Five truths about predestination. Truth #4: predestination is according to foreknowledge.


Article copyright by Bob Rogers, Th.D.

(This is the fourth in a series of five articles about predestination.)

Some people object to the idea of predestination because they think it takes away human responsibility and free will. Yet the Bible says predestination is “according to foreknowledge.” In other words, God can speak of something as destined to happen, because God already knows the future.
Romans 8:29 (ESV) says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined…” Peter said, “To those… chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…” (1 Peter 1:1-2, CSB). This concept is plainly stated in the Gospel of John. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65, ESV). That sounds like predestination, doesn’t it? But read the verse before it: “For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe…” (John 6:64, ESV). There it is again—foreknowledge!
Let me illustrate it like this. Once I was a passenger on an airplane coming into the airport in Savannah, Georgia, which is near Interstate 95. As we descended, I could see a wreck on I-95 that was several miles to the north. I knew that the northbound cars immediately below me were going to come upon that wreck, because I could see farther that they could see. In a similar way, since God exists beyond time, and knows the future, he can speak of it as certain to happen (predestined). He already knows what we will do, but we are still free and responsible for what we do.

About Bob Rogers

Hospital chaplain in Mississippi. Adjunct history professor (online). Formerly a pastor for 33 years in Mississippi and Georgia. Avid cyclist.

Posted on February 28, 2018, in Bible teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. David Williamson

    Question: Do you believe that faith and repentance are gifts of God?

    • Yes, I believe that God gives us the ability to have faith and to repent, yet we are also responsible for our actions. What do you believe about that?

      • David Williamson

        I agree. Faith and repentance are gifts from God (Ephesians 2:8, Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25) and demanded by God (Mark 1:15). So the following thoughts come to mind when these truths are connected to the idea that predestination is based on foreknowledge (defined as God looking into the future): Can a person respond in faith and repentance without these gifts from God? This is not a question of responsibility but ability. If they can, then why is God’s gifting necessary? If they can only respond as a result of God’s gifting, is God basing His election/predestination on His gifting of faith and repentance to certain individuals? If so, to whom does He give faith and repentance? To the elect whom He chose based on the faith which He gave them? The foreknowledge (defined in a specific way) approach to predestination and election seems to protect God’s “fairness”, but it appears to do so in a circular, almost slight of the hand, way. I ask these questions, not because I have the answers, but because I’m seeking to understand how the diverse ideas in Scripture fit together. Some things I think we may just have to accept by faith.

      • Faith is NOT a gift from God anymore that air is a gift from God. Eph 2:8 says that salvation, not faith is a gift of God. Otherwise, it would be saying that faith is not by works.

      • I noticed that you only dealt with faith and Ephesians 2:8, but what about repentance? Do you also believe that repentance is NOT a gift from God?

  2. David, I believe that God gives the ability to have faith and repent to all people, but not everybody chooses to use it. This is similar to a gift under the Christmas tree, neatly wrapped with my name on it. It is available to me, but I don’t really have it until I choose to open it.
    But as you said, the ways that God works are certainly a mystery, and ultimately must be accepted by faith (which He has given us!)

    • David Williamson

      I am preparing for Sunday’s sermon, and I ran across this interesting verse: “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given complete healing to him, as you can see” (Acts 3:16). While scholars debate whether the faith is that of the apostles or of the lame man, the point, as it relates to our dialogue, remains the same: People exercise faith which has been given to them by Jesus Christ.

  3. Excellent illustration.

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