(Predestined salvation is one of the recurrent topics in our Precept group. Somehow we will get into this topic almost whatever book we are studying. And now we’re in Revelation and this topic was discussed in the group again today. And then I wrote this… And just as anything I’ve written on the topic of Faith, my understanding may change over time.)
Some say that God predestined, before the beginning of time, who is saved and who is not. They say Salvation is predestined (quoting Paul mostly).
If so, then all believers are just gambling against a predestination, hoping that we’re in that book of life.
But if not, is Paul wrong?
Well, let’s take a look at the word “predestined". This word is “time-bounded". It is only valid in a world where there is time. So, it is only applicable to human sense, not God. (NB: God is beyond time. If your God is not, well, we don’t share the same God. Period. And if you don’t believe there’s a God in the world, we’re not on same channel. Period.)
If God is beyond time, the phrase “before the beginning of time" is not applicable to God. He knows who is saved “at the end" because He is hlbeyond time. He has been to all time frames of the world, may it be before the beginning or after the end of the world. So He is not foretelling who is saved in the end. He is only narrating what has already happened in the sence of eternity and will happen in human understanding. It is hard to explain in human language because human languages are ruled by syntax which always include tense forms in some way. And that’s why there is this phrase “before the beginning of time".
So, what does it have to do with 12 Monkeys? James Cole didn’t know that his efforts to save the world is in vain because he (and the scientists “in the future") is bounded by time. Though he can travel through time, he doesn’t know concurrently what’s going on in both the past and the future. That’s human. We know something is going to happen as the Bible tells so but we were not in the past and we have not been to the future. Even if we were and have, we can only see the the things that happen in the time and space we are capable of perceiving. It’s never the whole picture that we see. God is the maker of 12 Monkeys: He knew the whole story before the movie is made. Unlike the spectators who only know the beginning is the very end after the whole movie is shown, God knew it all along.
And unlike the spectators who can only sit by and watch what is going to happen, God has offered a way out since before the beginning of time.

P.S. And talking about Paul, I must admit that I don’t like his writings. People say he’s a good debater. I simply don’t see his logic (well, sometimes I do but that’s rare). Maybe I need to be a 1st century Jew to understand his arguments. I don’t know. Still struggling. All in all, the Bible is hard to be understood anyways.

P.P.S. Another often recurrent topic in group discussion is works and deeds and salvation. May write on that if I have time.