Predestination (Part 1)

I still remember an illustration from the movie Life is a Miracle. Some of you might have watched this movie. It is a true story of a young lady suffering from cancer. In one of the scenes, she tells an illustration which I think illustrates beautifully the doctrine of predestination. She says that God is The Great Painter. He uses all kinds of colours—bright and dark. We often don’t understand why He uses dark colours, but we can take comfort knowing that what He paints is the most beautiful picture. She does not survive from the disease. But her understanding of God’s sovereignty makes a difference in her life and the lives of others as well.

Predestination is usually used in a narrow sense, i.e. when dealing with the matter of man’s destiny. For a broad sense, the term used is foreordination. Here we shall use predestination to refer to foreordination as well. The doctrine of predestination is an important doctrine. It is not an abstraction somewhere up there, but, as the movie illustrates, it has practical impact in our daily lives. A proper understanding of the doctrine gives us comfort and security, and moves us to praise God and give Him all glory that is due Him.

Probably the most succinct formulation of the doctrine can be found in Westminster Confession of Faith: “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions; yet hath he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come to pass, upon such conditions” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 3).

And also: “God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 5).

Westminster Larger Catechism also states that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass: “God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he has, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained: Whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men” (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 12).

I believe these expressions of the doctrine as faithful understanding of what the Bible teaches—that every word is meaningful and is derived essentially from the Bible.

(to be continued…)


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