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The word "predestined" is used in Romans 8:29, 30; Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11, and means "to mark out beforehand” or “to mark out ahead of time." It is to foreordain, to determine before, to mark out the boundary or limit of a place thing, or person. It is "to determine or decree beforehand." Only God can have such knowledge and authority.

To predestinate signifies to appoint beforehand to some specific goal or purpose. In the New Testament it refers only to those whom God has loved from eternity with the purpose to confer eternal life through Jesus Christ. Therefore, only God can predestinate.

Predestined to be adopted sons of God

He is the author of our salvation and takes the initiative in salvation from beginning to end.

Believers are predestined to be God's adopted sons. "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:5). God the Father "decided ahead of time to make us His own sons." An adopted son had all the privileges and rights enjoyed by a natural son. We are adopted into God's family. We have been chosen by God before the creation of the world (1 Peter 1:20. Our love for God is the result of His loving us (Deut. 7:6-8; Jer. 1:5; Rom. 8:29; 1 John 4:19). God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His sons and daughters according to His own good pleasure and purpose."

By divine self-revelation the Lord God revealed to the apostle Paul God's purpose in history before time began (Eph. 1:3-13; Rom. 8:28-31). Paul is saying that our salvation is a result of God's purpose and all of His grace. Our salvation is not the result of chance. It was not merited by the sinner because he is virtuous. Salvation is by God's grace alone and is not due to any human effort. The eternal purpose of God is that humanity will become members of His family (2 Peter 3:9-10).

These passages do not suggest that God did not call others. When we consider how great is God’s love and to the extent He has gone to save us we understand that it is due to the truth He first chose to us in grace and mercy. 

Predestined to be become like Christ

God had in mind a definite goal for those persons whom He had chosen as Hs own. He will not rest until He conforms every believer "to become like His Son."

God has already chosen these people as His own and He has chosen them for the purpose and set goal "to become like His Son" which will ultimately be fulfilled at the time Christ returns. The apostle Paul stresses that the ultimate goal for the Christian is to become like the God who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.

“Whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

"God foreknows what will be, by determining what shall be. . . . He foresees it because it is ordained by Him to happen in the order of His providence. Therefore, His foreknowledge and decrees cannot be separated; for the one implies the other. When He decrees that a thing shall be, He foresees that will be. . . . Nothing is contingent in the mind of God, who foresees and orders all events according to His own eternal and unchangeable will," writes Robert Haldane, Romans.

"Those whom God foreknew--those whom He before loved, chose, acknowledged as His own--He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son."

Robert Haldane writes, "The foundation of predestination is Jesus Christ, by whom we receive the adoption of children. Its object is man, not invested with any quality which moves God to predestinate him, but as corrupted and guilty in Adam--dead in trespasses and sins until quickened by God. The blessing to which God had predestined those whom He foreknew is salvation, as it is said, 'God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,' or, as it is expressed in the verse before us, 'to be conformed to the image of His Son.' The means to all this are our calling and justification. The final end of predestination is the glory of God,--'to the glory of His grace,' 'and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory" (Romans).

Key Scriptures

Romans 8:29, 30; Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1.  God is never caught by surprise, or off guard. It encouraging for the believer to keep in mind that nothing in this world happens outside of the will of God. When we read Romans 8:28-39 we know with conviction that there are no failures, and there is no unfinished business in the ultimate plan of God.  His goal is that we become like Christ. 

2.  Since there is no room for chance in God's eternal purpose, we can rest assured that His eternal purpose will be accomplished in our lives (Romans 8:28-30).

3. Because we are "predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son," let's make ourselves available to the indwelling Spirit of Christ to daily take off the old man and put on the new man.


For Further Study

Philippians 1:6 Believer's Perseverance Eternal Security in Jesus 
Five Golden Links to Salvation
Romans 8:28-30 Salvation in Five Words
How can a Christian be Lost Again?
Romans 8:15; 9:26; Galatians 3:26 The Adoption of Believers
John 17:6-8 How to Receive Eternal Life
John 17:9-12 How May I Know I Am Saved?
The Effectual Call of God
Justification by Faith 
Romans 8:31-39 We Won! Our Triumphant Song






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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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