“How do I know if I have been predestined to be saved?”–by Jesse Johnson

This is an excellent article by Jesse Johnson that was posted at The Cripplegate.

How do I know if I have been predestined to be saved?

by Jesse Johnson

How does a person know if they have been predestined by God for heaven? The shortest answer to the question is also the best: Do you love Jesus? If so, then you have been predestined.

Unpacking that short answer shows you the Trinitarian nature of salvation. The Father predestined us before time (Ephesians 1:4). This predestination is expressed through adoption into his family through faith in his Son, Jesus (Ephesians 1:5). This faith is expressed by confessing Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:10), and nobody can do that unless the Holy Spirit is indwelling them (1 Corinthians 12:3).

When the Holy Spirit saves a person, He gives them a new nature—He gives them a heart of faith to replace their heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26). The person goes from living for himself to living for Christ. The person goes from hating God to loving God through Jesus.

Thus an individual knows they have been predestined for salvation only when they believe the gospel, and see in their heart faith and love for Jesus Christ.

Taken together, our Triune God predestines, then sends his Son who accomplishes salvation, then sends his Spirit who applies salvation. All three persons of the Trinity are at work in our salvation. They have the same will, the same love, and the same intent. Thus the doctrine of predestination breaks into this world through every heart that loves Jesus.

A person obviously doesn’t need to know all that in order to be saved. Instead, what a person needs to know in order to be saved is that they are a sinner, and are unable to save themselves by their own good work. Yet Jesus, who is the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins, and rose triumphantly from the grave having atoned for sin. Because of depravity, nobody would savingly believe that unless the Holy Spirit was enabling them.

To approach this from yet another direction: a person can only know if they have been predestined when they are saved, and salvation is evident in a love for Christ. That love is imperfect, and waxes and wanes through life, of course. But the only window we have into the saving and predestining power of God in the heart of each person who trusts Christ. There is no way to trust Christ for salvation without the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, He only saves those whom the Father has chosen, and all whom He saves will express that through a love for Jesus.

How do you know you have been predestined? The only way is by placing your faith in Christ.

Fortunately the opposite answer is not true—a person cannot say they have not been predestined simply because they don’t believe in Jesus now. Who is to say they won’t believe in the future? So if you are concerned you have not been predestined, ask yourself this: Do you want to believe the gospel? Do you wish you were going to heaven?

Then there is no magic to it, and no fatalism needs be involved. All who call upon the Lord can be saved. And once saved, they will see they were called by Him all along.


Christian ‘Idolatry’?

I have to confess to having a habit of listening to Christian apologetic debates, particularly debates concerning free will v. predestination. I don’t listen to the debates to get ‘ammunition’ for the side I personally take in the debates, however they are helpful in determining if how I feel about the controversy has any merit. I have listened to quite a few of them with Protestant v. Catholic participants as well as Protestant v. Protestant participants (more of the latter than the former I think). When you listen to numerous debates concerning a particular subject it is quite possible that tendencies / trends begin to emerge. I’ve noticed just such a tendency in predestination v. free will debates, thus the above question.

The trend I have noticed is that while the participant arguing for the predestination of believers to salvation are more prone to stick primarily with a scriptural basis for their position, most of the free will advocates invariably end up arguing against Calvinism and John Calvin instead of making the case based on scripture and leaving Calvin out of the discussion. The same thing seems to happen in formal debates with moderators, less formal discussion forums with or without moderators, and even ordinary discussions between ordinary people. Free will proponents seem incapable of leaving John Calvin out of the debate/discussion!

So I have to ask why. It seems to me that the reason closest to the boat is the strength of the predestination/election scriptural position over against the free will position from scripture. While the terms predestination and election have specific scriptural support for the implied doctrines they teach, the term free will is only used of ‘free will’ offerings and never connected to the subject of salvation. The best that free will proponents can come up with as specifically scriptural are the passages requiring us to ‘choose’ something and the ‘warning’ passages that caution us to certain behaviors and resulting consequences. I’ve even had a friend of mine tell me that although the Bible provides more specific support for predestination and election he still comes down on the side of human free will. So I again have to ask why.

The only answer I can come up with is that we have been conditioned so completely to believe we have libertarian free will (our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature and free from any predetermination by God) that we just can’t let go!

Some hold on more fiercely than others. I don’t know how many times I have suggested to others that a simple study of what the Bible says about the nature of fallen men might impact their theology. I often offered passages such as Romans 8:7-8 and 1 Corinthians 2:14 concerning the mental state of every nonbeliever on the planet, but to no avail! And if a professing believer refuses to even discuss passages of Scripture, something is amiss. I have to ask of that ‘something’ is not a case of idolatry; of placing one’s presuppositions or opinion above the text of the Bible.

I don’t use ‘idolatry’ language in personal discussions but I have to wonder. I heard it said a few days ago that “If it’s in the Bible you can take it to the bank, but if it’s your opinion, take it to the Bible”. Following that little maxim would go far in settling just about any issue.

One last thing. I can say with certainty that my own ‘letting go’ took some time. I wasn’t comfortable but it was greatly humbling. In the end, I had to surrender to what I was reading in the pages of Scripture, like them or not. It was finding out what the Bible says about the ‘nature’ of fallen men that settled it for me. So I continue to point folks to the topic of the ‘natural’ man and try to avoid debates specifically about predestination and free will. I really believe that if we tackle the question of the nature of fallen men we can get farther down the road to understanding just how much God had to accomplish in order to ‘save his people from their sin’.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!