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Many believe that the ultimate destiny of each individual was determined before the world was made. Of those who accept this belief, some hold that all human beings, because of Adam’s fall into sin, are deserving of everlasting punishment, but God, according to His eternal will, chose some from among Adam’s children, and predestined them to eternal life. Thus, “predestination” pertains only to those fortunate enough to have been chosen for salvation from the foundation of the world.
The term predestination means “to mark out beforehand,” and refers to the plan and goal of salvation itself, not to specific individuals. It should be understood in the corporate sense, rather than in the sense that each individual was predestined to either eternal life or eternal condemnation.
“The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care.” The Bible does speak of predestination. The term predestined is found four times in two of Paul’s epistles. Here’s what the inspired apostle said about this subject: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 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, and these He also glorified.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him
Predestination has to do with the eternal election to salvation by God in eternity and nothing else. I once said that while God knew what I had for breakfast this morning that god had not predestined that I even eat breakfast this morning. In a room filled with “Reformed” scholars, not one understood where I was coming from much less agreed.
God knows all things and God has foreordained all things that come to pass. In other words God has approved what happens, has even ordered these events to work to His glory and the good of the elect. This however is not an eternal decree and is not set in concrete so to speak. To believe is a final decision (predestinated) is the fatalism the critics of Calvinism point to concerning predestination. However, all things are complete with God, all different paths having been considered as such and the end determined God is not bound by this ordering of events to His glory. Thus, we read in the Bible that because of prayer fifteen years were added to the life of a man.1 as with the laws of nature God may set them aside at His will to bring about His desired end.2
Predestination however is concerned with a decree of a sovereign and cannot be changed or that sovereign is not worthy of his title. A decree is the official declaration of a sovereign that is normally written and sealed with his sign. Thus, the seal of the Holy Spirit (the mark of God) on believers and the Reformed definition concerning the sacraments being signs and seals. When a sovereign makes such a declaration it cannot be taken back or the sovereign is admitting he made a mistake and had to correct his error. Among the ancients, sovereigns were considered divine personages. To make an error assaulted this concept of deity assigned to a sovereign. This concept is very well illustrated in the book of Esther where an earthly monarch could not simply repeal a decree he had caused to be set to paper under his seal. This being true about earthly monarchs, how much more true must it be with the Sovereign of all things? The immutability of a decree coupled with the ability of God to perform His entire holy will is the comfort of the elect that has sustained the church from the beginning. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Anything less and the whole Reformed faith rests on smoke and shadows, not the sure word of God.
From “Catechism of the Catholic Church”
If God knows everything; it seems He knows if I’m going to Heaven or Hell. If so, does He determine my destiny? Many have heard the term predestination, but few understand what the term means or the manner in which God predestines souls. In this article, we’ll examine predestination, the mysterious preordaining by God of who will make it to heaven and their degree of happiness upon arrival. The Church has not officially defined exactly how God predestines souls, but it does say to follow St. Thomas Aquinas in speculative matters. In fact, both Canon Law and Vatican II say that priests are to be formed according to the teaching of St. Thomas. Moreover, the Catechism seems to favor his position. This is especially true in regard to how man merits grace (explained in our question and answer segment).
Basically, St. Thomas teaches that before creation God selected certain souls (called “the elect”) to be united with Him in Heaven. Of those chosen, He orders their life and sends timely supernatural assistance to ensure they reach the place in Heaven He has reserved for them. This is what we mean by predestination. Since there are many puzzling aspects about predestination, we’ll switch to a question and answer format to better address these difficulties.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined him also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
From “Summa theological”
- Objection 1. It seems that predestination does place something in the predestined. For every action of itself causes passion. If therefore predestination is action in God, predestination must be passion in the predestined.
- Objection 2. Further, Origen says on the text, “He who was predestined,” etc. (Rom. 1:4): “Predestination is of one who is not; destination, of one who is.” And Augustine says (De Praed. Sanct.): “What is predestination but the destination of one who is?” Therefore predestination is only of one who actually exists; and it thus places something in the predestined.
- Objection 3. Further, preparation is something in the thing prepared. But predestination is the preparation of God’s benefits, as Augustine says (De Praed. Sanct. ii, 14). Therefore predestination is something in the predestined.
- Objection 4. Further, nothing temporal enters into the definition of eternity. But grace, which is something temporal, is found in the definition of predestination. For predestination is the preparation of grace in the present; and of glory in the future. Therefore predestination is not anything eternal. So it must needs be that it is in the predestined, and not in God; for whatever is in Him is eternal.
“The confessions of st Augustine”
Augustine stands as the last patristic and the first medieval father of Western Christianity. We can observe two separate stages in Augustine’s “conversion.” The first was the dramatic striking off of the slavery of incontinence and pride which had so long held him from decisive commitment to the Christian faith. The second was the development of an adequate understanding of the Christian faith itself and his baptismal confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
One does not read far in the Confessions before he recognizes that the term “confess” has a double range of meaning. On the one hand, it obviously refers to the free acknowledgment, before God, of the truth one knows about oneself–and this obviously meant, for Augustine, the “confession of sins.” But, at the same time, and more importantly, confiteri means to acknowledge, to God, the truth one knows about God. To confess, then, is to praise and glorify God; it is an exercise in self-knowledge and true humility in the atmosphere of grace and reconciliation. The confessions of St. Augustine Is one of those unique books in that it is timeless. It applies to our time as well as the time it was writtenIn the new catechism of the Catholic Church St. Augustine is the one of the most quoted. Second only to St. Thomas Aquinas. The confessions give a clear definition of origina l sin. And how through our tendency towards sin we wish to be God. In a day and age when everything seems relative Sin becomes the norm. Through Augustine’s eyes we can see clearly, and help others to perceive more clearly ourselves and the state of the world. Augustine is more prevalent today than he was 1500 years ago! The confessions appeal to every man who has experienced good and evil in his own soul Augustine says. That “predestination is the foreknowledge of God’s benefits.” But foreknowledge is not in the things foreknown, but in the person who foreknows them. Therefore, predestination is in the one who predestines, and not in the predestined.
- Mike Sharrett,” What Does the Bible Teach About Predestination?”Web.
- Mick Alexander, “THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH”
- Herbert W. Armstrong, “PREDESTINATION Does the Bible Teach It?” .
- “What Does the Bible Say About Predestination and Election?”
- ”Summa Theologica III q27. Of the Sanctification of the Blessed Virgin” Web.
- “Whether predestination places anything in the predestined?” .
- ,,ALBERT C. OUTLER “AUGUSTINE: CONFESSIONS”