Now, we have already learned that, in election, God the Father is the one doing the choosing. God singled out certain ones in His own mind, both among the angels (1 Timothy 5:21) and among men. He chose them for eternal life and blessedness. Before He created them, He decided their destiny.
But what was the source of God’s choosing? Read what Peter says:
To those who reside as exiles, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (1 Peter 1:1-2).
Now some people say, “You see? We’re chosen because God knew before what we would do.” Have you ever heard that? That’s the traditional explanation of election. They say, “See, ‘foreknowledge’ means ‘foresight.’ Or it means God looked down through the eons of history and saw that we would believe, and He chose us. And if He saw that someone wouldn’t believe, He didn’t choose them.”
Some people think that’s what it means. They believe that God in His omniscience observed history before it was written and elected those that He foresaw would believe. Men love that doctrine.
But you know what’s wrong with that view? Let me list a few problems.
If you assume that God just looked down history, saw what you would do and wrote it down, that makes man sovereign. We’re making a choice, and God is just making note of it. And you’re going to have a problem squaring that with John 15:16, where Jesus says this of believers:
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you.
Who is sovereign? Is man sovereign? Are you sovereign? Can everyone choose whatever they want, and is God just up there trying to keep track of everyone’s decisions? That is not what we see in Scripture.
This view also allows man to share the glory for his salvation. And as I’ve already said, man loves that. I once heard a person give a testimony and say, “I’m so glad that I had the sense to receive Christ.” And I wanted to get up and say, “No you didn’t. No one has the sense to receive Christ.”
Belief is not an act of human sense. But we want a little of that glory. And we try to get that glory by interpreting God’s election as dependent on foreknowledge of our decisions. That way, we give man the credit for being smart enough to come to Christ.
This view also makes salvation a result of a human work: the work of believing. If you can believe strictly on the basis of your own human ability, then you have salvation by works.
You might say, “Wait a minute. Don’t you have to believe to be saved?” Yes. But your believing to be saved was also a gift from God. God granted you the faith. If God is sitting back in eternity looking down the road and just waiting to see what you do, then the faith that you exercise is from you and not from Him. Therefore, it’s a human work.
In this view, God is sitting up in heaven saying, “Boy, if that guy had only said yes, then I could have done this, and I could have worked that. But now it’s just not going to work out.”
That’s hardly short of a blasphemous view of God. God does all things by the counsel of His own will. God does all His good pleasure. God is never in any way frustrated by anything done by anyone. That is so very vital for us to understand. Look at Isaiah 46:9-10:
Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, “My counsel will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”
Now, those are theological reasons why the aforementioned view of election can’t be true. So what is Peter actually saying? Look at Acts 2:23:
This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of lawless men and put Him to death.
Peter, preaching on the day of Pentecost, says that Jesus was delivered up to death by the “predetermined plan” and “foreknowledge” of God.
So we see that God’s foreknowledge is linked to His predetermined plan. God’s foreknowledge involves deliberate choice. It doesn’t mean He observed before; it means that He planned before. It is knowing not in the sense of observation, but in the sense of bringing into reality.
When Peter says “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” he is talking about a predetermined relationship which God established in His own mind according to His predetermined plan.
The source of election, then, is God’s previously determined act of establishing a relationship with us. That was all a part of His plan. It’s not God looking down through history and saying, “I’ll have to react to what they do.” God knew it because He ordained it.
God predetermined in His plan to set His love on certain people. That’s foreknowledge. He foreknew you. That is a tremendous truth.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1988, titled “Chosen by God, Part 2.”
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|