Most Calvinists are very content with their beliefs until it comes to the “L” in TULIP – limited atonement. In fact, many Christians will call themselves four-point Calvinists, agreeing with everything but limited atonement. Limited atonement leads to the doctrine of predestination, the idea that God has chosen certain people from birth who will be saved and go to Heaven and those who will be damned to Hell.
The reason this belief is unpopular is because it makes grace seem offensive, God exclusive, and the faith not about relationship but about who God loves most. Arminians and other opponents will be quick to point out that predestination appears to be against God’s loving nature.
But predestination is not some random speculation or a cult theory, but rather, it is biblically-rooted. Throughout the Bible, God chooses certain people to fulfil His work – Abraham, Noah, Paul, Jeremiah, just to name a few. In the Reformed ordo salutis (order of salvation), election comes first. Election is often confusing because, in American culture, we see it as a choice; I can choose who I want when I vote in a political election. But God’s election is not a choice; it is His perfect will.
Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Imagine that you and a group of people are lying dead on the ground. When the phone rings and God calls, only certain people – the ones He has chosen – will be able to answer the call. This is the image Paul is conveying in Ephesians 2; we were dead in our sins, but those whom God elected to be saved will be able to arise and enter into new life. God chose us “in advance” (2:10) to do His good work.
Read Romans 9. The reality is that predestination is an offensive doctrine. There’s no hiding that. That’s why Paul is so defensive in Romans 9. However, this offense should be for everyone. No one deserves to be elected, and no one knows who is elected, so there shouldn’t be a sense of inferiority among those who claim to be “elected.” Why did God choose Noah to be the only good human left on Earth? Why did He choose Abraham to bless the nations? This is by God’s election only, and it’s a good thing that the choice is in God’s hand. We’re nothing without God, and we have hope that the
Read John 15.