Hi everyone, I was wondering on thoughts about Gods foreknowledge and foreordination. It seems as though many often interpret the verses in the Bible (Romans, 1 Peter) to mean God chooses individuals to be saved. I was wondering if perhaps this means that rather than choosing individuals, God chose a people whom would freely choose to follow Christ and receive salvation through the atoning sacrifice? God knows who will make the choice, but he does not interfere in our free will. It seems evident that God chose Israel to be his chosen people who would bring blessings upon the world. This ultimately is for the purpose that the Gentiles too may become one with God. This has obviously been discussed for centuries but I was wondering on your thoughts?
Does God pursue only those that he knows will accept him or does he pursue even those that he knows will never accept him as saviour?
Are we predetermined?
@calebeldridge I tend to agree that we are foreordained ‘in Christ’ as a Body - not as individuals. God did not predestine who would choose - rather, He predestined the way by which we would come to Him - in Christ.
Here are some resources you may find helpful:
Paul’s burden, then, in Romans 9 is not to narrow the scope of God’s election but to broaden it. He wants to take in all who have faith in Christ Jesus regardless of their ethnicity. Election, then, is first and foremost a corporate notion: God has chosen for Himself a people, a corporate entity, and it is up to us by our response of faith whether or not we choose to be members of that corporate group destined to salvation. William Lane Craig
That being said, very smart people disagree - here are a few resources from Tim Keller on this issue. He tends more towards Calvinism and predestination, which I do not see Biblical support for personally. But I appreciate his ministry greatly and respect his thoroughness.
I found John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe’ very helpful after struggling with the simple question for quite a while:
- How could God in eternity past have fixed a persons destiny so that they are unable to believe?
- Based on the above, How could God rightly judge a person and send them to hell for not believing something that they were incapable of believing.
Lennox starts out talking about non-theistic determinism which is quite interesting for the atheist to answer: if we are just a product of our genes then free will is also an illusion. I believe it was Stephen Hawking that spent an hour or so on a very highly anticipated lecture on free-will, and then after saying no one is free, it’s all an illusion, and completely removing hope from the atheist position: he gave himself an ‘escape hatch’ of “Even though we have no free will, and are completely determined, we don’t know what that fate is so we may as well be free, so don’t worry go and have fun”. I didn’t watch this lecture, only heard of it and the ending statement from somewhere.
I had not until I found this website, even heard of the position of Molinism - but prior to hearing of the term, I felt as though somehow it was ‘both’, when trying to in my own mind balance the free will of man and the sovereignty of God. Somehow both are true I think. Could not an infinite God create a completely free ‘space’ for all individuals to completely and freely choose - that is I’m finite, and within the sovereignly ordained boundaries of my own finite mind, will, and everything that is ‘me’ : I have a completely free choice whether to accept or reject the simple message of the Gospel that Jesus died in my place, and to put my trust in Him alone. I’m completely free within God’s sovereign boundaries of my own finiteness.
I’m not an academic, and certainly get quite lost in some of the advanced philosophy discussions. I rest in the statement of Abraham in Genesis ‘Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?’, after having seen God’s love demonstrated so clearly at the Cross.
Yes you are right, the issue has been discussed for centuries, and we are probably not going to solve it. I’ve not fully processed the position of Molinism myself, as sometimes my little brain can’t cope with William Lane Craig. I can only listen to a little bit, and then the mind boggles and I have to go and live normal life for a while to process it.
I also echo Sean’s respect for Tim Keller : I’m currently reading ‘walking with God through pain and suffering’, which I’m really enjoying because of his wisdom and clearly loving heart for people.
I really appreciated the resource that SeanO gave us and Matt’s comments also. This is a topic that will continue to provide us lots of interactions and opportunities to question God’s nature and our own. Sometimes, He reveals a little window that we can see some light through. Two basic principles guide my current position.
- God’s plan from Genesis 1 through Rev 22 is to give man dominion; this implies free-will to me. In many instances, God binds himself - most notably in becoming flesh and submitting to death. Thus, it is the sovereignty of God that ensures our free-will.
- I understand from scripture that election is always connected with purpose rather than privilege.
Two verses play out this dichotomy. The election of Abraham is tied to the greatest testing. When Abraham was faithful, God responded, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Yes, you can call this ‘anthropomorphism’, or maybe God by His sovereign power chose to give Abraham freedom. The resulting election was spoken thus… “all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Gen 22) His election was for purpose, but the Jews were not the first nor the last to think of election in terms of privilege. God responded to this misunderstanding in Amos 9.
“Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the Lord. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?.." He went on to explain the destruction and restoration of the nation because of its unfaithfulness. God was working with peoples all over the region, but the faithfulness of Abraham would be His chosen vessel to bless all nations.
I tried to understand this without knowing Christ. If I am away from Christ, I am blank about foreknowledge and foreordination.
After my salvation EXPERIENCE, when I read His REVEALED TRUTH, I come to know that God foreordained me.
When I enter the Eternal Life which comes through Christ, I understand this Truth to thank and praise God for choosing me eternally, to be with Him eternally.
So, I perceive, foreordination and foreknowledge may not be applicable for the people who are still outside Christ and who have not entered into Eternal life line.
I think in the human experience that we have a tendency to say God chooses and he does; he chose all of us. Where is our accountability in that?? I think that if we chose to follow Christ/God do we not believe our heavenly father will keep us. So sometimes i think we need to reframe the question…Has humankind chosen God…he already chose us and saved us no??
With respect I think the opposite, humans are not automatons or robots, and we have a genuine individual choice. If I knew my wife was a preprogrammed robot, somehow her love to me would be completely void and empty. I would be alone with a machine. Why would God create beings like this?
Chose all of who? Us Christians?
Good question; If a person does not have a genuine choice, then how can a person be held accountable for something which they were not genuinely capable of believing?
Ephesians 2:8-9 is clear to me. God initiates (Grace), we respond (Faith), and salvation is the result, not of works lest any man should boast. A legal transaction has taken place - we are right with God. A person responding with a genuine choice does not at all undermine assurance of salvation because as in Hebrews 6:19-20 our hope is continually resting in Jesus personally and his completed work on the cross. (the veil in the verse referring to the veil that was rent in two from top to bottom in the temple when Jesus died. Interesting side note that it rent from the top; showing it was God himself that did it supernaturally)
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Humankind or a personal individual? It’s important to define the difference here. Humankind has rebelled against God (as Adam sinned so sin has passed upon all men), and we are born in sin and are individually responsible before God.
I think the idea that non-elect individual humans are pre-programmed to be incapable of choice in eternity past introduces fairly serious moral problems to the nature of God.
I balance that with the fact that God is in completely control of history and chooses nations and groups to accomplish his purposes. I have a problem with God choosing (or not choosing) individuals in eternity past. I also have issues with the notion that God has two wills that are in conflict with each other; His express will and his permissive will. Nowhere in Scripture can I find this to be the case; How can God be in conflict with himself.
I guess the reason I’m passionate about this topic somewhat (and I’m doing my best to be diplomatic here) is reading some ‘deconversion’ stories such these - I find them troubling. .
I think the biggest problem is the creation of such doctrines at all - Man (either Calvin or Arminius) tries to put themselves in the place of God and comes up with a whole lot of extra tradition and writings. Only Scripture is inspired of God - Calvin and Arminius, and all the rest of us are only humans and are fallible.
Interestingly when atheists have a go at Christians on predestination, the argument swings right around and hits them in the face. If there is no God, no spiritual dimension, no life after death; we are then just a product of our environment and our genes, and free will is an illusion. There is no genuine choice there either.
I also thought this was an interesting one as well. Can there be genuine love without genuine free will?
Anyway just my 2 cents worth (and probably not even worth that much)…
Im sorry if my message implied that humans are robotic. I believe we have a choice and choices are made based on the information we have. So in my quest in this life I am looking for truth. I think it goes deeper than a list of do’s and dont’s. My human experiences teach me the difference between right and wrong, and that my actions have consequences. when i look at moral law I see them as boundaries that have been set to protect me not punish me. Now making alot of mistakes has shown been how to do it differently in the future as well as God’s grace (keeping things between me and him). In terms of the comment human experiences im expressing that life itself via circumstances will continuely teach us lessons. So for example if i keep encountering a similar situation or going around the same mountain I have learned to take time step back and ask myself what am i supposed to be learning here or what am i not seeing in its proper perspective. Prayer helps with this as well. If something in my core is telling me this needs to change then the suffering comes from within because im refusing to see things differently or refuse to change. I see these as opportunites when the holy spirit …god within…trying to transform my heart in certain areas. this is hardly robotic in fact its hard work. So i have a choice continue to suffer or change my perspective. Gods will will lead to wisdom and peace within which can not be explained away…it an experience with God. I think all people have these opportinities and i pray that they have the ability to recognize God is reaching out. Its stillness and quiet places where you are better able to hear. I think 'god loves all his creations…do i not care for the bird and the lillies how much more do i care for u. I believe the word of god because i believe it is the truth and i believe im saved by grace not the law. I also we are told we are the salt and the light int the world and this attracts e\people to you. When people are drawn to you its an opportunity to open meaningful conversations and whats really interesting are the question people have for you which opens up doors to talk about your truth. Not by force but with humility and grace working through you. What i dont believe its getting caught up in arguments about why im right and your wrong simply speak your truth.ive been amazed by some of the outcomes…just a thought
I agree completely. I don’t wish to argue or to say who is right and wrong. I think we need to not avoid the topics, because these are hard things that many have struggled with, and we discuss ideas and issues, and not make it about people.
Thankyou for sharing - and certainly I can see your heart and humility and patience with me coming across in your posts. It is a difficult issue for me, so you are showing empathy to me - and I thank you.
I think it good to have these conversations and a space to feel safe to ask all kinds of questions. Some questions are really challenging to answer and so i often ask myself how would jesus respond…great questions that have challenged me as well…and i agree some conversations need to be had it not easy but completely doable
and to be honest my first reaction to ur post was whaaaaat , so i had to step back relfect and let go of my defensiveness so i took my time with the response so thank u for challenging me
I had exactly the same feeling when joining this forum to learn there are 8 different views on Genesis / creation account.
Growing up in a denomination that views the 6 day literal creation as paramount, and then having read John Lennox book ‘7 days that divide the world’ I have this same thing over and over.
Even going back now and re-watching the section in the Introduction course about ‘Morality’ is a little mind-blowing with John Njoroge saying things like ‘you cannot prove that the universe was not created 5 minutes ago’.
I think it is a process of stretching and growing our faith - it is really good for us all, but just a little bit at a time otherwise it’s all way too much to take in. Small steps, and always in humility before God, asking questions and learning together. Actually your posts have really challenged me too. As I drove to work today thinking about all this, a song came to mind. This has blessed me this morning so I’ll share it to you.
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven.
There is no place where earth’s failings
have such kindly judgment given.
2 For the love of God is broader
than the measures of the mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful (actually the version in our hymnbook has ‘simple’),
we would gladly trust God’s Word,
and our lives reflect thanksgiving
for the goodness of our Lord.
Frederick William Faber (1862)
God bless you, and thanks again for sharing, and showing Christ’s love to me in your posts.
Its absolutely a process and not always easy thats for sure. the steps of a good man are directed by the Lord. Steps…process…transformation takes time. sometimes the struggle is in understanding something cerebrally and understanding it spiritually very different concepts so how do i implement the word on the daily and not be just behaviour based changes but transform my heart. So I had to ask myself tough questions and leaning in on God to show me where and how to do better and more importantly be better on the inside . Sometimes we want to understand so bad that the information overload can cause some confusion frustration and whole crop of new questions…pace yourself and be patient with yourself you are already on the path…god bless
Thankyou Sonya for your encouragement and kind words and a listening ear.
thank you Matthew, … im honored to do so …peace and blessing
PS. the song lyrics are beautiful
also I want to apologize if my post caused you undue stress or concern personally. That was certainly not my intention, and I can see in retrospect that my first post analyzing your every word was actually very unfair on my behalf.
For this I apologize sincerely, and again thank-you kindly for being the person who was willing to be an empathetic listening ear.
no undue stress at all, i should have taken the time to explain my points more clearly. Great learning experience all the way around…