“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30
A mighty ship named Salvation is crossing the ocean; its Captain is Jesus and its destination is heaven. Two men tell Jesus they are going overboard because they resent the confinement of the ship. Each swims away from the ship in a different direction, and at some point, both will surely drown if not rescued. What will the Captain do?
There are two main Christian views of how and of who God saves as well as two different definitions of what predestination means. Both believe in God’s sovereignty but differ in how He chooses to exercise it.
In one view, the Captain sends out a professional swimmer (the Holy Spirit) with a life preserver (the gospel) to one of the two men. The professional swimmer wakes up (the call of God) the man who has passed out and informs him of the Captain’s great love and rescue. He then places him on the top of the life preserver while holding him on it. Jesus pulls the rope connected to the life preserver until this man is safely on the ship. This man had no part in his own salvation – Jesus did it all.
In the other view, the Captain sends out a professional swimmer (the Holy Spirit) to both men and brings a life preserver (the gospel) to both. The professional swimmer has been instructed by the Captain to wake up (the call of God) both men and to inform them of the great danger they’re in as well as of the rescue the Captain has arranged for them both because of His great love. Each man is told by the swimmer that he must participate in his own salvation by grabbing the life preserver. The swimmer will assist them in holding onto the life preserver while the Captain pulls them to the ship, but if they don’t want to return to the ship, He will eventually have to leave them alone, and let them drown. In this scenario, the Captain once again knew before the ship sailed that both men would go overboard, but instead of predestining one to be saved, He predestined that salvation would be offered to both.
I believe the latter is the true definition of predestination and the way God exercises His sovereignty in salvation. Only you can decide what you believe.