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PREDESTINATION Does the Bible Teach It?

By Herbert W. Armstrong

Is your ultimate fate decided for you in advance? No subject has baffled, perplexed, and worried people more. Here, for the first time, many will read the astonishing truth, so plain all can understand. 

THE very fact of wartime casualties and accidental deaths has caused a great deal of added sorrow and grief that is entirely unnecessary -- if we understand! Many have grieved in the belief that loved ones died eternally "lost" -- when, if they understood the truth, these probably were not lost at all.  

                      The Common Conception  

     Several years ago, a man, quite worried over the subject of predestination, went to a certain minister.      "Do you believe in predestination?" he asked.      "The Bible teaches it, brother," was the minister's reply.      The minister tried hard to explain. "But that doesn't really mean," he said, "that you have nothing to do with your own salvation. It doesn't mean that it is all set -- your decision and eternal fate all determined for you in advance. You are to make your own decision. But God knows all things, even in advance. And so He knows beforehand how you are going to decide."      This didn't satisfy the troubled man at all.      "If God knows beforehand how I am going to decide," he reasoned, "then it is all predetermined. If He knows in advance I am to be LOST, then that's the way I'll have to decide in the end. And since I'll lose out anyway, why try? On the other hand, if He knows now I'm going to repent and accept Christ and be saved, I'll have to do it in the end anyway, whether I try or not. Then my ultimate fate is predetermined. Isn't that what predestination means -- that the ultimate fate of each one is PREdestined -- destined, or determined, in advance? And if that's so, then we simply are not free moral agents, and we have nothing to say about it."      The poor man was more discouraged than ever.      And no wonder. Neither could convince the other, because both were arguing from a false premise -- that predestination has to do with whether each individual shall be lost, or saved.      Does the Bible teach that your ultimate fate is already predestinated?      Neither the preacher nor his perplexed questioner had read carefully what the Bible does say.      What confusion we are in today -- what Babylon! Let's understand this!  

                  All Unsaved Not Finally Lost  

     But all this perplexity and worry has arisen from another general assumption -- one of the greatest errors of this time, yet almost universally taken for granted without so much as a thought to inquire into it.      That is the assumption that there are only two classes, living or dead -- the saved, and the lost. How many sermons have you heard based on the theory "there is no middle ground. Either you are this minute saved, or you're a lost soul!" This teaching has led to untold suffering and unnecessary grief.      Thousands are grieving over departed loved ones who had never made a profession of Christ. Perhaps over one who really lived wickedly; perhaps over one who lived a "good" life in the worldly sense, but still had never accepted Christ or been converted. Still others grieve because of a doubt -- they are not sure whether some loved one died saved.      If this booklet does no more than dispel some of this needless grief, and bring a little enlightenment and comfort to some of our readers, it will have been worthwhile.      So listen! Notice carefully. It's important that you understand.      Supposing this universal assumption were true, see where it leads us.      This teaching comes from the supposition, also generally taken for granted without question, that this is the one and only age and time when God is trying desperately to save the world -- that the mission of the Church is to save the world -- that this is the only day of salvation, and it is now about over. "Probation" is about to close. Soon it will be too late.  

                  What of the Ignorant Heathen?  

     We know, of course, the Bible plainly says there is but one name given under heaven among men whereby we may be saved -- the name of Jesus Christ.      Over in China, India, Japan, other parts of Asia and Africa and many islands, are millions upon millions -- probably at least two billion souls -- who, in spite of the comparatively few missionaries sent to heathen lands, have never so much as heard that only name! Think of it. Two billion souls -- two thirds of the earth's population have never heard of Christ! They simply do not know about salvation from sin -- God's plan for eternal life -- have never heard the true gospel.      They cannot be saved! And now let us ask, can we believe that a God of love brought these individuals into the world without their knowledge or consent, permitted them to live and die without ever having heard the precious gospel -- that God has simply consigned them to eternal punishment because they never had a chance?      Or, do we believe that in some manner God saves them, if they live up to the best they know, without having known and accepted Christ -- without having been converted? Is there, then, some other name -- some other way to salvation and life eternal, than through Jesus Christ our Lord? Certainly we can find no such teaching in the Bible.      Then what is the truth?  

                  Not the Only Day of Salvation  

     The amazing, startling truth is that this is not the age in which God is trying to save all the world! It is not the only day of salvation.      Rather, we are nearing, now, the end of the six working days of the millennial week allotted to Satan.      Scripture plainly reveals Satan as the god of this world -- this age; the prince of the power of the air; the actual spirit ruler of this present world. He is in power! He offered to turn over this power to Jesus, if He would only worship Satan. Jesus actually won the right to that power -- to dethrone and replace Satan in power -- by resisting him in that temptation. When Christ comes to rule, Satan shall be dethroned and utterly shorn of power. But he has power, now!  

                     Satan's Millennial Week  

     Satan retains that power only by God's express permission. God has, for all practical purposes, turned over six days of one week -- an approximate millennial week, each "day" an actual thousand years -- to Satan. A day is as a thousand years with God, and a thousand years as a day. It forms an overall period of time (II Peter 3:8).      God's principles never change. Applied to this millennial "week," God has said to Satan, in effect: "Six 'days' shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work."      Satan's work is a labor of deception -- of deceiving mankind upon earth -- of turning God's truth upside down -- causing honest sincere people to accept a counterfeit for the genuine -- deceiving the people into sin. And how successfully he has worked at his occupation for six thousand long years!      We are nearing, now, the end of the first six days of Satan's "week." And the coming seventh millennial day shall be the Sabbath of the Lord our God. The first six days God has turned over to Satan, and given him free reign to influence and to deceive. But the coming seventh millennium is God's Day -- it shall belong to Him. In it, Satan shall not do any work -- he shall be chained, restrained, thrown into the symbolic "bottomless pit" (Rev. 20:1-4) -- he shall not deceive a single soul. That day shall not belong to him, thank God -- it shall belong to God, who shall rule through Christ!      Jesus plainly said He is "Lord of the Sabbath." And as this millennial Sabbath dawns, Jesus shall return to earth in person -- as King of kings not only, but Lord of lords. He is coming not only to reign and to rule, as King of kings. But as Lord of lords, He is coming as High Priest to SAVE!      The fact we must now see -- the astounding fact, almost unbelievable in the light of erroneous traditions, yet true -- is that we have been living in the age of Satan's dominion -- while Satan, with God's express permission, has been ruling -- and not in the age when God has set His hand to save the world!  

                 Not Given to Many to Understand  

     Notice carefully, now. Shocking as this truth may seem to many, yet it is the plain truth. During this time while Satan has been permitted to reign, it is simply not given to all to understand God's truth!      For instance, most people suppose Jesus spoke in parables in order to make His meaning clearer. But He didn't. He spoke in parables to hide His real meaning -- to cover it so they could not understand. After Jesus had spoken the parable of the sower and the seed, notice: Mark 4:10-12; Matthew 13:10-13.      Notice, Jesus plainly said that except to His disciples whom He had called, "it is not given" to even know of the Kingdom -- even to them who actually saw Jesus and heard Him speak in person. They were not permitted to understand!      That's astonishing! But there it is, in your own Bible -- read it!  

                       Not All Called Now  

     But there is no injustice with God. He denies no one an opportunity of salvation. These many are simply not called now -- at this time -- in this, Satan's age. This is simply not the time when God is trying to save everyone.      If He were -- and of course we know Satan is trying to deceive people into loss of salvation -- then Satan surely would be getting the better of the contest. But it is not a contest between God and Satan, at all. God alone rules in high heaven, and what Satan does he does not do in competition or in spite of God, or contrary to God's will -- he does it only by God's express permission -- and God gives that permission for an express and wise purpose. Some day we shall fully understand!      But God denies no one a chance. There is no injustice with God. Everyone is to have his full chance. But God does things His way and in His time, and in His plan all are not being called now. Millions who have died without a chance shall be resurrected and given their full chance -- and without a devil to tempt them. The space of this booklet does not permit a full explanation of this here, but the 37th chapter of Ezekiel is one very definite revelation of this fact. (Write for our free article "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?" for a full explanation.)      Notice, I Corinthians 1:24-26: "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called."      Notice, "unto them which are called." Some are called. All are not called, at this time -- during this age of Satan's dominion. "For ye see your calling, brethren" -- Paul is speaking only to those he calls "brethren" -- those who had been called -- "how that not many" -- notice it, "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble" -- not many of these in the world are called!  

                  Gospel Preached for a Witness  

     Did Jesus say the gospel was to be preached to CONVERT all nations? No, only as a news announcement for a witness! "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" -- the end of the age! (Matt. 24:14.) Then follows the new age when the reign of Christ shall replace that of Satan.      While, during the present age, many in number are called, yet it is a few comparatively. And those who are called are called to a calling, and what is it? First, a calling to a changed life -- a life of overcoming sin and self. And notice what Jesus said of those now called, who do grow in grace and in knowledge, who endure unto the end, and who overcome. Notice their ultimate calling.      Revelation 2:26-27: "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron ...."      When Jesus was here on earth it was His custom, as recorded in Luke 4:16, to preach the gospel every Sabbath day. And when this great millennial Sabbath dawns Satan will be imprisoned, and Christ will come not only to rule -- He shall also preach! The Pharisees thought it wrong for Him to heal on the Sabbath -- and the religionists of this day, mostly, seem to believe it would be wrong for Him to heal sin-sick people during the millennial Sabbath! But He shall do it, just the same.  

               When Most of Israel Shall Be Saved  

     One of the most wonderful chapters in the Bible is the eleventh of Romans. Few seem to understand it -- yet it's plain. Some, today, say God has rejected and utterly cast away the Jewish people. They suppose the Jews are Israel, whereas actually they are of the House of Judah, which separated from the House of Israel in the days of kings Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Nevertheless, Romans 11 speaks undoubtedly of all the tribes of Israel.      This marvelous chapter says God has not cast away His people Israel. But it reveals that only a small portion of Israel (our English-speaking peoples are the birthright tribes of Israel) are of the election of GRACE at this time.      The rest are blinded spiritually, and GOD blinded them -- deliberately and for a purpose -- not permanently, but until the "fulness of the Gentiles be come in" -- and then what?      Then, we read in Romans 11:26, "all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer" -- Christ, at His second coming -- "and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." Israel is spiritually blinded, now. God blinded them. They are not now being called to salvation. They are not being given any chance, now, at all! The wonderful opportunity that shall come to them after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in -- after the Deliverer comes, and they are no longer blinded -- shall not be a second chance -- they have never yet had any chance.      And, if we can but understand, this chapter dealing with national fleshly Israel refers to our own race -- our American and British Commonwealth peoples, as well as to the Jewish people. (For proof, write for our free book "The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy".) It includes, undoubtedly, most of these departed loved ones who died without having accepted Christ and becoming converted. They may have heard the name of Christ, but they did not understand. God never called them, during their lifetime in this age. Of course they did not die automatically saved -- but, on the other hand, neither did they die lost!      That's the comforting truth. The overwhelming majority of our peoples, today, are neither saved nor lost -- they simply have not, yet, been called.  

              The Purpose of the Christian Calling  

     But if God is not trying to save the whole world now -- if most are not now called, or given opportunity for salvation -- why does God call any during this age? What's the purpose of calling some now?      That great purpose is to be trained to rule with Christ, and to teach, under Him, when He comes in His Kingdom -- when all Israel shall be saved. We are being trained, prepared, fitted, through trial and test, through hardship, through persecution, through tribulation, with continual Bible study and prayer, growing in grace and in knowledge, to be able, then, to fill the high office of a king or a priest -- either to rule in the civil sense, or to preach God's truth when the time comes that all may be privileged to understand, and to be called.      What a glorious mission is the true Christian life!      So don't grieve over departed ones you have felt were lost. The chances are they were simply not then called -- it was not given to them to understand -- their chance had not yet come. But they shall be resurrected, their spiritual blindness removed, and, if you are one of the called, and if you are faithful and finally chosen, you may be used then to minister to them, and to lead them into salvation and life eternal.      Oh, what a glorious hope! What truly good news, is the true gospel of Christ, which most people today simply have never heard. They are hearing a false gospel today!      But Paul in Romans 11 shows that salvation has come to the few, the elect in Israel, and to some of the Gentiles. And why? He explains it in verse 31. They are blinded, now, that through our mercy who are now called, they may obtain mercy and salvation then -- when Jesus comes as the great Deliverer. How plain, and how wonderful!  

                 Great Harvest of Heathen People  

     But now, how about the hundreds of millions of heathen who never heard?      Will Gentiles -- heathen Gentiles -- have a chance of salvation after Christ returns? -- after the Kingdom is set up to rule over all nations?      Flesh and blood, remember, cannot inherit the Kingdom. Only those finally born again -- born of the Spirit -- those who shall have become Spirit, and no longer flesh and blood (John 3:1-8) shall be in the Kingdom.      And they are the saints of this time, now called, changed, then, to immortality. (See I Corinthians 15:50-54.) They are those called during this dispensation who have endured unto the end, and proved overcomers. And they shall rule, and teach, the nations (Rev. 2:27; 3:21;




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