In recent conversations about the topic of predestination we have encountered people who are confused about how to reconcile the doctrine of free will with what the Bible says about predestination. This confusion stems from the fact that people assume that because the word predestination appears in the Bible it must, then, be speaking about the “doctrine” of predestination as defined by Calvinism. This simply is not the case.
The Bible does use the word predestination, but look carefully at how it is used. The Scriptures never teach that we were predestined to heaven, hell or even to certain actions. When reading the Scriptures you will find that the word to (or other similar indicators) usually follows the word predestination and it is there to explain exactly how and why we were predestined. Those who are saved were predestined, not to salvation, but to certain rights and privileges. Lets take a closer look at these passages:
Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined , he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession — to the praise of his glory.
According to the Bible Christians have been predestined to be conformed the likeness of Christ (Rom 8:29), to be adopted as God's children (Eph 1:5), were chosen to be holy and blameless (Eph 1:4), and were predestined according to the plan of God (Eph 1:11). That plan was to include us in Christ when we hear the gospel, believe, and are marked with the promised Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14). None of these passages teach that we were predestined to "become" a believer, but rather once we chose to become one, there were certain privileges that would accompany it.
Think of it like this. Everyone who has a job in America is predestined to pay income taxes, but people who do not work do not pay income taxes. While it is fair to say that every worker is predestined to pay taxes, it is not fair to say that every American is predestined to pay income taxes. Saying that every worker is predestined to pay income taxes does not mean that those who do not work do not have the ability to ever pay income taxes in the future. Predestining us to pay taxes also does not mean that we are predestined to do any other activity in this country. It simply means that if you work, you pay taxes, and if you do not work you do not pay an income tax. In the same manner, just because I am predestined to become conformed to the likeness of Christ if I become a Christian it does not necessitate that I must have therefore been predestined to actually become one. These passages do not imply any such thing.
In Romans 8:29 we are told that when we are predestined it is also based upon God's foreknowledge.
Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Therefore Calvinism or the so called “Doctrines of Grace” imposes upon predestination a definition where those who are saved were fatalistically predestined to be so, and this is indeed false. The Bible teaches that we are predestined to certain things if we accept Christ. You will not find one passage that says we are predestined to either heaven or hell; that entire concept is not found in Scripture. The passages that speak of predestination then in no way contradicts our free will to choose whether or not we believe in the Lord. Instead, these passages are there to assure those who do believe that they are now adopted as sons and are found holy and blameless in his sight because we are conformed to the likeness of our precious Savior.