ELECT ACCORDING TO THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I PETER 1:2




INTRODUCTION:


  1. It was quite an experience for me debating James White.
  2. Probably one of the highlights for me was when White refused to answer my question about "double predestination" or "the doctrine of reprobation." Calvin taught this as do all 5-point Calvinists.
  3. But what does the Bible teach?
  4. I am concerned that many gullible Christians are being brainwashed and many churches that used to preach sound doctrine are being taken over by hyper-Calvinists.

 

I. ELECTION DEFINED

    1. Election refers to Godís purpose in the world. Election is a matter of service, not necessarily of privilege. For example, God chose Pharaoh (Rom.9:17). In fact, Romans 9 is not even speaking of salvation at all, but of service.
    2. Election does not mean that some are chosen for heaven and the rest are chosen for hell. If that were true, then John 3:16 would not be a sincere and honest invitation.
    3. God is sovereign and omniscient and surely knows who will be saved and who will not be saved. But Godís foreknowledge does not interfere with manís responsibility.
    4. Godís sovereignty does not involve a destiny arbitrarily forced upon every person that is born. "Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect, and then elect some more" (Spurgeon).
    5. Letís go back to I Peter 1:2. Here Christians are referred to as "Elect according to the foreknowledge of GodÖ" I will define foreknowledge in a few minutes, but for now, let me try and give a simple explanation for this verse. If my explanation is too simple, just remember that the Bible teaches both Godís sovereignty and human responsibility. We have to accept the fact that our finite minds cannot fully grasp certain Bible truths (e.g. the Trinity).
    6. God is omniscient and knew from eternity past who would believe the Gospel. Election is "according to" His foreknowledge. Those who He knew would believe are predestinated "to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom.8:30). They are not predestinated to heaven. They are going to heaven because they repented of their sin and received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. And on that basis they are predestinated "to be conformed to the image of His Son."
    7. This is far different from the "double predestination" of the Calvinists, who teach an "unconditional election," i.e. some are unconditionally chosen for heaven, and some are unconditionally chosen for hell. This contradicts the Bible (Acts 16:30,31).
    8. In fact, the Bible nowhere speaks of unsaved people as being chosen or predestinated.
    9. If Peter was teaching "unconditional election" in I Peter 1:2, why did he exhort them to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (II Peter 1:10)? If they were unconditionally chosen for heaven there would be no need to be diligent. And if they were unconditionally chosen for hell, all the diligence in the world would not help (cf. II Cor.5:20b).
    10. The election of the Calvinists is a "fixed election" like the ones they have in communist countries.

 

II. FOREKNOWLEDGE DEFINED

    1. Foreknowledge is an attribute of God, not an act of God.
    2. Godís foreknowledge does not determine what takes place. And Godís foreknowledge does not determine the actions of men.
    3. Foreknowledge is a divine attribute of God, whereby God sees all things in the present tense Ė past, present, and future.
    4. Calvinists teach that foreknowledge is of a determinative nature. But if God foreknows everything (and He certainly does), and foreknowledge is determinative, that would mean that God has prefixed everything.
    5. There are several problems with this. First of all, in that case foreknowledge would cease to be foreknowledge in the commonly understood sense of the word.
    6. Secondly, the Bible makes a distinction between Godís foreknowledge and His "determinate counsel" (Acts 2:23).
    7. Thirdly, the belief that everything is prefixed is fatalism. It also makes God the author of sin.

 

III. BALANCED VIEW OF THESE DOCTRINES

    1. The Bible teaches both Godís sovereignty and manís responsibility. To be balanced we need to acknowledge both.
    2. "The foreordination of God in no degree interferes with the responsibility of man. I have often been asked by persons to reconcile the two truths. My only reply is Ė they need no reconciliation, for they never fell out. Why should I try to reconcile two friends? Prove to me that the two truths do not agree. These two facts are parallel lines; I cannot make them unite, but you cannot make them cross each other. Permit me also to add that I have long ago given up the idea of making all my beliefs into a system" (Spurgeon).
    3. To be balanced, we need to recognize that God always gives us both sides Ė the divine side and the human side (cf. John 6:37; II Thess.2:13).
    4. "There is nothing fatalistic or arbitrary about election as taught in the Scriptures. The Gospel is to be preached to all, and all who believe it may be assured that they are numbered among the elect" (H.A.I.).

CONCLUSION:

  1. There was a group of theologians who were discussing predestination and free will. The debate grew so heated that they soon broke up into two fiercely divided factions.
  2. But one fellow could not make up his mind where he belonged. Finally, he walked over to the Calvinist crowd. When he tried to join up with them, they asked, "Who sent you here?" He replied, "Nobody sent me. I came of my own free will."
  3. "Free will!" they shouted in disgust. "You cannot come here by your own free will Ė you belong with that other group."
  4. Then he wandered over to the freewill group and they stopped him by saying, "When did you decide to join us?" He answered, "I didnít decide. I was sent here."
  5. "Sent here!" they threw up their arms in horror. "You cannot join us unless you choose to by your own freewill."
  6. So the man was excluded from both groups.


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