In the Winter 2008 PCC Update, an article was published on pages 12-13 entitled Foreknowledge, Predestination & Election. I read the article, but noticed some very basic errors regarding God’s part in the salvation of sinners. I am not attempting to single-handedly take-on PCC, and I’m sure that others have addressed this issue with much greater eloquence, but I would like to address these errors for the edification of God's people.
The author introduced the topic by saying:
There are many theories today concerning foreknowledge, predestination and election, until the mind of the average Christian is so mixed up he doesn’t know what to believe. If we do not get these three doctrines straight, our whole Christian life will be warped, and witnessing to the unsaved will be a lost grace.
This is a given. Each believer must study the Word of Truth to discover what God has to say on the matter, or he will have a warped life. However, as one studies these truths, he must take great care to allow God to speak, and not to impose meaning on God’s Word that does not exist.
Take the first point as a classic example of eisegesis:
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). Foreknowledge means to have knowledge of things to be. Foreknowledge is an attribute of God, while predestination and election are acts of God. [emphasis in original]
The entire article falls on the accuracy of this key point. A simple knowledge of grammar will take care of the misinterpretation here. Predestination and election are referred to as acts of God because they are active verbs—God is doing something to somebody. In verse 30, God completes the thought by adding a few more active verbs: called, justified, and glorified.
While these active verbs are admitted to be acts of God, the author makes the statement that foreknowledge is simply an attribute of God. By definition, an attribute is a noun or adjective. However, that is not what is used in this verse; rather it says that God “did foreknow.” This is not a noun, but is an active verb (just like predestined, called, justified, and glorified). It is not saying that God simply foresaw, but that He did something to a certain group of people.
I Peter 1:20 uses this word, but it is translated in the KJV as foreordained when speaking of Christ’s redeeming work. Did God simply have knowledge that Christ would die, or did He actively bring about the atoning work of Christ? The author of the article states that foreknowledge, in Scripture, never determines what is to be—foreknowledge is only the knowledge of things beforehand. . .He knows the future, but it ends there. This statement has been demonstrated to be false; God determined that Christ would die to pay for sin. God’s knowledge of the future cannot be compared with the astronomical predictions of scientists; to reduce God’s foreknowing to this level is akin to blasphemy. No, the Bible is clear that He hath done what He pleased.
God did not simply look out into the future and see that some would have faith in Him if given the opportunity. God knew that man would be dead in his sin, and have no desire for a relationship with Him. Therefore, God determined to show His mercy by foreknowing His elect. It is not just an attribute, but an action. It is not a matter of seeing beforehand, but of loving beforehand! It is an intimate relationship that God purposed from the foundation of the world in Christ.
The second point made by the author regards predestination. Truly, if foreknowledge is defined and understood properly, one will have no problem understanding predestination. The author states that predestination is for the saved man. Actually, in properly understanding the passage, predestination is for those whom God foreknows. Much emphasis is placed in the article on the whosoever wills. God has certainly made the gospel call open to “Whosoever Will.” However, it must be understood that man, in his spiritual condition of death, WILL NOT. Jesus addressed this in John 6:44, when He said, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: Whosoever will may come, but they will not come without the Father’s drawing.
The final point of the article regards election. The author states that election has nothing to do with the lost. He states that election is regarding service. The reader would do well to read through the numerous verses in the Bible regarding this topic. He will find that although election does deal with service/vocation in some cases, there are many more which certainly deal with salvation. The author opened the article with Romans 8:29. Read verse 33 for an example: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. That is NOT talking about service. The verse (and context, which this presentation does not have time to address) is linking election with justification. Romans 11:7 links election with God’s grace, II Thessalonians 2:13 speaks of choosing to salvation, II Timothy 2:10 speaks of the elect’s sakes in reference to salvation, and there are many more.
Romans 9:9-13 was cited, but somehow missed a key point. The author claimed that God spoke of His relationship with Jacob and Esau because of their belief and unbelief, respectively. However, the passage clearly states for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil. The service of the elder to the younger is definitely not speaking of Christian service, as the author seems to be implying. God’s election certainly extends to service, but there is something which comes before service—the grace of God. Salvation is by grace, because God chose a people in Christ before the foundation of the world. Christ died for His people, and the Holy Spirit draws them by changing their hearts so that they will certainly be saved.
Whosoever will may truly come. But why will they come? Is it because something in them caused them to make the right choice to trust Christ? Or is it because the Father draws them and Christ raises them up? Only a careful study of the Word will answer these important questions.