By Fernando L. Canale, reproduced from chapter “Doctrine of God,” as published in Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology (Review and Herald, 2000).
Omniscience and foreknowledge refer to God‘s cognitive activity regarding the world in general and free human actions in particular. Within this general context, predestination refers to God‘s volitive activity (Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11) in deciding the basic components and structure required to accomplish the redemption of humankind (1 Corinthians 2:7).
In a general sense any divine decision that determines the nature and structure of created reality could be regarded as belonging to predestination.
Thus, the creation of the world is the actualization of God‘s blueprint for nature. In the biblical sense predestination refers specifically to the divine plan for salvation. As Creation was the actualization of God‘s blueprint for created realities, predestination was His plan for the salvation of sinners.
In the biblical sense predestination refers specifically to the divine plan for salvation. As Creation was the actualization of God‘s blueprint for created realities, predestination was His plan for the salvation of sinners.
Scripture refers to the divine blueprint for the salvation of humankind with words such as “purpose” (prothesis, a “plan drawn in advance” [Romans 8:28; 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9]), “mystery” (Ephesians 3:9), and “hidden wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 2:7).
The word “predestination,” which occurs in the Bible as the verb proorizō (“to decide beforehand”), is also utilised by biblical writers to refer to God‘s prior, eternal decision regarding His plan of salvation (Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29, 30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11).
God conceived and determined the plan of salvation “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20), prior to the existence of the “ages” (1 Corinthians 2:7), “from the beginning” (2 Thessalonians 2:13; cf. John 1:1). This is the reason for the particle pre in “predestination.” Prior to the Fall (Genesis 3), before the creation of the world (Genesis 1; 2), even prior to the ages of created time, in eternity, God devised and decided in Himself the structure of the plan for the salvation of humanity (Ephesians 1:9).
God‘s predestination does not determine the eternal salvation or damnation of human beings, as some would have us believe.
God‘s predestination does not determine the eternal salvation or damnation of human beings, as some would have us believe. The biblical teaching does not identify of predestination with foreknowledge, whereby God is said to predestine everything He foreknows.
It is true that the biblical idea of foreknowledge includes God‘s knowledge of our eternal destiny. However, Scripture denies on two accounts the claim that God predetermines human destinies.
First, Paul clearly differentiates between foreknowledge and predestination (Romans 8:29). Thus the two notions should not be confused.
Second, according to Scripture, the salvation of human beings involves not only God‘s predestination plan and works of salvation but also the free response of faith to the call and prompting of the Holy Spirit.
The role of free choice in the determination of our eternal destiny is implicitly present in the teaching of final judgment included in divine predestination (Acts 17:31), which entails, among other things, the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ, the free human response to the call to accept all the provisions of God‘s plan, and God‘s judgment of our response.
Further study | ADC course