2.5.1 God Predestinates
Humility And Grace
An understanding of predestination helps us towards true humility and appreciation of grace. This is the very context in which Paul introduces the idea in Romans; he wished his readers to appreciate grace by reflecting upon how predestination involves something far over and above anything we could ‘do’ or ‘be’ in our own rights. Further, Paul speaks of predestination in Eph. 1:5,6, and says that it is a sign of God’s grace- and thus we are “predestinated… to the praise of the glory of His grace”. Predestination also brings with it an appreciation of grace, and real praise for it. Predestination by grace doesn’t motivate to lethargy and fatalism- if it’s properly understood. When the Lord speaks of how we have been chosen, above and beyond any effort on our part, He goes on to teach that exactly because of this, we have a responsibility to produce fruit, to pray, to love one another (Jn. 15:16,17). Despite predestination, there are countless thousands of freewill decisions for us to make each day. Try to bear that in mind some mornings as you wake up. Whatever situation we’re in, life takes on an excitement and meaning and challenge. The simple fact of predestination, of having been chosen by grace, should radically inspire us in every one of those freewill decisions. The true Biblical idea of predestination mustn’t be confused with non-Biblical ones. The Romans, Greeks, Egyptians etc. all believed that they had been elected by the gods, predestined to be the special race that alone had true connection with the divine… but they assumed this predestination was because of their natural superiority. Biblical predestination is radically different- that the weak are chosen and the strong rejected, not because they are smart, beautiful, hard working, successful, lucky… but exactly because they are weak and just who they are. This is the grace of true predestination. And it’s so wonderful that nobody can be passive to it.
Don't Be Vindictive
Joseph had the same basic understanding. He held no grudge against his brethren, and would not be vindictive to them, because he understood something of predestination: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). And because he understood that God’s good intentions were worked out through the evil intentions of others, Joseph was content to leave all in God’s hands, and on this basis he assures his brothers that given his understanding of this ‘predestination’, he wouldn’t hit back at them for what they’d done to him. The Lord spoke of the coming of His ‘hour’ of death as if it were somehow predestined of the Father. But His appreciation of this didn’t lead to a mere fatalism, but rather to a heightened sense of the importance of obedience, of playing His part in the Father’s drama to the best of His ability (Jn. 7:6,8; 12:23,27). Joab likewise, when facing a battle against a hugely superior army, commented: “Let the Lord do that which is good in his sight” (1 Chron. 19:13)- but this bred not fatalism but rather a zealous attempt to fight for the Lord, which God blessed with victory.