During the Spirit of Truth Conference Q&A Panel, people texted in many questions relating to the Holy Spirit’s role in predestination. Questions like these:
- What is the Spirit’s role in predestination?
- Can I receive the Holy Spirit if I was not predestined to Heaven?
- If the Spirit starts the work in someone’s heart, does that imply that there is a distinction between chosen and unchosen?
We have to begin by defining predestination. Predestination is often associated with Calvinism, but it is a doctrine found all over Scripture, especially the New Testament (Matthew 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20, 27; Romans 8:33, 9:11, 11:5-7, 28; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9; 2 Peter 1:10, et.al.). Predestination means that God sovereignly chose (elected) certain individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world.
Sometimes the word predestination makes people think of robots, with no will or role in salvation. However, Ephesians 1:11-13 makes it clear that we are predestined by the will of God AND that those who are saved “heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him.” In order to be saved, we must believe, and believing is a genuine act of our will (Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8). We are not robots; we choose to believe in the gospel by faith as it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
So what is the Spirit’s role in this? In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This drawing or calling to Christ is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus a few chapters earlier (John 3:7-8). After telling Nicodemus he must be born again, Jesus said: “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit draws us to Christ, and that is one of the Holy Spirit’s roles in predestination. The Spirit draws the unbeliever to Christ so that he may be born again.
When a person is drawn by the Spirit and trusts in Christ, he or she becomes a child of God and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15-17, 1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit only indwells those who hear and believe the gospel. Also, Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches that the Holy Spirit seals the believer as a guarantee that the inheritance that God promises will be fully acquired. So not only does the Holy Spirit draw us to God and indwell us once we believe, but he also seals our position as children of God for eternity!
So that is a glimpse of what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit and predestination. The Bible teaches that man can not come to saving faith in God unless the Spirit draws him. The Holy Spirit awakens our hearts to Christ, draws us to him. Because of the Spirit, we find Jesus and his gospel compelling and beautiful and true. And the Spirit indwells all those he draws to Jesus and seals the believer forever. You can see all of these truths in Romans 8:30: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
God is so gracious to us! He not only makes the plan for our salvation through Christ, he also completes it in us through the mighty work of his Spirit.