Rev Kuruvilla Chandy is the Emeritus Pastor of Grace Bible Church, Lucknow in North India. Kuru, as he is popularly known, started his pastoral work in Lucknow from September 1974. After 23 years as the pastor of Lalbagh Methodist Church, in 1997 Kuru was ordained as the founding pastor of Grace Bible Church. He is an expository preacher who ministers widely in conferences and camps. His articles are featured regularly in Christian Trends and Light of Life. He is also the author of several books. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Two of my closest friends in school were my late classmate Daniel George (aka Sunny) and junior schoolmate Abe Punnose. We were all keenly interested in Bible and Christian doctrine, and used to have some rather heavy discussions. It so happened, that Daniel and Abe attended an Evangelical Union meeting and were exposed to the doctrine of predestination. We had never heard of it before. When we got together next they shared with me all the Scripture proof-texts they had been given at the meeting. I just couldn’t accept the notion that people would be consigned to hell by divine choice.
This was during my final year at St George’s Grammar School in Hyderabad. At the time, when I did my Indian School Certificate exams, they were held in December. This meant that those who did ISC got six months free, before they could join college or university. I was sixteen, going on seventeen, when I started to research the subject of “predestination” (without knowing that what I was doing was called “research”), by studying the Bible carefully. I didn’t know about commentaries then. All I knew was to go to Scripture itself and gather together all that I gleaned from my readings. I then wrote an essay, entitling it Predestined to Hell? It was a bit long to get into any magazine.
I graduated from Madras Christian College, and finally got into Union Biblical Seminary when I was twenty-one. In seminary, I got to know that there was a Christian publisher called Gospel Literature Service in Bombay. I wrote to GLS and sent a copy of my essay and asked if they would publish it, without knowing anyone personally or having anyone to recommend me.
A person, who identified as “F C Durham” responded to my letter and invited me to go to GLS during a break from seminary to discuss the publication of my essay. Durham offered to house me during my stay. Arriving there, I discovered that editor Durham was a middle-aged widow, whose home was home not only to her own adopted children, but also to a man and his children who were abandoned by their wife and mother. She also housed all the prospective writers who came for consultations.
While I was there, a preacher whom I had heard while a schoolboy-member of St George’s Church in Hyderabad, was also there to consult about a book—considerably larger than my little essay. The man was Bob Crow of the Good News Centre in Secunderabad and author of the expository commentary on Revelation,The Lamb and The Book. As I recall, Crow was there to publish a book on the teachings of Jesus, describing Him as the Guru, and so I shared the room with him.
One of the things that stood out about the home run by Durham was that the cook joined everyone at the table. No one got to eat, until the cook could wash up and come to the table.
Florence Christina Durham was an amazing woman. She was the editor of what was then India’s largest evangelical publishing house. Maybe it was because Christian publishing was a male domain that she took the moniker “F C Durham” so that she could sign letters that way without giving away that people were dealing with a woman.
Durham took me, a young squirt then, seriously and edited my work and got it published. She wrote the following in her foreword:
It is a real pleasure to write a Foreword to this little treatise by my young friend, Kuruvilla Chandy.
We have all faced, at one time or another in our Christian experience, the seemingly impossible, by attempting to reconcile predestination and free-will. We have to realize both are there. Someone has given an excellent illustration: Somewhere along the pathway of Life each man comes to a door. On its lintel is written: “Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6:37). The invitation, the welcome, the promise, are all there for the taking. A man, weighed down, perhaps with guilt, perhaps with restlessness, or spiritual hunger, responds to the invitation and enters the door. He turns to look behind him, and reads above the lintel: “Predestined…according to the good pleasure of His Will” (Eph. 1:5). Only then, and never before, does any man know what predestination really means, the first step being the blending of his will with the will of God.
From initiating contact with the publisher to the publication of my tract was all done in within a few months in 1970, my first year in seminary.
Predestined To Hell?
Moral Responsibility and Freedom
Moral responsibility is a characteristic of man alone among all God’s creatures. Man alone is held morally responsible for his action. Moral responsibility implies freedom to act as one pleases. A robot cannot be held responsible for any of its actions whether good or bad, for it has no choice in the matter. It was made to do either acts of a constructive nature or acts of a destructive nature. It cannot choose its way of behaviour. Thus to attribute moral responsibility to man is to admit his freedom to choose between good and evil.
But while man is free, he is also predestined. That admittedly does sound contradictory. Let me explain. Man is predestined—but to a certain extent. To what extent he is predestined is the subject of our consideration.
God’s salvation is not partial, but open to all. The Bible says, “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). The Bible also says, “His purpose is that all should be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4).
The Chosen People
A. The Process of Choosing
Abraham was living in Mesopotamia when God’s call came to him. He was asked to leave his country and his kindred and to go to a land of God’s choice (Acts 7: 2, 3). Did the call come to him alone? We do not know, but we find Terah, Abraham’s father moving to Haran with his whole family; Abraham did not move to Haran alone (Gen. 11:31). After Terah’s death Abraham moved to Canaan at God’s command. But again did the call come to him alone? This time his nephew Lot is his companion in his journey to Canaan (12: 1-5). Lot cared more for the rich plains of the Jordan, so he leaves Canaan. Abraham remains in Canaan where God had sent him. But if Lot had chosen to stay in Canaan and Abraham had moved out, as he had promised to do if Lot remained in Canaan, who would have been the father of God’s chosen people (13: 9-12)? Abraham came to be chosen because he obeyed God (22:18), and chose according to the will of God.
Isaac came to be chosen because he was the “son of promise” (Gal. 4:22-23).
Why was Jacob chosen? According to man’s reckoning, the eldest son should have been chosen. Samuel thought Eliab was God’s choice to be King of Israel because Eliab was the eldest and account of his “countenance” and “the height of his stature”. But God chose the insignificant youngster David, whom his father considered to be so unimportant that he had left him to mind the sheep instead of taking him to meet the seer (1 Sam. 16:6-13). God knew Esau would be the first to emerge from Rebekah’s womb. But God chose Jacob, because His ways are not man’s ways, and man’s ways are not His ways (Isa. 55:8). “He has chosen things low and contemptible, mere nothings, to overthrow the existing order. And so there is no place for human pride in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:28-29, NEB). God’s choice of Jacob “came before the children were born or had done anything good or bad, plainly showing that God’s act of choice has nothing to do with achievements, good or bad, but is entirely a matter of His will” (Rom. 9:11, Phillips). Isaac favoured Esau, but God chose Jacob and the children of Israel.
Though Israel was God’s chosen people they were still liable to be discarded. While Moses was up in Mount Sinai with God, Israel committed idolatry. God then wanted to destroy Israel and make the posterity of Moses His chosen people. But Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf and God refrained from destroying His people Israel (Ex. 32: 7-14). Moses had to officiate as Israel’s intercessor a second time when God was wrathful with the Israelites on account of their discontentment with His plans for them (Num. 14:1-20). When God chose Israel to be His chosen nation, no favouritism was involved.
B. Israel and the Nations
The chosen people were selected to be the people among whom the Redeemer of the world would make His appearance. They were not chosen for special and partial treatment. They remained on the same footing as the rest of the peoples of the world. They were blessed by the Lord, but they were punished too. They were instrumental in punishing other nations, but other nations were also instrumental in punishing them.
One of the most often asked unreasonable questions about God is the one of God being partial to Israel. This question is unreasonable because if one were to take the trouble reading and understanding the Bible, one would never be able to ask this question. To Israel God said, "Do not defile yourselves by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am casting out before you defiled themselves; and the land became defiled, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for all of these abominations the men of the land did, who were before you, so that the land became defiled); lest the land vomit you out, when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you (Lev 18:24-28, RSV). The peoples of Canaan were ejected from their land by God on account of their sins. At the time Israel was instrumental in the expulsion of the inhabitants of Canaan. But after this God warns Israel. As they had been applicable to others, so the same law and punishment would be applicable to them, the chosen people. Israel and Judah reaped the consequences of their sins when they were exiled to foreign lands, just as God had said would happen if they sinned against Him (2 Ki. 17:6, 18, 20, 22-23; 24:14-15; 25:11-12).
Was Israel the only nation that enjoyed God’s blessings? The answer is, “No.” There were other nations too which had similar blessings as Israel. The children of Esau (Edomites) were given their land by the Lord, and God Himself had removed the previous inhabitants to make place for Edom. They got possession of Seir after annihilating the former inhabitants (Deut. 2:12, 22). The Moabites and the Ammonites had also received their lands from God, who cleared the lands of their former occupants (2:9, 19-21). Moreover, Israel had no edge over these nations. God specifically instructed Israel that she was not to harass these nations (2:4-6, 9-19). The blessings of Israel were not unique and Israel was to respect the God-given territorial rights of Edom, Moab and Ammon.
C. Responsibilities of Being Chosen
Being God’s chosen people, Israel had certain obligations to keep. She had received God’s Law at Sinai. This was her special privilege. But on account of this special privilege from God, she had a special responsibility toward God. God had shown her the way she was to live, so now she had to observe and keep God’s way. “Remember, too, that knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin” (Jas. 4:17, LB). Israel knew what was right, but she did not abide by the right and so was guilty of sinning knowingly against God. Listen then to God’s verdict on Israel’s sin: “Of all the peoples of the earth, I have chosen you alone. That is why I must punish you the more for all your sins” (Amos 3:2, LB).
Now can anyone say that God was being partial to Israel when He chose her to His people and He chose to be her God? God chose Israel to be His instrument of blessing to the whole world. It was exclusively for this purpose that He chose Israel to be His people.
Alternative Ways and Ends
God says, “I am God…declaring the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46: 9-10). If God knows something, then because He is God it must be so. But, to misunderstand God’s words here would in fact be a denial of man’s freedom in choosing his actions and a denial of his personal responsibility for the things he does. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, did God already know that it was going to happen? If He already knew this would happen, it happened because He knew it would happen. This means that by such an interpretation of Isaiah 46:10, God willed Adam’s fall—He willed Adam to sin. Friends, in saying this we are in danger of blaspheming the Holy God.
Therefore, let us paraphrase the words to read, “Whatever the end, God knew it from the beginning.” Whatever we do there is one right way and anything else would not be right and the results of our actions will depend on whether we chose to do things the right way or not. Thus man is constantly having to choose between the right way (God’s way), and the way that is not right (the way that is not God’s way). Man exercises his free will in choosing one of two ways, and therefore one of two ends set before him. Whatever is chosen, God already knows what the result will be. When for instance ‘a’ is chosen, God knows the result will be ‘A’. If on the other hand ‘b’ is chosen, God knows the result will be ‘B’. Either way He knew what the end would be. Does Scripture such a view of freedom and election?
After the dedication service of the temple that Solomon built, the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel for ever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘There shall not fail you a man upon the throne of Israel.’ But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and the house which I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone passing by it will be astonished, and will hiss; and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the Lord has brought all this evil upon them’” (1 Ki. 9:4-9, RSV). If Solomon fulfilled the condition of obedience to God, then his throne would be established. But if Solomon forsook serving the Lord, to serve other gods, then Israel would go into exile. In this case one can see very clearly and definitely the alternative ways and the alternative ends which God set before Solomon for him to choose from. Solomon could choose any of the two alternative ways and ends, and God knew Solomon’s alternative ends from the beginning.
The covenants that God made with Israel were all on a similar pattern of alternatives. “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord, your healer” (Ex. 15:26, RSV). If the Israelites fulfilled God’s conditions, then and only then would they be preserved from the Egyptian plagues. And if they failed to fulfil God’s expectations then obviously, though the present Scripture is tacit regarding this, they would suffer the Egyptian plagues.
If Israel kept herself from defilement, then she would be allowed to stay in the Promised Land, but if she defiled herself then, like the nations before her, the very land would vomit her out (Lev. 18:24-28). She could choose to be undefiled and remain in the land, or choose to defile herself and be dispossessed of her land. But either way, her end was known beforehand to God.
At Mount Ebal Moses prophesied that the children of Israel would be blessed if they obeyed God. He enumerated the blessings, which were many in number. But he also enumerated the curses that would follow disobedience (Deut. 27:1-30:20). In closing Moses said, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (30:15-20, RSV). God puts before His people two alternative ends and Israel has the alternative of choosing any one. Good or evil. Life or death. Therefore choose life. (But choose death if you wish to).
Joshua having seen the children of Israel enter the Promised Land and having come to the close of his life, charged the Israelites to keep themselves unspotted from the heathen of Canaan. “But just as all the good things which the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land which he has given to you” (Jos. 23:15-16, RSV). He stressed that the Lord would bring all the evil only if the covenant is transgressed; not otherwise. Finally, Joshua said, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:14-15, RSV). They were charged to serve the Lord, but they had the option of choosing whom they would serve—Yahweh or the heathen deities. (See also Isaiah 1:19-20).
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24, RSV). Again man has the alternative of choosing between God and mammon. He can do just as he wants: serve God or serve mammon. While man has the alternative of choosing between God and mammon, God in His omniscience has seen what man will choose.
Two gates are set before us: one wide and the other narrow. Two ways are set before us: one easy, and the other narrow and hard. We must choose between two destinies: destruction or life (7:13-14).
Potential Election and Effectual Election
“The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). This is the Lord’s will for everyone: none should perish, but all should repent. But man can exercise free will in contradiction to God’s will, if man wishes to do so. If he wishes to, indeed man can oppose God’s will. But he can do this only in his own life. Potentially, God has predestined all to salvation. But this potential election must be confirmed, and made effectual on man’s part. Proving that God’s potential election must be made effectual by man, can be done only by citing instances where such potential election was made ineffectual by sin and disobedience.
Man was made for communion with God. That was the purpose that God had for man. Before the Fall, God walked this earth routinely to fellowship with humankind. He called to Adam, as to a friend, “Where are thou?” (Gen. 3: 8-9). But man exercised his freewill and allowed sin to form a barrier between God and man. Man thus defeated and made ineffectual the purpose of God.
God told Adam that he was not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil for in the day that he ate of it, he would die. “You are free to eat from any tree in the park,” He said, “but you must not eat from the tree that yields knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from that tree you shall die” (2:16-17, Moffatt). The will of God for Adam was that he should not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However Adam had freewill; he decided to make the Almighty God’s will ineffectual in his life. Adam ate the fruit (3:6).
The Bible says that when the rule of Rehoboam (David’s grandson) was established and was strong, he forsook the Lord and all Israel with him. Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Egyptian king Shishak’s threatened invasion and said: “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak’.” When they got this message from God, the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, ‘The Lord is righteous’. When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, God said to Shemaiah, ‘They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak’. In the end, though they suffered some defeat and losses (of the wealth of the temple and the king’s house), they did were saved from total destruction, even though God had at first said they would be destroyed (2 Chron. 12:1-9).
Naboth had been stoned to death on a trumped-up charge of blasphemy so that King Ahab could grab his ancestral property. Hearing that Naboth was dead and could no longer oppose his wishes, Ahab went to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. God then sent the prophet Elijah to confront Ahab and say to him, “Behold, I will bring evil upon you; I will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin…Any one belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.” Though Ahab was one “who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord”, when Ahab heard the prophet’s condemnation, he tore his clothes, wore sackcloth, fasted and went about dejectedly. God changed His mind and told Elijah “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the evil upon his house” (1 Ki. 21: 1-29).
“Thus saith the Lord, ‘Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live’” (2 Ki. 20:1). There is nothing indefinite about this message which came to Hezekiah when he was sick. The message was not, “You may die”, but “You will die and not live”. He was to die of his illness. But Hezekiah did not give up hope of living. Instead he prayed to God and wept. And, Isaiah, who had just a few moments before announced his death, returned to Hezekiah to tell him that he would be healed and live, for God had heard his prayer. Hezekiah recovered (2 Ki. 20: 1-7).
“Time waits for no man.” This is so because God has ordained that it should be so. The earth revolves around the sun, dividing time into days and years. One revolution of the earth on its axis relegates a day to the past. One revolution of the earth around the sun and a year is over. These movements are so timely and orderly that the relative positions of the heavenly bodies can be predicted for many, many years to come. God made the day to be just twenty-four hours long. But on two occasions God’s order of time was set aside. Once Joshua wanted the sun and moon to remain in the position they were in at the time, relative to the position of the earth at noon, and for almost a whole day it was as he wished. That day was almost forty-eight hours long (Jos. 10:12-14).
Another time Hezekiah wanted the shadow to go back ten degrees, and it was so. That day was slightly longer than a mere twenty-four hours—though that was God’s original order for a day (2 Ki. 20: 8-11). In both cases God’s timing of twenty-four hours to a day was set aside by faith.
As He Wills
“So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills” (Rom. 9:18, RSV). If we were to interpret it wrongly we would be led to believe that God predestines some to hardness of heart and damnation, and others He predestines to life eternal. And so maybe some will ask, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (v.19). Paul’s answer is that God has the right to do anything with His creatures, but he does not say or mean that God does do just anything with His creatures. What Paul means is that we being mere creatures have not right to question the Creator: “But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, ‘Why have you made me thus?’” (v.20).
But how has God made us? He has made us in such a way that “The man who is often reproved but refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken and never have another chance” (Pro. 29:1, LB). Such a man is done for, who, in spite of repeated warnings, hardens himself. Evidently the hardening is a process for there are repeated warnings. And when the process is completed the man finds himself to be beyond salvation. Since the hardening is a process we may well conclude that people are hardened by degrees. Each time a man is reproved and each time the reproof is disregarded, he hardens himself more and more. God has made us so that practice makes us proficient even in the art of hardening our hearts. If one does not have any regard for God’s reproof concerning a certain matter, the next time the matter comes up it will not cause as much guilt feelings as the first time, and then a time will come when the thing will become so much a habit that it no longer troubles or bothers us. God has constituted man in such a way that he should reach a ‘point of no return’ in hardening when he hardens himself in spite of repeated warnings. In that way it is true that God hardens people (as in the case of Pharaoh—Ex. 9:12; 10:1, 20 , 27; 11:10; 14:8)
And God has mercy on whomever He wills. He has mercy because He wants to. We do not earn His mercy. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, RSV). God does not have mercy because He has been forced to, but because He Himself wants to. He has mercy because it is His will to do so. And God has made us capable of hardening our hearts, just as He has made us capable of receiving His mercy. As we are responsible for the actual hardening, so we are responsible for appropriating mercy by accepting it.
Thus it is after God has “endured with much longsuffering” that “vessels of wrath” are “fitted to destruction”, whereas it was always God’s plan to “make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:22-23). By the way, a vessel of mercy has to deserve wrath to need mercy. It is therefore clear that while God predestines to salvation, He never predestines to damnation. Pharaoh fitted himself for destruction by hardening himself (Ex. 7:13, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34-35).
Many Called, Few Chosen
His invitation had been scorned, so instead the king opened his palace doors to persons who had not been favoured by a special invitation. These guests were gathered in from the highways and they filled the banquet hall. As was the custom, the guests were all given wedding garments to wear for the occasion. But one of the guests decided that his own highway-wear clothes were good enough for the occasion and spurned the garment provided. The king then ordered that the guest who would not observe the protocol for the wedding be thrown out. Commenting on this parable, Jesus said, “Many are called, but few chosen” (Matt. 22:1-14).
God’s call goes out to all, but only a few make the grade by meeting the requirements. Remember Abraham? The call went out and his father’s whole family moved at God’s direction to Haran (Acts 7:2-4; Gen. 11:31). Again the call went out, but this time only two of the families responded—Abraham’s and Lot’s (12:1-5). But Lot got lured away by the fertile valleys of Jordan, leaving only Abraham and his household in the place where God wanted His chosen to be (13:10-12).
“Many are called, but few chosen.” This does not indicate predestination in the sense that while some are foreordained to heaven, others are damned from the beginning. No, this means that grace is discriminating; grace discriminates between those who accept grace and those who do not. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (4:7, RSV).
Election and Apostasy
If some are predestined to salvation it must mean that predestination to salvation is permanent, regardless of what happens or what one does. However, can salvation be terminated by apostasy? From a state of being ‘saved’, can one find himself or herself in the state of being ‘lost’? “And many false prophets will appear and lead many astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere and will cool the love of many. But those enduring to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:11-13, LB). Paul reminds us of this when he says, “But the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some in the church will turn away from Christ and become eager followers of teachers with devil-inspired ideas. These teachers will tell lies with straight faces and do it so often that their consciences won’t even bother them” (1 Tim. 4:1-2, LB). Since it is possible to become apostate, it would be logical and reasonable to infer and conclude that God is not so fickle as to predestine to salvation at one time and to apostasy at another.
Judas was one of the chosen Twelve. When he followed Christ, he put his faith in Christ (giving up his comfort zone to follow one who had no place to lay down His head – Matt. 8:20). He put his faith in Christ without knowing the purpose for which Christ came to this earth. But Christ Himself told the company of disciples while Judas was one of them that they should rejoice because their names were written in heaven (Lk. 10:20). The Holy Spirit, speaking through Peter, said of Judas, “he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry” (Acts 1:17, RSV). Was Judas predestined to apostasy? No, for the words of prophecy spoken by David in Psalm 41:9 could have been fulfilled by any one of the apostles, for in the beginning they too followed Christ for private gain (Matt. 20:20-21), and also because David never specified the name of the one who would betray Jesus.
To say that God predestines apostates to salvation at one time and to apostasy at another is to refute God’s Word which says, “I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6, RSV). “For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call]” (Rom. 11:29, AB).
Predestined to Hell?
No one among mankind is predestined from the beginning to hell. Hell was not made of any of mankind. God created hell for the purpose of housing the Devil and his fallen angels. It was “prepared for the Devil and his demons” (Matt. 25:41, LB). So when God created hell, He did not intend it for any man. He did not predestine any man to hell.
On the other hand predestination to heaven is always from the beginning. Believers are “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit…To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1: 2, 4). “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us&nb