Teaching Pages

Page display options: 1-column; 3-columns

What's in predestination?


I talked on the phone the other night to my daughter Angelina who is away at university. Her student Christian Union group had stayed so late at someone's house that they missed the last bus.

"How did that happen?" I asked. She answered, "Because we got so involved in discussing the conflict between the Bible's teaching on free will and its teaching on predestination that it got very late."

My reply to that startled her, "There is no conflict because there is no teaching on predestination in the Bible." I anticipated what would be the response and, sure enough, she said, "But what about where it says 'whom He predestined, these He also called'" I replied, "I know that verse well and it isn't about predestination as we usually think of predestination." I then promised to explain this further and the following paragraphs are what I wrote to her.

(Please note the following discussion is not about the topic of predestination to salvation as taught by Calvin. This article is about choice in life as opposed to life's outcomes or aspects of life being predestined.)


The belief in a degree of predestination in regard to how someone's life turns out is held by some in the Christian Church arises largely from a particular view of a passage in Paul's letter to the Romans.

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 - NKJV


As you see, the New King James Version of the Bible (as well as the traditional King James Version and subsequently a number of other translations) uses some form of the word "predestine" in verses 29 and 30 of Romans chapter 8.

Sadly, the translator's choice of the word "predestined" or "predestinate" has caused many to declare a doctrine of predestination, namely, a future is mapped out for us. I say "sadly" because in declaring this doctrine it encourages an abdication of responsibility over where people are heading and, as your student group noted, seems to contradict the Biblical principle of free will.

A deeper look at that scripture passage shows it refers to our destination in Christ. It speaks of the destination God has set forth within His plan for the one whom He saw would choose Christ as their Saviour. It is our choice of Christ as our Saviour that sets us out towards this destination.


This means is that those who are in Christ have a life destination in Him. God has given us a destination ahead of time for which we have every equipping in Christ Jesus to arrive at.

Such a destination does not imply "predestination" as we normally understand it in modern English. In fact it says, "Here's the intended destination, choose it and aim for it." This then actually encourages choice. It's a call to exercise free will and reach for the destination God has planned for you.


Let me just cover one further aspects of this matter before I end. Advocates of the doctrine of predestination might say that they have another scripture to support their case. They might point to 2 Peter 2:12

These, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption

2 Peter 2:12 - NKJV


Some advocates of this doctrine of predestination point to this scripture and say, "Look those spoken of here were 'made' to be caught and destroyed which is like saying God destined them." In saying this they are unwittingly writing in words to the text that aren't there. They are adding "by God" after the word "made".

We all need to guard against inappropriately adding in words as we read scripture. It is easy to allow the mind to do this. The mind is trained to "fill in the blank spaces" and it tends to use the words that support its own theories when it does this. The word "made" in the scripture above does beg to have words added to it in order to tell us who or what did the making. The context, however, in this case suggests the addition "by their actions" rather than "by God". We then get "like natural brute beasts made (by their actions) to be caught and destroyed."


This scripture from Peter's second letter then is pointing once again at personal responsibility for actions and therefore towards choice in life. It highlights once again man's free will and the responsibility he has in the light of that.


A visitor to this web site asked a question which relates very closely to this topic of predestination.

She wrote, "I want to know how revelation from the Lord can pass away? My friend got this revelation from God that he was going to marry this woman but she has since married someone else. My friend still believes that he will be with her as the Lord tells him this and he feels revelation doesn't pass away as it is from God. My friend says it is a future event, ie: this womans husband will die in the future. I don't know what to think about this."


A revelation that is from the Lord is one that is verifiable by Bible scripture. For example, you heard in your heart that the Truth will set you free and this is verifiable in scripture - see John 8:31 - 32.

"You will marry so and so" is not verifiable in scripture and therefore strictly speaking is not revelation from the Lord. The Lord does not reveal matters in that way or form. The Spirit of God will say in our hearts, "If you do such and such, then it is going to lead to a good outcome." Or He will say, "This is a good way to go for it leads you on a path of blessing in the Lord." This is called the leading of the Lord.


We are instructed in scripture to seek the leading of the Lord for our lives. We are not taught in scripture to seek the Lord for the revelation of what the future holds for us as individuals in our individual lives.

We are called to be taught of the Lord in how to do things, to be instructed of the Lord in the way we are best to go.

We are not called to ask Him what is to be in our individual lives since what is to be in our individual lives is not determined. It is not determined because man has been created with free will. In other words, man chooses. He chooses the way his life will go and it is the choices people make as they journey through life that bring them to particular places, people and outcomes.


The Bible does not teach fate or predestination.

All of our futures are in our hands. We also must recognise that joint futures are in joint hands. One person alone cannot determine the future of two. Just as God alone cannot determine the future of one human being.


Life is a journey. The future is not fixed, it is to be made. As Christians we must make our lives in faith that God has good things in mind for us that He is willing to facilitate for us but he will not pre-determine people or things in the realm of the individual.

Related pages

Use the links below to get to other pages on this site that have a similar subject to that which you've read about above.

Suggested eBooks

The following ebooks have been found by some readers of this web page to be potentially helpful to them:

Double Your Church Attendance Teach The Bible To Change Lives Building A House Of Worship