Before we get into this section, I would like to consider a question. Why does this subject call forth such emotion?
1. Some feel it is an affront to God, to allow man to have any part in salvation. Foreknowledge pictures man seeking God, which is counter to texts like Rom. 3:23.
2. Others see the others setting "foreknowledge" aside and ignoring that it is involved.
3. Others just like to argue.
When teaching Systematic Theology I gave an assignment asking the students to jot down what they thought foreknowledge, predestination and election were. One of the students mentioned that he thought that if foreknowledge was involved, then the game was fixed and it isn't fun playing a game that is fixed, even if you are the winner.
Probably there are many strong Calvinists that would follow a similar line of thinking, however those that read the Word and understand it as simply written, feel that since God tells us foreknowledge is involved, then we must include it in our system of theology.
From God's view everything was set in place and decreed before the foundation of the world. From man's view we have a free choice to accept, or reject God. To this point is there any conflict? No there is no real link between the two statements as yet.
Man has a choice. God has given man a witness of Himself. All of mankind has opportunity to respond to God. This witness comes in four forms. Creation, Rom. 1:20-23; Inner witness, Rom. 1:19; The written Word; and the spoken Word.
Man has the choice to respond to his inner consciousness and to nature. If he does not respond to this information then he is lost of his own choice. If he does respond then God will see to it that he has all the revelation he needs to find Jesus Christ as his Savior.
This final revelation must include all information needed for salvation. This includes knowledge of the gap that sin has caused, that he is a sinner by nature, that Christ died on the cross for his sins, and that Christ died in his place, if he will accept Christ's work on the cross.
This decision must be based on knowledge, understanding and fear if need be. Emotions are a part of our being so may well be involved. (Heb. 11:7)
Since the terms are normally viewed in the same doctrine, I would like to look at election along with foreknowledge. Let us look at the Biblical use of the terms. Elect in the Old Testament is "bahir" (Strong's 972/TWOT # 231c). It has the idea of chosen, and is translated chosen at times.
The Theological Word book mentions of the term, "The rood and its derivations occur 198 times with this meaning. The root idea is evidently 'to take a keen look at'"
"This derivative is used exclusively to indicate the relationship of the subject to God. It commonly occurs in a direct quotation of God, having the first singular possessive pronoun suffixed to it. Thus, God himself attests that this person or nation is his own personal choice." (Taken from: "THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT"; Harris, R. Laird/Archer, Gleason L. Jr./Waltke, Bruce K.; Copyright 1980, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 100-101)
This may help us understand the New Testament concept.
I will just list some references and comments on them from the Old Testament.
Isa. 42:1 foretelling of Christ. His "elect" "servant"
Isa. 45:4 Israel - God's elect
Isa. 65:9 God's elect will inherit
Isa. 65:22 God's elect
II Sam. 21: 6 God chose Saul (king of Israel)
I Chron. 16:13 Israel - His chosen ones
Ps. 89: 3 God has made a covenant with David - His chosen
Ps. 105:6 Israel - His chosen
Ps. 105:43 Israel
Ps. 106:5 Israel
Ps. 106:23 Moses - His chosen
Isa. 43:20 Israel future - God's chosen
Isa. 65:15 God's chosen
Remember, God calling them HIS elect, or chosen is the Old Testament concept of the word. Now the New Testament.
In the New Testament elect is the Greek word "eklektos" (Strong's 1588). The English term eclectic comes from this term. It is the picking of the best of something. The Greek term translated church is also from this word. (ecclesia)
The "tos" ending means that a product of something is in view. "lit. signifies picked out, chosen ("ek", from, "lego", to gather, pick out)" (Vine, W. E.; "AN EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS"; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co.)
Let us look at some references.
Mat. 20:16 Christ was speaking of His own.
Mat. 22:14 Those having no wedding garment bound & cast out.
Mat. 24:22 tribulation to be shortened for the elect's sake
Mat. 24:24 False Christ's will try to deceive the elect.
Mat. 24:31 Angels will gather elect
Mar. 13:20 (same as Mar. 24:22)
Mar. 13:22 (same as Matt. 24:24)
Mar. 13:27 His elect (same as Matt 24:31)
Lu. 18: 7 His own elect
Lu. 23:35 The Christ "The chosen of God"
Ro. 8:33 God's elect
Ro. 16:13 chosen in the Lord
Col. 3:12 Elect of God
I Ti. 5:21 Elect angels/some weren't elect it would seem
II Tim. 2:10 The elect's sake - (prior to salvation)
Tit. 1:1 God's elect (speaking of Paul)
I Pet. 1:2 elect according to foreknowledge of God the Father
I Pet. 2:4 chosen of God
I Pet. 2:6 Christ the cornerstone - elect
I Pet. 2:9 chosen generation - believers Peter is writing to
II Joh. 1 elect lady
II Joh. 13 elect sister
Rev. 17:14 chosen with the Lamb
The term election is the Greek word "ekloge" (Strong's 1589). Vine mentions that it "denotes a picking out, selection."
Acts 9:15 Paul is chosen vessel (by God)
Ro. 9:11 Isaac's sons elected prior to birth.
Ro. 11: 5 election of grace. Again it is not of works
Ro. 11:7 Israel blinded - Gentiles obtained election
Ro. 11:28 Israel beloved - elect - for the Father's sake
I Th. 1:4 election of God
II Pet. 1:10 make your calling and election sure
The term elected is "suneklektos" (strong 4899). "elect together with." (Vine) The "tos" ending means a product is in view.
I Pet. 5:13 church at Babylon - elected together with you
CONCLUSIONS CONCERNING ELECTION:
1. Good angels are elect.
2. Elect is something which God is vitally involved in.
3. Christians are the elect, however so is Israel future.
4. Isaac's children by Rebecca were elect prior to birth.
5. We are elect or chosen by foreknowledge.
6. Elect and chosen are not linked to predestination.
FOREKNEW is (Strong's 4267) "proginosko." "to know before ("pro", before, "ginosko", to know) (Vine)
Acts 26: 5 Jews knew Paul before his conversion.
Ro. 8:29 Whom He did foreknow He did predestinate
Ro. 11:2 God foreknew the Israelites
I Pet. 1:20 Christ's death set before foundation of the world
II Pet. 3:17 Speaks of knowing before hand
FOREKNOW is (Strong's 4267) see above
FOREKNOWLEDGE is (Strong's 4268) "prognosis." Webster mentions "to know before." Vine tells us "a foreknowledge." The term prognosis in the English language means "foreknowledge." (Webster)
Acts 2:23 Christ crucified by Jews according to foreknowledge of God.
I Pet. 1:2 Elect according to foreknowledge.
1. God foreknew the Jews.
2. God foreknew the Gentiles.
3. God foreordained Christ's death.
4. Foreknowledge is not always used in relation to salvation. (Acts 26:5; II Pet. 3:17)
5. Foreknowledge is linked to election. (I Pet. 1:2)
6. Foreknowledge is linked to predestination. (Rom. 8:29)
7. The Jews that crucified Christ were lost. Christ was delivered via foreknowledge, and they crucified Him. This seems to link God knowing a situation beforehand, and electing based upon that knowledge.
PREDESTINATE AND PREDESTINATED are the Greek word "proorizo" (Strong's 4309). "Note: This verb is to be distinguished from "proginosko", to foreknow, the latter has special reference to the persons foreknown by God: "proorizo" has special reference to that to which the subjects of His foreknowledge are predestinated." (Vine)
Acts 4:28 God determined something beforehand to be done (context Christ before the judges). This is an aroist tense indicating that God did this at a point in time.
Ro. 8:29 Whom He foreknew He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of Christ. (looks to be pre-salvation from context/this is aorist also)
Ro. 8:30 links predestination to calling, justification and glorification.
I Co. 2:7 The word that Paul spoke was "ordained before the ages"
Eph. 1:5 Predestined us unto adoption
Eph. 1:11 We have an inheritance because of predestination (aorist).
CONCLUSIONS CONCERNING PREDESTINATION:
1. Christ and His death seemed predestined - at least events surrounding it. (Acts 4:28)
2. Predestination is linked to foreknowledge.
3. The Word was predestined, or set.
4. We are adopted as sons, by Christ because we were predestined to it. (Eph. 1:5,11)
Concerning foreknowledge the following have been spoken.
Dr. Bryce Augsberger past president of Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Denver, CO stated that those opposing his view would say that God did not predestine individuals to be saved, but that in His foreknowledge, He saw some of faith (a group,or class), and called them His elect. This would include Methodists, Pentecostals, many Baptists). Basically this would be followers of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).
In stating his view he said, "God foreknew that no sinner would accept Christ and so chose "many" to receive the gift of faith in order to secure His saving purposes. This would include Presbyterians, Reformed, many Baptists). This thought comes from John Calvin (1509-1564)"
What is your reaction to these two statements? First, I don't think that all that hold to the first are Armenians. Secondly, I'm not sure that the first group would specify that God foresaw a group. Rather He viewed the individual and his life in the future.
Loraine Boettner in "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" states, "Since God's foreknowledge is complete, He knows the destiny of every person, not merely before the person has made his choice in this life, but from eternity. And since He knows their destiny before they are created, and then proceeds to create, it is plain that the saved and the lost alike fulfill His plan for them;"
He goes on to say, "Foreknowledge presupposes [assume beforehand - Webster] foreordination.... The actions of free agents do not take place because they are foreseen but they are foreseen because they are certain to take place." (this seems to say that the decrees were before foreknowledge. This is a problem because the Scripture states that the election was based on the foreknowledge.)
Doesn't the first par. seem to say that God knew the outcome so He chose. How can he know the outcome if the choosing wasn't already done if He is going to be involved in it?
You can't foreknow something that wasn't done. For this position to be true, foreknowledge and choosing would have to be simultaneous. That is impossible because you can't foreknow until the choosing is done.
Is there a sequence to these items of decrees, foreknowledge, election and predestination? It would seem from Scripture that the last three are in order. Fit Decrees into the matter and you may be close to the answer.
SO WHERE DOES ALL THIS LEAVE US?
1. Foreknowledge is the crux of the issue it would seem. Since all we know is based on four verses we should be able to define it fairly accurately.
a. God foreknew all the redeemed.
b. God foreknew Christ's death.
c. God elected and predestinated based upon foreknowledge.
d. The word has the general meaning of knowing before hand.
It would seem that election took place in time, at the same time as Christ's death was planned. I believe that this would be among His decrees. This would state then that the decrees followed the foreknowledge. If not then He could not have foreknown and decreed Christ's death.
He had to foreknow to realize a need for redemption. Indeed, His planning for redemption proves the definition of foreknow that we want. HE KNEW BEFORE HAND THAT MAN WOULD FALL, THUS PLANNED REDEMPTION. To define foreknow in any other manner would be inconsistent with Scripture. As He foreknew the fall, the rejection of the Messiah by Israel, He also foreknew those that would accept Him if salvation were presented.
Chafer states, "The Westminster Shorter Catechism asserts that it is 'his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass." Later, on the same page he mentions on his own, "The term decree of God appears first in the singular, since God has but one all-inclusive plan. He sees all things at a glance. For convenience, the separate features of this plan may be called the decrees of God; but there should be no implication in this that the infinite understanding of God advances by steps or in a train." (Chafer, Lewis Sperry; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, Vol. 1, p 228)
It would seem that God has always foreknown all things, in that, He is omniscient and it is further to be assumed that He existed for maybe eons, OR SHOULD WE SAY FROM ETERNITY PAST, but that it is also logical that the Decree, which relates to man and his existence, was set at some time down the line from eternity past.
Chafer believes the decree to be eternal. "It should be observed that God formed His decree in eternity, though its execution is in time. The decree being eternal, all its parts are, in the mind of God, but one intuition, though in its realization there is succession." (Vol. I, p 228) However, in reference to his comment, "God formed His decree" we need to observe something. If it were formed then it is not coexistent with omniscience. It is not coexistent with His existence. It occurred later and cannot be eternal as God is eternal.
Thiessen states "By His foreknowledge God was fully aware of the fact that man would fall into sin and become utterly ruined even before He created him. Still He created him for His glory and purposed and planned a way of redemption when He 'chose us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love' (Eph. 1:4). This purpose is indicated in human nature and in the Scriptures." (Thiessen, Henry C.; "LECTURES IN SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949, p 275)
Thiessen states, "Divine foreknowledge. If God could foreknow that man would sin without causing him to sin; if He foreknew that the inhabitants of Keliah would betray David into the hands of Saul before they had had the chance to do so (I Sam. 23:11,12); if Jesus could know that the fate of Tyre and Sidon, and of Sodom and Gomorrah, would have been different had they had the manifestations of His works which were granted to Chorazin and Bethsaida and to Capernaum (Matt. 11:21-24); if God could foreknow that the Jews would kill Christ without causing them to do so and before He had created a man (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28); then He can also foreknow what men will do in response to prevenient grace, whether or not they will receive 'the grace of God in vain' (2 Cor. 6:1, 2). The Scriptures teach that election is based on foreknowledge (Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:1, 2)." (p 156)
Thiessen also mentions, "Since mankind is hopelessly dead in trespasses and sins and can do nothing to obtain salvation, God graciously restores to all men sufficient ability to make a choice in the matter of submission to Him. This is the salvation bringing grace of God that has appeared to all men. In His foreknowledge He perceives what each one will do with this restored ability, and elects men to salvation in harmony with His knowledge of their choice of Him." (p 344, 345)
This would be a good recap of the foreknowledge position. What God foreknew may vary but basically this is it. God DRAWS people to Himself.
One last question might help you understand which position you would like to settle into.
God chose based on foreknowledge. Now, if he did not use foreknowledge, as in He knew before hand, then He chose with no knowledge of the people or the plan. That is impossible. You cannot choose without knowledge. I can't pick a car, if I don't know what a car is, or what cars are available to pick from.
Foreknowledge, as in knowing beforehand, is required by logic and is clearly stated in Scripture, so why do so many try to leave it out?
I would like to close this section with a thought from Spurgeon. "When Moses sang at the Red Sea, it was his joy to know that all Israel were safe. Not a drop of spray fell from that solid wall until the last of God's Israel had safely planted his foot on the other side the flood. That done, immediately the floods dissolved into their proper place again, but not till then. Part of that song was, 'Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed.' In the last time, when the elect shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb, it shall be the boast of Jesus, 'Of all whom thou hadst given me, I have lost none.' In heaven there shall not be a vacant throne.
"'For all the chosen race Shall meet around the throne, Shall bless the conduct of His grace, And make His glories known.'
"As many as God hath chosen, as many as Christ hath redeemed, as many as the Spirit hath called, as many as believe in Jesus, shall safely cross the dividing sea. We are not all safely landed yet:
"'Part of the host have crossed the flood, And part are crossing now.'
"The vanguard of the army has already reached the shore. We are marching through the depths; we are at this day following hard after our Leader into the heart of the sea. Let us be of good cheer: the rearguard shall soon be where the vanguard already is; the last of the chosen ones shall soon have crossed the sea, and then shall be heard the song of triumph, when all are secure. But oh! if one were absent - oh! if one of his chosen family should be cast away - it would make an everlasting discord in the song of the redeemed, and cut the strings of the harps of paradise, so that music could never be extorted from them." (Spurgeon, Charles H.; "MORNING AND EVENING"; Mclean, VA: MacDonald Publishing Co., p 42)