Bible Question:

If we are called before the foundations of the earth, then God has chosen who will and won't choose Him. If you are not chosen, then does it really matter when you die?

Won't your destination be the same? The Israelites were told to totally destroy every man, woman and child in the cities of the promised land. Will all those children go to Heaven? I have always been told that there is an age of accountability. If I am not chosen, then it seems the time of my death is not important. I could die at 99 or I could die at 9 months and the result would be the same - Wouldn't it?

Bible Answer:

In order to answer these questions, we need to start by answering another question, “What do the scriptures teach about predestination?” This is a question that many people feel very strongly about. But I believe none of us really have the final answer. Some day when we all get to heaven, we will all understand this mystery. This is a mystery! It is a mystery to us just like the Trinity, the Incarnation (How did God became a man?), and the Kenosis (When Jesus became a man how did He change?), and the inspiration of scriptures (how the scriptures were written). Predestination is another mystery. Scripture gives us some information, but not enough to know the answer. Consequently, we find that there are two main views among Christians.

Predestination

Did God plan Jesus’ death for our sins and return to life? Few, if any, Christians would answer with a “No.” The prophets predicted Jesus death and return to life. Even the angels knew about it (1 Peter 1:10-12). On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” That is, the plan was finished! This is the message of the following verses,

Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know – this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. (NASB) Acts 2:22-23

But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. (NASB) Acts 3:18

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur. (NASB) Acts 4:27-28

It was all determined in eternity past! It was predestined. The Greek word for predestined, is PROORIZO which literally means “to decide beforehand.” This word is also used in Romans 8:29-30 and Eph. 1:5, 11. In Ephesians 1:5 we read,

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (NASB) Ephesians 1:4-5

The message is that God chose us “before the foundation of the world.” He decided beforehand that we should become holy, blameless and a child of God (see John 1:12).

So when we come to John 6:44, 37 and 65 we find more of the same. These passages teach us that no one can come to Jesus without God’s permission and help and all who are granted the ability to come to Jesus will come – no exceptions.

. . . no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father. (NASB) John 6:65

No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (NASB) John 6:44

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. (NASB) John 6:37

Also listen to these passages,

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (NASB) 2 Thessalonians 2:13

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. (NASB) 2 Timothy 2:10

The message is clear, God has chosen us for salvation.

We Have Choice

Yet, scripture also teaches that we do have a responsibility to choose Jesus.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (NASB) John 3:16

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority . . . This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NASB) 1 Timothy 2:1-4

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (NASB) 2 Peter 3:9

We are called to respond to Jesus. We are called to believe. Acts 16 tells us about an earthquake that shook the doors of a jail open. The jailor was afraid for his life since he would die if anyone escaped. Here is what the Philippian jailor did after the earthquake.

And when the jailer had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here! “And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. (NASB) Acts 16:27-34

The jailor asked what he had to do to be saved. This reveals to us that Paul had been telling him about Jesus. Paul did not tell him that everything was already decided before the foundation of the world. Paul did not tell him that he was predestined. Paul told him that he needed to believe in the Lord Jesus.” If he did, he would be saved. How did he respond? Paul told him he had a decision to make and he believed along with his entire family! Anyone who believes will be saved.

The Mystery

The mystery of predestination is that God has chosen us and yet we are responsible to believe. Listen to 1 John 3:23,

And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (NASB) 1 John 3:23

I have used the word “responsible” instead of “freewill” because we are responsible to chose Jesus. We have no choice if we want to go to heaven. If you please, God chooses and we choose. He chooses and we are responsible to choose! Yet, scripture tells us the faith of the jailer in Acts 16 was a gift from God,

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (NASB) Ephesians 2:8-9

What a mystery. Many Christians try to figure this out. May I suggest that we need to believe that God has predestined us AND anyone who believes will be saved. Scripture teaches both!

There is an old illustration that pictures a person choosing heaven by deciding to walk through the gate of heaven. Once inside the gate, the person turns around and sees their name engraved at the top of the Gate of Heaven. The person decided to enter and yet the gate had their name engraved. It is a mystery. God calls us to believe in Jesus Christ. The question is, “Do you want to be saved just like the Philippian jailor?” If so, follow Paul’s advice, “believe in the Lord Jesus” and your sins will be forgiven and when you die you will go to heaven.

Conclusion:

Does it matter when we die? Yes it does! Predestination is God’s decision and believing in Jesus is our response. If any of us should die today without believing in Jesus, we will go to hell. Does it matter when die? Scripture says that God gives us time to respond to Jesus. Today is the day to believe.

. . . for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU”; behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” (NASB) 2 Corinthians 6:2

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (NASB) Hebrews 3:13

God tells us that he controls the length of our days. God gives us every chance to respond to Jesus (2 Peter 3:9, 15). The length of our life is determined by Him. He adds days to our life (Ps. 3:2) and He takes days away (1 John 5:16). He decides when we die. He gives each of us time to respond to Christ.

The answer to the question, “Will all those children go to Heaven?” has been previously answered.

Reference Links:

Predestination and Free Will
Peace With God
How can God say,
So why is our freewill inclined to a sinful nature?