Peter, in his first letter, began by addressing those who were, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Paul, in Romans 8 says in verses 28-31, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
There is a theme in the Bible that is clearly there although it flies in the face of the doctrinal positions many of us have adopted; Or, does it? We shudder at the idea of Calvinism but what do we do with the myriad of verses that teach what we have rejected? In my view, believing these, and many other passages that say the same things, are not in conflict at all with those of us who believe salvation is of the Lord and not of us.
Even Luke in the Acts uses this terminology, “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48b). Then there is that troubling passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (John 15:16a).
Then that classic first part of the letter to the Ephesians is almost offensive to anyone who does not believe in the doctrine of election at all. I will not quote it but suggest you read carefully the first 14 verses of chapter 1.
One of the marks of deity is “omniscience”, the fact that God infinitely knows everything. If this is true (and it is) then God surely knew before time began who would and would not become obedient believers in His love gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, as Peter said it, we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father“. It would be a completely different dynamic if we were elect, period! But, Peter makes it clear that in agreement with what God knows (or knew) we are elected to be His.
I am no theologian so please be kind to me. This is one way I think of these amazing ways of our great God. I have 6 grandchildren. I love them completely! I love them so much that often I will give them what I know is not best for them just because they want it. (I do have an excuse, I am not as wise or as good as God!) If the younger of my twin grandsons is offered ketchup for his french fries, he will reject ketchup every time and request mustard instead. I know this as well as I know almost anything. Howevcer, my knowing does not in any way invalidate his freedom to choose what goes on his fries. So, I can say to you that my first twin grandson is destined to be a mustard lover. Yes, this is perhaps a weak analogy but I think it makes the point quite well, at least the way I understand God’s choosing as stated by Peter in 1 Peter 1.
Just for the sake of brevity lets assume I am correct. One fact is clear, God has chosen those who are His own. Now lets examine that Romans 8 section.
- “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son“
- “whom He predestined, these He also called“
- “whom He called, these He also justified“
- “whom He justified, these He also glorified”
God knew us in eternity past, He predestined that we would be not only called but conformed to the image of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and those He called He justified, and those He justified He also glorified! All of these things are spoken of in the PAST tense!
How many of those He forknew will be justified, or “set right” with God? ALL who are called! How many of those who have been justified will be glorified? ALL of them!
Now the following question makes lots of sense doesn’t it? “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Grace to you,
Good discussion. I don’t think it is as hard as we make it. I have come to a place where I want to live with what seem to be inconsistencies in the end because to do anything else is to change what the Bible says.
It would seem that much research into our nature would agree that part of us are predisposed for something. I don’t think the theology has to take away choice because choice is in there but the idea that we are a blank slate to be built flies in the face of to much known fact.
Thanks for wading into a delicate subject. We have been trained to debate these things because one way must be right instead of living with the tension that comes when both are.
I really needed your blog today.
It game me the encouragement that I need in my life.
God bless you brother.
It has always been a little difficult for me to understand the predestination and free will combination platter that the Bible lays out for us, but I thank God that He is too complex to be completely explained by his creation. Although I’ve never been able to fully comprehend that question, it has not been a stumbling block in my faith. I must say, though, your mustard analogy is very helpful. 🙂
Thanks for a good discussion here, Royce; one that many of us have with ourselves and others from time to time.
Several years ago, a brother and I were going round and round about Calvinism (his position) and Arminianism (mine). I have since concluded that both positions attempt to untangle something the Bible leaves mixedup. But that’s another comment.
What I finally noticed at the time is that none of the NT passages that speak of predestination shows up in the context of a debate. No one was arguing about it back then. Instead, it was a cause for celebration, thanksgiving, and exalting the name of God.
Could it all boil down to semantics?
How could anyone ever deny the overwhelming desire of God to fellowship his people?
I don’t buy into strict Calvinism, but I do know God has chosen his own and has prepared a place especially for them and that the gates of hell have no power to change it.
You make some excellent points. We should approach the Holy Scriptures knowing that in the original manuscripts there were no contridictions, only “seeming contridictions”. This topic is in that catagory.
LDB, If we could know everything just as God does we would have no motivation to trust Him. And, He does want us to trust Him. “The just shall live by faith.”
Frank, I love the last paragraph of your comment. I concur completely!
Danny, As in many themes in life and in the Bible, the truth often is found some place in the middle. On one extreme is the ultra-Arminian view that has man completely in control of his own destiny with God waiting in the wings to be instructed.
On the other end of the scale is the hyper-Calvinist position that has God hating much of human kind and only loving a select few robotic like “chosen few”.
Experience has taught me that more often than not it is profitable to take a deep breath and at least listen to other points of view before I get all humped up like a mad cat. Even I (believe it or not) learn more by listening than talking.
Grace to you,
And I am thankful for this.
Royce we might need to first examine John 17, before we do Romans 8 in order to know just who Paul was speaking of as the elected the predestined, the called, the glorified. As you yourself said I believe I recall you saying that this is all referred to in past tense. things that have happened in the past, at the time Paul was speaking.
“Before the foundation of the world” is past tense isn’t it? Is that far enough in the past for you?
Are you implying that God only “forknew” the disciples? You are so confused you have me confused. I really don’t get your point at all.
Grace to you,
John 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son“
John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
“whom He predestined, these He also called“
John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
“whom He called, these He also justified“
John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
“whom He justified, these He also glorified“
Hmmm. I am afraid I don’t get your point on this one.
How far in advance do you think God knew about you and the actions you would take including whatever you decided about Christ’s offer given in the gospel? Was it a month, a year, ten years, or was it before the “foundation of the earth”?
When our belief about our eternal destiny puts sinful men in the decision making role that necessarily puts a sovereign God at mans disposal waiting for instructions. What a foolish idea! No, God chose those who would be His sons and daughters, he sought for them they do not seek for Him, the Holy Spirit drew them, convinced them of sin, righteousness, and judgement, and birthed them into God’s forever family. Laymond, when we get to heaven you and I will have furnished one hopeless, helpless sinner each. Thats it, nothing more. Thus, Christ will receive all the glory, honor,and praise. Where is boasting? It is excluded.
Why not stop trying to put yourself in the drivers seat and just accept the grace and forgiveness offered freely by God upon the merit of Christ alone?