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Predestination and the Greater Homeland
The American public has developed a visceral concern for homeland security since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Prior to that tragic date, the phrase “a vulnerable United States” would have been considered an oxymoron. That is no longer the case. A few of the more visible and immediate reactions to the wounds inflicted upon us by Islamic madmen have been the establishment of the Homeland Security Department and high-tech enhancements to our airport security systems.
Recent reports of suspected terrorists infiltrating our society through the Canadian border are portentous reminders that homeland security at this point is packing more symbolism than substance! The bottom line is the citizens of this nation are demanding to be safe and to feel safe once again, and will hold elected officials responsible at the ballot box for failure to achieve these objectives.
All the heated rhetoric about homeland security (about which we shall surely be inundated in the coming months) prompts us to reflect upon the greater homeland of which every believer in Jesus Christ shall one day be a part. The Lord Jesus confirmed it, saying: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).
We know that Abraham of old was cognizant of this same truth, because the scripture says that while he sojourned in the land of promise [the homeland], as in a strange country…he looked for a city [the greater homeland] whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:9-10). Abraham would affirm with us that there has never been a homeland immune from attack or strife, including his own. But the greater homeland that awaits the believer shall never suffer the first scintilla of sin or violence!
What then is the Biblical guarantee that God will bring every believer without exception into the greater homeland? It is the doctrine of predestination! The NT Greek word translated “predestinate” is proorizo, a combination of pro (beforehand) and orizo (to determine; Eng. “horizon”). It literally means to preset a destination or outcome that is immutable as to its fulfillment. It is used in the NT of both people and events, but our focus here is with people. Thus when the scriptures speak of God predestinating someone, it signifies that He has determined by sovereign decree to accomplish a purpose or goal in that individual that no force in heaven or on earth can defeat!
Two of the key issues regarding predestination are (1) its objects and (2) its ultimate goal. The objects of predestination are those whom he did foreknow (Romans 8:29). These are the same individuals who have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Two of these “in Christ” blessings are predestination unto the adoption of children (1:5) and an inheritance obtained as a result of predestination (1:11). In short, the objects of predestination are those whom the Spirit of God has placed into spiritual union with Christ after hearing and believing the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation (1:13). The Bible doctrine of predestination has nothing to do with unbelievers who are still “in Adam”.
The ultimate goal of predestination is to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). The process of conformity begins at the moment of regeneration (i.e., the new birth), continues through life as a matter of progress in personal holiness, and culminates at the resurrection, at which time Jesus will endow His children with glorified bodies like unto His own (Philippians 3:21). Paul refers to this event as the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23), which is synonymous with the adoption of children cited in Ephesians 1:5.
It is unfortunate indeed that theologians down through the centuries have so fiercely debated and been divided over the objects of predestination when the primary thrust of the doctrine is God’s ultimate goal for all who are in Christ! Spiros Zodhiates has well stated: “Because it is neither possible nor permissible for us to pry into God’s secret counsel, it is not proper to be fixated [italics mine] with determining who the predestined are. Instead, we should contemplate the glories of what they are predestined to” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, p. 1224). Well said!
Brethren, the truth of the greater homeland should transcend our concerns about homeland security. As believers in the Lord Jesus, we have a fixed future and an eternal citizenship in the city whose builder and maker is God! The doctrine of predestination should not be feared or avoided, but rather embraced, for it is God’s sovereign and gracious guarantee that He will indeed save to the uttermost all who come unto Him through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!