PREDESTINATION AND SANCTIFICATION
Predestination is the biblical teaching that declares the sovereignty of God over man in such a way that the freedom of the human will is also preserved.
Two major concepts are involved in the biblical meaning of predestination. First, God, who is all powerful in the universe, has foreknown and predestined the course of human history and the lives of individuals. If He were not in complete control of human events, He would not be sovereign and, thus, would not be God.
Second, God’s predestination of human events does not eliminate human choice. A thorough understanding of how God can maintain His sovereignty and still allow human freedom seems to be reserved for His infinite mind alone. Great minds have struggled with this problem for centuries.
Two views of predestination are prominent among church groups today. One view, known as Calvinism, holds that God offers irresistible grace to those whom he elects to save. The other view, known as Arminianism, insists that God’s grace is the source of redemption but that it can be resisted by man through his free choice. In Calvinism, God chooses the believer; in Arminianism, the believer chooses God.
Although the term predestination is not used in the Bible, the apostle Paul alludes to it in Eph 1:11: “We have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
All Christians agree that creation is moving within the purpose of God. This purpose is to bring the world into complete conformity to His will (Rom 8:28). From the very beginning of time, God predestined to save humankind by sending His Son to accomplish salvation. Thus, “God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).
The doctrine of predestination does not mean that God is unjust, deciding that some people will be saved and that others will be lost. Mankind, because of Adam’s FALL in the Garden of Eden, sinned by free choice. Thus, no person deserves salvation. But God’s grace is universal. His salvation is for “everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).
Paul also declared that he was a debtor under obligation to take the message of the gospel to other people (Rom 1:14) so they might hear and obey. Paul clearly meant that no one is saved apart from the will of God and no one is lost apart from the will of God. But the will of God functions within an order which God Himself has established.
Predestination is a profound and mysterious biblical teaching. It focuses our thinking on man’s freedom and responsibility as well as God’s sovereignty.
Sanctification is the process of God’s grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness. Accomplished by the Word of God (John 17:7) and the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:3-4), sanctification results in holiness, or purification from the guilt and power of sin.
Sanctification as separation from the world and setting apart for God’s service is a concept found throughout the Bible. Spoken of as “holy” or “set apart” in the Old Testament were the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem, the tabernacle, the Temple, the Sabbath, the feasts, the prophets, the priests, and the garments of the priests. God is sanctified by the witness of believers (1 Peter 3:15) and by His judgments upon sin (Ezek 38:16). Jesus also was “sanctified and sent into the world” (John 10:36)
Sanctification in the Atonement. As the process by which God purifies the believer, sanctification is based on the sacrificial death of Christ. In his letters to the churches, the apostle Paul noted that God has “chosen” and “reconciled” us to Himself in Christ for the purpose of sanctification (Eph 1:4; 5:25-27; Titus 2:14).
Old Testament sacrifices did not take away sin, but they were able to sanctify “for the purifying of the flesh” (Heb 9:13). The blood of the new covenant (Heb 10:29), however, goes far beyond this ritual purification of the body. The offering of Christ’s body (Heb 10:10) and blood (Heb 13:12) serves to purge our conscience from “dead works to serve the living God” (Heb 9:14). Because our cleansing from sin is made possible only by Christ’s death and resurrection, we are “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:2; Acts 20:32; 1 Cor 1:30; 6:11).
Sanctification: God’s Work. We are sanctified by God the Father (Jude), God the Son (Heb 2:11), and God the Holy Spirit (2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). Perfect holiness is God’s command (1 Thess 4:7) and purpose. As Paul prayed, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely” (1 Thess 5:23). Sanctification is a process that continues during our lives as believers (Heb 10:14). Only after death are the saints referred to as “perfect” (Heb 12:23).
Sanctification: The Believer’s Work. Numerous commands in the Bible imply that believers also have a responsibility in the process of sanctification. We are commanded to “be holy” (Lev 11:44; 1 Peter 1:15-16); to “be perfect” (Matt 5:48); and to “present your members as slaves of righeousness for holiness” (Rom 6:19). Writing to the church of the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul made a strong plea for purity: “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess 4:3-5).
These commands imply effort on our part. We must believe in Jesus, since we are “sanctified by faith in Him” (Acts 26:18). Through the Holy Spirit we must also “put to death the evil deeds of the body” (Rom 8:13). Paul itemized the many “works of the flesh” from which we must separate ourselves (Gal 5:19-21). Finally, we must walk in the Spirit in order to display the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24).
(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)_