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“Elect According to Foreknowledge of God”
by Art Sadlier   
April 15th, 2011

Looking into the Word

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:2).

God deals with man on the basis of man’s free will. Even when God gives a command to a man He allows that man to choose to obey or disobey the command, though a man must bear the consequences of his choice. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

God sees the hearts of men and He deals with them accordingly. We see this in Jeremiah 24:3-7, “Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

The Lord looked upon Israel and saw two kinds of hearts, He called one kind “good figs” and the other He called “bad figs.” We know from scripture some things about the heart of every man. We know that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; all have fallen far short of God’s standard. Jeremiah 17:9 makes this clear, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Despite man’s depravity God has still endowed man with the capacity to choose to obey Him or to disobey Him. Joshua said to Israel, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). The whole of the Bible record is basically about choice. The gospel record is about choice, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Choice demands a free will to exercise the choice. A part of man being made in the image of God involves a free will. Though all men are sinful in heart and in deeds, yet they still retain the ability to choose, if not, God would not ask him to choose. The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. It is not the sun that determines the response but the material on which the sun shines. The Calvinist argues that this exalts the man who responds to the gospel invitation; that is wrong argument, the sinner never has anything to glory in but the grace and mercy of God.

In Leviticus 1:3 we see man’s free will, “If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.” This concept of man’s free will is bound up in the warp and woof of the scriptures.

Dr. John Walvoord has stated, “The plan God chose does not force anyone to be saved or lost, but simply means that He knows in advance what each of us will do.” This man is recognized as a great Bible scholar, so do not let the Calvinist put you down by his seemingly intellectual arguments.

Dr. Jack MacArthur senior said, “Predestination is simply God’s foreknowledge facing the future.”

Acts 2:23 reveals the foreknowledge of God, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” God knows the end from the beginning and He acts according to that foreknowledge. He knew that, if left to themselves these wicked men would crucify His Son and He allowed it to happen in order to fulfill His purpose.

In Romans 8:29 we learn that God does not predestinate a man’s eternal destiny, but rather the matter of his being conformed to the image of Christ, “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.”

God chose Israel on the basis of His foreknowledge, Romans 11:2, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying.” God foreknew those Israelites who would be unbelieving and rebellious; He also foreknew those who would be obedient and responsive to His Word. He foreknows the gentiles who would obey the gospel and those who will not. That does not violate the free will of man.

The promise is not in vain that says; “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Beware of those who would destroy the gospel by denying the very basis of the gospel, the denial of the invitation and the opportunity for all men to choose to come to the Saviour. Beware of those who say it is God, not man that chooses life or death for each person.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

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