gospel message but not every Gentile in the city came to faith.  Only some of them did.  Acts 13:48 explains why they came to faith and others did not.  It is not because some were more spiritual or more intelligent than others.

The text says that all who were “ordained to eternal life believed” (KJV). The word “ordained” (τάσσω) has also been translated “destined” (NRSV), “appointed” (NIV) or “predestined” (Weymouth).

According to the old Methodist scholar Adam Clarke (1762-1832), the Greek word used in Acts 13:48 for ordained “includes NO IDEA of pre-ordination or pre-destination of any kind” (emphasis mine).

However, C. K. Barrett, who ranks as one of the greatest British scholars of the 20th century, would take issue with that statement. Barrett was the greatest NT scholar since J. B. Lightfoot.  He passed away in 2011 at the age of 94.

Barrett was the author of one of the finest commentaries on the Greek text of Acts (2004) in the International Critical Commentary (ICC) series. Barrett says that verse “is an unqualified term of absolute predestination as found anywhere in the NT” and Barrett happened to be a Methodist. [5]

Predestination is a common theme in Luke (e.g., Luke 10:20; 22:22; 24:44; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28;17:26). While many in Acts believed after hearing the Word preached (4:4; 8:12; 18:8), the Book of Acts is very clear that faith or repentance is not just the result of a personal decision or inclination.

In Acts, we are told that the ability to repent is a GIFT from God (5:31; 11:18). People believe and respond to the gospel because God first OPENS hearts (16:14). In fact, people in Acts are said to believe THROUGH GRACE (18:27).

A final passage which must refer to individual election is found in Revelation. Revelation 17:8 says, “The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth WHOSE NAMES HAVE NOT BEEN WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.”

That passage tells us that some people’s names will be written in that book from the creation of the world (the same time phrase as Ephesians 1:4).  At the Great White Throne Judgment, God opens the book.  “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).  

The fact that heaven contains a names of each and every saved person and the fact that these names were written in that book before the foundation of the world is a powerful proof of the fact that election is individual and not just corporate.  If election was corporate and not individual, there would be no book of names in the Book of Life.  There would just be one page in the book that says “the church.”

4. The context of Ephesians 1 is individual, not corporate election.

When we read the chapter, we do not read about groups being elect.  Paul does not say that the church is elect or the people of God are elect.  Paul does not say that the church is elect but individual believers in the church are not elect.  The text says that He chose US (1:4).  It says that He predestined US (1:5)  and He lavished on US (1:8) and not some abstract group of people.

The Time of Election

The word “chose” is past tense (aorist).  God did not choose us after we chose him.  Long before we chose God, He chose us.  He chose us BEFORE we ever came to faith in Christ.  God chose us BEFORE we did any good or evil (Romans 9:11-12).  He chose us BEFORE we ever existed.  In fact, he chose us BEFORE the world even existed.  He chose us “before the foundation of the world.”  This was a pre-creation election.  Long before God ever created the world, he chose certain individuals.

Arminians believe that one becomes a member of the elect WHEN he or she accepts Christ as Savior.  Calvinists teach that a person is one of the elect BEFORE he accepts Christ as Savior.  Ephesians 1:4 supports the latter, since this election takes place BEFORE the foundation of the world.

The great Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon made the following observation about election.  He wrote:

“I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He would have never chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love[6]

[5]  C. K. Barrett, Acts of the Apostles, International Critical Commentary, I, 658.
[6] C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, 227.

What are the implications of this concept?  God chose some to be saved.  This means that other people were NOT chosen.  The very nature of election is that certain people are chosen and certain people are not chosen.   By nature this is selective. Not everyone was chosen. During the presidential election when you vote for one candidate, you automatically do not vote for the other candidate.  That is offensive to many.  The Bible teaches that “many are called but FEW are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Is it unfair for God to choose some to be saved but not everyone to be saved? That is the wrong question. The question is NOT why didn’t God chose others?  The question is, Why did God choose ANY to be saved?  He was not obligated to save any.  It was done at the pleasure of his sovereign will (Ephesians 1:5, 11).  As Paul says in Romans 11, it was an “election OF GRACE.”  Do we deserve to be chosen?  No.  Did we do anything to be chosen?  No.  Are we worthy to be chosen?

No.  It is sheer grace that we were chosen.  We are no better than anyone else.  Israel was not better than the other nations (cf. Deuteronomy 12).  The Apostle Paul deals with this objection and said the following in Romans 9:14-16: “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

The Result of Election

Election is for salvation.  God chose some people TO BE saved.  They were not saved when God chose them.  They did not even exist when he chose them,.  They still had to come to faith but they were chosen for salvation.   Election is not the same thing as salvation.  According to the Bible, election is UNTO salvation.

The Apostle Paul says, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (II Timothy 2:10). The elect still have to attain salvation, according to this verse.  They still have to come to faith and get saved.

The lesson here is that salvation was not an afterthought to God.  God did not find out that humanity was in rebellion to him after creating a perfect world and have to come up with a solution to the problem.  Nor did God did not merely create a method to save the world and leave the results open to chance.

God is sovereign.  He not only had a plan to save people, He chose certain people to be saved and adopted into his family before they were even born and before any humans even existed. God has a plan and that plan is unalterable.

Many Christians would agree that God does choose people but that election is never to salvation. God chooses certain individuals for a task, not for salvation. They would argue argument that Paul does not say that “God chose us to be in Christ” or to be put “in Christ. He rather says God chose us in Christ “to be holy and blameless.”

That argument does not make much sense. Everyone is NOT in Christ. Only certain people are in Christ.  Those people had to be placed in Christ before they could be holy and blameless. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that this took place before the foundation of the world.

Is Election to Salvation Biblical?

The Bible teaches that God does choose people to tasks (cf. Acts 9:15) but he also chooses them for salvation.  There are many passages which clearly teach that election is to salvation.

  • Ephesians 1:5 says “he predestined us TO BE ADOPTED AS HIS SONS through Jesus Christ.” The word “adoption” literally means “son-placing” in Greek.  It describes the action of taking someone who was not previously a son and placing him as a member of the family.  Everyone is not a child of God.  The Bible does not teach that everyone is a child of God.  Jesus said to the Pharisees “You belong to your father, the devil” (John 8: 44).  We are not naturally children of God.  We become a child of God by faith (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12-13).  Ephesians 1:5 says that long before we placed our faith in Christ, God predestined us to be adopted as his child.
  • II Thessalonians 2:13 says, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you FOR SALVATION through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”  The Christians at Thessalonica (like the ones at Ephesus) were also chosen for salvation and that took place “from the beginning,” which is very similar to “before the foundation of the world” in Ephesians 1:4.
  • Acts 13:48 says, “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed FOR ETERNAL LIFE believed.”

The Goal of Election

One of the purposes of election is to make people holy.  Election is not limited to salvation.  Far from being the basis of election, it is one of the purposes of election.  We were not elect because we were already holy or because God saw that one day be holy.  God elected us to make us holy (Ephesians 1:4; 2:10; Romans 8:29; John 15:16; Colossians 3:12).  That is why election should never be an excuse to sin.  The very purpose of election is holiness.  Election should not lead one to pride but to holiness.

Ephesians 1:4 says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”  Not the two goals of election.  One is positive (that we should be holy) and one is negative (that we should be without blame).  One deals with justification and one deals with sanctification.

In fact, one way you know you are elect is by your life. According to the NT, it is possible to know if you are elect.  It is possible to “make your calling and election sure” (II Peter 1:10).  How can we do that?  Peter says that we can do that by living a godly life.  We make our calling and election sure by making “every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (II Peter 1:5-7).

Is Election Based on Foreseen Faith?

Arminians believe in the concept of election but believe in a very different type of election than Calvinists.  They believe in CONDITIONAL election, rather than UNCONDITIONAL election.  They believe in an election based on foreknowledge of those who will put their faith in Christ.  They argue that God does NOT predetermine in advance who will be saved.

He simply knew in advance who will accept Christ and who will reject Him.  Those who accept Him are part of the elect. According to this view, God does not choose anyone for salvation.  We choose.  God simply knows our choice in advance. Arminians point out that many of the NT passages on predestination mention foreknowledge.

Romans 8:29-30 says, “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.”  

I Peter 1:1-2 says, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect ACCORDING TO THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE FATHER, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”  

There are several problems with the Arminian view of conditional election based on forseen faith.

1. Romans 8 says that PEOPLE are foreknown, not their faith.

Calvinists do not have a problem with foreknowledge coming before predestination. God could only predestine people that he knew about in the first place.  What is significant is what Romans 8 does NOT say.  Romans 8 says that people are foreknown, facts about them.  It does not say that God knew anything about us.  It says that He knew us.[7]  Election is not based on anything that God knew about us.

2. Foreknowledge does NOT merely mean “advanced knowledge”

The problem with saying that the word “foreknowledge” in I Peter 1:2 means “advanced knowledge” is that the same word is used in I Peter 1:20 and the word cannot mean it in that passage.  I Peter 1:20 uses the verb “to foreknow” (Προγινώσκω) and I Peter 1:2 uses the known “foreknowledge” (Πρόγινωσις).  They are two different forms of the same word. I Peter 1:20 says, that Jesus also was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (NASB, ESV).

That simply cannot mean that God knew in advance what would happen to Jesus.  The Bible teaches He planned this to take place.  It was not an accident.  It did not happen by chance. “He was destined (RSV) or chosen (NIV) before the foundation of the world.” So the word “foreknowledge” in its theological sense means much more than to simply know in advance.

3. Election in Ephesians 1:4 cannot be based on foreseen faith.

a) Election is based on God’s sovereign will in Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:3 says, “In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS PLEASURE AND WILL” (Ephesians 1:5).  It does not say that we were predestined based on our future faith but based on God’s sovereign pleasure and will.  Ephesians 1:11 says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PURPOSE OF HIS WILL,” not the purpose of our will.

b) Election brings glory to God, not man in Ephesians 1

It is “to the praise of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6).  Election in Ephesians 1 exalts God, not man.   Election is God-centered, not man-centered.  Election based on foreseen faith brings glory to all who of their own free will chose to believe and accept Christ, in contrast to all of the people who did not do so.  This brings praise  to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

c) Election is based on grace, not works in Ephesians 1

Election is said to be “to the praise of his glorious GRACE which he has FREELY given us” (Ephesians 1:6).  It is not based on merit or anything that we do or will do.  Instead, it is an election based on GRACE, as the text says in Ephesians 1:6.  The elect were “chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5-6) “not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (II Timothy 1:9).  It is an election “not by works (Romans 9:11-13).

d) Election results in holiness in Ephesians 1

God chose people in Ephesians 1:4 so that they WILL BECOME holy (Ephesians 1:4). This election was done TO MAKE US holy, not BECAUSE we were holy (1:4). Holiness is not the basis but the purpose of election.  Election was not based on holiness.

The second half of the verse rules out that interpretation.  Election comes before faith.  Faith does NOT come before election.  God elected people and then they believed.  They did not believe and then were elected.  In fact, they did not even exist when they were elected.


[7] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 676-677; Douglas Moo, Romans 1-8 (The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary), 569.

Many objections have been raised to the traditional reading of Acts 13:38.  Below are several different ways to interpret the passage.

Objections to Acts 13:48

1. There is not a single instance in which τάσσω means foreordained in the NT.

Some argue that the word τάσσω is never used of predestination.  The word is only used eight times in the NT (Matthew 28:16; Luke 7:8; Acts 13:48; 15:2; 22:10; 28:23; Romans 13:1; I Corinthians 16:15).  That is incorrect.

While most of the time it is not used of predestination, the word is used in a theological sense in two of those eight passages (both in Luke).  The word τάσσω is used theologically in Acts 13:48 & 22:10.  Paul’s ministry was not an afterthought to God.  It was planned out long before.  Paul was set apart from birth (Galatians 1:15).

2. The Living Bible translates τάσσω “wanted”

The Living Bible paraphrases the verse, “as many WANTED eternal life believed” but there are three problems with that translation.

One, the voice in Greek is passive, not active. The active voice in Greek would read, “as many as WANTED eternal life believed.”

Two, the Living Bible does not translate τάσσω “wanted” anywhere else in the NT, except in Acts 13:48.

The translation was clearly done for theological reasons.  It supports what the translators believed but is not what the text says.  Even the New Living Translation changes this to “all who were chosen for eternal life became believers” (NLT).

Three, that is not what the Greek word τάσσω means.  Any standard Koine Greek lexicon will verify this (e.g., Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich). The word τάσσω never means “wanted” in the NT.  Note below how the word is used in the NT.


Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had APPOINTED for them. – Matthew 28:16 NKJV

For I also am a man PLACED under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it – Luke 7:8 NASB

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were APPOINTED for eternal life believed. – Acts 13:48 NIV

This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were APPOINTED, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. – Acts 15:2 NIV

‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been ASSIGNED to do.’ – Acts 22:10 NIV

They ARRANGED to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. – Acts 28:23 NIV

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been INSTITUTED by God (ESV) or PLACED THERE by God (NLT) – Romans 13:1

3. The word τάσσω should be understood as a middle voice.

Many Arminians have suggested that τάσσω be translated in a middle sense, rather than in a passive voice.  In Greek, they have exactly the same form.  In the passive voice the subject is acted upon.  In the middle voice the subject acts upon itself.  However, this is very rare in the NT.  In NONE of the other uses of the word (Matthew 28:16; Luke 7:8; Acts 15:2; 22:10; 28:23; Romans 13:1; I Corinthians 16:15) do we see this usage.

It would also be a bit strange to translate the phrase, “as many as appointed themselves to eternal life believed.”  That makes absolute nonsense theologically to say that prior to believing certain individuals appointed themselves to eternal life[8].

4. The word τάσσω means “rightly disposed”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses translate the verse, “When those of the nations heard this, they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah, and all those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.” (NWT)

However, nowhere else in the NT does τάσσω mean “disposed” (see above). Nowhere else does the NWT translate τάσσω “disposed.” The translation was clearly done for theological, rather than linguistic reasons. Many cite I Corinthians 16:15 as a parallel but there are some differences. The word τάσσω is used in an active, not a passive voice and there is a big difference between being disposed or inclined to do something and being devoted to doing something. The word τάσσω never means “disposed” in Luke.

In addition, Luke does not say that some were disposed to faith (as if he said “all who were inclined to believe Paul’s message came to faith”). He says appointed to eternal life, not appointed to faith. The type of verb used is significant. It is not as if people who were emotionally moved by Paul’s preaching came to faith. The disposing or appointment did not come at the time of the preaching but before it. The Greek participle used is in the perfect tense, which refers to a completed act in the past which has present consequences.


[8] The middle voice is used in Acts 28:23 and is used like an active verb but the aorist has a distinct middle form that is different from the passive middle.  The perfect tense used in Acts 13:48 does not have two different forms, so Acts 28:23 is not exactly parallel.


55 Responses to Is Predestination a Biblical Doctrine?

  1. gladys says:

    Forgive me if I dont really understand, but you seam to be saying that some people are chosen to go to hell no matter what they do or believe, I was taught that his choosen or elect were anyone and everyone who believed in him.

    Wouldnt that mean people who strugle with faith or strugle to believe even if they want to, are going to hell

    • admin says:

      Some believe in double predestination. They believe that God not only predestined some to Heaven, He also predestined others to Hell. I believe that John Calvin held this view. I do not believe in double predestination. I do believe, however, that some are chosen for salvation. The Bible teaches that doctrine. Sorry about your struggles with annoying people at your place of employment.

      • Anita Phillilps says:

        I believe that some are predestined to be great evangelist in order to lead large numbers to Christ as Billy Graham did. I think that the rest of us choose whether to be Christ followers. God loves every human. I don’t think he would create us just to be tormented on earth then to go to an even greater torment, Hell. I can’t believe that God would ever create someone to have a future of torment. What was the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross. What would be the purpose of the evangelist. What about John 3:16, Matthew 7:8, Luke 11:10, Romans 10:11. God loved everything He made. Maybe some want us to be indifferent by discouraging us, Revelation 3:16. That is why we have to believe and trust in God. There are many other like passages. We must trust, believe in and worship God.

        • admin says:

          You are right. God loves everyone. Jesus died for everyone. He wants everyone to be saved but that is not the whole story. There is another side to it. The Bible teaches both sides. I happen to believe both truths. Some believe only one or the other.

        • Jack Irons says:

          Anita, if you believe God is omniscient, and He is, then even in your soteriological system where people aren’t predestined unto salvation or torment, God still creates people for a future of torment. Your position doesn’t actually solve the doctrine that you are rejecting.

  2. gladys says:

    Double predestination? Was that in the article I read it twice and dont remember it. Though I kind of zoned into some parts more than others, So if double predestination means some will go to heaven and others to hell, then does regular predestination mean some are choosen to go to heaven and every one else had the cance to go to to heaven ?
    And when it comes to predestination how would one know that they were part of the elect, because in reading the bible it seams to say that all who want to can come to christ could and that he died for all sins of everyone,and he dosent want anyone to go to hell, I mean he didnt die for just some,
    So how would someone who strugles with there faith or someone who has doubts know if they are the choosen to be saved, or am I thinking of double predestination?

    Well the DMV does have some upsides, before I was a little lilly, now I have a back bone. Something that you may agree will be required in live ,especially for some one of my religion wanting to go into a hollywood carrear right?

    • admin says:

      I didn’t mention double predestination in the article. I can’t cover everything and I didn’t want to make it too complicated. Yes, all who want to come to Christ and come to Christ will be saved but those who come happen to be predestined. That explains why they come in the first place. Those who were chosen in the past are the ones who come to Christ of their own free will. I am not sure if this helps. How you would know that you are elect is holiness (Ephesians 1:4). In fact, II Peter 1:5-10 explains how you can make your calling and election sure. It explains how you can be SURE you have been predestined. A changed life on the outside is the demonstration and proof of salvation on the inside and is also proof of election.

  3. gladys says:

    ya it helpes a littl, I just dont see how its free will if they were already picked to be saved,

    I mean if some are predestined then the rest who were not predestened wouldnt come to christ then they would go to hell, so I dont really see the diffrence between predestined and double predestined, but I supose that dosent really matter in the grand scale of things. I find myself agreeing more with the Arminian side of this issue to be honest. I mean I do see predestination in the bible, I mean like Mary being the mother of Jesus or Jesus dying on the cross, even the follower who betrayed Jesus was probably predestined to do so. I assume he was.

    and I know god picked us first, afterall if he hadnt picked us first he wouldnt have sent his son to die for us, and we woudlnt have the Holy Spirit working to win us over, But I am more inclined to believe that he predestined everyone and only wrote the names of those he forsaw answering his call into the book of life. After all the quote from Ephesians 1:3 says he predestined us not predestined a few. I mean even if the argument for forseeing is weak God is Omniscient he would know aneway.

    As for knowing if you are part of the elect showing a changed life on the outside is still a little tricky for me, I mean almost all forms of christians believe that there are people who “Know” they are saved who really are not, I guss a more propper question would be how to you prevent falling into the trap of false assurance that you are saved,

    And all this is just me trying to understand I do not intent to come across as argumentative at all I tell you this because not being able to talk face to face, it can be hard to tell if someone is arguing or really just askign a question, and I greatly appriceate your help in all of this! I understand this can be a taxind descussion.

    • admin says:


      I only have a few minutes to reply. The question is fine. I have no problem with it at all. It is a hard concept to grasp. I would make just a few basic points. There is a huge difference between saying that God chose some people for salvation and saying that He intentionally created people to go to Hell. One is supported by Scripture but not the other, as far as I can tell.

      I think your other point is answered by 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 for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”. This passage says that he chose US not everyone. Election by its very nature is selective. When you vote on election day, you do not vote for everyone. Everyone by definition could not be predestined and the result of predestination in this passage is SONSHIP. It is salvation. Everyone is not saved, so everyone is not predestined. The Bible talks about people being “chosen for salvation”.

      We see two things here. One, predestination is by nature selective. God chose Israel and no other nation. He chose Abraham and the one through whom the Messiah would one day come. Two, it results in salvation but it is not to stop there. The goal is not just salvation but holiness (“to be holy and blameless in his sight”). That is why works are an evidence of predestination. You are right it is very easy to be self deceived when it comes to assurance of salvation. Many think they are saved who are not saved. Jesus said this in Matthew 7:21-23. I cover it briefly in “The Biblical Doctrine of Assurance” and “The Doctrine of Eternal Security Part II”. Any chance you have read those two lessons? They may help.

  4. gladys says:

    I havent read them yet but I will, Admittidly it may be a while before I get to them, life is a little anoying at the moment.
    If you dont mind the question and this is probably a question that does not have a perfect answer, but in your opinion, do you think someone wanting to be saved is a good indication that they are part of the elect if the calvanist point of view turns out to be the correct one.
    You may mention this in one of the 2 articles you mentioned but like I said it may take a while for me to get to them, I thought I would go ahead and get this question out of the way.

    I ask this question because I mentioned people who strugle with doubts or who dont have as strong of faith as some, if these people want to be in a relationship with the lord do you think it is a good indication that they are part of the elect, or do you think there strugles are proof that they are not part of the elect even if they are searching for god?

    • admin says:

      I would say that it is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. in other words, if you are part of the elect you will want to be saved, because all of the elect eventually come to Christ and get saved. However, there are many people who want to be saved who are not saved. They go about it the wrong way or are in a false religion and try to work their way into heaven. Wanting to be saved is a good sign but you could do that and still be lost. Sorry for the confusion on the issue.

  5. gladys says:

    Go about it the wrong way, such as?

    As for working your way into heave, you have to start somewhere, Many people who strugle with faith do the good works hoping true faith will eventually follow, I know thats how I sometimes feel, and if a change in your life is expected and if the verse faith witout works is dead is true which being in the bible it must be. Then works must have something to do with your salvation.

    No need to be sorry religion comes with confussion, more so for some than for others.

    As you say wanting to be saved is a sign but you can still be lost, because while I see changes in my life, such as noticing sins in the movies I watch, trying not to lie, not just because I am not supose to.But because now I feel that it is wrong which I never felt something was wrong or not before trying to get back in touch with my religious beliefs and a few other small things that I cant remember at this moment that have changed.

    But I find my changes more outward than inward, I did manage to read your 2articles and it has been a couple of days, but if I am remembering correctly outward change my be a more obvious change, but if inward change is required then I must addmit I dont see how I could be part of the elect, I mean I do have inward changes, but all they seam to do is make me fear god.

    So where do I go from here ?

    • admin says:


      Thanks for the reply. I want to make one comment on your last post and will deal with assurance of salvation in the next one. The main point I wanted to make here is that the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is NOT by works. Ephesians 2 says that we are “saved by grace NOT works LEST ANYONE SHOULD BOAST” (2:8-9). If we could work our way into heaven and go there because of our good works, we would have a right to boast, because we EARNED SALVATION by our own effort. Grace means something that is unmerited, undeserved and not earned.

      As Paul said in Romans 4, “to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one WHO DOES NOT WORK BUT BELIEVES IN HIM who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (4:4-5 ESV). This verse also says that you are not saved by works but by faith or belief in Christ. Paul did not just teach this in Ephesians and Romans, he taught it in Galatians, Titus and II Timothy.

      Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, NOT BECAUSE OF WORKS DONE BY US IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” I could quote many other passages. The Bible is clear that salvation is not by works. In fact, Christianity is the only religion in the world which teaches salvation by grace. All of the other religions on the planet teach some form of merit theology. They teach that there are things you have to do to gain merit before God to be saved. Roman Catholicism teaches that. Mormonism teaches that. Modern Judaism and Islam teaches that. Buddhism has the eightfold path you have to follow to gain enlightenment.

      The Bible has a completely different picture of salvation. It views salvation, not only as a gift but as a FREE GIFT (Romans 6:23). It is not something you earn, like a paycheck (so Romans 4:4) but a gift. Salvation is something that you receive, not achieve. People are saved when they acknowledge that they are a sinner before a holy God, believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus as a substitute for their sins, ask him to save them and receive his free gift of eternal life by faith. In my next post, I will say something about assurance of salvation.

  6. gladys says:

    I feel I should clarafy something I said in my last paragraph. Like I said I do have some inward changes, and I do fear god a lot more now, But I wouldnt say that I am absolutley void on the inside, I mean like I pointed out in my outward changes, when I notice a sin someone else has committed I cring on the inside, and especially when I sin. Though I have to wonder if feeling bad about my sins is the inward change you were talking about in your other articles.

    See while I notice my attitude twords sin has changed, I dont feel as if I am really any closer to Christ. I dont know if an emotional attachment is really proof of salvation but it would be nice to have.

    • admin says:


      Regarding assurance of salvation, I would just like to make one comment. If you are genuinely saved, there will be some changes BOTH on the inside and on the outside. Some changes will be instantaneous and some will be gradual but there will be changes. People who knew you before you were saved should notice a difference in your life if you are “a new creation” as Paul says. The Apostle Paul made a radical transformation from a persecutor to a preacher. He was completely different after his conversion. He was so different that he changed his name from Saul to Paul.

      The changes are not just outward and external. For example, if you are genuinely saved, you will want to go to church. You will want to learn what Scripture teaches. You will want to have a closer relationship with God. You will want to do His will for your life. You will want to please him. You could go to church out of obligation because you are supposed to go or you could go because you genuinely want to praise and worship God.

      The very fact that you are asking these questions and want to know the truth is a very good sign. Most people do not even raise the kinds of questions that you are asking. Having said that, believers still have a sin nature and fall into sin but there is a difference between a sheep and a pig. One loves to be in the dirt. The other does not. Sin is natural for the unsaved. It is unnatural for the child of God. A saved person will be convicted by the Holy Spirit if he or she is doing something wrong. An unsaved person will have no such convictions. Inf act, they will try to justify their behavior.

      However, I would avoid using your feelings as an indication of salvation. Emotions change. They go up and down. Our emotions can change but God’s Word and His promises do not. I hope this helps a little. If you have any more questions, I will do my best to answer them. Have a great day.

  7. gladys says:

    Well i deffinatley want a closer relationship with god. though admittidly i dont really want to read all that much scrputre, i keep finding things that just make my salvation seam even further away, yet at the same time when i do find scrutpure i try to understand it, I do want to do his will, though I really dont know how, I mean you wouldnt want me to be someone who teaces sripture as I am sure you can tell I guess wanting to be one of the first Open Christians in hollywood could help with that, stars have influence (for some reason) as for going to church, I really dont want to at all, I love one on one comversations were we can delve deep into a passage but sitting in a pew while one person teaches scripture were you cant even voice your questions, or they dont have time after church isnt really my thing.

    Im glad of what you said about feelings, some days I couldnt care less about God, not out of spite or anything like that, I just sometimes feel its hopeless so I just try not to think about and I get depressed. But even then god is alwayse on my mind, like every second of everyday. No matter where I am or what I am doing he is alwayse in my thouts.

  8. gladys says:

    O no problem I understand. Thank you.

    • admin says:

      I am not sure where to begin to try to respond to your last post. I would like to make one comment about church attendance. Some churches are completely dead and I would not be found in them either but other churches are alive and full of the Holy Spirit. It is apparent as soon as you walk in the door.

      You mentioned that you cannot ask questions in church. That is true but that is why many go to Sunday School before the church service. Most churches have both (bible studies and worship service). Sermons involve preaching. Sunday School usually involves teaching and there is more of an opportunity in that setting (depending on which class you go to and who the teacher is) to ask questions and interact with the teacher.

      I would also say that going to church is not merely to hear a sermon or some preaching (though that is no excuse to go to a church that has terrible preaching). Church is about worship and praising God. A genuine child of God should want to do this. I want to give you an assignment. I you to watch something on YouTube. I want you to watch a live worship song from a church in Australia.

      You may or may not have heard it. It is sung by Taya Smith, Worship Leader at Hillsong Church. Watch it FULL SCREEN and if you turn the lights out you actually feel like you are there while she sings. I don’t know how you can watch it and not want to be there. It is one of my favorite worship songs. You can see it at the following link –

      Don’t know if this helps but I hope it does. By the way, my Genesis notes are on the website (week one) in case you are interested.

  9. gladys says:

    Asking questions as sunday school never worked for me but that could have just been my church, but is there scripture telling us we should want to go to church? I ask this because I know there is a scripture somewhere that says where two or more are gathered god is there right? So why isnt one on one indepth conversation just as good as going to church.

    It was a good vid, I did get like this shiver up my spine though I dont think it affected me as much as it did you, though that could be due ot the fact that half the time I couldnt understand what she was saying.

    • admin says:


      Thanks for watching my favorite worship video. I have a few more I could send you. I was not offended by your comments at all. I would make one observation. The one passage which commands believers to go to church is Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” People who give up meeting together are the people who do not go to church.

      Another passage worth thinking about is I John 4:7-12: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

      One of the signs that you are a child of God is that you love fellow believers. I John 5:1 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well” You cannot just love God and not love the children of God. You can’t say, “I love Jesus. It is Christians I can’t stand.”

      In fact, I John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” I do not know how anyone could love Christians and not want to go to church and see them or spend any time with them. If you never want to see someone or spend time with that person, it is a good sign that you do not love him or her.

      That is why it is the will of God for all professing Christians to go to church and fellowship and worship with other believers. That is not to say that all churches are equal. You want to go to a good church (although none of them are perfect) but you still need to go to church, based on the clear teaching of Scripture. I am sorry. I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear.

  10. gladys says:

    true its not what I wanted to hear but it is what I expected, I prefer honesty over a preatty lie, I must be honest and say that with my experience with other Christians has left me a little burnt out on them,
    An example would be my attitude twords sins vs those of other christians I know,

    For example my attitude twords a friend who is gay, is that I point out that I think it is a sin, and that God will judge them accordingly but that there sexual prefrence dosent stop my love, if sin stoped me from loving people I wouldnt love anyone,

    Where as other professing Christians that I know just cast that person off like there not worth love. Dont get me wrong I know a church cant say its okay to be gay cuz I know its not, but making them feel worthless isnt going to solve anything either and I cant stand that.

    See like I said I was raised Mormon and it was the only church I have ever been to so it could just be the snotty attitude of the people more that the idea of church that prevents me from wanting to go. On the flip side that was when I was younger and judging by the people who come to our house from our church now to visit there attitudes seam to have changed a little, maby it wouldnt be so bad.

    Though I would still rather try my bosses lutherin church over our momon church to be honest.

    That you for being honest, I imagin you didnt want to tell me anymore than I wanted the answer but I appriceate it greatly. Hope you and your family are doing well.

    • admin says:


      I just wanted to say that I agree completely with your stance on homosexuality. We have the responsibility to state what the Bible says an the topic. We also have the responsibility to show the love of Christ to everyone, including them. Usually people only do one or the other, rather than both.

      As for the denominational issue, this may come as a shock but I think you may eventually need to move to another state. It does not seem like you have much of a choice. I may be wrong. There may be some very good churches in your area. Hope I did not offend you.

  11. gladys says:

    Moving to another state really isnt fesable for me, and I mean there may be a few good churches, its more of an issue of doing it without stepping on toes, I know its a lame excuse but I really would like to find a church I like without rouining my relationship with my mom, I mean she tells me I can go to whatever church I want, but I know her, and I may not be able to get back into the house if I do, and considering she is my greatgrandmother I figure that one day I will be able to go to whatever church I want without having to worry about it, though I wish her to be around for years more, But considering the huge age gap I see no reason to rouin our relationship when I could just waite. But trust me I do not plan on living here my entire life, I totally want to move to a diffrent state, a state without snow!

    Then again our Church has never preached those strange freaky beliefs a lot of other Mormons believe, I even talked to a woman in our church and she had never even hurd of them, so the perticular morman church I go to might work out. For now.

    • admin says:

      Wow. I do not know exactly what to say. You are in a difficult situation. Hope things work out for you and eventually things will be better. If you do move to a different state, there are plenty of DMVs you can transfer to for employment. I am taking my daughter tomorrow to take the test for her learner’s permit.

  12. gladys says:

    Hope your daughter passes her test.

    I think ill just go to our mormon church, thats better than no church and they really dont have freaky mormon beliefs that most other mormons do so it should be okay.

    On a side note I am a little sad about the whole artinstitute situation. Everyone is aginst the idea and according to may aunt there isnt a demand for fields in the preforming arts, but I cant imagin there would be a demans, I mean its not something you have need ,like doctors or layers, so the lack of demand didnt really frighten me off but when you add those 2 factors and add that to the money issue and it looks like I wont be going after all, I supose there are other ways of ging into that indistry but I am not entirley sure what they are, I mean casting calls and such but even then I dont have 500 bucks for head shots, maby Ill look into it someday but for now I am looking into Heratige college to become a massage therapist, It takes about 18 months and about 22 thousand but thats a far cry from the 77thou at the art institute, It makes preaty good money, depending on where you work. Might even be able to get a job on a cruse ship.

    I dont know why it came to mind to be a masseuse but I have given my mom massages before and I am preaty good at it, according to her, and to be honest if I am not going into the field I want I dont see any reason to spend a lot of money, time, and effort to get a degree in something I dont want to do, so this seams like the easiest out.

    I hoenstly dont mind the idea thoug my mom seamed a little lery of it, her words were “do you want to rub down and old mans body” but to be honest it is a good profession and of corse I wouldnt be in an indistry where theres a “Happy ending” if you get my meaning so I see nothing wrong with it.

  13. gladys says:

    Hi again, I know you havent responded to my last post but this one is a little more on topic, and this is just me thinking and I say what I say with respect and dont mean to offend, I mean you dont even have to answer it if ya dont wanna. But I have done a little reasearch and with my limmited understanding this is what these scripture seam to be saying to me.

    Okay so here we go (keep in mind these points probably wont be in the tulip order but there all in here I think)

    1. I do believe that salvation is an individual issue, as a matter of fact I have never even hurd of collective election and it dosent make any since to be honest.

    2. I believe that man is totally depraived, with that said I still think that it is a choice to either follow God or not, because while I am totally depraved I am not making the choice alone, I have the Holy Spirit fighting aginst my sinfull nature, and I believe that the reason some fall is because they quite the Holy Spirit, I know that he can be silenced ,one example is david I know he can be taken away becaue Daved asked god not to take him away for what he had done. I guess this one covers the T and the I in TULIP

    3. I beleve that election is done by God, if not he wouldnt have bothered Sending Jesus to die for us, I dont think god forces us to follow him if we choose not to though, if we didnt have a choice Adam and Eve wouldnt have done what they wanted and none of us would be in this mess. And while I understand the idea that names were already in the book of life before creation I find it more likley that God wrote the names of those he knew whould choose to follow him, I see your argument aginst that, and it could just be my lack of understanding but I dont see how you disprooved that theory, For instance you point out that it says people are forknown not there faith, but it dosent say that there faith isnt forknown either, He is god he know everything about us. and I see the diffrence between forknow and forknowledge in 1 Peter but I dont really see the diffrence between forknowing what happenes to Jesus and planing what will happen to him, I kind of think they are the same thing, I mean it kind of seams to be the same thing as me saying I forknew I would eat cake because I plan on eating it.
    add that to this scripture “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” makes it seam a litte more likely that we can choose, after all if god dosent want anyone to perish then they wouldnt unless they chose to. Like I said I believe god chose us first, I agree that it was done by his grace and will, I just dont think he forses us to follow him, if he did why give us the Holy Spirit in the first place.

    4. Jesus died only for the elect, I guess this is the L in TULIP I just spead read through you article again since its been a while, and I honestly dont know if you mention youre stand point on this or not, but this is probably the Main point I disagree with. even if Calvanism is correct, I still believe Jesus died for everyone who chooses to follow him, not just a few because of this scripture “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but dalso for the sins of the whole world.” Though 4 point calvanists seam to agree with this one more than the 5 point calvanists.

    5. As for the U in TULIP Unconditional, even I agree that you cant work your way into heaven. Only faith can save ya.

    6. P , well I dont know what to make of the Preserve the saints one, I hoenstly dont know if you can loose your salvation or not, you got scripture for both points and while this may sound strange I dont know if it matters if you believe you can loose your salvation or not.

    The truth is you could use scripture to argue almost anything, and neither Arminian nor Calvanism are not without there faults.

    • admin says:


      Thanks for your email. It did not offend me. I had to laugh when I read that. I wanted to eventually talk to you a little about Mormonism but I did not want you to get offended and stop writing to me.

      Most of what you said, I agreed completely with. I agreed with your points one, two, four and five. I do not agree with Calvin on everything. I believe that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2).

      I would say that it definitely matters if you believe that you can lose your salvation. If you are working real hard so that you do not lose your salvation, you have a salvation of works. It says in effect, “God saved you but it is up to you to stay saved.” We are not saved by works in the first place and we do not keep ourselves saved by works, although works are the evidence of salvation.

      I would also say that there is a HUGE difference between saying that God simply knew in advance that Jesus would die on the cross and saying that he planned the death of Christ from eternity past. Revelation 13:8 says that Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world”. God was not at the mercy of wicked men. He was not taken by suprise when Jesus was arrested and crucified. It was part of God’s plan to create the church, which is different from Israel.

      The one verse which completely refutes the conditional election viewpoint is Acts 13:48. It does not say “As many as believed, were ordained to eternal life”. It says, “as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed”. Faith is the product of divine election. Election is not the product of forseen faith in that verse. It could not be clearer to me. These are minor doctrines. You do not have to agree on every issue.

      Just wanted to say that a few weeks of my Genesis notes have been posted on the website in case you are interested. Next week, your founder (Joseph Smith) will be quoted on the post. It happens to be a quote I disagree with, rather than agree. Stay tuned.

  14. gladys says:

    O dont worry about it, I wont be offended, remember I hoenstly dont agree with Mormonism myself, as for Joseph Smith I dont believe he was a prophit, and I dont follow the book of mormon. If it takes a while for me to respond it is only because I am chewing over what you have said and am processing it thats all. So by all means say what you will, I wont stop writing. And I have already read your first and 2nd post about genesis I like them. To be honest I am a little suprised you agreed with some of my points at all, it is quite a releaf :)

    On a side note that has nothing to do with anything, I dont know if you ever watched the old show The Rifleman from like 1958 to 1960somthing, they canceled the reamke that they were planing, I am so mad I could just spit on the upside the season 2 dvds are comming out for it and I cant wait!

    • admin says:

      The Rifleman was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. We had a black and white TV and I watched a lot of Westerns growing up. I didn’t know there was a re-make. Have a great day.

  15. gladys says:

    Okay so I have a question, I was babtized in a mormon church adn so was my mom. Now I dont believe mormonism, and to be honest I dont think my mom does either. I told her about a lot of the cult like beliefs in the Mormon religion and she has never hurd of them and said she dosent believe them, but thats not suprising her father stoped them from going as a kid cuz he said that the church was full of hypacrits so she dosent have as much history with the church as you would think. so its kind of strange its like her beliefs arnt mormon but she dosent know that.

    Kind of like a democrat who actually agrees with the republican party but still says there a democrat becaue they just dosent realize that about themselves for some reason.

    But we were babtized in the church, now as long as we dont follow the mormon beliefs, is that okay, Because I could alwasye be rebabtized later in life but I know she wont. But she loves the lord verry much. And the point is to get a relationship with the lord right.

    • admin says:

      I have a few thoughts on your last post. You are right about baptism. I don’t think that is so much the issue, as long as you were baptized in the name of Jesus but you said a few things that I find a little puzzling. You say that you do not believe in Mormonism and you do not think that Joseph Smith who founded the church was a prophet (previous post) but you stay in the Mormon Church. You also say that you wonder if it is okay to stay in the church if you do not follow Mormon beliefs.

      My question would be, why would you want to go to a church that has beliefs on major doctrines that you do not subscribe to? Why go to a church when you do not believe in the central tenants of that particular church (e.g., Joseph Smith was a prophet). I would not go regularly to an Islamic Center which beleives that Mohammad was a prophet if I did not believe that to be true.

      I know your answer would be because of your mother but even you say that she doesn’t have that much history with the church. What I have to say next may be a little hard to take but it all boils down to this. The real issue is this: Who do you put first? If you have to choose between pleasing your parents or pleasing Jesus, who do you please? Do we put men first or God first?

      Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) The one thing that I would have you think about is this. In light of Matthew 10:37, what would Jesus do in this situation? These are just some things to think about.

  16. gladys says:

    “My question would be, why would you want to go to a church that has beliefs on major doctrines that you do not subscribe to? ”

    Well we only attent the chapel part of church, we dont stay for sunday school or anything, and in the chapel part they read from the Bible, if memmory serves, they dont read from the book of mormon in that part of the church.

    As for my mom, like I said when I pointed out the strange beliefs some mormons have she didnt believe them, the problem is that she dosent think other mormons believe them either, and in her defense she was never taught these strange mormon beliefs as a kid, and like I said before they are not preached on our church.
    I even had a conversation about these mormon beliefs with an active member of our church and she had never even herd of them.
    Now my mom believes Josphe Smith was a prophet but considering she dosent believe any of the doctorins he preaced I dont see anything wrong with it. She thinks the book of Mormon is full of gidelins on how our church should be run, no kidding. I try telling her its not a book of rules but she dosent believe me, and she was raised in a time where you dont argue religion so I just let the matter lie, She just dosent get it to be honest.
    So I figure as long as her beliefs are Christian Ill let her call herself a Mormon if she wants to.

    To be honest I dont want to go to church cuz I dont want people to start teaching her these stupid things if there are people in our church that believe them.

    Who do I love more? I couldnt answer that, I try to love god more but its hard to love someone you cant reach out and touch or see.

    But you said you agree with me that our babtism are probably okay right?

    • admin says:

      Yes, I agree with you on baptism. I don’t think baptism is the issue. I think the bigger issue is attending a church you feel comfortable with theologically and one in which you are free to worship God. That is the purpose of church. It is not just to hear a sermon but to worship God. What does your mom think of Christian Churches? Has she ever been to one? You have been to both.

      What differences do you see between the two? I find it odd that even in the chapel part of the church, they would not preach out of the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible, since they believe that both are inspired by God. Also, I am very curious to find out what are the “strange beliefs of some Mormons” that you keep mentioning. Which ones are you referring to, since I am not as familiar with them.

  17. gladys says:

    Well the basic beliefs are actually similar to other religions, we believe Christ died so atone for our sins and is the saviour of our soul and was the son of God.

    However, a lot of Mormons do not believe in the Holy Trinity. To my knowledge some even think that there were other gods before ours and ours worked his way to the top or something like that, others think that we lived with the lord in heaven before he sent us to earth to live. And some believe that God and Mary had a physical union so that Jesus could be created. And that h**l is an outer darkness. And that you have a 2nd chance to accept Christ after you die.

    These are just a few of the beliefs and its been so long since I looked into it I hoenstly dont know if I got them 100% right.

    Now like I said I dont believe any of this stuff. Mom believes that 1.H**l is an outer darkness, not fire
    2. I think she believes that we lived with him before we came to earth,
    3.and that people have another chance to accept Christ after death.
    Though I am not entirley sure if she believes 2 I know she believes 1 and 3
    But to my knowledge those are the only beliefs that she shares with them, She had never hurd of the other beliefs before and dosent believe they are true.
    And what is really freaky no one in our church that I have talked to have ever herd of any of these beliefs, except the 3 my mom believes, almost all Mormons believe that.

    Yet my aunts church in a diffrent ward believes these things or some of them anyway. So I figured I just got lucky with the ward (Church) we wound up in.

    And I dont know if mom really has any experiences with other churches, but since we believe Jesus is the saviour ouf our soul and died to atone for our sins, we are considered to be in the Christian family so she really dosent see the need to attend another church. And we use to go on the last or first sunday of the month cant remember which thats when they let people get up at teh podeum and bere there testamony about how christ had touched there life, that could be why there wasnt much book reading.

    And to be honest I dont think mom believing those 3 things is that big of a deal, as long as she believes Jesus died for our sins and if belief in that is what saves us then I just let her think H**L is just a dark place and that people have a second chance at acceptnce. As long as shes not one of the people who need this second chance I figure it dosent hurt her any. But ya she dosent believe any of that other stuf.

  18. Gladys says:

    Hi again, okay so I have been thinking about the unconditional part of Tulip. Now I said and still believe that you cant work your way into heaven, I know that as I said only your faith can save you, but I have come across a stumbling block with this in that if it is 100% unconditional why cant we do the things we want and still be saved.

    I don’t think unconditional election is a golden key to sin but it is confusing, for example if someone is homosexual but believes in the lord and believes that Jesus is the savior, which is the key to salvation then why would it be wrong for them to be in a relationship with another of the same sex if there salvation was 100% Unconditional?
    Now I know that the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong but would not being in a relationship with the same sex if that is your preference be a condition of there salvation?

    It seams like the unconditional election is saying ‘nothing you do can save you, but things you do can condemn you even if you do believe, is that true? Are there people in hell who believed in the Lord our savior? Not just the people who Know of God but people who really believed.

    Now I know that we say that people will see a change in there life if they believe, but isn’t even expecting that change what ever it may be for each individual, still be a condition.

    • admin says:


      “Now I know that we say that people will see a change in there life if they believe, but isn’t even expecting that change what ever it may be for each individual, still be a condition
      ” That is the key to the whole question. The answer is that it is NOT a condition. It is a result. It is an effect and NOT a cause. There is a difference. If you slip on the ice and break your arm, the broken arm is the effect, not the cause.

      If someone is a homosexual and believe in Jesus but there is no change in their life, that is the evidence that you are not genuinely saved. Salvation results in a transformed life. A person goes from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, from a child of the devil to a child of God.

      There is one other point. You say “election is saying ‘nothing you do can save you'”. That is partially true but even the elect have to believe to be saved and are not saved until they accept Christ. Election is those chosen for salvation but they are not actually saved until they get saved.

      Are there people in hell who believed in the Lord our savior?” Yes and No. It all depends on what you mean by “believe”. Many are in Hell who knew he was the Savior intellectually (like they know George Washington was the first president) but they never turned to him for salvation. If I know that there is medication which can save my life but I do not take it, it does me no good. The Bible uses the word “believe” in several different senses. There is true and false faith.

      The Bible talks about those who profess God but deny him by their works (Titus). It talks about a dead faith (James) and it talks about those who believe to the saving of the soul (Hebrews). Hope this helps.

  19. Gladys says:

    I suppose I have had a hard time separating knowing and believing, Like how could I say I know Washington was a president and not believe it,
    That’s why I always wondered if my lack of emotion was a problem when it came to the Lord, I wonder if the difference between knowing and believing is the emotional connection you would have with the Lord, but I find myself caring more and more about what the lord thinks of me and I find my attitude changing towards sin, maybe that’s the difference between the two.

    • admin says:

      What I meant by that is saving faith is not just intellectual or mental. You can know that Jesus is the Son of God but not worship Him. Every demon in Hell knows that but they are still demons. Saving faith involves knowledge but is more than knowledge. It also involves trust. Genuine saving faith transforms your life.

  20. Gladys says:

    I know this is a hard thing to explain, but what I am getting is that trust is the main difference between the two. Yes?

    • admin says:

      Yes. Trust is the main difference between the two. Intellectual faith does not involve asking Jesus to save you. They will also demonstrate repentance from sin. The Bible says not only believe but repent and believe. Another difference would be public profession of faith. Paul said that you have to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). A genuinely saved person will make a public profession of faith. They will also show fruit in their life of true salvation good works of some kind).

  21. Gladys says:

    Honestly I know the Bible says we can know if we are saved, but I still worry about my salvation. I wonder if I am not part of the elect or if I had committed Blasphamy against the Holly Spirit (Yes I still worry about it) And to be honest the only thing that gets me through the day, is that I feel the need to be saved, and close to the lord, and if these feeling do come from the Holy Spirit then I must not have committed blasphemy and I must be part of the elect because if I was not why would the Lord waste his time on me.

    • admin says:

      Sorry for the delay on this one. I am so sorry. I feel that I have not done my job if you still have question about salvation and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. You are right though to realize that certain feelings and thoughts do come from the Holy Spirit, like the ones you mention.

  22. gladys says:

    “I feel that I have not done my job if you still have question about salvation and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”

    NO NO THATS NOT YOUR FAULT!!!!! Not at all, you explained it quite well actually. Better than anyone else I had contacted about it, the fault lies with me. There is alwasye a chance that my belief that I hadnt done it could be wrong. Like with most things in the bible we have to find out after we pass on and God tells us. I think I am just naturally prone to freak out over things like that.
    I mean I even freak out over if 1 corinthians 11 is really telling a woman that it would be a sin to cut her hair, and I dont even plan on ever cutting my hiar ( I dont have the face for short hair trust me)

    Or like our conversation about tattoos, I dont have nor do I ever plan on having a tattoo, I asked because of friends I know who have them. Even the old vs young earth problem, I still worry about my belief in that even if it dosent affect our soul one way or the other.

    So its really not you I just freak out! I have thought I had scrupulosity I guess its religious ocd, but considering I never had it before I picked up my bible like 3-5 yrs ago it seamed a little to conveaniant of an explination.

    O fyi if it takes me a long time to respond its not that I dont check back, but my computers are just being jerks at teh moment and I really cant afford a new one or to get the ones I have fixed, Sorry ;)

    • admin says:

      You are so funny – religious OCD. That is a new one to me. I had never heard of that. You said, “You have helped me more than anyone else I have ever talked to and am thankful for making you’re acquaintance everyday.” I am greatly flattered by your kind words. I have enjoyed the friendly dialogue. I am glad to help answer your question the best I can. I hope I can continue to be of some help. I would encourage your to continue to raise the questions that you are raising and look for real answers, rather than the pat answers that many are given. I would also encourage you to keep reading the Bible in a good modern translation. It is “inspired by God and profitable” as the Apostle Paul states.

  23. gladys says:

    Thould have said this the first time. You have helped me more than anyone else I have ever talked to and am thankfull for making youre aquantince everyday.

  24. gladys says:

    Admitidly I rarley read the bible. I think of something I want to do and think of what scripture would have to say about it and do most of my studying online, with the kjv then translate what it said with the nkjv.
    I figure I should handel my confusion one topic at a time.

    Update on finding a church. Its not happening. I have discovered though that I am apparently not a good christian or saved if I dont attend one.
    At least according to the other christians I talk to that is. Pointing out the verse For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them; did not help my case. I said I shouldnt go when going to church made me feel bad but conversing in a smaller group or one on one helped me better, and I didnt have to ruin my relationship with mom. They disagreed.

    I know you have mentioned going to church with me in the past, and I know we are told to be with our fellow christians but surley you dont have to go to church to do that. Is it really that important twords you salvation when you feel better spiritual growth outside the church.

    It kind of started an argument, one sided of cose, I wasnt going to argue with the man who has way more knowledge than me, yet one half of my brain told me to tell the guy off, my common since told me it would probably be a bad idea.

    • admin says:

      Well, I am glad that you did not tell me off. You showed great patience. I do not have a lot more to say on the topic. The only question I would have is this: Would you feel the exact same way if your mother is not in the picture?

      If you lived on your own in another state, would it make any difference? You are the only one who knows the answer. That would be my only question. If you would go, then we are in basic agreement about the matter and you plan to go eventually. That is different from saying or thinking that church is a waste of time and there is no point in going at all.

      I had another thought on bible reading. You read the KJV and the NKJV. Have you ever read a more modern translation, like the New Living Translation (NLT)? You can read it online at It makes the Bible much easier to read and understand, though there is a place for the other translations as well. Hope you have a good Thanksgiving. Is it a big holiday in your house?

  25. gladys says:

    O no no it wasnt you I wanted to tell off! It was the this pastor I was talking to, and I mean I understood where he was comming from, but he came across as verry pushy and kind of rude, I dont think that was his intention but when you mentioned it you were polite and even thoug you disagreed you understood where I was comming from. But not this pastor he was just ARGGGGG! Ya know what I mean.

    I would feel totally diffrent. And I have mentioned going to another church to her butit alwayse blows up into a big mess. And I do plan on going someday I just never really thought of going to church as a “it will determine where your sould will go’ issue. I am deffinatley missing out thats true enough but I talk to god and try to have a relationship with him in the mean time.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!! PS I love

  26. Lynn says:

    Hi people, I am not good at starting conversations so I will jump right in
    I am an Armenian,
    In the this blog you listed points such as saying that for Armenian that Election is collective and done by man. I am curious as to where that information came from. As an Armenian I must say that that is most defiantly not true at all. Perhaps for some, but not all. I personally do not believe in collective election. As a matter of fact I have never even herd of it. Or Armenian beliefs saying that it leaves election up to man, again this is incorrect for me at least. The lord sent his son to die for all who come to him, and the holy spirit is with us to convince us to go to him, This is not by the will of man, it is gods doing, however, the lord did give us free will to make our own choices, I can choose to reach out and take his gift or not, I do am sorry but I do not see how using the free will the lord gave me as being the same as election being done by man.
    The next point is election being for believers vs. unbelievers, you say that Calvinist will eventually become believers one way or another because they are meant to, So I do not see how one is for believers and one is not.
    The 4th and 5th point of election being conditional and based on merit. Personally I do think that our actions have a lot to do with our walk with god. After all faith without works is dead, I have always believed that we can not just do as we wish such as fornicate, our drink our selves into a stooper without the consequences of doing so. With that being said I do believe that our good works so a sign of our walk with god. A result of sorts, but not something you can just do to be saved.

    Then the next, Election is a result of Faith. Yes. I do believe it is. However, I believe that before the foundation of the earth. The lord who knows all of us intimately knew who would and would not follow him and used this foreknowledge when putting the names in the book. As you pointed out some people were chosen to do certain things in history, however, I see a big difference between being chosen to do something important and being chosen to be saved when that means the rest of the people would consequently be sent to burn for all eternity.

    Then the last point Election is for service not salvation. I must admit I have no idea what that means. I dont recall reading it in the rest of the article I am sorry if I missed it.

    I do hope I have not come across as combattive, That was not my intend I am however rather blunt when I say things; this is not meant to be rude it is just hard to communicate well when you are not talking face to face with someone, and I find that bluntness is the most effective when you do not wish for the point to be missed. Thank you.

  27. Karen Lewis Wright says:

    Alan I read your article today and I am so proud of you. I have been aWesleyan and have been for the last 22 years. It made my day today while studying election to find your remarks.

    Karen Lewis Wright Athens Ohio

    • admin says:

      Wow. Blast from the past. If you like that one, you might want to read the one on Ephesians 1:4 in the series on the Book of Ephesians. It is so much better written. Good to hear from you. Hope you are doing okay. Anne and I just recovered from COVID but are doing fine now.

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