What is God’s predestined plan? Catholic’s and many Protestant denominations believe that God gives each person the “free will” to choose God or reject God. God gives each person the freedom to respond to the grace He offers us. If we respond positively, then we will find ourselves in heaven at the end of our lives, or if we respond negatively, we will find ourselves in hell at life’s end. Even though God knows ultimately who will be saved or dammed, we believe that His act of going before us, empowers us so that we can be saved. But, there are some Christians who believe that we do not have a choice. They believe that God has already predestined everyone to either heaven or hell. This is what is known as “double predestination.” According to this way of thinking, it doesn’t matter if we accept Jesus or not. We are already predestined to what God already decided for us before we were ever born.
A Christian who comes from a Calvinist point of view, says that no one has a choice between accepting or rejecting God’s grace and the invitation to salvation. They would tell you that our salvation is dependent on God’s unchangeable will. It doesn’t matter what a person does, it is already determined where you are headed. A favorite scripture verse for a Calvinist is; “You will say to me then, ‘Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? (Romans 9:18-19).”
First of all, the Bible cannot make it any clearer that God does not predestine anyone to hell; “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).” God wills all to be saved, “This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).” The choice is ours. We can accept the grace he offers us, and thus come to the knowledge of truth, or reject the grace that is offered us. We are free to choose to serve or not serve the Lord. Jesus says, “…Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink…(John 7:37-38).”
What the Catholic Church teaches:
To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: ‘In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place (Acts 427-28, Ps 2:1-2).’ For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness (Catechism of the Catholic Church #600).”
“In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col. 1;15, 1 Tim. 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (see Ex. 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar. 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself… (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, ch. 2).”
God, who through the Word creates all things (see John 1:3) and keeps them in existence, gives men an enduring witness to Himself in created realities (see Rom. 1:19-20). Planning to make known the way of heavenly salvation, He went further and from the start manifested Himself to our first parents. Then after their fall His promise of redemption aroused in them the hope of being saved (see Gen. 3:15) and from that time on He ceaselessly kept the human race in His care, to give eternal life to those who perseveringly do good in search of salvation (see Rom. 2:6-7)… (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, ch. 3).”
God gives each of us the amount of grace that is sufficient to make a free choice to seek salvation. We believe that God is a just God, even if it seems that He gives some people more grace than others. It is clear in Scripture that He gives enough; “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2: 11-13).”
Until next time, God bless.