God's Decision of Man's Eternity
There is probably no other doctrine in the history of Christianity that has provoked more controversy than this one. It is difficult, complex, and strikes at the core of humanity’s most desired characteristic – free will.
Every church has a doctrine of predestination since it is unavoidable. The word appears more than five times in the New Testament in one form or another. Even more if you count its synonyms. Still, churches do not necessarily agree at the doctrine’s most deepest level.
The doctrine teaches that our final destination, heaven or hell, is decided by God before we were even born. In other words, before we existed, God decided to save some people and allow the rest to perish. The emphasis is on God’s divine choice. Few churches will disagree with this, if any.
However, the line is drawn when we seek to answer, how does God choose? This is also included in the doctrine and is where churches have divided for ages. There is even a hint of argument in Paul’s letter to the Roman believers when he taught this subject (Romans 9).
We can reduce these differences to two views. The Non-Reformed view, and most common today, holds that God looks down the corridors of time to see if man will believe or not. If he does, then God predestines him for salvation. This view points to God’s foreknowledge and rests ultimately upon man’s decision.
The Reformed view argues that salvation is more a rescue mission rather than a discovery mission. And God, by His own pleasure, decides who will be saved and who will not. This argument points out that man’s fallenness has effected his will and mind so much that his desires are not for God. This view says that man is dead and unresponsive to God until God makes him alive. It rests ultimately upon God’s will and regeneration. Man chooses to be saved after his desires are renewed.
So the difference lies in how God makes his decision. He does after seeing man’s decision or He does so by His own will making man capable of the decision. It can also be said that either view differs from the other on the radical corruption of sin. Neither view is heretical in its elementary form.
Verses for further reflection:
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10