A regular dictionary says that predestinate is to foretell which is simple enough. Then, there is a listing that says that in theology (the study of God) there is a doctrine that states that God has foreordained (predestinated) some souls to damnation and others to salvation. This is the source of the confusion and John Calvin is probably the one who made this idea famous; although, there are others who have supported this same doctrine. But this doctrine flies in the face of John 1:7 which says that ‘all men might believe.’ How can God’s grace just be for the ones HE has chosen in advance? Wouldn’t the verse have said that ‘men chosen by God might believe?’
It’s true that God’s power is unlimited. HE can do whatever suits HIS purposes. But, God has chosen to limit this power and offer mankind the gift of grace. It’s also true that man cannot save himself. The God of John 3:16 is our God. HE has extended the invitation and it’s up to man to either accept it or reject it. That’s called free will.
Then there’s Romans 8:28-30. Verse 28 says ‘…who are the called…’. Those that love God are called. They have accepted the call to salvation. Once the call is accepted, those who are called are destined (or predestined) to be like God. Hence, the continuing explanation in verses 29 and 30.
Vine’s Dictionary of Bible Words gives the English word predestinate followed by the original New Testament word proorizo which means ‘to make a choice’. Using this to help with clarification, Ephesians 1:5 and 11 becomes clearer. Paul, the apostle, begins chapter 1 addressing the faithful in Christ. These faithful have already made the choice and Paul is relating to them what is waiting for them. They are God’s adopted children (verse 5) because of Jesus Christ. They have received redemption and forgiveness--not because they deserved it but because of HIS grace which HE had planned to do since the beginning. The faithful have an inheritance (verse 11), also, which God has planned for believers. God designed everything including the destination of believers. That’s why it’s called predestination.