Friday, March 13, 2009

Divine Foreknowledge

Preaching through the Book of Romans, I've recently been working through Romans 8:29. I've been stirred once again at how glorious the doctrine of Divine foreknowledge is. However, I'm not blind to the controversy this doctrine has raised. It is difficult for human beings to think of God as determining all things, particularly as it applies to election and predestination. Most evangelical Arminians believe that God has foreknowledge of future events, but in terms of election and predestination they insist that God foreknew who would believe the Gospel and then elected them to salvation based upon this foreknown faith.

This position will not hold up under scrutiny. First, the Bible makes it clear that no man left to himself would ever believe. Human beings are spiritually dead in need of a new heart. This demands a supernatural work of God. Left to themselves all men will continue in their sinful rebellion. No man left to himself will ever seek God (Romans 3:11) Second, Paul isn't speaking about future actions, he's taking about people. This is consistent with the context of this section of Chapter 8. Verse 28 is describing particular people; those called according to God's purpose. Verse 30 describes particular people; those God calls, justifies, and glorifies. Third, foreknowledge demands events that are fixed in time. If foreknowledge implies certainty then it carries the force of foreordination. This is consistent with God's testimony of Himself - Isaiah 46:10 - "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel will stand, and I will do all my pleasure."

There is another issue of common sense the Arminian has to address. If election is based upon God's foreknowledge of who will believe does it not also hold that God also foreknew who would reject the Gospel? Since foreknowledge implies fixed events doesn't this mean that God created these people knowing they would go to hell? If God created a man knowing he would go to hell why would He send Christ to die for him or send His Holy Spirit to draw him. Isn't it nonsensical to hold that God is trying to save a person He knows will be lost? Ultimately, a position which insists that God is trying to save all men must deny God's foreknowledge of events which will lead to heretical positions such as Open Theism.

The only position consistent with with Romans 8:28-30 is that God has a purpose to save His elect people. God in eternity looked upon the fallen race of humanity and chose (predestined) many unto salvation. Obviously God had to have foreknowledge of them; He could not chose whom He did not know. Those He foreknew and predestined, He also called and justified and will ultimately glorify.

God's foreordination is a glorious doctrine. He knew us from eternity. He looked upon us while we were defiled in our sin and He chose us unto salvation. He adoped us as His own. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). This doctrine of salvation gives God all the glory.

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