Skip to comments.PREDESTINATION: LETTING GOD BE GOD - FOREKNOWLEDGE & DOUBLE PREDESTINATION - Week 5
Posted on 10/22/2006 10:43:04 PM PDT by Dr. Eckleburg
Some object to the concept of predestination by arguing that God predestines the elect because he knows in advance that they will come to Christ by their own free will. As seen in the previous lesson, however, that notion is blatantly unbiblical. No one has the ability to even cooperate with Gods grace. Several biblical passages, however, do speak of Gods foreknowledge. While God certainly knows the future (he determines it!), the biblical concept of foreknowledge is something different. The term (proorizw) is used, not of knowing events, but of knowing people. God tells us that he knew us before we knew him. As God told Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart (Jer. 1:5). Indeed, the major Greek lexicon (BAG) states that foresight or prescience is not even a possible meaning for foreknowledge in passages such as Romans 8:29-30. And in the Great Chain of Salvation in this passage, it should be noted that only those who were foreknown are called by the Holy Spiritnot everyone. Rather, foreordination (choosing) is always meant in the Greek when this term is used of a man with God as subject, as in 1 Peter 1:20, where God foreknew Jesus as savior before creationGod appointed Jesus as savior, that is. The foreknowledge view of predestination is not an explanation of the biblical teaching, but rather a denial of it.
Is Predestination Double?
Up to this point, we have already seen that predestination cannot have been conditioned by faith, as man would never have faith on his own. It is God who gives faith. Our predestination was not on the basis of anything good or cooperative in us-- it was simply for God's good pleasure. God controls who does and does not believe. Those whom God has predestined to eternal life believe; the rest do not. But what of those who do not? Has God chosen that they not believe?
1. The Bible teaches that God has chosen or predestined some sinnershis electto inherit eternal life.
* Romans 8:29, 33
* 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
* Colossians 3:12
* 2 Timothy 2:10
* Titus 1:1
2. The Bible also teaches that God has predestined other sinnerssome call them the reprobateto condemnation.
* Romans 9:1-24
* Romans 11:4-10
* 1 Peter 2:8-9
This predestination to judgment is not one in which God actively works sin into the hearts of the reprobate. As Luther argued, God does not have to place fresh evil (Luthers term) into anyones hearttheres enough there already! God works actively to save his elect, changing their hearts to make them love him. But he does not work actively to turn the reprobate against himthey do that on their own. God does harden hearts, but in the sense of handing them over to their own sinful desiresas Paul discusses in Romans 1. God need do nothingthey already have enough rope to hang themselves. As the Bible tells us that God hardened Pharaohs heart, so too it mentions that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Both are trueGod gave Pharaoh what he wantedfreedomand Pharaoh used it to destroy himself.
Paul discusses this question in Romans 9. In Romans 9-11, Paul is answering an objection raised against the gospel. Paul said in Romans 8:39 that God promises that nothing can separate the elect from God's love. But, the objection comes, What about God's promises to Israel? Most Jews do not believe, yet they were the chosen people of God! It is not as though God's word had failed, Paul writes, for not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Here Paul begins his first explanation of why some Jews believe Christ and others do not. In chapter 10, Paul will explain that the gospel was offered to the Jews, but that they had rejected it. In chapter 11, Paul will discuss God's future plans for Israelthat God will work among the Jewish people in the future. Thus, Paul answers the problem in three ways: human responsibility (ch.10), God's future grace (ch.11), and in chapter 9, God's sovereign predestination.
9:6-9 In the past, God has chosen some and rejected others. God did this with the children of Abraham. Abraham had two sonsIshmael and Isaac. Yet God rejected Ishmael; it was Isaac who was chosen by God. God's promise has not failed, but it did not apply to all descendants of Abrahamonly to the line of Isaac.
9:10-13 God worked this way with Isaac's twin sons, as well. Even though Esau was born first, Esau was rejected. Paul stresses that God chose the younger (Jacob) before either twin was born or had done anything good or badGod's choice was not based on anything good in Jacob. God loved Jacob. God hated Esau.
9:14-18 In Moses' day, God chose some for mercy and hardened others, too. God hardened Pharaoh to display His power before the earth. God owes compassion to no one. He owes no one mercy. Sinners deserve justice, that is, punishment. The fact that God shows mercy to one and not to another is not unfair, because neither one deserves mercy. Ultimately, salvation does not depend on man's desire or decision, but on God's choosing to show mercy.
9:19-21 Paul deals with an objection that is never raised against Arminians, but which was raised against Paul: How can God blame people for not believing if He controls who does or does not believe? Paul doesn't answerhe rebukes the question as being impenitent. God is God. God created people, and He can do whatever He wants with them. It is the Potter's prerogative to do what He wants with the clay.
9:22-24 Up until this time, Paul has been speaking about God's choosing and rejecting in the past, but now he applies it to the present. Today, God has called some Jews and Gentiles (some of each) to become vessels displaying God's glory. God has also prepared other Jews and Gentiles for destruction in order to demonstrate before the world God's wrath and power. Here is a double predestination: God, without regard to human desire or effort, has chosen some for glory (election) and others for wrath (reprobation).
The Grand Demonstration
In the end, what makes the difference between one sinner believing & his next-door neighbor not believing? After all else is said & done, the difference lies in God, not in man (See Rom 11:4-10; 1 Pe 2:8-9). God saw two men in rebellion committing spiritual suicide, and chose to rescue only one. The fact must stand: God is not an equal opportunity Savior. God shows some a degree of undeserved grace that He does not show to others. But the majesty of grace is that God has shown grace to anyone! All of history is the process of God's preparing two peoples to display His characterone to display Gods mercy, the other to display Gods justice. At the end of history will come the Grand Demonstration of the good and perfect, merciful and just character of Almighty God.
Sunday greetings, saints!
Man apart from God, is Deaf, Blind and helpless. Worse than that He is also spiritually in an adulterous and a dead shape. It is pretty close to a description of a body lying in a gutter.
Calvin described this state as the Total Depravity of Man, in which man naturally goes to the worst state that God will permit.
From this state, predestination is now understandable. God chooses to have mercy on that spiritually dead body lying in the gutter. He performs artificial respiration and breathes his Word into that body that doesn't understand it. He draws it and woos it back from it's sleepy dead life; puts faith in it and puts the words in our mouth to confess that faith and that Jesus Christ is Lord.
God's predestination determined that he would do all this on our behalf. It was his choice to choose that body lying in the gutter and give it life.
When we first come awake, we think we chose God and that our choice is the most important thing we can do. But then, as we look deeply into the scriptures, we see that God did far more than we ever imagined and humbly fall on our need and bless His holy name that He had compassion on folks like us and Predestined us for such a great Salvation.
As the Bible tells us that God hardened Pharaohs heart, so too it mentions that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Both are trueGod gave Pharaoh what he wantedfreedomand Pharaoh used it to destroy himself.
I don't know why, but I've always had some trouble reconciling these two accounts. I think it's because I've tried to look at them as two separate events. It is so much easier to understand if we look at the whole thing as one complete event seen from two different views.
Yep. I agree. But not two equal views. And this is the wisdom of John Calvin when he encourages us not to inquire too deeply into the reasoning of God in His predestination of all things, particularly in His outfitting some vessels for wrath.
"...It is indeed evident that no cause is adduced higher than the will of God. Since there was a ready answer, that the difference depends on just reasons, why did not Paul adopt such a brief reply? But he placed the will of God in the highest rank for this reason, -- that it alone may suffice us for all other causes. No doubt, if the objection had been false, that God according to his own will rejects those whom he honors not with his favor, and chooses those whom he gratuitously loves, a refutation would not have been neglected by Paul. The ungodly object and say, that men are exempted from blame, if the will of God holds the first place in their salvation, or in their perdition. Does Paul deny this? Nay, by his answer he confirms it, that is, that God determines concerning men, as it seems good to him, and that, men in vain and madly rise up to contend with God; for he assigns, by his own right, whatever lot he pleases to what he forms..."
Calvin does not try to diminish God's fore-ordination of all things when he reminds us that man should not be asking God "why?" Calvin correctly references Paul when Paul chastises men for asking God "why have you made me thus?"
"('Does what is formed? etc.') -- We see that Paul dwells continually on this, -- that the will of God, though its reason is hid from us, is to be counted just; for he shows that he is deprived of his right, if he is not at liberty to determine what he sees meet concerning his creatures. This seems unpleasant to the ears of many. There are also those who pretend that God is exposed to great reproach were such a power ascribed to him, as though they in their fastidiousness were better divines than Paul, who has laid down this as the rule of humility to the faithful, that they are to admire the sovereignty of God, and not to estimate it by their own judgment..."
We're not to doubt God made some vessels for His wrath and some vessels for His glory. Likewise, we're not to presume we can keep the counsel of God entirely. It's not the creature's place to question or challenge the Creator as to "why he made me thus."
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" -- Romans 9:18-23
"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" -- Romans 9:18-23
God graciously saves some men condemned in their sins by the atoning work of Christ upon the cross. Others, He leaves to their own destruction.
All by His will alone, for His glory alone.
Yes, there are many legitimate questions, from our POV, that we have that we are not destined to know the answer to in this life. That is not bad, that is good. In many cases, we can't handle the truth. :) Just the instinct to want to learn more is a blessing in and of itself. If God revealed everything there is to know, that would be spoiled.
On Pharaoh, I just wanted to make sure of the correct view of God, the only one that really matters. I remember on the L&E thread when that was used against us as "proof" that Calvinists believe that God zaps actors with evil to get what He wants. This was in the context of God being the "mover" or "causer" of all things. Therefore, God is the author of evil, etc. That's hooey of course, and what you posted was very helpful to me in simplifying the explanation to others. God hardened Pharaoh's heart and he hardened his own heart. Both are true simultaneously. God's will is supreme. God is sovereign and man is responsible.
Thanks for Calvin's commentary. Every time I read something new (for me) from him I see the same theme repeated over and over again. Look to God first.
Here's another fine short essay by Greg Bahnsen that addresses the tug between predestination and free will...
"...Over and over again we see that from the Biblical perspective there is no conceptual difficulty in asserting that God has foreordained the decisions which men freely make. God determines in advance what individuals will choose to do, and yet those individuals genuinely decide for themselves to do it..."
And here's A.W. Pink's book in its entirety --
Isn't the internet amazing? 8~)
Yes the internet is amazing and thank you for Pink's book. I bookmarked it for further study. We are so blessed to have these resources.