On Predestination and Election

This is one of the Catholic teachings that addresses the Doctrine of Predestination:

600. "To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of 'predestination', he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: 'In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.'[Acts 4:27-28 ; cf. Ps 2:1-2 .] For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.[Cf. Mt 26:54 ; Jn 18:36 ; Jn 19:11 ; Acts 3:17-18 .]

'He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures'"--Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 2nd Ed., © 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

Predestination is one of those doctrines that generate interesting, sometimes exciting, exchanges among believers. Such exchanges are good in that they lead us to seek answers in Scripture and to interact with our brethren. In the process, we find fellowship and are edified.

When it comes to predestination and election, some folks are troubled to think that not everyone will be saved, nor even have any possibility of being saved. And this seems unfair to them. And it is--when we judge by human standards. It is important to remember, however, that God Almighty is bound to conform to no human standards of what is "right and just." His Justice is perfect. He is God, our Creator, and who are we to judge Him or to tell Him what to do with us?

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
—Romans 9:14-24, KJV [My emphasis]

Read again verse 16. It is not up to us, but it is God Who shows mercy.

Read again verse 18. It is He Who decides toward whom He will show mercy and to whom He will not. We poor humans, we vessels of clay, never had a hand in selecting where we shall spend eternity. Eternity, like everything else, belongs to God alone. And He alone chooses who shall spend it in His presence.

If you must think in human terms, think of your own home. Who determines who shall come into your home? Is it any Tom, Dick or Harry who might look at your home and say to himself, "That seems a wonderful place to live. I shall move in and spend the rest of my life there." Or is it you, the owner of that home. Would you deny to God that right which you would demand for yourself?

Let us think for a moment about what is "fair and just." Who is better equipped to judge what is fair and just? Is it God, Whose justice is always perfect and, therefore, always perfectly fair? Or is it man, whose concept of justice and fairness varies with his culture, his locations, his circumstances and the times?

Think on it. In today's politically correct American society, we think it fair and just that women and Blacks be able to vote and to hold elected office. In times not long past, it was considered fair and just that they could do neither. In these times in America, the very idea that a human being could be "owned" by another, to be dealt with as that owner chooses, is repugnant. Just over a century and a half ago, slavery was considered fair and just in the eyes of many Americans and under the law of the land. Today, the conditions that used to prevail in America not so long ago exist to this day in a number of nations that we in our self-righteous hubris consider barely civilized. A thousand, nay! a million, similar examples could be presented to demonstrate that man's idea of justice and fairness is inconstant.

In another forum, a sister wrote:

I have seen my brother go back and forth between God and the world all my life. It breaks my heart. He goes to God, and cries out for mercy and lives for Him just a little while (now I know some say he wasn't truly saved, I'm not debating that).

None but God can know whether the brother is saved or not, so the sister was wise not to invite debate on that issue. Let us look at something else.

In Chapter 7 of Paul's letter to the church at Rome, the Apostle described the inability of his flesh to live according to the desires of his spirit. Does that mean that Paul sometimes lost or cast off his salvation? Or does it mean that, in common with us all, that at times his "old man" surged into control of his thoughts and actions?

I believe I know the anguish my sister suffers from seeing what appears to be her brother's sometimes "lost" state. In years past, before the Lord called me out of Egypt, I did everything I could to instill in my children a living hatred of all things spiritual, especially the very idea of God. The seeds I planted appear to have fallen on fertile soil. My children do not seek the Lord, though in times of trial some have looked to Him for relief--in acts of desperation. Are they saved? I don't know, but it seems not. Is this my doing? Or is that the Lord has not yet called them out of darkness, if ever He will? I grieve for them, and even more so for those grandchildren who are being raised by Catholic mothers in the apostate Roman church, for they are being raised to trust in false promises of salvation.

How I wish that my children, their spouses and their children were securely ensconced within the Body of Christ. Were it within my power to draw them to salvation, albeit forcefully, I would do so in a New York second. Sadly, unlike the mythical Catholic Mary, I have no control over the dispensing of God's mercy. All that I can do is what the Lord has commanded: I must continue to share the Gospel and the teachings of the Bible with my family and pray that the Holy Spirit quicken them all.

Can it be that her brother truly is saved, yet casts away his salvation, only to obtain it once again? I think that it is not possible to be saved, born again, more than once. Is the forgiveness that Christ obtained for those who believe on Him a sometime thing that, like a coat, may be put on and taken off at will? Is salvation such a fragile condition that it might be lost when one sins, as Roman Catholicism teaches? If her brother were Catholic, then he would have been taught that it was grace, dispensed under Mary's control, that made it possible for him to have been born again and made a part of the Body of Christ. And he would have been taught that he can fall out of grace at any time as a consequence of serious sin that separates him from any hope of entering into the Beatific Vision, for God is so holy that He cannot abide the presence of sin. And he would have been taught that he only can be forgiven of his sins and restored to a state of grace through the Sacraments of the RCC, administered by a priest. And all these things would have been lies.

Look into your own heart, for we cannot look into the heart of another. Do you see God's love reflected in your love for Him? Do you know, beyond question, that you are saved, washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb? Are you convinced that you indeed are a member of the Body of Christ? If you truly are convinced of all these things, how can you even consider that God would cast you out, or that He would somehow allow you to sever yourself from Him?

Again, if God's benevolence and mercy are too difficult for you to fully comprehend -- and indeed who can fully comprehend the ways of our God? -- cast your thoughts inwards for a moment; see your own body as though it were the Body of Christ. Do you believe that your liver could suddenly decide to no longer be a part of the body? Or could your heart one day say, "I think this is silliness. I shall separate myself from the rest of the parts of this body."? Sure, the individual bits and pieces that are our bodies can, and indeed might, stumble, even fail, but they will continue to be parts of the whole, even in weakness and failure. Of course, some pieces may die and be surgically removed, but the body continues and the removed pieces will still be you until they no longer exist. Could it be that your own body does not mirror the operation of the Body of Christ? If not, then why should the Lord God have used that metaphor? Think on it, please.

Can salvation be lost? Can one turn his back on the Lord God at will? The Catholic Church and some others say that indeed these things are true. These same churches of man also allow for restoration to the former state of grace, whether through sacramental means or some other avenue. But how can this be? Scriptures clearly inform that Jesus died once for the sins of mankind. How many more times must He go to the cross in order to pay the new debts of those who "accepted" His vicarious atonement as having paid the debt owed God for all their sins and who later sinned anew?

9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
—Hebrews 10:9-14, KJV [My emphasis]

No! There is no second chance for salvation. It is a gift. A debt, once paid, cannot be paid again, for He Who only can satisfy that debt is no longer here to do so. He has finished that work and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Did you read, in verse 12, that He offered ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOR EVER? Shall He be called down, as the Catholic Church claims it can do, to make new payment on that sin debt over and over and over? Or shall He rest, knowing that there is nothing more to do, for "It is finished."?

I would submit that if the brother truly were once saved, he indeed remains saved, though he may at times fall off the narrow path that leads straight to eternal bliss. I know this is so because those who are saved, those elect of God from eternity past, bear His seal and that seal cannot be broken--not by the brother, not by any man and certainly not by Satan and those in his service.

21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
--2 Corinthians 1:21-22, KJV

This seal is God's earnest, His guarantee if you will, that all those who have been saved by grace through faith will always be saved, even unto the end of eternity. That is God's promise, and God cannot lie. If the Holy Spirit has placed God's seal on anyone, who is strong enough to break it or cast it off?

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.-- Ephesians 4:30, KJV

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
--Ephesians 1:13-14, KJV

On the other hand, if the brother is not numbered among the elect of God, there can be no assurance that he is in a saved relationship with our Lord, in spite of anyone's best efforts in his behalf. All that one can do is pray to the Lord that he be called out of darkness and into the Light. One can and must share with him the Gospel, even though he claims to have heard and received it, for perhaps he only thought he had. Beyond that, there is little else that can be done for the brother, even as there is nothing more I can do for my own family.

It is a bitter thing to contemplate that those one loves may be doomed to eternal condemnation and suffering, but it is the way that God has ordained. Certainly, God wills that all might be saved, but He has not made provision that that might be so. Again, turn to your own experience. As a parent, do you not wish that all your children should live lives filled with joy and contentment, utterly free of all ugliness and affliction? Do you not wish that each of your children and every member of his family might attain all their life's goals and in every way be successful? Has that come to pass? Has not a single member of your family ever been ill, perhaps with nothing more serious than a runny nose? Has none of your family ever stubbed a toe or had a "bad day?" I doubt any of your family have enjoyed a life thus far free of all perturbation, and yet you surely willed that it could have been so. And that is how to consider God's will that all be saved: It is His wish for all, but it will not come to pass because He has not made it so.

I hope that this helps.

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