The words predestined, elect, and election are all biblical words. Jesus talked about God’s elect people in Matthew 24:22-24. Paul mentions predestination, the elect, and election in various places, including Romans 8:30, 33; 9:11, Titus 1:1, etc). Peter also talked about election and the elect in his first letter (1 Pet. 1:1, 10). The concept and reality of election and predestination are also found in the Old Testament (Dt. 7:6, Ps. 33:12, 105:43, etc.). The Bible does teach predestination and election. One place where Paul talks about this in some depth is Ephesians 1:3-12. It’s a wonderful and comforting passage for followers of Christ! Speaking of the teaching of election and predestination, here’s a nice summary that R. C. Sproul wrote back in 1997:
When we add the prefix ‘pre’ to ‘destination’, we speak of something that takes place prior to or before the destination. The pre of predestination relates to the question of time. In biblical categories predestination clearly takes place, not only before we believe in Christ, and not only before we were even born, but from all eternity, before the universe was ever created.
The agent of predestination is God. In his sovereignty he predestinates. Human beings are the object of his predestination. In short, predestination refers to God’s sovereign plan for human beings, decreed by him in eternity. We must add, however, that the concept of predestination includes more than the future destiny of humans. It also includes whatever comes to pass in time and space. Often the term election is used as a synonym for predestination. Technically this is incorrect. The term election refers specifically to one aspect of divine predestination: God’s choosing of certain individuals to be saved. The term election has a positive connotation, referring to a benevolent predestination that results in the salvation of those who are elect. Election also has a negative side, called ‘reprobation,’ which involves the predestination of those who are not elect.
In summary we may define predestination broadly as follows: From all eternity God decided to save some members of the human race and to let the rest of the human race perish. God made a choice – he chose some individuals to be saved unto everlasting blessedness in heaven, and he chose others to pass over, allowing them to suffer the consequences of their sins, eternal punishment in hell.
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015