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Written by Victoria Radin   

The Calvinist Doctrine of Predestination

A person attains the position of being ‘saved’ when he/she believes in Jesus Christ. Each such believer must repent of their sins and accept that Jesus took the punishment they deserve. Then, they are seen as righteous in the sight of G-d. Believers are ‘saved’ from eternal damnation in hell. Eternal life in Heaven is the reward individuals receive for having accepted Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them in living a righteous life according to the Word of G-d. At the same time, it is acknowledged, “No man can come to [Jesus], except the Father draw him.” (John 6:44)

When non-Jews are ‘saved’, the Apostle Paul says that they are grafted-in to the cultivated ‘olive tree’, which is Israel [i.e. their religious privileges with G-d]. From that point on, they enjoy all the privileges that G-d afforded Israel and have their responsibilities as well.

“And if some of the branches were broken off [the olive tree], and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” (Romans 11:17-18)

John Jefferson Davis, a well-known and highly respected Calvinist theologian wrote an article titled: “The Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine”.  The article demonstrates that “once saved, always saved” or unconditional eternal security was not a doctrine that was taught by the ancient church, nor for that matter, by any well-known theologian before John Calvin. This ‘doctrine’ teaches that people can sin in the flesh, live carnal lives, and still be on their way to heaven (albeit with less rewards); that they are ‘saved’, no matter what they do or don’t do with their lives. John Calvin taught that G-d predestined eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others and that those predestined for salvation were the elect and could never be lost.

 The Apostle Paul, however, taught,  “the carnal mind is enmity against G-d; for it is not subject to the law of G-d, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please G-d” (Romans 8:7, 8). He also taught that salvation is a process through which we go, learning obedience and righteousness along the way.

“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: (Ephesians 1:4-5)

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which G-d hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  (Ephesians 2:10)

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of G-d, these are sons of G-d.” (Romans 8:12-14)

God said that the Apostle Paul was His Chosen Vessel to “bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul was chosen by election/predestination. Yet he taught that one must live a holy life to attain Heaven. At the end of the Paul’s life, he proclaimed that his confidence for eternal life was in fighting a good fight, finishing his course, and keeping the faith (2 Tim 4:7-8) not in predestination/election.  Paul also admonished Timothy to “fight the good fight” of faith.

“But you, O man of G-d, flee [wickedness] and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11, 12)

The ‘Church Father’, Augustine believed it was possible to experience the justifying grace of G-d and yet not persevere to the end. In “A dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs”, under the topic of “Salvation”, after quoting numerous scripture passages and five pages of quotes from the writings of early Christian leaders, it was concluded that it was possible for a genuine believer to reject G-d and wind up eternally separated from G-d in hell. [Pp. 586-591]

The editor of this dictionary, David Bercot writes, “Since the early Christians believed that our continued faith and obedience are necessary for salvation, it naturally follows that they believed that a ‘saved’ person could still end up being lost.”

The writer of Hebrews taught this:   (Note that all scripture emphasis is author’s)

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living G-d; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…” (Hebrews 3:12-14)

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of G-d and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of G-d, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…” (Hebrews 10:26)

Peter also issues his warnings:

“For if, after they [believers] have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the L-rd and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” (2 Peter 2:20, 21)

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall…” (2 Peter 1:10)

Matthew notes the story of the ten virgins. All were “saved” [virgins]; five were prepared and ready for the coming of the L-rd and five were not and couldn’t enter in (Matthew 25:1-13). He also reminds us that we have to endure till the end of our lives in order to be “saved”.

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13, 51)

Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, issues a warning to believers as well, saying they should not be haughty about being grafted into the cultivated olive tree [Israel’s religious privileges with G-d].

“You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if G-d did not spare the natural branches [Israelites], He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of G-d: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:19-22)

To understand predestination/election, one must go back to the origins of our faith, Abraham. G-d’s predestination/election refers to His plan of salvation established from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). He chose the Hebrews [election] to bring the knowledge of G-d to the world and has promised by covenant (Romans 11:26-28) that ALL ISRAEL will be saved. Abraham did not choose G-d, G-d chose Abraham by predestination/election to carry out the plan that He had made. He enabled Abraham to have faith and to believe although he was raised in a pagan family and pagan society. This is why his offspring, through Isaac and Jacob became known as The Chosen People.

The Apostle Paul described in Romans 9 the elect as the children of the promise [descendants of Abraham through Sara]; Paul makes it clear that Gentile believers are children of Abraham also, but only through adoption:

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…” (Ephesians 1:5)

Paul also explains that non-Jewish believers inherit all the benefits of Israel through this adoption and are predestined/elected by being grafting into the ‘cultivated olive tree’.

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will…” (Ephesians 1:11-12)

“Concerning the gospel they [Israel] are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of G-d [to Israel] are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:28-29)

No one can come to the saving grace of Jesus unless the Father (Yahweh) draws him (John 6:44). Gentiles can be drawn by the Father to Jesus and be ‘saved’. But Hebrews (the Israelites) did not have a choice; they were predestined by election to carry out G-d’s plan of salvation. The Hebrews (aka Jews) will carry out G-d’s plans in the earth. And, by the grafting-in process (salvation), Gentile believers become part of All Israel. Then, they too, are called to bring salvation to the world (Mark 16) and will be justified and glorified.

“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.” (Romans 8:29, 30)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

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