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Certainly verses like Psalm 139:13-16 and Jeremiah 1:5 are about God and important figures agreeing that God created THEM as individuals with a soul and spirit before they were born (or even before He made the world). But that doesn't necessarily mean that God predetermined the fate of ALL people by preselecting the few that could be with Him forever.

Exodus 9:16 certainly says that God "raised up" Pharaoh to be an adversary of Moses and God, but that could mean God elevated an existing character into that position for His purposes, not created him specifically for that role. Exodus 9:12 and a few others say that God "hardened Pharaoh's heart" to accomplish this goal, but He started with a person that was evil and condemned already anyway, so his fate was not changed.

Luke 22:3 (Satan entering Judas to help capture Jesus) is similar. God could have allowed a person whose free will choices had condemned them already to become part of Jesus' entourage so he could be used for the role God needed at the time.

Malachi 1:2-3 clearly says God loved Jacob but hated his brother Esau. Jacob would have been predestined for his role, perhaps God did design Esau in advance to create adversaries for Jacob's descendants (to reveal future lessons and glory from God).

Romans 9:20b-23 confirms the authority of God to makes vessels for honor or dishonor (and destruction), but this does not mean He plans every person in advance.

If God allows most people the free will to choose or reject Him, does that mean all the ones that choose Him are part of an Elect He decided on before the world began because God knew they would eventually choose Him? Or does God allow for someone's free will choices to change who is part of the Elect?

For example, in Acts 16:25-34 Paul's jailer is amazed that Paul remained when he could have fled, opens his heart to the truth, and becomes saved. He then takes Paul to his home and explains the event to his family, who chose to also believe and be saved. Was the whole family already part of a predetermined Elect and the event is just how they learned this for themselves? Or did God add them to the Elect for their willingness to use their free will to accept the bit of faith that God attracted them with?

If the latter, did God attract them in the first place because He already designed them to be in the Elect or does He give most people the option to respond to the truth He makes available to all who seek it?

I believe we should approach this like God allows our free will choices to change things, so the Great Commission idea of verbally spreading the truth about God, or praying for lost people to find God, or living as a reflected example of Christ means something.

Certainly it seems wrong to believe that God has predestined everyone to their fate. This would cause fatalism, people thinking they are either with or against God no matter what they do so they might as well live how they want. It also seems cruel to condemn people without giving them a chance, more like what the gods of mythology would do, not the actual God of the Bible.

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    Different denominations have different views on predestination - some say that God does determine the path of each individual alive, others would say he only determines big picture issues. Which denomination's views do you want?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 23:17
  • This now looks less like a real question, and more like you just promoting your personal views. Also, note that most Christians from most denominations are compatibilist - upholding both the sovereignty of God, and humans having real wills.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 23:24
  • Hello, thank you curiousdanii. I did put my hopes at the bottom but wasn't trying to answer my own question. And rather than study the official position of denominations to find one I like the most, I would rather people share their interpretations to help me solidify my understanding. "Compatibilism" seems like a problem for Christians and not that common. A person cannot claim a right that God claims and just "agree to disagree" or decide that both can be right.
    – jKevinBarr
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 23:53
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    The question appears not to be seeking what God has revealed of Himself (in his own word). Therefore it becomes a philosophical enquiry, inviting philosophical debate, in order to come to a human concensus of opinion, all of which are off-topic on this site.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 8:06
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    Again, you have deviated from seeking what God has revealed of himself,, by adding the words to reveal to us the limits of our free will as restrained/constrained by His plans with predestination? (sic).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 15:44

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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. - 1 Peter 1:2

Election is according to the foreknowledge of God who knows the end from the beginning. There are many who believe that such foreknowledge eradicates choice but this is not philosophically necessary nor biblically sound. If God did not foreknow that Adam would freely choose to disobey, thus ushering sin and death into creation, the statement that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world makes no sense and turns the plan of redemption through Christ into a "plan B".

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. - Romans 8:29-30

Those who are elect (those whom God foreknew would choose to believe) are the ones to whom predestination applies. It is not that anyone is predestined to believe but that believers are predestined to conformity with Christ.

Belief that God predestines people to either salvation or reprobation apart from any choice is actually a conflation of election with predestination and renders choices that God lays before us into nonsense:

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 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: - Deuteronomy 30:15-19

God knows who will choose life and is faithful to bring that life to completion. The Elect are predestined to life because they were foreknown not because they were without choice.

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  • Thank You Mike! I like this, there must be free will because the Bible teaches us to make a good choice. And God exists outside of time so He knows all beforehand. So He "foreknows" every person that chooses to be saved. But that still leaves a "chicken and egg" problem with Paul's jailer and family. Did God build His entire "Elect" list beforehand because He knew what our choice would be (definitely better than forcing a choice on us!), or allow for people to change His list by the decisions they make? I'm still looking for a need to witness and pray for the lost to help them choose well.
    – jKevinBarr
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 14:13
  • More about the "chicken and egg" reference: In Romans 8:29-30 God foreknew the people He put in the Elect, and predestined them to the path of conforming to the image of Christ. But then He says that the people He predestined He also called, which I take to mean He gave them a bit of faith to attract them into choosing Him, thereby putting them in the Elect group.
    – jKevinBarr
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 14:21
  • So the problem is if someone tells me "it doesn't matter how I live because God has already forced me into a certain fate", I can say "no, He either has or doesn't have you in an Elect group He made before He made the World". But the person can still take a fatalistic view of that. I want to find a way to say "God made an Elect list before He made the world, but your decisions in this life determine if you are on it or not". But I want good apologetics to back up my statement. Thank you to all who help, and I apologize to any who think I am carrying this topic beyond a purely academic scope.
    – jKevinBarr
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 23:00
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    It seems, if I have read you correctly, that you are stating that God foreknew who would choose Him in the future, and, on this basis, he then chose them in Christ. Which is a non-sequitir. If all hinges on men choosing God, then God does not choose them, he merely acknowledges their choice of him. This is not what Paul teaches. ... chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world ... And, in time, called. They were called because they were chosen. They neither chose, nor called, themselves. These things are a matter of experience. The elect know their calling and know God is sovereign.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 8:55
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    @jKevinBarr The ones that God calls are the ones he has predestined to be conformed to Christ and those are the ones that He foreknew. There is much said about the "effectual calling of God" but Romans 8:29-30 seems to clearly say that He calls those He has foreknown. The Lord knows who are His and He has alsways known.. Here is the reason to preach the Gospel: Behold a sower went out to sow (Matthew 13) and he sowed good seed on all manner of soil...The condition of the soil is not the baliwick of the sower. Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 12:32

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