Friday, February 9, 2024

The Foreknowledge of God (Romans 8:18-30)

"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29).

The classic passage in the New Testament on election and predestination is the ninth chapter of Romans. The emphasis in Romans 9 is on God’s purpose. Romans 9:11–12 tells us that the reason the decision was made before Jacob and Esau were born, before they had done anything good or evil, was so that God’s purpose might stand. This statement is totally opposed to any kind of “foreknowledge” view of predestination, the notion that God based His choice on His foresight of man’s decision.

Not only had Jacob and Esau not done anything good or evil in space and time when God made His choice, but by implication they had not “done good or evil” even in the mind of God. In other words, from God’s perspective there was no personal good or evil activity that was taken into account here. His choice was made without regard to the goodness or wickedness of the two boys.

Those who believe that God bases His choice on His foreknowledge of our decision err in two ways. First, this view separates God’s will from future events. To say that God looks ahead and decides what He will do based on our future decisions is to make God dependent on man’s decision. God’s choosing us had nothing to do with our works in the present or in the future. Second, this view is based on a misconception about foreknowledge. What God sees in the future is what He has ordained will be. Something cannot exist, at any time, unless God ordained it. Therefore, if God were to look down through the corridor of time and see our decision, that corridor of time and our decision could only exist because God ordained them to exist. You cannot separate God’s ordaining will from the future. If the future is set, it is because God established it.

God foreknows us in the sense that as our Creator He knows us from all eternity. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined to salvation. He knew us from the beginning, and He set his love upon us apart from anything we have done, or will do. God chooses some to eternal life but passes by others. This might seem unfair, but we must remember that all men deserve condemnation. When God chooses some to have faith, it is an act of mercy. He is in no way obligated to save everyone.

God has the power to save everyone, but He does not exercise that power. Some would consider this cruel, but just because you have the power to help someone does not always mean that you should. Why does it take a great deal of trust in God to believe in election? What could be some reasons why He does not save everyone?