In this fourth episode in our series on the attributes of God we take a cursory look at God’s foreknowledge. I say cursory because you really can’t cover all that much in 6 minutes! Nevertheless, I wanted to give a brief but Biblical explanation of what God’s foreknowledge is according to Scripture and that it is always (5 instances in the our New Testament) a foreknowing of persons. Many wrongly understand God’s foreknowledge to be God seeing ahead of time the choices of men, thus basing eternal election on man’s belief and repentance. Yet this is neither Biblical nor satisfactory. It undermines the beauty of the Golden Chain of Redemption we read of in Romans 8:29-30. I hope this study helps to clarify a point or two and ultimately brings glory to our God of sovereign grace!
Romans 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
More on God’s Foreknowledge
All Christians believe in predestination by God. They believe in it because the Bible clearly teaches it. But not all Christians mean the same thing by it.
The most common error among Christians about predestination arises from a misreading of Romans 8:29. There we are told that God’s predestination is grounded in His foreknowledge. This has been misunderstood to mean that God looked down the corridors of history, foresaw what you and I would do, and stuck that into His plan.
This view does not reckon with the fact that God created time, and therefore all events in time, when He created the world, so that He does not look down through history but looks at history as a complete whole. Apart from such a weighty philosophical objection, however, we can notice that Romans 8:29 does not say that God foreknew certain decisions on our part. It does not say that God foresees our faith, and on that basis predestinates us. It says nothing of the sort.
Rather, Romans 8:29 says that God foreknew certain people. A study of the idea of knowledge in the Bible will show that it usually involves a choice of intimate relations, as when Adam “knew” his wife Eve and she conceived. Romans 8:29 means that God “fore-loved” certain people, and predestinated them. He chose them; they did not choose Him.
Romans 9 makes this abundantly clear, because Paul goes into a discussion of God’s sovereign choice of Jacob over Esau, a choice based on nothing either had done (Romans 9:11). The objection, “Is God unjust?” could not arise unless Paul were teaching real predestination; after all, nobody accuses the “foreseen faith” view of being unjust (9:14). And Paul’s answer in verse 15, which stresses that God decides whom He will save and whom He will not, clinches the matter clearly.
~ from Ligonier Ministries