Two weeks ago, I alluded to the fact that I would be writing about the Bible every Friday for a while. Then work got in the way. I think I sat in front of my computer for less than an hour combined between Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. By the end of Sunday, it wasn’t Friday anymore. The week usually works like that, where the end of Sunday is after Friday. So I’m exactly one week late with my second weekly post. I said we’d be talking about predestination, so let’s do that.
There are basically three schools of thought on predestination: God has chosen Heaven or Hell for everyone; God has chosen Heaven or Hell for no one, and everyone has free will (this is how I was taught growing up); and God predestines some, and He gives free will to others (what I have come to believe).
When you are reading the Bible, and you are trying to make sense of some of the trickier passages, it’s important to consider the rest of Scripture before coming to a final conclusion. Again, we are told to study, so we can come to the right conclusions. It really is that important. Based on my studying, I can no longer believe in absolute free will, and I haven’t switched to unconditional predestination. And to be honest, most people I know that say they believe in absolute free will don’t. They just haven’t connected two dots in their brain that are kept in separate compartments.
First, let’s look at the passage of Scripture that my belief comes from: Romans 9:18-23. God can choose who He will show mercy to and harden who He will harden. He will make some vessels for honor and some for dishonor. Some are vessels for His wrath, and some are vessels for His mercy. Some people are created with an afterlife reservations already made, both for Heaven and for Hell.
Right now, you might not be tracking with me, and that’s fine. You might not agree with me by the end of this post, and that’s fine, too. But let me ask you some questions. Do you believe Judas Iscariot went to Heaven? I don’t. I wrote a compelling paper on how we know he got saved when I was in Bible college, but that was just to annoy my teacher and classmates. I don’t believe it. First of all, Jesus refers to him in John 17:12 as the son of perdition. That word means “destruction (physical, spiritual, and eternal), ruined, lost, or damnable.” Jesus also said in Matthew 26:24 that it would have been better if he had never been born. If he had gone to Heaven, that couldn’t really be said. None of this really matters if you believe Judas chose to be the way that he was. But he was a fulfillment of prophecy. It was prophesied that a person that shared bread with the Messiah would be the one to betray Him.
Here’s my next question: are the 144,000 witnesses in Revelation going to Heaven? Have they already been chosen for their tasks? I believe the answer to both questions is yes. They’ve already been sealed with a mark of protection so that they can fulfill their duty. When they are mentioned in Revelation 14, it says that they were redeemed. You might say they are…wait for it…predestined for Heaven, as they are already chosen for their purpose.
I’ve always believed both that Judas was chosen to be the son of perdition, therefore he went to hell, and that the 144,000 witnesses have already been sealed as God’s witnesses. That means they go to Heaven. You can argue that God chose them because they knew, but then others could argue that God knew, so He chose. Circumlocution isn’t welcomed here. But how could I believe that God offers free will to everyone if I also believe that there are some who have been chosen? I can’t. I had to come to the conclusion that God does offer free will, as He promised, but He reserves the right to make specific decisions. Is it fair? Not really, but that’s not my call, and it isn’t my business. I’m just the clay.
Is this topic worth all the debate it’s gotten over the years? I don’t think it is, so long as you are obeying Jesus’ teaching. Whatever you believe, it’s important that you follow Jesus’ famous last words before ascending into Heaven: go and make disciples. It’s your job to tell others, whether you believe everyone has divine reservations or not. One thing my pastor growing up always said was that if total predestination were true, it’s okay, because the more you go out and share the gospel, the more predestined people you find.