The belief of election (predestination) is one of the most important doctrines in the Scriptures since it guarantees believers that God is under control of their salvation and that this salvation does not depend on them. One question that arises when one studies the Scriptures is why some people believe and accept the Gospel while others do not.
Calvin defines predestination as “God’s eternal decree by which He compacted with Himself what He willed to become of each person.” (Calvin, Institutes, III.26.25) It is based on God’s pleasure and depends on him only. Predestination is based on God’s eternal plan, and it is independent of any human merit because “there is no consideration of works.” (Inst. III.22.2) Calvin states, “For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is fore-ordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or to death.” (Inst. III.21.5) Consequently, God has previously chosen some people to be saved and others for damnation. In fact, rejection, for Calvin, is also based only on God’s will as developed in section 3.22.11.
The problem that arises with Calvin’s line of reasoning on predestination is that election and rejection are symmetrical decrees. I do not support this view since it makes God proactive in causing the Fall. God indeed has determined certain events, particularly believers’ redemption in Christ, but one notices He did not ordain evil and sin, and consequently the Fall. One surely can say that God let the Fall happen, but He did not cause it. Instead, God has freely determined whom He wanted to save because everyone was dead in sin as Paul tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23, NIV) As we have seen, the doctrine of predestination is indeed a mystery, but despite that, it plays a significant role in our theological understanding of the doctrine of God.
Predestination gives believers the security that God is under control in their lives and that their work of sharing the Gospel to others will not get lost. The mystery is that without forcing believers, God completes His works in their lives and prepares them to be perfect in Christ. He expects they respond Him affirmatively to His will and the plans He has for each of them.