This is a book study on John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility’. Lennox openly acknowledges that he has not provided definite solutions to these deep questions of the faith and that there is mystery involved. He clearly acknowledges that God is sovereign, but that we need to think carefully about what the word ‘sovereign’ means Biblically. This book, per my understanding, is an invitation for Christians to spend time thinking deeply about what the Bible means when it describes God as sovereign.
Greetings fellow bookies (@Interested_in_book_studies) - we are now on Chapter 6! I look forward to hearing your favorite quotes and your reflections on this subject matter.
My main takeaways were:
- foreknowledge and predestination must not be interpreted in such a way that they negate human responsibility
- because we cannot see things from God’s point of view, we should be careful about using human analogies
- foreknowledge is not necessarily causative
- the term predestination in the Bible is usually not being used in reference to salvation (3 of 14 times)
- the Bible is not saying we are chosen to believe, but it is telling us what believers have been chosen for
Questions for Discussion
- Is foreknowledge always causative? Give an example.
- Why must we be careful about using human analogies?
- What jumped out to you most about this chapter?
three of the big ideas associated with God’s sovereignty: foreknowledge, predestination, and election.
the Bible itself does not regard God’s foreknowledge or predestination as diminishing human responsibility.
Christ’s crucifixion was both foreknown and predestined, but that the men involved in it were wicked and therefore morally responsible.
however we understand the terms, we may not interpret them in such a way that they negate human moral responsibility.
on the human level foreknowledge – knowing something in advance – is not necessarily causative.
it would of course be wise to be cautious with human analogies, since for the Creator and Sustainer of all things to know something in advance is hardly likely to be exactly the same as our knowing something in advance.
The idea that, because God knows about an event beforehand it must be predetermined, may rest on the assumption that God’s relationship with time is the same as ours; that he sits, as we do, on a time line that stretches from the past to the future. However, Scripture indicates that God’s relationship to time is not at all like ours.
It could be, for instance, that God knew beforehand that I would trust Christ simply because he sees it in an eternal perspective, so that the issue of causation does not even arise.
our Lord knew not only what did happen in Tyre and Sidon in his day, and in Sodom centuries before, but what would have happened had they been presented with different evidence. And that knowledge will be used at the Day of Judgment.
assumption that the word predestination always refers to salvation. This, however, is not the case. Indeed, only three of the fourteen references listed above are even arguably related to the matter of salvation.
Obviously, the words “elect” or “chosen” here do not carry the idea of selection out of a group of candidates, since there were no other candidates – just as in Acts 17:31 Christ’s appointment as judge did not involve him being selected from a group.
the fact that God chose Israel did not mean that all Israelites were believers; or that all Gentiles were unbelievers. This opens up the idea of God choosing that there should be a group such as Israel to carry out his purposes, as distinct from his choosing the individuals who should be in
Peter is not saying we are chosen to be believers, but explaining what God has chosen believers for. It is his intention to sanctify them, to make them increasingly holy, through their obedience to Jesus Christ.
That is, although the word “chosen” is not qualified, the context makes clear that the choosing was done on the basis of certain clear criteria. The king chose to issue invitations, and when the recipients chose to ignore him, or worse, he chose to issue invitations to people on the streets.
They can only be saved if God takes the initiative and provides salvation for them. On this, most if not all Christians will surely agree, whatever their position on determinism.
I hope that the reader will grant me that I fully share their concern not to detract from God’s glory in any way.