Many American Evangelical Christians shy away from the doctrines of election and predestination as if they are some sort of evil. I have heard numerous Christians actually say that it wouldn't be fair for God to elect some people to salvation but not others. Having been raised in an Arminian denomination, I cannot even begin to tell how many times I've heard the doctrine of election described as God's looking into the future to see who would choose Him, and then He elected them.
I do not understand why Christians, at least in this country, generally struggle with accepting the fact that it is God who sovereignly selects who will be saved and who will not. I believe that a fair reading of the scriptures shows this to be true.
For example, in Acts 13:48 we read in the ESV, "And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed" (emphasis mine).
The NASB, NKJV, NIV, and HCSB also use the word "appointed" in this verse. The KJV and Wycliffe New Testament use "ordained."
The context of this passage has Paul and Barnabas in Antioch in Pisidia on the first missionary journey. On a Sabbath, a group of Jews was contradicting Paul. In response to this, Paul and Barnabas said that since they rejected the gospel message, Paul and Barnabas would turn to the Gentiles. That is the conclusion of 13:47. Immediately after this, we read 13:48.
In the original Greek language, the meaning is the same (to see it, click here). Luke clearly writes that some Gentiles were assigned, appointed, or designated to eternal life. Those who were thus appointed were those who then believed. The Greek verb form is a perfect passive participle. The key is that it is passive. This means that someone else appointed those who would believe. Who did the appointing? It is clear that God did.
I have read various people attempt to make Acts 13:48 say something other than it does. The reality, however, is that the language is clear and plain. It is not difficult to read or understand. In Acts 13:48, a certain number of Gentiles believed. They were the ones God appointed to believe.
God is sovereign over the election of who is saved and who is not. When we submit to this truth, it gives us a broader, deeper, and sweeter view of the glory of the cross.
I thank God for saving a wretch like me!