Question: How do you explain "predestinate" in Romans 8:29?
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29).
Answer: The statement is heard many times that, "You cannot reconcile the sovereignty of God and the free will of man." This is not true—one can understand both. The confusion exists when one does not properly understand the meaning of foreknowledge and predestination. Foreknowledge is an attribute of God's omniscience. Primarily, foreknowledge has to do with persons and places, and predestination is centered in God's purposes.
Foreknowledge contains one element, that is, knowing what is going to happen before it takes place. In relation to people and places, it does not contain the element of bringing it to pass or making it happen.
Predestination, on the other hand, is different from foreknowledge in that it contains two elements: One is the prediction (His omniscience), and the other is the act of God (His omnipotence) to bring it to pass. The confusion begins when one inserts meanings into a word which it does not contain. Remember, keep these two words separated as to their meaning.
Foreknowledge has one element, that of foreknowing what is going to happen. Do not add any other meanings to this word, it contains one element only!
Predestination has two elements; one is predicting, the other is fulfilling. Again, predestination is related to God's purposes, foreknowledge is related to persons and places.
In verse 29 we are told:
"For whom he (Christ) did foreknow..."
This simply states that Christ knew, ahead of time, every person who would trust Him as their Savior. The word carries no other element which would impede the free will of a person to make his, or her, own choice. Every Christian who will be saved is foreknown of God. We also see that every Christian is going to be the recipient of what God is going to predestinate.
"For whom he did foreknow (every Christian) He also did predestinate. ..."
He foreknew every person who would be saved. His purpose is seen in predestination, as we are predestinated to what?
"...To be conformed to the image of his son,..."
When will we be conformed to the image of God's Son? At the Rapture, of course!
In Philippians 3:20,21 we are told:
"For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. (20) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."(21)
This is being "conformed to the image of His Son." This is also what is meant by Ephesians 1:12, "to the praise of his glory."
In 1 John 3:2 we read:
"Beloved, now are we the sons (Greek, TEKNON, "children" ) of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear (at the Rapture) WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM; for we shall see him as he is."
Predestination becomes very clear if we do three things: One, take exactly what the Scripture says and believe it. Two, know the difference between foreknow1edge and predestination; and, Three, add no other elements of meaning to them. Foreknowledge has one element while predestination has two.
In summary: Romans 8:29 teaches the following according to predestination:
WHO: Only the saved are predestinated, never the lost to be saved.
WHAT: Christians are predestinated at some future time to "be conformed to the image of his Son."
WHEN: At the Rapture. Philippians 3:20,21, 1 John 3:2
Those who claim that God predestinated some to be saved, while letting the others go to Hell, are accusing God of being a liar. As we look at the word of God, may we let the Lord defend Himself against these false teachers. In John 3:16 God says He “loved THE WORLD.” In 2 Peter 3:9, the Lord says He is, “not willing that any should perish; but that all should come to repentance.” (i.e., Greek , metanoia; “a change of mind.”)
Therefore God’s word makes the predestinationalists out to be liars; but, not the Lord! Hebrews 6:18 says it is “...impossible for God to lie,...” Remember, the middle verse of the Bible is Psalm 118:8,
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”