The Foreknowledge of God

Glen Head

Recently I watched a Bible lesson online entitled “Romans 8:29-30 – Are We Really Predestinated?” (Tony Brewer, The Added to the church of Christ – Acts 2:47 Facebook page). During the lesson, the subject of the foreknowledge of God came up. One of the comments that I wholeheartedly agree with was:

“Some think God knows all POSSIBILITIES, but not exactly what we will do. I tend to think He knows EXACTLY what all people will do, seeing as He is a master designer, is the Alpha and the Omega, He sees it all from outside of time. To say He doesn’t know our choices and the end result absolutely, says He is bound by time and must wait for an outcome.” (Matt Clifton · 53:31)

Dilllard Thurman wrote an article in the 1980 Gospel Minutes about this very topic.The article, which began with a question, follows:

“Our preacher said he believes predestination because of the foreknowledge of God. He says God knew the number of our days before we were born; knew the number of hairs on our head; and all the deeds of our lives before they were done. That he even knew the drops of rain that would fall! Would you write on this?”

When the Scriptures speak of the foreknowledge, and the foreordination, of God, that which is under consideration pertains to the spiritual development of His plan for man’s redemption. “The foreknowledge of God” refers to knowledge that God had before revealing it to man. For instance, in speaking of the bringing in of the Gentiles at the Jerusalem conference, James said, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18). This was “According to the eternal purpose of God, which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:11). It was also of these spiritual blessings that he said: “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning. . . saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do My pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10). God foreknew all things which pertain to salvation in Christ, and foreordained them before the foundation of the world.

The prophet spake concerning Christ: “I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:35). Thus was God’s knowledge kept secret until time for its revelation by Christ. This is an example of the foreknowledge of God! Paul speaks of the “revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” (Romans 16:25-26). Thus the foreknowledge of God was made known by the gospel that nations should become obedient to God! “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:” (1 Corinthians 2:7). God’s knowledge of spiritual truths was at last openly revealed, “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” (Ephesians 3:9).

God foreknew that men would have to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and Peter wrote, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:2). Here is shown the eternal purpose which God foreknew! But God did not foreordain that certain individuals would be in Christ: only certain sanctified material! It is still left in our own disposition to be a vessel of honor or dishonor; to be obedient or disobedient! For the open invitation is, “Whosoever will, let him come.” We have the power to accept, or reject, that invitation, for we are free moral agents to whom God has given the right to choose! We have not been created mindless robots.

I do not deny that God can know the number of drops that fall in our lives; yet we have the power to change that number! None can deny that Elijah used prayer to influence God’s weather pattern! Study very carefully James 2:17-18. That is written in the New Testament for a purpose; and don’t you forget it! Any idea that would minimize the power of prayer holds a wrong concept of God’s foreknowledge and foreordination!

Frankly, I believe it is erronious to speak of God’s “foreknowledge” as though He is answerable to time. God has never known a yesterday, and will never know a tomorrow! Before He began TIME, God filled eternity. When TIME is no more, God will still be filling eternity! We move in one direction only—toward death and the judgment. So we watch the clock and count the days and months, for we are going to die! We are answerable to TIME! But God is not going to die, and is not bound by TIME. Before we were born, God fully occupied that eternity toward which we move. Finite minds cannot comprehend the Infinite. God can know our tomorrows without influencing what we shall do in them. Never does He take from us the power of choice.