On a few occasions in Scripture we find the word predestined. For some people this word is almost entirely overlooked throughout their spiritual lives. For others it is a word that shapes their spirituality and defines the way they view their salvation in God. So what does it mean to be predestined by God? How does predestination affect our spiritual life and our growth in God?
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
In this passage we learn that those whom God foreknew He also predestined, called, justified and glorified. So if God foreknew and predestined us, does this mean that we were always destined for salvation? If so, does this mean that God also gives us the faith and desire to receive His salvation? If so, were we ever truly free to choose our salvation? Or is God orchestrating our every thought and action according to His master plan?
A Spiritual Destiny
The events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future; the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.
A destination is the endpoint of a journey and so when we read the word predestined, we often tend to read it in terms of what happens after we die. Like the word destination, the word destiny conveys the sense of an ultimate and inescapable fate. So from this perspective, if our predestination is our spiritual destiny then it is not a possible outcome that may come to pass, but rather it is an inevitable end that we are compelled towards and must experience.
So if God has predestined us to salvation then it is inevitable that we will receive eternal life with Him after we die. This means that nothing we do or fail to do can alter the outcome. If this is true then it also follows that God has predetermined all our choices towards receiving the grace of salvation. And if He makes our choices for us then it stands to reason that He is orchestrating all of our thoughts, motives and desires that shape the choices we make. This complete sovereign control of God over every aspect of life is the belief called determinism. In this determined sense of predestination we have no control over our choices or desires, but rather our will, along with every other aspect of our lives, is entirely scripted by God.
So is God controlling every detail of our lives? Is that what the Scriptures imply when they speak of predestination?
From pro, meaning before; and horizo meaning: to define, mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing), to determine, appoint, decree or ordain.
The Greek word for destiny or fate is the word moira and it is not used in Romans 8 or anywhere else in the Bible. Rather, the Greek word proorizo (pro-horizo) is used. The base-word horizo comes from the Greek word horio (meaning coast or border) and is the source of the English word horizon. The sense of horizon here is not a future that we are endlessly journeying towards but a boundary or limit of a plan. At its core, the word proorizo is focused more on design than it is on destiny. It is about defining a plan rather than sealing a fate.
From this perspective, the word proorizo can be translated as predefined or predesigned. So instead of using the term predestined, which focuses on the control of God over our lives and our future destiny, we can use the word predesigned, which focuses on God’s plan for us now and our present spiritual experience in Christ.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predesigned…
When we read Romans 8:29 again from the perspective of predesign, we learn that before we were created, God had a specific design for our lives. Like the rest of His creation, God created us for a defined purpose. So what is our true design? What have we been created for?
Continue reading here.
This article has been taken from chapter one of the Living Image book, which is available now.