Predestination is a very heavy theological topic. But the deeper things of God can be simplified, and clearly explained by studying the great doctrines of the Bible.
Predestination, like election, refers to the corporate body of Christ (i.e., true spiritual believers). It refers to individuals only in association with that body through a present living in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:5, 7, 13; cf. Acts 2:38-41; 16:31).
Predestination tells about the body of Christ's destination and what God has prepared for those who continually remain in the body until the end.
Predestination is always on the positive note in the Bible. No place in the Scriptures is anyone predestined to hell. It is not God's will that any should perish.
Predestination is GOD'S PLAN (prearranged) for all who are truly Christ's to be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:5).
The Bible is your airline ticket. If you don't know the details of your destination, the enemy will get you on the wrong flight!
Bible study is what it takes to know the details of your destiny. What ever stands between you and your Bible is your enemy!
If you don't know your earthly father, someone could tell a lie about him and you might believe it. The same is true for your heavenly Father. Get to know Him so you will not be deceived about what His plan is for you.
Whole denominations have based their beliefs on predestination. There is story about a Presbyterian man who when he woke up, got dressed and went out to get his morning paper out of the box. On the way he stumbled, fell, and broke his arm. While holding his arm in pain, he looked up toward heaven and said, "Thank God, I am glad that is over with." He thought that his whole life was laid out before him and that sometime he was going to have to go through that painful episode. That is how some people interpret predestination. Bitterness will enter in while trying to explain predestination to some folks. The topic of predestination can be a pretty sticky subject, especially with a person who has taken it to an extreme.
Ephesians 1:3--9 NKJV, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself? according to the good pleasure of His will,  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace  which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,  having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
Now in this passage of Scripture we find several words and phrases that suggest that God has laid out before we were even here, every move that we make. We have words here that seem to indicate that we have no choice in the matter of our destiny. God has predetermined that we are going to be this or that and all we do is sort of "go with the flow" and see what will happen next.
In verse 4 Paul says that He chose us. This indicates that it is God's choosing not our choosing. And he goes on to say that this happened before the foundation of the world. And in verse 5, he says that God predestined us to adoption as sons. And that it is according to the kind intention of God's will. According to God's intention, not our intention. Paul goes on in verses 8 and 9 to say that God has lavished upon us all wisdom and insight and that He has made known to us the mystery of His will. According to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.
So on the surface it seems to say in these few verses that God has just put our lives together for us. That He has been the one who has made all the choices and that He is the one with purpose, and He is one who determines our destiny. And that's just the way its going to be.
John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian denomination, is the man who brought predestination to our attention. Calvin's early interpretation of predestination was that there are people who are predetermined to be a part of the family of God, the Church, the saved ones. And since God has predestined certain ones to become His children, then we should become very evangelical and search the earth to quickly locate the ones who were predestined to be a part of God's family. That was John Calvin's basic interpretation of predestination. It was a force that moved the church to evangelism.
However, most that believe in predestination today have an opposite view. They say that if God has predestined people to be saved, then what makes the difference what I say or do? Let me just set back and let God do the work. He is the one who knows who these people are and where to find them. He is the one who predetermined who was going to be saved, let Him do the saving, He's the only one that can do it anyway. Why should we waste our time with it? After all, if God has predestined them to become His family, that's what is going to happen. And if He has predestined them to hell then that's that! A fatalistic view is to say, "If it is in the cards then it will be. If it is not in the cards then it won't be." But the Bible teaches us to be evangelistic. That was Jesus' strongest command and commission just before He went to sit at God's right hand. He said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mk. 16:15) The idea that we should not support missions, that we should not evangelize is completely wrong. So, we need to completely eliminate that idea about predestination! It doesn't fit the Word of God. The Bible teaches Christians to be evangelical, "He that winneth souls is wise." (Prov. 11:30) The Bible teaches us that we are to be Christ's witnesses. If you study heresies, you'll find that all of them begin with a truth which is then stretched to an extreme. So taking predestination to the extreme is totally wrong. It is heresy and definitely not God's will!
So what is meant by predestination in Ephesians 1:3-6? The word "predestinated," comes from a Greek word, proorizo, pro-or-id'-zo;-- to limit in advance, i.e. (fig.) predetermine:--determine before, ordain, predestinate. Pro-or-id'-zo, comes from the prefix, pro, pro;-- "fore," i.e. in front of, prior to, before. And the word, horizo, hor-id'-zo; which means to mark out or bound ("horizon"), i.e. (fig.) to appoint, decree, specify, declare, determine, limit, ordain.
We predetermine many things for ourselves as we go through life. We may act out a thing in our mind before we actually do what we plan. We plan ahead of time what we are going to say to a banker before we go into his bank to buy a house. We have a well planned strategy for getting the mortgage. We think things through and have ready-made answers for any questions the banker may ask. We go into the bank as prepared and as qualified as possible for getting a loan. We may rehearse a meeting over and over in our minds in order to predetermine what we are going to say or do.
That is what God is talking about when Paul says pro-or-id'-zo. He is talking about predestined, predetermined, He decided before hand that we would be adopted as sons through Christ Jesus to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Many people think that God has predetermined those who are going to be saved and He has predetermined those who are going to be lost. But if we make a careful study where the Bible talks about predetermination, God never predetermines anyone to go to hell. He never predetermines a negative or bad thing to happen. He always predetermines good things. He predestines us to go to heaven, not to go to hell. Predetermination is always in the positive light. We know from Second Peter that God is "...not willing that any should perish, but that all should came to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). The kind intention of God's will is always good for all of us.
Lets look at some people in the Bible who were predestined. In Genesis 21:12, "...for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed."
Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was born of the will of the flesh. Ishmael was born because of a time when Abraham and Sarah didn't trust God enough. And when they wavered in their faith, and tried to help God with His plan. Sarah gave her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to Abraham for a wife and she conceived and Ishmael was born (Gen. 16:3-4). This caused problems from the time of conception until now. The Arab-Israeli situation dates back to a time when Abraham and Sarah wavered in their faith in God's will. It was a struggle between the spirit and the flesh.
God stepped in and said, "I have predetermined that the blessing that I want you to have is going to flow through one son and it is going to flow through Isaac." But He said that He would also bless Ishmael. He made Ishmael a great nation also. Ishmael will not have the covenant blessing of Abraham, but he will be a great nation. That's why the Arabs have all the oil in the Middle East today. That was because of the kind intent of God's will. God had predestined the seed of Abraham and that good intent is so strong that even a prosperous nation is going to come up through Ishmael. When He said, "I am establishing a blessing with Isaac," at the same time He had a good intent for Ishmael.
Now there is one character in the Bible that God said He raised up for an evil intent. Pharaoh was used of God to make a very strong impression on mankind. Exodus 9:16, "And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."
God knew that when Pharaoh came to the throne that Pharaoh would say to God that he would not let the Hebrew slaves go. God knew that Pharaoh was going to fight against Moses' request to free His people from Egypt. But He raised Pharaoh up anyway. Now if you go back in the Old Testament and study the Hebrew words, you will find some things that we need to pay attention to.
The Bible says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Ex. 4:21; 9:12; 1O:1,27; 11:10; 14:4). And when we read about God hardening the heart of Pharaoh, we think that God made Pharaoh make those decisions. But if you study the actual Hebrew wording, you will find that it should be translated to say that God continued to harden Pharaoh's heart.
Pharaoh made the decision on his own to resist Moses. Then God simply continues the process that Pharaoh had already begun. Pharaoh stood on his own two feet to resist Moses. And God said if that's what you want you to do then I'm going to help you to really be steadfast in the decision that you have made. Why? He tells us here, "...for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth" (Exodus 9:16). One man had to be rebellious so that the whole world could hear the gospel. When Pharaoh stood up against God, then that gave God the opportunity to knock him down and to establish a testimony that would speak for thousands of years to billions of people to help them come to God. Even today, around Passover, when we see the Exodus story in The Ten Commandments on television our hearts are stirred by the mighty works of God. Every year you can see Charleton Heston throw the stick down and the Red Sea part, and the Hebrew slaves all make it to the other side. And by the power of God the Egyptians are swallowed up in the sea as God judges the mighty men of Pharaoh! This is still a testimony today about the greatness of God and the kind intention of His will.
So, one man had to go through this process of being predetermined to fight against God so that he could be defeated by God. But when you compare his devastation to the billions who have been blessed then you understand that God had a good plan. But even at that God did not choose this man against his will in order to make him the fall guy. God merely played on the fact that the man had already set himself against God. God only continued to harden his heart.
Deuteronomy 7:7-8, The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:  But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
This is Moses speaking to people of Israel warning them to not get puffed up because of the fact that God chose them. He tells them not to begin to brag because of their position with God. He tells them that God didn't choose them because they were so mighty or because they were so numerous. He said in fact you are a small and insignificant bunch of people. He tells them that God chose them because of a covenant relationship that goes back to Abraham. He told them that they simply had to be thankful that they were in line for God's blessing. And this is a warning to us. As people who find ourselves in the predetermined council of God's will--people who have a covenant with God--we need to watch and not be puffed up because we are chosen. It's easy for us to boast and become high-minded and begin to think that we are somebody special. We all must remember and recognize the fact that we just happened to be in line with the blessing. It is not because of anything we did. Not because of how great we are. Not because of any abilities that we had. You are chosen because of God's kind intention. We should always remember to rejoice in the fact that we are in line for God's grace and not be boastful of it.
Chapter eleven of Joshua gives us a summary of Joshua's conquests in the promised land, and verse 20 tells us how this was possible. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Josh. 11:20)
This is talking about the tribes who had inhabited the land of Canaan. And that they had resisted God. The Lord continued to harden their hearts so that they would be destroyed. When we study the battle of Jericho we see that when the city heard that the Israelites were coming, they were fearful. The city responded in a strange way. As Rahab the harlot was hiding Joshua's spies on her roof she said to them, "...I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father is house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death." (Josh. 2:8-13).
The people of Jericho were weak with fear because of the report of the great miracles God had done for the Israelites. It is amazing that Rahab was the only one who took the report to heart and became saved. She was the only one in the city to be interested in getting on God's side of the battle. The rest of people had the same opportunity as Rahab, but she chose to act positively to what she had heard. The rest had made up their minds to be rebellious toward God and just like He did with Pharaoh, God continued to harden their hearts.
Psalms 33:12, Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Psalms 65:4, Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.
In the 33rd Psalm it tells us that God can choose a nation. And in Psalm 65, it says "blessed is the man." So, God can choose a nation or an individual. And it is all for His predetermined council, His kind intention, His good will.
Proverbs 16:4, The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. God even created the wicked so that the day of evil could be fulfilled according to His purpose.
God called Jeremiah and appointed him before he was born. "Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, "'Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.'" (Jer. 1:4-5) Jeremiah was a predetermined, predestined prophet of God.
John 6:37-40, All that the Father giveth me Shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.  For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.  And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again at the last day.  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
People are drawn to the Father, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit. Yet we think we have done a great thing by choosing to follow Jesus. We sing the song, "I have decided to follow Jesus..." and that is not true! Jesus said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you..." (John 15:16) It is not our part to decide to follow Jesus, it is His part. He predetermined it and He decided for us to follow Him. He did the deciding and He drew us to himself.
Acts 2:23, Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have and slain: The death of Jesus on the Cross was predetermined and known beforehand by God. It was God's plan from the beginning, not a last resort effort. God foreknew all that He would ever do.
Acts 13:48, And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. The Gentiles here were preordained to eternal life and they believed. They were ordained to receive salvation first and then they believed.
Romans 8:28-31, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  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.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
There are stages of the good intent of God's will. His will is that we be good, strong, solid citizens in His kingdom. The stages to becoming glorified in the kingdom are listed here; when God foreknows you, He predestines you, calls you, and justifies you, and once you are justified He also glorifies you. What could anyone say against you that could possibly amount to anything?
Romans 9:11-18, (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) [l2] It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have] loved, out Esau have I hated.  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom l will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.  Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Romans 8:23-24, And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.  For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
Romans 8:26-29, Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the itself maketh intercession for us with groaning: which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  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.
Paul is telling us that God is in ultimate control. Even before the twins Jacob and Esau were born, God already foreknew which one would be the master. He said Jacob have I loved. And neither you nor I would have chosen him. He was a scalawag, cheater, and supplanter. But God said He loved him and hated Esau. In the Hebrew language the word "hated" here doesn't mean that God actually hated Esau in the sense that we would think. After all, John said that God is Love. God merely loved Jacob in a greater quantity than He did Esau. God had predetermined even before Esau was born that he was not going to be heir to the covenant. God chose to love Jacob more and to pour out the blessing upon him. Not only does that pattern work with those boys, it works that way all down through history.
Galatians 1:15-16, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mothers womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach..."
Paul was called like Jeremiah, before he was born. Even though Paul was fully grown and a member of the Sanhedrin Council before he realized his call.
Ephesians 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
God predestined us all to walk in the good works of Christ. Paul continues in Ephesians 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
1 Peter 1:2, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
So we can see that there are many places in the Bible where it indicates that God has a predetermined plan, a predestined set of events. The thing that needs to be emphasized is that when He is dealing with us as believers, He always predetermines things that are good. He predetermines things that are according the good intent of His will. And His will is that none should perish.
Jude 1:4, For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. There are those who choose not to believe, but to remain ungodly. God continues to allow them to harden their hearts and makes examples out of them.
It is difficult for us to understand how it is possible for God to know even before Esau was born that he would be determined to make the negative choices he made in life. And it is hard for us to understand how Jeremiah could be determined to make good choices before he was born. It is difficult for us to understand how God knew, before he was even born, that Paul would make good choices.
But God in His foreknowledge is able to see exactly who we are. He can see the choices that we are willing and apt to make even before we are born. He knows before hand the tendencies we are going to have and He can foreordains us. Some hearts are allowed to harden because he knows that they are going to make major negative choices. They become examples, like Pharaoh. He makes them such an example that many others can be blessed.
We must recognize that God has foreknowledge. We are not just wandering around subject to the wind, but God has foreknowledge, a purpose, and a plan. And by knowing He has a plan, we receive hope and strength.
Paul says that we are the handiwork of God. And when we recognize that God has a predetermined plan for our lives it should encourage us to make good strong decisions. It should encourage us to be very active because we don't want to fall short of what God has predetermined for us.
On the other hand, we don't want to take the idea of predestination to the extreme and say, "Well, whatever God is going to do, God is going to do." Just to go with the flow is not what God has in mind. We should however, be very excited that God has chosen us. And because He has chosen us we should not get into boasting, "I made this great choice to follow Jesus!" We need to realize that Jesus made the choice for us to follow Him. And because He has chosen us, we want to do everything that we possibly can to be in line with His will for our lives.
We have a free will. We can cause the predetermined will of God for our lives to operate in our lives and we will be glorified in the Name of Jesus!
Rahab chose to pay attention to the one true God of the Israelites. She was not favored by God any more than the boy's sister was being favored because she took the time to listen to what Mom and Dad said when they gave instructions. It is a simple matter of one person choosing to listen and become closer and the other choosing to do his own thing and become hardened.
There is an offer of life or death. "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." (Deut. 30:19-20)
You know that you have chosen life if you keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3, And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.