When I was a senior pastor, one of my favorite tasks was taking people through the church membership class. Not only did it give me a chance to get to know our new people; it also gave me the opportunity to teach some of our Presbyterian doctrinal distinctives.
One of the doctrinal distinctives I love most is predestination. I believe and teach that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, including the salvation of certain human beings. As Paul says in Ephesians 1:4-5, God chose us in Christ "before the creation of the world," and "predestined us to be adopted as his sons." Peter opens his first letter by saying that we "have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:2).
Every time I present this doctrine, people ask good and reasonable questions: "Why didn't God choose everybody?" "What about free will?" "How can God judge people he has not chosen?" Sometimes I have to say, "I don't know." There is mystery around many teachings of the Bible, including this one. While I do not understand every nuance of the doctrine of predestination, I love it. It gives me comfort and assures me that this world is governed by a wise God and a good plan.
I ran across a post in the Gospel Coalition Blog that beautifully summarizes the blessings of the doctrine of predestination. It's by Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. Because he says it so well, I'll quote his words in their entirety:
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it is biblical. In a display of the Father’s love for the Son, He gives a specific people to the Son (John 6:37). This truth is evident in...the book of Revelation when it declares that the only ones entering the eternal heaven are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). John further testifies in Revelation 13:8, that these names were written in this book before the foundation of the world. In other words, one fruit of the Father’s love for Jesus is our salvation. The Father made a free and sovereign decision to save a people as a gift for the Son and for His own glory from the foundation of the world (see also John 8:47; John 10:26-29; Romans 9:10-16).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it secures my salvation. Jesus declared that all that the Father gave Him would come to Him and that He would never cast out any who came to Him (John 6:37). Jesus delights in receiving and keeping those whom the Father gives Him because He came to do the Father’s will (John 6:38-40), and the Father’s will is that Jesus not lose any of the ones that the Father has given Him but that He raise them all up on the last day (John 6:39).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it encourages me to pursue holiness. Paul reminded the Thessalonians “God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13, ESV). The Bible assures us that even though now we are only gradually being conformed to the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), we will at glorification be completely conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it is the basis for assurance of my salvation. Because God gives a people to the Son, and because the Son receives that people and keeps them, I am assured that I will never be cast out (John 6:37), nor perish, nor be snatched out of Jesus’ hand (John 10:28). Can you imagine such assurance? The God who predestines for salvation (election) will insure that all whom He calls to salvation will ultimately be glorified (Romans 8:30).
The doctrine of election is precious to me because it encourages me to share the gospel and gives me hope for fruit in evangelism and missions. Not only does the Father give a people to the Son (John 6:37), and not only does the Son receive these people and keep them (John 6:37-39), but the Father also assures that those whom He gives to the Son will come to the Son. It is the Father’s will that everyone believing in the Son have eternal life (John 6:40), and these who believe can only come at the Father’s drawing (John 6:44, 65). Therefore, if the Father gives a people to the Son, and He assures these people come to the Son, then we can be assured that evangelism and missions will bear fruit (Acts 13:48), and we can find encouragement in our Lord’s words to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9-10, ESV).
Finally, the doctrine of election is precious to me because it moves me to make much of God through Christ (true worship) and little of myself (humility). May we understand election and may it strip us of personal pride and move us to worship the Sovereign Lord in all His glory and grace.