Foreknowledge

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

Thought to Consider: Only God makes things grow!

While it is true that we are saved by God’s Grace through Faith [Eph 2:8], …and faith comes from hearing the Word of God [Rom 10:17], …and the Word is heard from preaching and sharing [Matt 28:18-20], this verse clearly suggests that it doesn’t matter ho much “seed” is planted, or how much “water is given–only God can make things grow!!

Again, we are faced with the question: does man choose God? Or does God choose man? The concept of election is clearly seen throughtout the New Testament and although it cannot be denied, it is highly debated. The controversial issue of election is not that it exists, but from the question of how it is determined. The most commonly accepted explanation is that election is based on the foreknowledge of God. This is evident in Romans:

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Romans 8:29-30

The problem stems from one’s definition of the word foreknew. In the original Greek this word is proginosko (prog-in-oce’-ko) which literally means “to know beforehand.” In other words, to forsee or foreknow. Since the Bible teaches that God exists outside the constraints of time, it is reasonable to assume that the simple explanation of this word is that God looked forward in time and saw those who would choose Him, and based on that foreknowledge, He chose them.

One problem of accepting this definition of the word foreknow arises in the fact that the concept is not demonstrated anywhere in either the Old Testament or the New Testament. Also, it is not supported by Biblical precedent. For example, if God looked forward in time and chose only those who would choose Him, then why did He choose the Jews as His “chosen people,” as they have and continue to deny Christ as their promised Messiah?

Also, the Bible clearly teaches that God choose according to His purposes:

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

Ephesians 1:11

Another consideration to the theory that God “looked forward in time” is that the Bible teaches that God’s predetermined election occurred “before time began.”

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Tim 1:8-9)

However, the greatest objection to this definition of Foreknowledge is that it remove’s God’s sovereignty, placing it entirely on man’s choice, something the Bible clearly states is not true…

“I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Rom 9:15-16)

Books have been written on this subject which has been a highly debatable issue for centuries, thus is avoided in most theological circles and clearly beyond the scope of this article. However, how can one proclaim to be a serious student of Scripture who is seeking truth and deny the above three verses, especially since they represent only a small fraction of Scripture which support God’s sovereignty in his election?

Contribution from Ken Wojcik.