For my part, I begin by framing the issue thus:
- Everyone who believes the Bible is true believes in predestination. It's an explicitly biblical term. The question is not whether you believe in it, but rather what you believe about it.
- The tension between predestination and free will is real, but exacerbated by the limits of our human understanding. To many of us, to accept the idea of predestination would seem to reduce us to mere automatons. To be sure there is mystery here, but choice is not a zero-sum game. The Bible clearly teaches that God foreknew, predestined and then called me, but it also clearly places upon me the responsibility of choosing to "Repent and believe the good news." God chooses, and I also choose ... both are true without diminishing the other, in the same way that my body occupies physical space without in any way reducing the amount of space left available for the omnipresent God to occupy.
- The topic of predestination is often discussed in Scripture within the context of our hope security as children of God. We are to rest, to have joy, to have courage and great confidence, for the God of the Universe has committed Himself to us for all eternity--why should we fear or doubt?
- In the place where the Bible deals most directly with the implications of this topic (Romans 9), the Apostle Paul ultimately responds to our objections with a rebuke: "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" Let's not let our natural curiosity devolve into impertinence. There are limits to what we can ultimately comprehend about the eternal, infinite, almighty King.
- Rejecting predestination, on the other hand, doesn't resolve the issue of God's "fairness." After all, some seem to get a better opportunity to receive Christ than others. For example, the glorified Jesus Christ intercepted the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus in order that he might be saved, while many others throughout history have died having never heard the gospel at all. Yet all will appear before God and be judged for their sins, for which all are held responsible. Tearing the "predestination passages" out of our Bibles solves nothing with respect to this issue, and in fact confuses it further.
- Understanding God's sovereignty over our evangelism is tremendously liberating. We don't need to fret over whether clumsy words or inefficient methods have cost someone a chance at salvation. Instead, we can concentrate on honoring God by obeying Him and participating in His saving works, trusting Him for the results.
In the end, we must confess there is a perspective that we have, in which we fully experience our choices and are fully responsible for them. Yet God has His own perspective, which we need to appreciate without letting it overwhelm or frustrate us ... by simply letting God be God, and being glad that He is in control. Or as John Piper would express it: