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Change your fate

Question

Can people who are predestined (chosen by God to be saved before they were born) and people who are not predestined change or decide their own fate? Do they have free will? I don't believe anyone can change God's will, so it seems they don't.

Answer

This whole issue of election and predestination seems to have irreconcilably divided the Christian Church into two camps: those who believe in a sovereign God’s predestination for a person to have faith in Jesus Christ, and those who believe in man’s free will to respond to Christ’s grace by either receiving Him into their life or rejecting Him. The former are Calvinists (after John Calvin), the latter Arminians (after Jacobus Arminius). Put crudely, Calvinists would believe that people do not change their fate, but believe in or do not believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour in exactly the way that God has predestined for them. Arminians or non-Calvinists, on the other hand, believe there is no such fate hanging over a person (though God, being God, does have foreknowledge of what a person will do), and therefore each person really is free to receive or reject Christ.

So the answer to the first question is that it obviously depends on which “camp” you subscribe to: you would have to come to your own conclusion, as the author of the question seems to have done. However, it’s worth remembering that a crucial doctrine of the Calvinist camp is that, if God predestined some people to be saved, but not others, then Jesus must only have died for some people – those who will be saved – and not for all. In the Calvinist system, it doesn’t make sense for Jesus to have died for all people, of which only a fraction will be saved, because otherwise He would have died in vain for the rest. Personally, while having great love and respect for Calvinists, I believe with all my heart that Jesus died for everybody. I therefore believe that each person is free to accept or reject the Lord, although I also believe that God’s grace, in its myriad forms, comes to everybody to induce (but not to force!) a person to believe.

How do I therefore understand the biblical references to predestination, election and God’s elect? Well, if Christ died for everybody, then we are all potentially elected – predestined to salvation – and we become actively so when we put our faith and trust in Him. As long as we maintain this faith and trust in the Lord, we are headed for our destination: eternal life with God in Heaven. The elect are those who have put their faith and trust in Christ, and they are the ones who are predestined to eternal life with God.

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