THE TRUE MEANING OF PREDESTINATION
I give you a glimpse into a private "Bible study" I had one day with
our little traveling group. It happened to get into a very profound
question that has puzzled scholars and theologians, as well as millions
of people, for many centuries. Yet the answer is plain and simple, but
of staggering importance to humanity.
Today, I find
myself back in the same hotel room in Rome where 1 had an invigorating
"Bible study" with my little traveling group several weeks ago. We
remember things by association. This room brought that particular study
lesson back to mind.
I had selected by chance two separate
chapters in the Bible of which I was very fond. And it so happened that
they were the very two chapters that mentioned this very disputed and
almost never understood subject of "predestination." But now I want to
devote this "Personal" to making clear the true meaning of that
Does this disputed biblical teaching say
that we are prejudged before we are even born? Are humans judged guilty
or innocent before they act?
Most novels, movies, or TV series
are built around the "good guys" and the "bad guys." The hero and
heroine always appear wholesome. honest, sincere, and upright. But the
villain or the sinister seducing female can be quickly identified by
their evil expression, manner, and attitude. But are all humans
PREJUDGED by an angry God, even before birth, to become one of these
"good guys" or "bad guys."
I had chosen on that day in this same
hotel room to go through and expound two favorite chapters — Romans 8
and Ephesians 1. 1 chose Romans 8 because it is the "holy spirit"
chapter, the chapter on the incredible destiny of man. That is the
subject about which I have written a series of articles appearing for
over a year in The Plain Truth. 1 chose Ephesians 1 because, in the
Moffatt translation. I have felt for many years that it is one of the
most beautiful, uplifting, and inspiring pieces of literature I have
When I sat down to my typewriter to begin writing
this "Personal." 1 did not have in my briefcase with me a copy of the
Moffat translation. But I did have a copy of this translation in the
bookcase above my desk in my G-II jet aircraft. So I telephoned our
plane's steward in his hotel room and asked him to make a quick,
special trip to the airport and bring me the book. He arrived with it
before I had written this far. although I took out time for lunch.
to this beautiful bit of literature: "Paul, by the will of God an
apostle of Jesus Christ, to the saints who are faithful in Jesus
Christ: grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in
Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing within the heavenly
sphere!" (Eph. 1:1-3, Moffat.)
It is important to note carefully
to whom the apostle is speaking. He includes himself with those
addressed — the saints who are faithful in Jesus Christ. He is not
speaking of everybody.
Continue: "He chose us in him ere the world was founded . .."
4). God did the choosing. Jesus said to His disciples that they had not
chosen Him but that He had chosen them! But whom did God choose? Not
the world, not everybody — only those addressed with Paul and the
"saints who are faithful."
When were they chosen? "Ere the world
was founded" - before they were born. But why? To be prejudged and
sentenced to an eternity of being burned alive — yet never burning up —
in the "hell fire" that some people teach? Never! Then why were they
Continue on: ". . . to be consecrated and unblemished in
his sight, destining us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ"
The King James Version has: "having predestinated
us." In the KJV the word "adoption" is wrongly translated and should be
rendered "sonship" in the English, for it is speaking of becoming
begotten and born sons of God. not adopted sons. Real sons! Nothing is
said about predestinating sons to "be lost." condemned or punished. But
"destining us in love." not in anger or hate.
Read on, and I
shall emphasize the words I want you to especially notice: "Such was
the purpose of his will, redounding to the praise of his glorious grace
bestowed on us in the Beloved, in whom we enjoy our redemption. the
forgiveness of our trespasses, by the blood he shed. So richly has God
lavished upon us, granting us complete insight and understanding of the
open secret of his will, showing us how it was the purpose of his
design so to order it in the fulness of the ages that all things in
heaven and earth alike should be gathered up in Christ - in the Christ
in whom we have had our heritage allotted us (as was decreed in the
design of him who carries out everything according to the counsel of
his will), to make us redound to the praise of his glory by being the
first to put our hope in Christ" (Eph. 1:5-12. Moffat).
give you verses 11 through 12 in the King James Version: "In whom also
we have obtained 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
Our inheritance — true Christians are right now only
heirs -- was predestinated "that we should be to the praise of his
glory, who first trusted in Christ" (verse 12).
whom is the passage speaking? Only to the saints who were faithful.
Note well these points. Predestination has only to do with being called
to the inheritance of becoming sons of the living God, and those
predestinated are said to be the first so called.
said plainly. "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent
me draw him" (John 6:44). The 11th -chapter of Romans explains that
only a few arc called to repentance, faith in Christ, and spiritual
salvation with eternal life NOW.
Since none can come to Christ —
become spiritually converted — "except the Father draw him" ("called"
refers to those being so drawn by the Father) — it becomes plain that
those predestinated are those few predestinated to be called NOW — the
first to be "called" to be drawn by the Father to Christ and to the
inheritance of becoming begotten and born sons of God.
are to be called later! Predestination refers to those precalled — NOT
prejudged or pre-condemned. Nothing in this passage nor in Romans 8
says anything about being prejudged or pre-condemned. Therefore, it has
only to do with WHEN some are specially called and only to do with
those first called before the world in general, as explained in
Repeatedly I have said that to try to
understand the Bible from today's vantage point is like going into a
movie or turning on a movie on TV with the picture half over. Not
having seen what went before, you simply don't understand what you are
Let me give you the big picture from the beginning —
very briefly. Begin with John I, verses 1-3: "In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Here were from
eternity two individual beings, one called the Word, the other, God.
But the Word was also God. Let me compare it with someone saying, "I
saw Garner Ted, and Garner Ted was with Armstrong, and Garner Ted was
(also) Armstrong." In the beginning from eternity the Word was not the
son of God as Garner Ted is the son of "Armstrong" - if you are
referring to myself. But later, verse 14. it is stated that "the Word
was made flesh, and dwelt among us. . . ." At which time, born of the
virgin Mary, the Word became Jesus Christ, and at that time He became
the son of God!
But from eternity — which means always — there
were the two. and we are made in the image and likeness of God — His
form and shape — and have been given minds like — though inferior to —
God, and since we think out and plan the things that we design, the
Word and God first thought out, designed, and planned what was to
First they designed and created angels. Apparently that
was before the creation of matter. The fact of radioactivity proves
there has been no past eternity of matter. God created matter. But He
created angels first. The Bible says much about angels. They are spirit
beings composed of spirit, not matter. Next we come to Genesis 1:1 —
compared to John 1:1: "In the beginning God [Hebrew Elohim, meaning
more than one person forming one God — that is the God family] created
the heaven ['heavens' in the Hebrew] and the earth." This was after the
creation of angels because God says (Job 38:7) the angels "shouted for
joy" at the creation of the earth.
Now we read of the "angels
that sinned" (II Peter 2:4), and verses 5 and 6 place the time of this
angelic sin as prior to the creation of Adam.
that is, before
the span of time from Adam to the Flood. The angels were led into sin
(the transgression of God's law — I John 3:4) by their king Lucifer.
Lucifer (Isa. 14:12) was a great archangel, a cherub, the very most
supreme type of being capable of being created. He was perfect and
created full of wisdom, perfection, and beauty (Ezek. 28:14-17). He
administered the government of God over angels — over the earth that
then was. But "iniquity" was found in him (Ezek. 28:15). The government
of God was based on the spiritual law of God. Any government is the
administration of a law. and without law there can be no government.
The law of God is spiritual. It is different from any man-made law. It
is a way of life — in fact the way of life that produces peace.
are only two basic, primary ways of life. God's way — God's spiritual
law — is a way of love, that is, an outgoing concern toward others.
Toward God it is actually a return of His love given to us, expressed
in love, adoration, obedience, and worship. Toward fellowman, it is
outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others equal to
self-concern. The other way of life I simplify by the word "get." It is
toward self. It is vanity, lust, and greed. Toward others it is envy,
jealousy, rivalry, competition, and strife. It is resentment of any
authority — whether God's or man's. It is revengeful, hostile, and
God created minds in angels. He gave them the free moral
agency to think, reason, form opinions, and make choices. Otherwise
there could have been no personality, individuality. or character.
was a supreme archangel. trained at the very throne of God. His wings
spread over the throne of the universe (Ezek. 28:14 with Ex. 25:8.
18-22). He was thoroughly trained in the administration of the
government of God.
But Lucifer reasoned — and falsely. He
concluded that getting was to him more desirable than giving. So when
he led his angels into rebellion against God and God's way, the
government of God ceased to function on the earth.
Few know that
the government of God once existed on earth. God could create,
automatically by fiat, no greater than Lucifer. This left God — not
limited to one person -the only being who had set Himself inexorably
never to violate His law, the only being who would not, and therefore
could not. sin — that is. violate His government. The solution that the
Word and God had planned — undoubtedly long before — was that God would
now reproduce Himself, and the Word God would now reproduce Himself!
(All of this was covered in the series on the "incredible human
potential" published in The Plain Truth.)
Angels had been placed
here for creative purposes of improving the earth. Instead they defiled
it, brought it to the state of decay, confusion, waste, and emptiness
implied by the Hebrew words tohu and bohu, which are translated
"without form and void" in the King James Version, "void and vacant" in
the Moffatt translation, "waste and empty" and "chaotic and in
confusion" in other translations.
Psalm 104:30 says: "Thou
sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face
of the earth." In Genesis 1:2. the watery surface of the earth was
covered with darkness. God is the author of light Satan of darkness!
The spirit of God "moved upon the face of the waters." And, verse
3. "God said. Let there be light." In six days God renewed the face of
the earth for man — for God's purpose of restoring His government on
earth by reproducing Himself by creating man in His image to have the
potential of being begotten and born into the family of God.
now Lucifer, whose name meant "shining star of the dawn" or "bringer of
light," becomes Satan the devil — whose name means "adversary." He is
immortal, as are all angels. He must remain on earth UNTIL a successor
qualifies to restore the government of God on earth and is inducted
In Genesis 1:26. God said. "Let us [not me] make
man in our image." God created man male and female (Gen. 1:27). He
instructed them in His way to qualify to restore the
GOVERNMENT OF GOD. It was necessary for Adam to reject Satan's
way of get and prove he could develop the character never to turn from
God's way. God offered them spiritual salvation. Satan was not allowed
to get to Adam and Eve until God had instructed them. Then Adam was put
to the test to see whether he would believe what God said and choose
God's way or whether he would reject God's way, and choose the
self-centered way of hostility to God and His law. Adam DID NOT BELIEVE
WHAT GOD SAID!
He took to himself the knowledge of what is good and what is evil.
is simply the transgression of God's law (I John 3:4). God's law, is
the way of peace, and when Adam and Eve took to themselves the decision
of what is right and what is wrong, they rejected God's way and broke
The 7,000-Year PLAN
first six millennial "days" are for man to go about deciding for
himself which is the better way. God adopted a hands-off policy —
except that He intervened in certain instances for His purpose, as in
the Flood, in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, in the
nation Israel, in sending prophets, in sending Christ, and in raising
up apostles and His church.
What we have, therefore, is a world
of man's making. And this is where we came in — in this true "movie" of
God's purpose and design from the very beginning.
Satan is very
powerful. He can do nothing God does not allow — but to fulfill God's
purpose it must be proved by 6,000 years of human suffering, violence,
and death that Satan's way is NOT GOOD FOR US. We have had 6,000 years
during which humanity has cut itself off from God, under the invisible
and unrealized sway of Satan, trying to organize his own society, his
own government, his own religion by the way that seems right to man.
this period, God has NOT tried to save this world spiritually. Only
Abel, Enoch, and Noah turned to God's way during the first 1,900 odd
years. After the Flood, Abraham obeyed, believed, and relied on
God. God never promised the nation Israel spiritual salvation. If they
would obey His government. God promised them national wealth,
greatness, and power, but NOT eternal life.
Through all these
millennia only the prophets were given God's spirit — and they only in
order to carry out an assignment from God.
Jesus came with
essentially the same teaching God taught Adam and Eve. But they did not
believe him. Many "believed on Him" but did not believe Him. To those
who believed ON Him (John 8:30) Jesus said, "But ye seek to kill me,
because my word [His gospel message] hath no place in you.... Because I
tell you the truth, ye believe me not" (verses 37, 45).
3'/a years of Christ's own preaching, only 120 believed him (Acts
1:15). After 25 years or so, Christ's gospel message was suppressed
(Gal. 1:6-7). And the world did not hear it until 1933 when i first
proclaimed it over THE AIR!
This is not the time when God is
desperately trying to get the world to believe HIM, turn to Him, and
"be saved spiritually." This is not the time when God is sending His
ministers on "soul-saving crusades." There is no contest between God
and Satan. Satan is powerful, but he can do only what God allows — and
for God's purpose. But today, we are very near the end of the 6.000
years allowed man to go his own way — the 6,000 years allotted to Satan
to deceive the whole world.
Jesus said that when "this gospel of
the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all
nations" (Matt. 24:14), then shall the end of this age come. I am
proclaiming that very gospel message all over the world. Satan knows
it, and he's angry. He therefore knows he has but a short time yet
(Rev. 12:12). But most men do not know it! Do you?
At the end of
this 6,000-year period Christ, who qualified to restore the government
of God on earth, shall return to earth in all the supreme power and
glory of the great God to bring us world peace at last.
would God call only a few now and then call all later on? I think I
have explained. God has let man prove that Satan's way of "get" is not
good for us.
He called, chose, and gave His holy spirit to the
prophets. Why? Because He had a job for them to do. Why is He calling
some few today and opening their minds to spiritual truth which seems
like so much foolishness (I Cor. 2:14) to the world — but "the wisdom
of this world is foolishness with God" (I Cor. 3:19)?
called now are called for the purpose of getting a job done. They are
given the holy spirit for that purpose. God has committed to me His
great commission — to proclaim Christ's gospel message of the kingdom
of God worldwide. He has called a few thousand to help me get that job
Those predestined to be called now — instead of later when
the whole world shall be called — are given the job of assisting me by
heart-rending prayer, by their encouragement (and I need it), and by
their tithes and offerings. And this responsibility is God's means of
developing in us His own righteous character. Christ was required to
reject Satan's way and overcome Satan to qualify to restore the
government of God and to raise up the kingdom of God. So are we who are
to qualify to rule with Him.
I've said to us — those called now
— that to him "that overcometh [Satan and his way] will I grant to sit
with me in my throne, even as I overcame [Satan and his way]...." "And
he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, him will I give
power over the nations [of earth], and he shall RULE them" (Rev. 3:21;
When Christ comes. Satan shall be taken away. When
Christ sets out to save the world (spiritually). there will be no Satan
to overcome. but they shall not be qualifying to sit with Christ on His
throne ruling and saving during the millennium.
That is the true meaning of "predestination."
by Herbert W. Armstrong Personal from the Editor The PLAIN TRUTH November 1976