Pristine Grace

The Blessedness of Predestinating Ability
by Stanley C. Phillips

    Hoyt, In our conversation recently, I drew further pleasant thoughts on the God-given blessing of the ability God gave to His creature, Man, in nature to predestinate. Along with the abilities to think rationally, to use his hands (having thumbs to grasp objects) to make and use tools, a speaking form of communication, He also has given the ability to predestinate. These powers separate man from all other of the lower creatures. Every one thinks; every one uses his thumb to grasp tools; every one communicates in a language; and every one predestinates. One does not need to be excessively bright to know that! As a lad on the farm in South Georgia, we were pretty much self-sufficient farmers: we raise most of our own food. Dad loved fried rabbits, squirrels, and bob white quail. By the age of thirteen, I had learned to predestinate the direction a wild rabbit would take, which would give me a good shot to bring home a meal. It was so simple: My brother and I set the sage-field on fire on three sides, and then stood on the 4th side and waited. It NEVER failed. The rabbits went exactly where we predetermined they should go! That is predestination; the planning thereof was predestinating!

    An architect takes the criteria a builder gives him, and all the information he can get as to the utility of that building and begins to draft blueprints of the completed building. He is engaged in the act of predestinating. I have a very loveable brother that is somewhat of a perfectionist. He is a Southern Baptist minister. He plans two years in advance where he will be on a specific day, prints it out, and mails it to the rest of us. His wife says that if he will arrive earlier than he said, he would stop the motor home and organize things, read, or listen to country music until its time to continue. He is a predestinator! The odd thing, the hunter, the architect, nor my brother thinks that God has a right to do the same! That would be giving Him too much credit! I marvel at the fact, that most people I know will, when things seem to become hopeless, say, “Well, what is to be will be!” That is predestination. But, if they do not believe that God predestinates, the slogan, “what is to be will be” is Fatalism, named after the ancient goddess of Fate, who, according to the ancients thought that when the gods failed, it was because Fate had frustrated them. Today, so few have even heard the word “predestinate,” that if one used it in their presence, they would look startled, or as if a mule had kicked them in the face, or someone thrown a bucket of ice-water on them!

    I fully admit that man’s “predestination” most often fails; whereas God’s never fails! Why? Because man does not possess the faculty of foreknowledge, or prescience; whereas, God does. God’s predestination has a perfect foundation under it: He thought, and foresaw all things He thought; He decreed and He fore knew all things He decreed; He determined all things that by infinite wisdom He fore-knew was necessary to accomplish His eternal purpose. “He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will;” He has infinite wisdom, whereas man does not; He has perfect understanding, whereas man does not. He upholds all things, whereas man does not. He has almighty power, whereas man has only that given to him by God at any given time. He is immutable or unchangeable, whereas man is not. Hence God’s predestination is absolute and prefect.

    Why such negative reaction against “Predestination” by His creatures? Primarily, it is because that after the fall of Adam, all his offspring being in his loins, fell also and became corrupt. This corruption destroyed any agreement between the race of man and it’s Creator, and their carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God,” which is spiritual, “neither indeed can be.” This carnal mind of which we write is our natural mind – the product of our own brains. It is not spiritual, nor ever will be in this natural state. Hence, as Paul wrote, “The natural mind comprehendeth not the things of the spirit, for they are spiritually discerned.” Consequently, unregenerate religious men may recognize the word “predestinate,” and may draw some carnal or natural views of its meaning, they cannot discern, or grasp, the concept expressed by that word. That concept belongs exclusively to God’s own children; it is not the property-rights of the ungodly world. In fact, they would have it anyway! Since the concept cannot fit their natural scheme of things, they are obliged to reject, or oppose, it altogether. My thought here is, to go deeper into the etymology of that word before dealing with the concept of which it symbolizes. For the living child of God, this may help to develop a more transparent understanding of the doctrine.

    First of all, predestinate, or proorizo (to limit in advance, predetermine; determine  before; ordain; or predestinate,) is not an English word, albeit is an universal concept. The English has another word we are all familiar with which is derived from this concept. It is “horizon.” If one stands on an unobstructed plane or seashore, the upmost visual acuity in the distance is the horizon. That is as far as one can see in any or all directions. If he were to move ten miles north, the horizon is ten miles further north, but ten miles less southward. In other words, predestinate is to “limit in advance.” I doubt that Limited Predestinarians developed their weaker concept from this fact, but while we insist that it is absolute, we equally understand it is limited – limited strictly to God’s eternal purpose, beyond which nothing can exceed. As in “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.” Psalm 76:10. The first part of this verse shows the absoluteness of God’s working the wrath of man to His own praise; whereas, the second part shows that man’s wrath is limited by God, so that it cannot go beyond its purpose to render praise to Him.

    As pointed out, the word “predestinate” is not an English word. Its coming to such a popular use among English speaking people is due, in part, by William Tyndal. Ran out of England by the king, he fled to Belgium. When the Catholic authority discovered him in Belgium, he fled to Marburg, Germany, where Martin Luther was engaged in translating Erasmus’s Greek parchments into the German language. Luther had the protection of the royal family of Marburg, and thus Tyndal had time to finish his translation [from the Latin Vulgate text of St, Jerome) into English. There are six places in the King James text where “predestinate(d)” is used. One of them is in Jude 4. Tyndal had translated Jude prior to meeting Luther, and here is how he translated that concept: “who were before oold ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” One simple word could have been used if the English language had such a word. [I suppose that if Tyndal had used a word, say, “gimagoose” for that concept in Jude 4; and used it in the other five places, that would likely be the word we would be using for that concept to-day. We might have become “Gimagoosearians” instead of “Predestinarians.”] However, Martin Luther took two Latin words, (prae and destino) and  translated the word for the concept “Predestinate.” There in Marburg, while translating Romans and Ephesians, Tyndal used the same word as Martin Luther. And so the concept to express the absolute and ultimate comprehension of all things for His elect came into usage: “Predestinate.” There is no particular need to affix the word “absolute” to the word predestinate, other than to note our meaning of the word when the world thinks of a limited Predestination. A limited Predestination does not fit the concept; for the concept is absolute and limited to God eternal purpose; and does embrace all things. We insist, “all things,” because the whole creation and the time of its endurance is specifically for the elect’s development to show forth the glory of Jesus Christ and to the praise of the glory of His grace. 

    In looking at the concept of predestination, it seems appropriate to remove some explanations used to limit the concept. For instance, when Paul referred to the concept, he tied it strictly to the elect, and added “who worketh all things.” “And we know” –not every one knows this; nor do every one calling themselves a “Christian” know this; but Paul knew that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”- Romans 8:28. I once heard a Primitive Baptist minister say, “He worketh all things that He works, together for good to them that are the called.” As if there was someone else working the rest of things, and I thought he meant someone was working those other things he did not wish to think that God “meant for good.” I am not wise enough to comprehend what is counted “good” for me, among those things that I generally count as “evil.” I do know that God is not under any law, and hence cannot be lawless in whatever He is pleased to do. With Abraham of old, I am ready to say that I know the God of the whole earth will do right, even if He does what He has forbidden His creatures to do.

    Again, here the concept of predestination is attached to the election of grace in Ephesians 1. In the eleventh verse, after speaking of mystery of His will, Paul writes: “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together allthings IN Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even IN Him; IN whom also we have obtained (note, it is an already obtainment) an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.”  In both passages, Paul has connected the concept of predestination with His working of “together” all things, with the end result, that this should be to the praise of the glory of His grace. I will not press the issue upon an unbeliever, but it is my firm belief that this whole universe is the created environment designed by our blessed Lord Jesus Christ as a place of inhabitance for all of us who are in Him that we should develop into the fullness of the stature of Christ unto a perfect man; and collectively the bride of Christ.

    All our natural bodies require is provided for of the earthly elements. We drink of the water He creates from the oxygen the plants exhale with the carbon dioxide animals and men exhale, and we both eat of the nutrients the earth provides. These are in turn made possible by the starry heavens, their radiant rays of sun beams, the migration of the earth in its orbits, the swelling tides of the oceans, the temperate changes of the seasons produced by the migration of the earth around the sun, and all of the little unnoticed and microscopic animals, plants, and minerals down to the smallest subdivisions of atoms and neutrons, etc. In His infinite wisdom He left nothing out, small or gigantic; and by His   Almighty power He is daily “upholing all things by the word of His power. . .” – Hebrews 1:3

    The so-called “radical, or rogue , planets” present day scientists (“falsely so-call”) say are hurling through space and, as they think, might smash into the earth and destroy all life here, are as much under the absolute and wise control of our God, as are the most orderly, predictable planetary objects we observed daily in their routinely travel pathway doing the work God put them there to perform. When Armstrong returned from the moon with a pocket full of rocks, NASA reported they were completely stubbed with gems that reflect light, and any believer already knew from Genesis this should be so!  All of these things fall into the realm of the concept of predestination, and are completely absolute and fully as limited as the eternal decrees of God intended them to be.

     I can’t speak for others, but God knows that I find immense comfort in the belief of this glorious concept. I’m not ashamed to be called a “Predestinarian;” I’m not ashamed to be called an “Absolutists;” but strangely, I find an awkwardness when called a “Christian;” perhaps for more than one reason: I can’t find anything in me or about me that can compare with Christ; nor can I find any imperfections in Him to compare Him with me. And, I hate to be mistaken as one of those “button-hole pushers” who claim to be saved, know they are heaven-bound, and if anyone get to heaven it will be them.  

    When I read the statement in Genesis that man was made in the image of God, I have a far more reaching understanding that the world at large seem to have. Those opposing the death penalty often base their objection on “man is made in the image of God.” I doubt seriously that a profane murderer is made in the image of my most Holy God!   To me, an “image” is a likeness of something formed in the mind. An artist may have an image in his mind, and then replicates it onto a canvass. Most humans are able to form images of things they think (however, I and about 20% of others have little imagery ability. Some think in color, others do not which determine their ability to form perfect images of things they see or think.) So when our Lord Jesus Christ made man, He made him in the image which He had in His eternal mind. As the Lord had all the elect seed in Himself, so too, He had them in His imagery and formed Adam with his seed in himself. He was the Head of His body the church; and Adam was made the “head of the woman,” and of his family, or generations. As the character of Christ is the final character of His body, the church, or His family; so too, Adam’s fallen character is the character of all his progeny. For both of these families to develop as God decreed, according to the eternal purpose that He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began, each one individually, with their decreed personality and DNA and genetic compositions, absolute predestination of every even necessary for the coming together of the parents of each individual, and the events that were necessary for each such union in all generations, must have taken place at the decreed time and place, for “God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”- Acts 17:26. If there is a denier of the absoluteness and limited predestination of all things reading this, can you tell be how this verse can be applied as Paul wrote it, in the absence of absolute predestination of all things through all ages and in all places that men dwell?  What details that transpired can be left out and what child was not conceived who were in the loins of Adam or in the seed of Christ? Your answer would be quite interesting, I’m sure.