Bible Question:

Your teaching on predestination/Calvinism could cause some to believe that they are saved when in fact they may not be elected. As a result, they may be condemned. I am burdened with this teaching.

Bible Answer:

The doctrine of predestination has been distorted and abused by some. I would encourage you to read Predestination and Human Responsibility. What follows assumes that the reader has read and understands that study.

God Elects and We Must Believe

God has stated in the scriptures that He chose some individuals to be saved before the foundation of the world. Yet, God urges us to believe in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 10:9). Those who turn to God and put their faith in Christ will live with Him forever in heaven. Both doctrinal truths are present in the scriptures. God chooses and we are called to believe. Since scripture teaches both truths, we must teach both truths even though they appear to be in conflict. We can be confident that God understands how can He can elect some people for salvation and, yet, people must believe in order to be saved. To us it seems to be a mysterious paradox; but it is not a paradox to Him.

False Teaching Of  Predestination

If an unbeliever incorrectly concludes that he or she is not one of the elect or not one of the chosen, it is the result of false teaching about the doctrine of predestination. However, such a misunderstanding is not the result of the doctrine of predestination. An incompetent teacher will be judged by God (James 3:1-2). 2 Peter 3:16 captures the situation.

. . . as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:16 (NASB)

Because someone teaches or distorts the doctrine of predestination does not mean the doctrine is faulty or not true. It does not mean the doctrine should not be taught. For example, if a person incorrectly believes every person is a “god” due to someone’s false teaching of John 10:30-34, that does not mean the passage should not be taught. The Mormons teach that error. Therefore, should we avoid teaching John 10:30-34? There are numerous passages in the scriptures that have been misunderstood. If we were to avoid teaching each one, how much of the scriptures would not be taught? Misunderstandings and distortions of the doctrine of predestination does not mean the doctrine is wrong and should not be taught.

Unfortunately, there are pastors and teachers who are not teaching all of the scriptures. They avoid certain truths because 1) they do not like what Scripture teaches, 2) certain doctrines offend them or 3) they fear someone in their congregation will object. God rebuked the Jewish priests because the priests were selective in what they taught.

So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction. Malachi 2:9 (NASB)

Shall we avoid the doctrine because someone might misunderstand? No!

The Impact of Misunderstandings

It is important to understand that any misunderstanding of the doctrine of predestination will not prevent someone from becoming a Christian. John 6:65 teaches that God determines who becomes a Christian. The verse says God must grant permission. John 6:44 teaches that God draws us to Himself and He will raise the individuals up on the last day. He draws and the result is they are saved forever.

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

This means that even if someone misunderstands the doctrine of predestination and misunderstands that they must believe to become a Christian, that will not change God’s electing grace. The truth is that if anyone is repentant and believes in Christ for the forgiveness of his or her sins, they will have eternal life. Both truths are true. God chooses individuals to be saved and, yet,  we must believe to be saved (Romans 5:1). If someone believes in Jesus and accepts Him as Lord and Savior, they have eternal life.


Teachers and pastors who teach the doctrine of predestination need to also teach that a person is not a saint or a believer in Jesus Christ unless he or she has truly repented of his or her sins and believed in Jesus Christ.

Suggested Links:

Searching For God
Predestination and Human Responsibility
Should a person be changed when they become a Christian?
How can you know for sure that you believe in Jesus?